Slow Burn Vs. Fast Burn
The plight of many a youngster today seems to be the thought process of “going viral”. Even my son who is only 9 is constantly talking about videos that his friends have shown him of animated stick figure cartoons that are getting millions of hits. On my plane ride to Manila I sat beside my road manager, Josh, who is a bit younger than me.Therefore has a much different perspective on a lot of things in the world than I do. He was mentioning that he had a friend that was in the middle of marketing a new record for an artist that has been around for a while and is need of a bit of a shot in the arm. He and his friend apparently had been dissecting a bunch of viral videos on youtube in an effort to try to figure out what this artist might be able to do to capture the attention of new fans. Of course that led to my road manager challenging me to find something cool that Building 429 could do that might go viral in an effort to continue to fan the flames of the fire that we’ve started this past year. So I sat and thought about it for a minute and then challenged his thought process with this.
Well the first thing that jumps in my mind as it relates to artists going viral is the band OK Go! If you don’t remember, a couple of years ago they came out with a video of them using treadmills to create this weird dance to the soundtrack of one of their songs. Cool idea right??? Yeah but… where are they now? In fact… what if they showed up to one of their shows and tried to just play the song that they did the video to? Would it work? I doubt it…. in fact I daresay that I’ve never heard another one of their songs and I wouldn’t care to hear anything they did… unless I could see the weird treadmill thing. Which is what brought me to a question that stumped Josh pretty good: Name one band that went viral that actually still has a career 5 years later. He couldn’t do it. After we mulled that over for about 30 minutes he brought one artist to my attention that is undeniable… Justin Bieber.
I thought about that for a while and then I posed this question…. would Justin Bieber be who he is today if he didn’t go WAY beyond the viral videos and get into the work of building a BRAND?? That’s an easy one right? The answer is NO. The kid has been touring his tail off proving that he’s not just a gimmick.
I’ve heard Dave Ramsey speak on his show a lot in the past about the fact that there is no “get rich quick” scheme that actually works. He goes so far as to say in several of his conferences that he’s never met someone who got rich quick doing any program that didn’t also go bankrupt long term. What does that have to do with Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Etc.
There is no get rich quick scheme that will sustain you…. yeah sure you can create a buzz with you wacky video… maybe a million people will view it, but ultimately if they are interested in the video you made and not the BRAND of you… then you and your brand will eventually go bankrupt. Oh and yeah you will be making the people of Facebook and Youtube richer while you go viral… I promise they’ll make more off of your viral video than you ever will… remember you uploaded it to their servers and therefore it’s theirs? Their advertisers will pay them HUGE money for the video you made and got famous off of… but you’ll be famous for 6 months max unless you figure out how to catch lightning in a bottle again… making them more money again….. you get the point right?
www.Ronedmonson.com is a well known blogger/pastor/influencer in my life and I’ve heard him talk about this even on a church level. Churches that grow rapidly are also at a greater risk for rapid loss as well, why?? Well because people fall in love with the thought of the church, not so much the substance of it. It’s new it’s fresh, and it’s cool… but sooner or later that runs out and you have to show people that you and the brand you represent is going to be relevant to their lives long term… not just when it’s fun.
By the way… if you disagree with me on this feel free to challenge, but the proof is in American Idol. How many people have been HUGE stars… I mean the talk of AMERICA only to completely disappear?? Well out of all the people who have been on the show these are the ones that come to mind as current successes:
There have many with 1 big hit…. but everyone else is having to get back to the reality of WORKING THEIR TAIL OFF to make it happen.
So here’s the point: even if you hit it out of the park going “viral” you still have the whole “put up or shut up” moment waiting after you get over the initial success. Me personally, I like the story of Coldplay, or the Foo Fighters, or Mettallica, or in our market…. Mercy Me, Tobymac, Steven Curtis Chapman.
I think we have a tendency to try so hard to find the gimmick that we miss out on substance that could give us a far greater edge than the gimmick ever would.
Long term substance always wins… and that’s what we as a church, an artist, and as people should be chasing.
“Viral” is just a way to be found… not a way to stay found… the question isn’t how do we go “Viral” but rather, how do we stay “relevant” as we create the art that we love so much. Better yet don’t put a name on it… just create, get better, challenge the status quo in your field so when lighting does strike you’ll be ready to harness a fast burn in a long burn system. You see “Viral” isn’t bad, it can be harnessed. However, without substance it can also be your undoing.
this is so true and now that we have a great artist like Jamie Grace straight from youtube.com the bar is officially raised and if you don’t have the skill to back up the video…well..good luck
Hey Monica, thanks for your comments and thoughts. It is awesome to have such great artists like Jamie. She is the real deal and some are… but there is no easy way to make it happen. It’s obvious that she gets that.
