‘Call Me Maybe,’ Justin Bieber, and the Increasingly Intimate Relationship between Fans and Artists

by Matt Cohen, MTV Insights

Photo Credit: Picture Group via MTV.com

Having grown up using the same digital tools to interact with both friends and celebrities, Millennials have come to desire radically intimate relationships with their favorite stars.  As a result, celebs are revealing more authentic versions of themselves online and treating their fans more as friends

While traveling in Canada recently, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez serendipitously discovered “Call Me Maybe” – the uber-catchy single by Canadian artist Carly Rae Jepsen.  After recommending “Call Me Maybe” to their millions of Twitter followers (which promptly led to an explosion of the song’s popularity), Justin and Selena decided to supercharge their endorsement by creating a YouTube video which would give the song an extra social-media boost.  The video features Justin, Selena, and a few of their celebrity friends (including Ashley Tisdale of “High School Musical”-fame and the guys of Nickelodeon boy-band Big Time Rush) goofily dancing and lip-syncing to the single while decked out in sweats and sunglasses.

On the surface, the video looks like the byproduct of a few bored college students and a few too many shots of vodka.  It looks like it cost absolutely nothing to produce and required nothing more than a friend with a MacBook.  Yet, this video has nearly twice as many views as Jepsen’s professionally-produced official music video for the single.

That’s because the appeal of Justin and Selena’s video lies in its accessible, human quality.  The fact that this video looks like something you would make while hanging out with your friends actually increases its appeal because it offers fans just the kind of authentic and intimate insider-access that Millennials crave.

With this video Justin, Selena, and co. are showing us that they are just as goofy with their friends as we are.  It’s the digital equivalent of Us Weekly’s “Stars – They’re Just Like Us!” feature.  The key difference, however, is that in this case, the insider glimpse is provided not by the paparazzi but by the celebrities themselves.

By sharing a private moment among friends, Justin and Selena are inviting us into their world — making us feel like we are another member of the party. (No doubt Justin and Selena are aware of the major points they earn with fans by sharing this type of intentionally-unpolished content.)  In doing so, these young artists are forging a more intimate relationship with their audience by blurring the boundaries between fan and friend.

Matt Cohen is an Analyst for Creative Development & Marketing Research at MTV.

For more research and insights from MTV, follow @MTVInsights or visit http://www.mtvpress.com/company/research/.

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  1. I luv Justin Bieber

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