How to get 85,000,000 pageviews even if you are ugly

In 7th grade, when we were learning how to square dance, I heard one girl say to another girl whose turn it was to dance with me, “just don’t touch him and you will be ok.” For the rest of that week I pretended to be sick so I could stay home. ‘Square Dancing Week’ was over by the time I got back to school. It didn’t matter. Square dancing wasn’t an important skill to learn in suburban New Jersey.

But what if I had really stuck with it. What if I had become the world’s greatest square dancer who never needed to touch people? Which brings me to “funtwo”, the guitar player on the youtube video called, simply, “guitar”.

What impressed me most about the simply labeled “guitar” video was how totally unpromotional it was:

A) The title of the video was “guitar”. Not, “best guitar ever!!” or even “Canon Rock” which was the song that is being played.

B) The guitarist has a hat pulled over his head so you can’t see who he is. The entire video becomes about his technical virtuousity and the beauty of the song rather than his performance ability.

C) He put the video up anonymously under an account called “funtwo”. In fact, after the video came out and started getting millions of views, there were several attempts from people who claimed to be funtwo but weren’t.

85,000,000 pageviews later, here’s “guitar”:

A couple of comments:

When I first saw the video I thought that the guitarist came up with the composition. But its actually a composer (on YouTube, “JerryC”) from Taiwan who did the original version of “Canon Rock”.

Here’s the JerryC version of the song:

Of course, JerryC., who was largely unknown before the “guitar” cover came out of his song, has now signed with a record label, HIM, and his website, jerryc.tw has tens of thousands of posts on his forum including the latest post I saw which was from some girl in France asking if he has “emotional nice character”. Why didn’t the girls in 7th grade ask if I had “emotional nice character”? I would’ve been their best friends. They would’ve been able to call me up and we would talk all night and laugh about our teachers.

So who is “funtwo”, the virtuoso who did “guitar”? A South Korean guitarist (he learned how to play in 2000) named Jeong-Hyun Lim. When the New York Times asked him why he covered his head he said, “I think play is more significant than appearance. Therefore I want the others to focus on my fingering and sound. Furthermore I know I’m not that handsome.”

Furthermore, his anti-showmanship approach is exemplified by this quote (despite the 10s of millions of fans who clearly enjoy his guitar playing), “I am always thinking that I’m not that good player and must improve more than now.”

What if he had been promotional? Racking up 6.4mm pageviews is “the new canon rock” which is arguably a step up from the prior two performances, however, its funny to me that about half the comments have to do with the guitarist’s appearance since he doesn’t choose to hide himself:

Finally, with all the renewed interest in Pachelbel’s Canon, comedian  Rob Paravonian did a pretty funny rant on the piece: The video below is past 9,000,000 pageviews and I have to think its because its related to the “guitar” video, even if distantly.

And, (more finally), here’s funtwo playing Vivaldi’s “summer” from the Four Seasons

So the formula is simple:

  1. improve every day. If you are frustrated you don’t have 80mm pageviews, just focus on your practice and keep improving. Want more money? Focus on practice and keep improving. Want the girls to touch you? Focus on practice and keep improving.
  2. keep “beginner’s mind”. Never assume you are too good to learn. I think the greatest danger in getting to be the best at something is the cloak of ego that wraps itself around you.
  3. Non-promotion. And although Jim Cramer once told me that “nobody else will promote you. You have to learn how to promote yourself” and I thought it was wise advice, I also firmly believe that the sincere and powerful voices will rise to the top. And its those voices that will rise above the hate and desperation that tends to flock around self-promotion.
  4. Steal and get rich. funtwo takes JerryC’s composition which is a takeoff on Pachebel’s Canon. When you master a field, its ok to play and improve on everything that came before you. In fact, thats often a good starting point as well.
  5. And if you’re ugly, hide your face.

I never learned how to square dance. But I’ve been taking tango lessons. And for tango, it takes two.

Related posts: (also: follow me on twitter)

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