Bieber Fever! Low Tech, High Returns

Justin Bieber

Photo by Rob Stemple — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Teenage girls hit a high-pitch scream at the sight of a new singer or music group: childish drama or the precursor to a culture-changing career?

Think Elvis Presley. Think the Beatles. Meet Justin Bieber.

Don’t laugh. This is real — and it might just be the future of how music is created, packaged, and sold.

In 2006, a twelve year old boy from Stratford, Ontario posted videos of himself singing cover versions to Usher and Chris Brown on YouTube. Music promoter Scott Braun came across the videos and signed him.

Braun moved Justin and his single mom to Atlanta to begin to mold a career. The team includes a vocal coach and, here’s something new, a “swagger coach”, Ryan Good. (What teenage boy could refuse a few lessons in how to walk-the-walk?)

At the same time, Bieber continued to post his grainy, one webcam videos. No pretense. No glitz. Just a boy singing from his heart.

By the time Bieber released his first album, “My World” (wouldn’t you know) in 2009, he had 40 million online fans. All seven songs hit Billboard’s charts, which was a US record. Last week’s “My World 2.0” (wouldn’t you know) started on Billboard’s album charts at number one.

His popularity is in more than these impressive numbers. As covered in KadmusArts’ daily Culture News feed, Braun was charged with reckless endangerment for not tweeting to inform fans that a Garden City mall event had been cancelled, creating a stampede of adolescent screaming girls. At every Bieber appearance, there are ambulances ready for those who swoon and faint. Really.

Of course, it is easy to be cynical about any new pop sensation, let alone about the music industry’s desperation to find new money machines. However, note that this all began and has continued to be fed by combining low technology with direct access. Yes, Justin does all his own tweets.

As Bieber’s manager Scott Braun said in an interview last year, “We’ll give it to the kids, let them do the work, so that they’ll feel like it’s theirs.”

At the same time, the kid can sing — really sing. The songs stay with you. His voice is similar to a young Paul McCartney. Who knows — maybe he’ll have a career that will last as long as Paul’s.

After all, it wouldn’t be the first time that those screaming teenage girls got it right.

Or, as Justin is singing right now on millions’ downloads, “‘Cause whenever u smile, I smile.”

- Bill Reichblum

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16 Responses to “Bieber Fever! Low Tech, High Returns”

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  16. justin bieber
    September 16th, 2011 23:56

    Ola! Kadmusarts,
    Maybe a little off topic, however, i know that a lot of just bieber’s fans are young teens but i want to know if he has any fans that don’t fit in that category like older women and what about other male teens? do they have bieber fever? so please leave your age and if you have bieber fever and if possible, please rate the severity of your bieber fever. 1 is the lowest, 10 is the highest.
    BTW great blogpost

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