'Gangnam Style' the $50 million meme?

Psy's epic dance sensation has infiltrated every crevice of pop culture, redefined awesome, and generated tons of money along the way.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
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Eric Mack
2 min read
This move has arguably generated more than $50 million so far. Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

While it might be impossible to put a dollar value on awesomeness, the epic rise of the meme surrounding South Korean rapper Psy's "Gangnam Style" sensation gives us an opportunity to try.

Right now, Psy's music video has more than 337 million views on YouTube, making it the ninth most watched video of all time, and one that's quickly advancing on Justin Bieber in position eight. It's also topped the U.K. charts, garnered over 2 million Facebook Likes, and inspired a Klingon version.

How much is all that viral, meme-licious goodness worth in real-world currency? Quite a bit, it turns out.

Serial entrepreneur Jason Calacanis estimates that the YouTube views alone have generated at least $600,000, and perhaps more than a million bucks. Here's how he breaks it down in his e-mail newsletter:

Math is fairly simple, as partners tend to net out at $2 CPMs on YouTube. It is likely that the last 100M views were sold out at a higher CPM as the trend broke out. My guess is: $2 for the first 200k views ($400k), then $8 for the last 100M (another $800k for the last 100M views). Total? $1.2M in revenue -- or $20k a day.

That doesn't include the nearly hundred million additional views of a handful of other videos of live performances and other clips that have been posted on Psy's official YouTube channel since "Gangnam Style" hit. That means it's within the realm of possibility that "Gangnam Style" has become a $1.5 million revenue stream for the South Korean pseudo-rapper over the past few months.

Add over 600,000 iTunes downloads and you're quickly approaching $2 million.

But that's not all.

Reuters recently reported that after "Gangnam Style" became a sensation, the stock value of South Korean semiconductor company DI Corp surged, eventually doubling the market capitalization of the company, which is controlled by Psy's father, Park Won-ho.

So how much is "Gangnam Style" -- and by extension, the pinnacle of awesomeness -- worth? Well, if we count the Psy stock market bounce, we're looking at upward of $52 million, and that's not including the intrinsic value of the brand it's created, and a multitude of revenue streams from shows, merchandising and other licensing deals that I have no numbers for.

That's a lot of scratch. Maybe it's time to bust out the old Flip cam and a fluorescent blazer, brush up on my old pop 'n' lock moves, and make a million (or 50).