Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

Music marketing ideas for DIY artists, managers, promoters and music biz pros

March 17, 2010

Chat Roulette Piano Improv Viral Video

Have you heard of Chat Roulette? It's the latest web site to create a major buzz in a very short period of time.

In a nutshell, Chat Roulette allows anyone with a webcam to log on and randomly be connected live with other people on the site one by one. If you don't like who you're connected to, you click "Next" and get another random paring.

It's been widely covered (and made fun of) in the media. But I, along with a lot of online marketing people, thought it was a flash-in-the-pan novelty site with no possible self-promotion value. How could you possibly make use of such random connections?

Well, my view of that unraveled once I saw this YouTube video of a piano-playing musician named Merton. He does a wonderful and hilarious job of improvising songs based on the people he's randomly connected with.

His first video clip, called Chat Roulette Funny Piano Improv #1, was just uploaded on March 11. In six days it racked up one and a half MILLION views. Coverage on Mashable, the Huffington Post, and many other web sites has certainly fueled Merton's sudden burst of exposure.

Here's the marketing lesson ...

If you can be the first person to do something funny and cool with a new site or gadget that is creating a buzz, you will be rewarded. There's power in first-mover status.

Also, use what's given to you and don't be blinded by tunnel-vision. I looked at the limited qualities of Chat Roulette and didn't see it as a music promotion tool at all. But Merton opened his mind and asked a better question:

"How can I use the random nature of this site (and the buzz it's creating) in a new and amusing way?"

And the roulette aspect of the site lent itself perfectly to the music improvisation format. Brilliant! Of course, Merton also had to be talented and quick on his feet to make this work.

Two questions for you:

  • What new site, gadget or buzz-producing topic could you capitalize on?

  • How could you use the unique qualities of Twitter, Facebook, the new iPad, or any other trending topic in a clever and musical way?


    Update: YouTube pulled Merton’s first video when it reached around 4.5 million views. He made the requested changes and uploaded it again. The new version of his first video has already been viewed 1.5 million times. He just posted a second improv piano video on his YouTube channel.

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  • posted by Bob Baker @ 11:19 AM   3 comments


    At Mar 21, 2010, 11:25:00 PM, Blogger David Hooper said...

    I thought this was hilarious.

    Ben Folds did a knockoff which is also getting a lot of traffic...

    At Mar 30, 2010, 5:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    When I first heard about Chat Roulette all I was hearing were horror stories about unpleasant things people were seeing/doing (I'll leave it at that). But then I saw the Merton videos when somebody posted them on Facebook and I could not stop laughing. It was genius. And I was also going to bring up the Ben Folds knockoff. I was amazed that Ben Folds used Chat Roulette to imitate Merton at a concert packed full of people. I think that's huge.

    To answer one of your questions though, I'm not sure Facebook can even be used cleverly anymore. MySpace was dead long ago, and Facebook is slowly starting to follow in my opinion. Of all those, Twitter is the only one I think that still has a lot of potential for marketing.

    At Jul 12, 2010, 3:56:00 AM, Anonymous Janice said...

    Yeah, that's very nice. Face book is one social network where we can share every thing with every one.


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