Building Your Platform: The Braun and Bieber Story


Love him or hate him, you've heard the name Justin Bieber. You’ve heard of the term, “Bieber Fever,” and you’ve probably even seen commercials of his documentary, or at least heard one of his annoyingly catchy songs on the radio. This is no random coincidence; this all-permeating movement is the result of careful planning and hard work.

"When it comes to marketing, Braun has some wise advice to share."

The mastermind behind Bieber Fever (or patient zero of it, as he calls himself) is The Art of Marketing speaker Scooter Braun. Bruan points to social media as a catalyst for changing the music game by allowing artists to reach fans directly. From his perspective, artists are no longer just performers, or even brands. They are a platform. In the future, Braun envisions that every task artists, athletes, or people in general perform will be an advertisement for their platform. Every piece of content -- every musical act, every video, every jump shot, will all be an endorsement for the artist's platform.

In this day and age, as Braun points out, social media has made it possible for direct conversation with one of your heroes to take place in your own living room. This fact is the only reason Bieber and Braun managed to make it to where they are today. Before resorting to social media, Braun had exhausted his contacts in the music industry. He had approached everyone in Hollywood to sign Justin Bieber. He even got turned down by his heroes -- people who he’d admired for his entire life. Braun persisted. Eventually, Braun realized he needed to switch his approach: he decided to go directly to the consumer and marketed Justin Bieber as a platform.

"Braun’s marketing tactics may sound untraditional or unusual, but it sure delivers results."

To this day, he stands by his vision of the almighty platform. "I actually think we're bigger than any corporation in the world because we have millions of devoted fans who create content on a daily basis for us, and we distribute it through our platforms.”

When it comes to marketing, Braun has some wise advice to share. One of these gems is to remain authentic in every way -- don’t pretend to be something you’re not. "YouTube is bare bones and all we did was use a flip video camera," points out Braun. Even in his delivery of the YouTube videos, Braun chose not to hire a film production crew. Instead, he used a more amateur handheld camera and filmed real-life moments. “There was no other marketing behind it. It was my laptop, a flip camera, and Justin and his laptop. We don’t give them passwords to anything. Justin does it himself and we create our own content. We keep it organic and that’s our secret," he says in an interview with Forbes. (Interesting side tangent: Here’s an example of authentic videography-- a low-quality videohighlighting a conversation between Braun with client Asher Roth and Forbes’Hip-Hop Cash King Ludacris.)

In sticking with their roots, Braun decided to have Bieber do an interview with a fan club instead of a huge news outlet in the little time he was in Australia. The record company protested, but Braun went with his gut -- after all, these were Bieber’s fans. As a result, that video easily became one of the most viewed videos that week. Comparatively, how many views does a piece in a newspaper get? No matter what the circulation, an article will probably not receive 500,000 dedicated readers for that one article. (The view count sits at almost 520,000 at the time of writing.)

Braun’s marketing tactics may sound untraditional or unusual, but it sure delivers results. What kind of advice can he share about his approach? "You’ll never know something unless you try. You never know, if I didn’t find Justin or he didn’t find me. The only way you’ll find out something is to fail because you only need one success to be successful. They make me look smarter than I am on a daily basis." These are words conveying thoughts shared by Disney’s Michael Eisner -- success is usually born through failure. 

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