Steve Grand is not a household name. He is no Ryan Lewis, Rhianna, or Justin Timberlake. But he's got something else going on.
He has shown how to become an all American success. Here's how he did it:
1. Write a powerful song that tells a story and taps into emotion.
2. Use a supportive network of family and friends to help you record a simple but attractive video
3. Use whatever financial leverage you have (in this case, a credit card) to fund your endeavor.
4. Use YouTube to upload the video.
5. Post the video on Facebook explaining what you are doing and the emotional motivation for it.
6. Let it go viral across the web.
In a week, his music video All American Boy, has bypassed the music labels, the radio, iTunes, and all the rest of the modern 'get in line' process of making it on the national music stage.
In an act of brazen financial and emotional risk taking, Steve maxed out his credit card to have the video created and uploaded to YouTube. As of this writing, it has been viewed well over 850,000 times and closing in on a million. It's safe to say that the risk was worth it.
The song tells the story of a gay young man who is attracted to another man at a party. It looks like this might the beginning of a love story. But in a dramatic and long musical pause in the song, the handsome object of the gay man's affections rebuffs the advance after an impromptu kiss. And so the story ends quite sadly for the young man. It is a story about unrequited affection – something everyone can relate to, which makes the song and the video more universal in scope. It is this universal theme that has most contributed to the song's popularity on the web.
The emotional Grand has since told the story of his parents not accepting his sexuality at first, and having him enter into reparative therapy as well. The therapy was an attempt at therapists to help make homosexuals become heterosexuals. The idea is that if a gay man or woman really wants to be heterosexual, then with therapy, he or she can. The problem of course, is that homosexuality and heterosexuality are not choices but orientations. Many horror stories of gay men suffering terrible emotional trauma and even suicides as a result of the so-called reparative therapy have been uncovered. Currently, the barbaric therapy has been disavowed by most in the psychiatric community.
In taking this leap into the unknown and exposing his vulnerability, Steve Grand has touched many across the web. He also has leap frogged over the powers that be: the music labels, agents, radio DJs, and the colossal iTunes (his hit is not available on the widest electronic distributor).
Once again, the web proves itself as the ultimate disruptor of old power. With 7,000 bucks, supportive friends and family, talent, made for TV good looks, and a powerful story, Steve Grand has shown the power of branding and the infinite the reach of the web.
It's an all American story with a social twist set to song.
Kudos to Steve and all those out there who are willing to put themselves on the line by swallowing their fears and taking a chance. With all that is wrong in our country and economy, it's good to see good old-fashioned risk taking and success based on ones one authentic expression.