The Rise of the Bieber: How Pop Stars Become Famous Using the Web

Justin Bieber. His name alone has become synonymous with levels of rage and annoyance previously unheard of amongst internet users worldwide. For every hater, however, Bieber has an army of preteen girls to defend his honor.

Born on March 1st, 1994 in Stratford, Ontario, Bieber is now 16 years old. While he’s known for his pre-pubescent, high pitched voice, he is also capable of playing drums, piano, guitar, and trumpet. If you’re reading Techi, I’m going to go ahead and assume you’re not a fan of his work. Nevertheless, his musical aptitude cannot be denied.

Now, talent is great and all, but it takes a lot more than raw talent alone to reach mega stardom — it takes effective marketing and networking. So how, exactly, did the teen sensation rise to fame, spreading like an infectious plague throughout even the darkest corners of the interweb? Who else has the internet to thank for their widespread popularity? How did they do it? Let’s take a look.

Justin Bieber

Bieber’s road to fame started towards the end of 2007, when he placed second in a local singing competition covering Ne-Yo‘s “So Sick” (see video below). Bieber’s mother Pattie Mallette, being the proud parent that she is, then uploaded the video to YouTube for friends and family to watch — and so it began. Mallette continued to upload various cover songs and performances to his YouTube channel, and his popularity slowly grew, gaining new fans and subscribers by the day.

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Luckily for Bieber, his videos fell upon the right set of eyes… accidentally. Former So So Def marketing executive Scooter Braun randomly stumbled upon one of Bieber’s videos, and was highly impressed. Braun tracked down Bieber’s school, and later got in contact with his mother. Eventually, she agreed to allow Justin to fly to Atlanta and record demos. During this timeframe, thanks to Usher, Bieber got an audition with Island Def Jam Music Group. Island Records signed Bieber in 2008, and the rest is history, Bieber’s face was plastered all over the internet faster than you could say “Chocolate Rain.” Thanks, YouTube!

Bieber is now one of the most widely followed users on Twitter, boasting an impressive 2.8 million followers. As annoying as he may be, Bieber isn’t stupid; he understands the marketing power of Twitter and uses it to his advantage. Surprisingly, Justin is actually behind a majority of the tweets on his Twitter account. The only other person with access to his Twitter account is Scooter Braun, his manager. Braun notes that Bieber’s Twitter account shows fans ”the same person who was talking to them before he got huge, is still talking to them now.”

Amidst a busy work schedule, Bieber still finds two hours per day to interact on Twitter. Hey, nobody said being a celebrity was easy.

Now, if you’re among the many that are just plain sick of hearing about Justin, don’t worry, you can always enhance your browsing experience by using the Bieber Shaver Firefox add-on.

Greyson Chance

Recently, Bieber has been faced with new competition — Greyson Chance. Greyson, like Justin, has risen to stardom as a result of a performance that was uploaded to YouTube. Covering Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” (see video below), 12-year-old Greyson became an overnight sensation, melting the hearts of middle school aged girls across the globe. The video of his performance now has nearly 25 million views.

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All the hype that his performance caused led to an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Inspired by young Greyson’s talent, DeGeneres started her own record label: “eleveneleven.”

A couple of months back, Greyson was just another kid, now he is represented by a powerful management team, including Madonna’s manager Guy Oseary, and Troy Carter, who represents Lady Gaga. The sixth grader is now working on a album for Ellen’s new record label. Thanks again, YouTube!

Lady Gaga

Born Stefani Germanotta, Lady Gaga got her big break at the age of 19 when she, like Bieber, got in contact with Island Def Jam Music Group. Unlike Bieber or Greyson, Lady Gaga wasn’t discovered via YouTube — but instead, MySpace. Using YouTube (and other popular websites), however, Gaga has been able to increase her fan base tremendously. Now, in 2010, Gaga and her management team are open about the tactics they use to connect with her fans over the internet.

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Last month, Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun sat down with Gaga’s manager Troy Carter to discuss the marketing power of Twitter, YouTube, and even MySpace. Carter verifies that Gaga was, in fact, first heard on MySpace, noting that the social networking site was instrumental to her early success. That was just the start, though. Carter openly admits that Gaga’s videos are made specifically for YouTube.

MySpace doesn’t play as big of a role in Gaga’s career now as it once did; as Carter bluntly states, “No one uses MySpace anymore.” (I’d have to disagree and say that no one over the age of 18 uses MySpace anymore.)

Susan Boyle

Part of Bieber, Greyson, and Gaga’s success can be attributed to their perceived coolness among their audience. That is not the case for Susan Boyle. In fact, her rise to fame can be largely attributed to her uncoolness. Boyle, who lacks the looks of Gaga, and the youthfulness of Bieber and Greyson, shocked the world with her impressive vocal abilities in April of 2009 on Britain’s Got Talent.

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Singing “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables (see video above), Boyle became an overnight viral sensation. Within the first 72 hours of being submitted to YouTube, her audition on Britain’s Got Talent had been viewed 2.5 million times. Nine days later, various performances and interviews with Boyle had been seen over 100 million times. Finally, in December of 2009, YouTube named Boyle’s performance the most watched YouTube video of the year, receiving over 120 million views.

Boyle was later signed to Syco/Columbia Records, releasing her debut album “I Dreamed a Dream” in November of 2009 — a suiting title to say the least. Without the existence of YouTube, it’s likely that her popularity would have never scaled to such epic proportions.

While we can hate on Bieber as he swims in cash and enjoys a devote female following, it’s hard to criticize Boyle. With an amazing voice and a little help from the internet, Boyle’s dream of stardom finally came true. Take that, Simon.

Now, here’s my question to you: we, collectively as “the internet,” have been the driving force behind the success of some of the most popular musicians in recent history… when are we going to start seeing some royalties?

Written by Timothy James Duffy

Timothy James Duffy is a full-time internet marketer and online content creator by day, and a Playstation 3 addict by night. Follow him on Twitter @timothyjduffy.
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Comments
  • http://deliciousroom.com/ Yaro

    And the million question: what they have on common? All sucks.

  • http://www.gabriel-c.com GabrielC

    “Nevertheless, his musical aptitude cannot be denied.”

    Yes it can. It MUST be denied.

  • Dane Lewis

    Actually any musical talent he has can be denied. He has one thing going for him people think he is cute, that is is. Put a love son with “Baby” and some marketing and you have have half of the talentless hacks on the radio today add Sex, gun, thugs, cash and alcoholic beverages to that list an you got all the no talent hacks on the radio today and 85% off ALL music on the radio.

    You do not need talent you just need marketing, a catchy cookie cuter tune and a massive amount of luck.

    want proof? as any Beiber fan what they like about him you will get something like you will get something like “OMG IS IS SO CUTE SQUEEEEE AND HIS HAIR IS AWESOME I WANT TO MARRY HIM! HE LOVES ME” never “I like (biber song here) is is so original, he has talent” oh an with farmvill getting all the tweens Myspace is dead.

  • augman

    JB,

    Have your testicles descended?

  • http://shirleyszone.com/ Shirley Osei-Mensah

    The internet is a very powerful form of media that cannot be fought and when used well and effectively brings great, dramatic, and wonderful results and also do wondrous things in one’s life or in whatever that you are doing.

  • http://myspace ana nuttz

    all you people need to stop hating on Justin Bieber just cuz u ainc cute , popular, and to much to list……