In 2012, a South Korean performer named Psy posted a video titled “Gangnam Style” on YouTube. Psy’s performance, personality and K-Pop confidence propelled Psy to became the first music artist to reach one billion views on YouTube.
The world waited for more from Psy, but it never came. Instead, Psy (real name Jae-sang Park) enjoyed his fifteen seconds of fame then faded to black. You can watch Psy’s retrospective here.
True, Psy followed up with a second video but that video wasn’t as good, and it didn’t click. Without a more complete narrative or meaning, the first person to introduce K-Pop to the world went from rabid fandom to one hit wonder.
It could have been so different.
How? Imagine if Psy had been an Olympic athlete. We would have seen interviews with his mother, his first-grade teacher, his high school coach, his best friend. His classmates. His ex-girlfriend. In other words, we would have been given Psy’s backstory. Is he a good guy or a bad guy? Is he a serious musician and entertainer, or something else? How does he fit into our world? Psy’s accomplishment would have been given intention, context, purpose and meaning.
Instead of becoming a YouTube statistic, our imaginations would have been folded into Psy’s narrative, we would jointly celebrate his craft, his commitment and his accomplishments. Best of all, we would have been given the handholds of belief and belonging. We might have cared.
Narrative — story — creates believability and meaning. Ultimately, this is how artists take their throne in the culture. The genesis of your progress as an artist from inspiration to hit is fascinating for audiences.
But it’s not just about telling stories. It’s how you build and form the story. Just as you don’t write a song without figuring out what key you’re in, or what the click is, stories using Primal Code® have a framework that makes them more inclusive and powerful than other other narratives.
Just as in playing music, structure can be a pain, but it’s important for those listening to your music. It helps them hear something they haven’t heard before and feel something they haven’t felt before, without being confused. The same goes for building stories.
There is a graveyard filled with musicians, performers and entertainers who thought that talent alone would make audiences stand and roar. Okay, sometimes that happens. But too often, even incredible performances become short term bounces, rather than adding to a longer narrative embedded with the ability to resonate for decades or even generations.
Reasons why this happens are different for every individual. It could be because music artists are so focused on their instruments, performance, on their music, that they push away the larger context. Or they feel that forming a narrative is selling out. Either way, an idea alone is rarely enough to stand on its own merits; most new ideas need a push.
As Derek Thompson writes in his incredible book Hit Makers, “Creations grow most predictably when they tap into a small network of people who do not see themselves as mainstream, but rather bound by an idea or commonality that they consider special…they want to share what makes them weird.”
Even super-talented musicians sell themselves short by failing to design the superstory that carries them from being a talented singer, pianist, guitarist, drummer (or any form of artist) to becoming a magnetic field that attracts.
That becomes a life force across the social, digital and traditional networks. A phenom.
To repeat. Gaining attraction and audiences is determined not only by talent — by your creation — but by designing an attention-driving narrative, a story — that above all else, moves you from a state where you are a meaningless noob and nobody cares, to becoming a meaningful entity whose raging fandom measures from one to billions.
Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Patrick Hanlon, Author of Primal Branding
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