You are so right with the thought process. I had rather be a great singer/songwriter that lasts than one that uses a gimmick & fades in a couple of years. Stick to what you guys are doing because you guys are great. And in the words of your son, Avery, Building 429 is my favorite band. Enjoyed seeing you this past June 8th in RichmondHill, Ga.. Love you guys even more everytime I see you in concert,
It’s always a challenge to stay relevant with the times, and maintain a timelessness. It’s definitely a fine line and you have to have both… but I am definitely more like you. I’ll take the slow burn over the fast burn every time.
Totaly tubeyeler bro. I was a huge tallica,maiden fan before the cross. some things just stand the test of time. my sons watch those DSI shorts to. Enjoy your music keep it up and God bless.
Thanks so considerably putting together this weblog. It’s packed with superb information. This one is going into my bookmarks.
Glad you’re enjoying it man… Much more to come… I’m just going to try to keep hammering away. I hope it’s always informative and at the least a discussion starter!
FINALLY someone honest! I say that because in today’s society all the younger generation see is the glitz and glam that the celebrity status can bring them! They don’t see the hard work and dedication that someone puts in to master their craft. I hope that through raising my child that I am able to instill the values that I received growing up. But the question to you Jason, is there a point in time that you had wished you had given in to the common norm? What would have been your lose/gain from it? I like you Jason! I say that because not only because the person you are, but you really make me think! I think we could all gain from your wisdom!
Finally something that is totally true… My brother and some of his friends that we go to church with are in a band… 4Given… They’re working their tail off tring to go big. They finally relized, God will provide and it’s ok if it takes a few years. They have been doing this for maybe 3 or 4 years. With some ups and downs with comming and going members, the 4 in 4Given stands for the 4 original guys (Brandon, Jake, Brandon, and Derek). I have faith in God that he will lead them to the correct way… Going big for him, nothing else. Thank you for this Jason, you are a total blessing from God… Keep rocking Building 429!
That’s awesome Jason. Gonna bookmark this site. LOVE it. I feel called to be a Pastor, and the stuff you keep posting is really helping me. Its super cool how God uses Everything. Thanks. Keep it up 🙂
and by the way Awesome awesome Music. Some of the best stuff I have ever heard. I really agree with this last post. Awesome stuff. Your a big role model to me. Keep posting, Teaching, and ROCKING! TG 🙂
Not only is there obvious substance to your music but you and each of your band members also have great substance as well. How do I know this? Both of my sons (age 28 and 22) have been fans of many Christian artists/secular artists for many years (easily since age 13 or 14) and while they have followed many different groups there are only a select few that have endured and are as relevant to them today as they were years ago and one of those is your band Building 429; it has been rare to not hear your songs being played in our home or in the car during family travels over the past years. If the evidence of substance is in the ability to endure than your substance is very evident in my family. Social media definitely has its place in this world and both of my sons often share your performances and/or testimonies on their FB pages. When young people eagerly and willingly share your music and your message you have found a place in their hearts and a following that will endure time. After recording some of your performances at Hanes Mall my 22 year old son recently introduced your band to his 85 year old grandfather who quickly praised your band as one of the best hopes for reaching and touching young people today. Your band touches the hearts of young and old alike because your substance is obvious and that is what will continue to allow your band to endure. By all means social media should be taken advantage of, but I agree with you social media is only a tool, it cannot create the kind of substance that will stand the test of time; that can only come from you and your band members and the ability you have to connect with your fans. Substance is what allows that connection to be strong and become stronger and why you are as relevant to people now as when they first heard your music years ago.
Looking forward to many more years of substance!
Thank you so much for your kind words regarding Building429. I want to make sure that I clarify this though…. I’m not sure that Building 429 is doing everything right, I just know that we have chosen the long term approach over the short term. I don’t want this blog to ever come across as arrogant or pompus…. so while I am thankful for your assertion that we are doing it right, I can’t say with absolute confidence that we have. A radio song can be just as viral as a youtube video and we took the same fall as many American Idol finalists after our big hit “Glory Defined” back in 2004. So to be clear I write this blog from the experiences that I’ve lived not from the belief that we haven’t fallen prey to the same thing. Just want to be clear! Thanks again Debbie and look forward to seeing you and your family at a show soon!
