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December 04, 2009  | by: Max Tedaldi

Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber

Who is the one artist to have four singles from a debut album simultaneously in the Billboard 40 before the album was even released?  Who would you guess?  Michael Jackson?  Led Zepplin? The Beatles?  Not even close!  This prestigious distinction goes to Justin Bieber whose singles “One Time,” “One Less Lonely Girl,” “Love Me,” and “Favorite Girl,” are tearing up the charts like a bulldozer of pristine pop perfection.  With his electronic hip-pop sound and trademark wink it’s easy to see why Bieber has found popularity with the crowd who thinks that Nick Jonas is past his prime.  But apart from his obvious talent as a musician and performer, the popularity of  “the other Justin” marks a shift in the music industry that is even more significant than having an album with four top 40 singles.

Marketing a debut album is a daunting prospect for any record label.  Subsequent albums have demographic knowledge that is gained from an artist’s initial exposure to the industry.  In recent years television and music companies have found a clever way around this by using shows like “American Idol” and “America’s Got Talent” to manufacture a built-in fan base for emerging stars.  During each season of these shows the musical talent become television stars and when the debut album drops all of the promotion has already been handled.  This formula has worked exceptionally well with stars like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, but it fails to capture a demographic that has more marketing potential than both radio and television.

Capitalizing on this underused strategy, Justin Bieber has become the poster-child for viral marketing.  Virtually, unknown in 2007, Bieber began putting videos on Youtube and MySpace of himself performing renditions of popular songs by artists like Chris Brown and Usher.  After millions of video hits, a flight out to Los Angeles to meet with Usher, and a record deal with Island Records, Justin Bieber is a superstar.  He didn’t go on any auditions, he didn’t play a thousand concerts, and he didn’t win a reality TV show.  He marketed himself on networking websites, and it worked.  It’s not just a coincidence that his debut album My World had four hit singles before it was released.  Beiber had millions of fans listening to his songs long before they were even available for purchase.

But Justin Bieber is not just the paradigm of Youtube/MySpace fame, he’s a charismatic youngster who’s celebrity is no accident.  Doubters have only to watch his recent late-night appearance on Chelsea Lately to understand why he has tweens in such an uproar.  Guests usually have difficulty keeping up with Chelsea Handler’s silver tongue, but Bieber didn’t skip a beat.  He charmed and winked his way through the interview, while battling the flu, exhaustion, and his Zac Effron style bangs. 

Who knows how big Justin Bieber will eventually be, but at the very least he has paved a path for wannabe popstars all over the web.  They may not have his charm but they will have an idol to look up to…and not the “American” variety.

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