BitGang Records

Okay, let’s try to remember 2013 for a second. It’s harder than you think, right? That’s because everything was so hyperbolically, cartoonishly NOW. It was a time of Gangnam Style parodies, newly minted Bitcoin millionaires, and Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks dominating the headlines. It was a time when we were trying to figure out if we were laughing at the absurdity of our culture, or if the absurdity of our culture was laughing at us.

Enter our protagonists: Tom, an underground DJ with a healthy obsession with South Korean pop music, and his roommate Jerry, a cryptography enthusiast whose only dance move was a subtle head bobbing motion he called the “blockchain boogie.”

Now, you’d expect me to tell you that Tom and Jerry started a meme that went viral or mined a Bitcoin fortune. But no, this is not that kind of story. Instead, our heroes decided to do the most 2013 thing they could think of: they started a satirical Bitcoin-backed record label that only signed artists who made Gangnam Style parody songs. They named it “BitGang Records.”

Even by the standards of 2013, this was a ludicrous idea. Yet, in a time when the ludicrous had become commonplace, it was just ludicrous enough to work. Through an elaborate series of Reddit posts, Twitter hashtags, and ironic selfies on the burgeoning Snapchat platform, BitGang Records began to gain an odd kind of traction. The label’s first hit was a post-dubstep remix called “Gangnam Blockchain Style” that got ten million YouTube views in two weeks.

While BitGang Records was basking in the glow of viral fame, the value of Bitcoin was on a rollercoaster ride, following its own absurd logic. Every time a new country announced a Bitcoin ban, the price shot up. Jerry, who had wisely (or foolishly) converted all their modest savings into Bitcoin at the beginning of their venture, became a paper millionaire overnight.

By summer 2013, BitGang Records had released a dozen Gangnam Style parodies, and Tom and Jerry were lauded as heroes of the ironic counterculture. In a world where the lines between sincerity and satire were increasingly blurred, BitGang Records was both a disruptor and a reflection of the disruption.

However, as the year came to a close, so did the Gangnam Style parody fad. The Internet moved on, as it always does, leaving BitGang Records as a weird footnote in pop culture history. Tom and Jerry eventually sold their Bitcoin stash, not at its peak, but for enough to fund a few more years of ironic pursuits.

Their tale, like a 2013 time capsule, is a narrative of viral memes, emerging digital currencies, and cultural satire. It’s a story that makes you question if the joke was on them or us. But ultimately, in the grand scheme of things, does it even matter? That’s the question 2013 keeps asking us, even now, a decade later.