But you don’t have to do everything right, you just have to believe in your heart that you are doing the right thing; I suppose no one can really say for certain if choosing the long term approach over the short term approach is absolutely the right thing to do but it is obviously the choice that feels right for you and your band and I am quite certain there is a reason why this is so. And I can honestly say that I see no arrogance in any of your blog writings or any assertion that your approach is absolutely the right choice… I would venture to say, however, that it is because of Building429’s substance that you were able to get back up after your fall and get to where you are today, right now (that and an incredible amount of hard work and sacrifice I am sure!). I also write from experiences that I’ve lived; as a fan myself and as the mother of two young men who obviously see something special and unique in your music, and in the character of its members, I am grateful that you have chosen the long term approach as I feel you have so much more to offer yet and we want you around for a long time to come!
P.S. I would like to extend my deepest admiration to your wife. As a mother who homeschooled her kids through high school I can honestly understand her challenges and insecurities. I assure you both, that as a result of your investment, you will see good and amazing things come out of your children as they grow into young adults- it will amaze you and humble you all at the same time!
I know I”ve said this before, but I am really enjoying your blog! I love the feeling and realness you put into each post. Looking forward to the next one. Be blessed!
Hey Felicia…. thank you so much for your kind words… glad you’re enjoying it… just thankful that it’s impacting people the way that it is!!! more to come soon!!
I love it , I like how u r honest and the last blog really spoke to me thanks 🙂
Um yeah, I went viral one time. Ended up turning into a nasty infection, had to get an antibiotic…
Totally agree with you on this one, Jason, I’ll take substance over shine every time. Want another example of musical success that was so NOT a flash-in-the-pan? Jimmy Buffett. He never won a major musical award, never made an over-the-top video, never had a big commercial advertising campaign. And yet, he has gained the greater success of Longevity. Today there are still legions and legions of die-hard Parrotheads. Why? The secret of Buffett’s success? Three things:
1. With his band, Buffett created a unique sound that defied standard pop music classification. In other words, his music was original.
2. Buffett wrote (and still writes) music that connects with people. The “common man” in America can relate to what Buffett sings about. This is one reason that his early albums tended to get classified as “country music.”
3. Buffett is a great storyteller, and his stories tend to draw us in. Also, his music is sometimes just plain fun, and anyone that’s ever seen Buffett live can attest to the fact that it is indeed An Experience. And it’s an experience that most people really enjoy. Can you name a more loyal and enthusiastic live-show fan base over the past 30 years in America than The Parrotheads? I can’t either.
We could probably pontificate more about the wonders of Buffett, but you get the point. His success and longevity stem from him being original, authentic, having the ability to draw in the common man/woman and relate to him/her, and creating an amazing “live” experience.
Wait, you know who else that sounds like? Jesus. Jesus wasn’t out trying to draw a crowd for the sake of drawing a crowd. In fact, sometimes he actually DISCOURAGED the crowd from following him. Read John 6 – the whole chapter – sometime. Or how about Matthew 7:14? Jesus could care less about “going viral.”
And yet, the crowds kept coming to Him. Why? He was genuine. He was original. He wasn’t just another “tool of the man.” He spoke with authority. Everyone could see there was Something Different about this man. He could work miracles. He truly loved people – all people. He went to where the “common” people were – and hung out with them. He loved the world, he was in the world – but not of it. Beyond all these things, He had the unmistakable presence and anointing of His Father all over Him. And that is ultimately what drew people to Jesus more than anything else.
And when people wanted to pour admiration and praise upon Jesus, even tried to make him their king, what did He do? Deflected it all off of Himself, and directed it towards His Father instead.
One last thought – the Christian artists who have attained “slow burn” status and have garnered success over the long haul, tend to have a few things in common – like not seeking glory for themselves, but rather directing it towards their Father. They don’t just say that they have a “heart for ministry” – they really have it and live it, and their actions/priorities/lifestyles reflect that. They can perform for the crowd, but they also still care about the individuals in the crowd. And they love Jesus above all else!
Which Christian artists would you put in that category? Names that come to mind for me include Rich Mullins (Can you name a Christian artist who emulated Jesus better? I can’t.), Steven Curtis Chapman, Third Day … and Building 429, among others!
Love you buddy,
As a Jimmy Buffet fan, I really enjoyed your response to Jason and I couldn’t agree with you more!! When a music artist has a true love for Jesus and a deep desire to “live” His words then they stand out for the right reasons; their commitment to ministry is what gets your attention and keeps your attention. Building 429 has endured in our household from their early years for these very reasons and the Christlike characteristics we see in them and their work.
Thank you so much for your post!! Would you mind if I used it in a lesson with our youth group?
Hey Debbie…. of course you can use it with your group… I’d be honored!
Hah… you always had a way of making a great point in a way I never would’ve expected… Love it man. Great thoughts!