Don’t “Go Viral”

Derek is an MBA in entrepreneurship, painter, and bassist for Onward We March, a local progressive metal band. He teaches business skills to artists and writes weekly music business advice for his blog Derek Thinks Music. Got a business question about your art? Shoot him an email at

You don’t actually want to go viral.

Sure, “Going Viral” is a sexy buzzword. Sounds downright fun to get a million youtube hits in a week; “Woo woo! We’re gonna get a million dollar record contract now, lets go out and buy golden toilets!”

Not quite.

Recent research shows that speed of adoption is inversely correlated with longevity. Or, to put it more plainly:

The faster you rise, the faster you’re gone.

HappyCat 4 LYFE

Cats Are More Viral Than You

The Beatles didn’t “Go Viral”, they worked their butts off night after night after night. Michael Jordan didn’t make a video of a cat playing a keyboard next to introduce him playing; he worked his butt off night after night after night.

If you don’t have the quality to sustain the sudden fan interest, you’ll disappear overnight.

I’m not denying that the idea of getting your “Big Break From The Internets” isn’t sexy. I’ve fantasized about the magical “discovery of our band” too. It’s a pretty satisfying daydream, to be honest. Fun stuff.

But don’t forget how short memory is on the internet. Getting attention for the sake of attention is a waste of time. The only endurable way to build your musical future is to get attention because you’ve worked your butt off night after night after night; when your stage performance is so brilliant that anyone who sees you will tell their friends “Hey man, these guys are INSANE on stage! I want to steal their garbage they’re so good!


One Response to “Don’t “Go Viral””

  1. Derek, you are so right. And I would only add that in order to have the motivation that results in that night after night determination it serves one well to get things in order, first. By that I mean 1) really understanding one’s artistic voice and how they are choosing to use it in a way they can be passionate about, 2) developing a long-range vision of where they would like to take their art and 3) designing a methodical, purposeful and effective series of strategies to do that which will not leave them distracted and/or disappointed by or even dependent on short-to-mid range “success”.

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