Heading into one of the many, many commercial breaks during the Grammy Awards, there was a tease that Justin Bieber was going to be performing soon.  Since I was waiting to hear my daughter say that she wanted to see his movie, “Never Say Never”, I thought I would make it easy.  “Any thoughts about going to see his movie,” I asked.  “Dad,” she replied with an exasperated look, “you are kidding, right?  But a few of his songs aren’t that bad.”

Once again, proof, I’m a lucky guy.  Granted even I admit a few songs are okay, but even after seeing the movie had received surprisingly strong ratings (including a 60+ from Netflix’s Rotten Tomatoes, my go to source for movie ratings), I thought I had escaped sitting through almost two hours of Bieber mania.

But this weekend, my daughter came home telling how the kids at school were talking about the movie and now she wanted to go.  My son, hearing all this, suddenly decided he wanted to go. So…

After a few hours of my life gone and a few thousand calories of popcorn later, I’m pleasantly surprised to report, the songs, and the movie, aren’t that bad.  However I must admit, as we talked about the movie on the way home, even the kids admitted it’s not just the music that made the star, it’s the marketing and social media. Think about it:

  • What started it all: YouTube launched Justin Bieber.  Here’s the quick version of the story:  young boy from Canada gets noticed on YouTube because his mom is posting home videos on the site, a young manager believes in him and takes a chance, a big star (Usher) believes as well.  Together, the trio works to reach out to fans, engage them, and boom, a star is born!  Little guy makes the big time. I’ve got to admit that’s pretty cool because it shows not only the power of social media, but how social media can help the little guy make it.
  • What else helped: Twitter.  While many of us are still trying to figure out Twitter, @JustinBieber helped grow and engage his audience (according to Forbes, the man, err tween, can even prevent riots!) . The movie is very clear about how Twitter was used constantly to drive the Bieber brand.
  • The movie reinforces the brand: Critics have panned it, but for Justin Bieber’s core audience, young girls, the movie is marketing gold. In this 24 hour news cycle, video driven, blink and you’re gone, society we live in; the Justin Bieber machine knows it has to CASH IN NOW.  Nobody knows whether Justin Bieber’s body of work will be as timeless as The Rolling Stones.  I have a theory (I can remember another on-top-of-the-world musician who couldn’t be touched). But the fact is, the Bieber machine turns out the music, the message, and the appearances the fans want.  They do it quickly, they do it consistently, and they do it everywhere.  It’s clear, Justin and everyone associated with him work HARD.  They knew they had a winning formula and they’d better work hard and fast to cash in.  As the saying goes, strike while the iron is hot.  They know how to do it and they do it well.

And who knows… if I learn to play the guitar, you may just see a few videos of mine on YouTube before long.