Five Reasons
Miley Cyrus
David J. Deal
If you thought Miley Cyrus had her 15
minutes of fame in 2013
Think again
Five reasons Miley Cyrus is unstoppable
1. She makes enduring pop music
2. She collaborates wisely
3. She’s an artist for the visual age
4. She gets social media
5. She’s touring
Miley Cyrus is here to stay
Thank You
David Deal
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Five Reasons Miley Cyrus Is Unstoppable


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Love her. Hate her. And learn from her. Miley Cyrus has learned how to engage and hold fan interest in a society that suffers from mass ADD. All that twerking, smirking, tongue wagging, and singing attracts our attention -- and her music keeps us listening. This presentation discusses five reasons why her brand is getting bigger, including her ability to collaborate with others, her mastery of social media, her strength as a visual artist, and the enduring appeal of her pop music. This presentation contains detailed speaker notes.

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  • It’s time for the Miley Cyrus bashers to wake up to a stark reality: Miley Cyrus ain’t going away. Not in 2014. Not anytime soon. Why? Because when you peel away the layers of twerk-inspired controversy, Miley Cyrus is creating good pop music. And with a major tour in full swing, Miley Cyrus is in our faces even more than she was in 2013.
  • As we all know, Miley Cyrus had a very big year in 2013. After all, she was a Time Person of the Year finalist for 2013, giving Pope Francis a run for his money by igniting a passionate debate about sexuality, race, and cultural values. Yeah, she annoyed the hell out of a lot of people with her blatantly calculated campaign to destroy the innocent Hannah Montana character she had carefully cultivated for years. She introduced many of us to twerking. She made a public display of lighting up a joint onstage in Amsterdam. She basically made a public display of herself. Resident grumpy rock authority Bob Lefsetz spoke for many when he wrote,“Let’s ignore Miley Cyrus. Let’s ignore Kim Kardashian. If we stop paying attention to these no-talents there will be a better chance of true talents emerging."
  • Well, Bob Lefsetz, we're not ignoring Miley Cyrus. As 2013 becomes a distant memory, Miley Cyrus is in our faces and her brand is just getting bigger and bigger. She consistently ranks very high in the weekly Billboard ranking of the most talked about artists on social. She has a net worth of $150 million and is launching a high-profile tour to promote her successful Bangerz album. She's making headlines once again with her recently published stunning, provocative photo shoots for W and German Vogue.
  • Miley Cyrus is dominating once again for five very important reasons that other artists would do well to take to heart . . .
  • First, and most importantly, she has talent. When you peel away the layers of twerk-inspired controversy, Miley Cyrus is creating good pop music. After listening to the latest edition of her constantly reinventing sound, I have to say, yeah, she delivers some fun, engaging pop on her first non-Disney album — the kind of pop that will endure if she plays her cards right.
    You already know about the big moments from Bangerz — how could anyone escape the much discussed and spoofed video for “Wrecking Ball?” Miley Cyrus swinging around naked on a wrecking ball got tongues wagging. But the video is just a way (and an effective one at that) to get attention amid the white noise flooding our multi-tasking lives. On the song itself, she reveals the kind of talent that will sustain her. Her vocals soar with the kind of epic style that Alicia Keys attempted with “Girl on Fire,” but without any of Keys’s self-conscious posing. The rest of Bangerz delivers, well crafted, sultry, and downright fun R&B, ranging from the sultry “Adore You” to the sassy “SMS (Bangerz),” which features a guest vocal from Britney Spears.
    She would become a fly-by-night fad except for one important factor: there is a foundation of talent beneath the marketing hype. Although Bangerz has its detractors, the album has also earned favorable reviews from influencers such as Allmusic, Entertainment Weekly, Los Angeles Times, and Rolling Stone providing favorable reviews.  According to Allmusic, "Brassy empowerment jams like "Maybe You're Right," "Do My Thang," and "FU" sell Cyrus as an independent woman, and the album accomplishes that mission: Bangerz transforms Miley into a pop star who won't -- and can't -- be ignored as she rings in her twenties."(Here is a link to the positives and negative reviews aggregated on Metacritic.)
    As if to prove herself as a talented singer, Cyrus of late has sprinkled into her music more subdued moments that draw attention to her voice -- including appearances on Saturday Night Live and MTV, where her voice was allowed to shine beyond the theatrics. Entertainment Weekly reacted to her SNL appearance by saying, "Say what you will about Miley Cyrus, but you’ve got to admit a few things: One, the girl clearly has a healthy sense of humor. And two, when she’s not distracting you with foam fingers and errant tongues and several square inches of bare skin, it’s a lot easier to appreciate how good her singing voice really is.
    Her approach is working. Bangerz debuted at Number One on the Billboard charts (her fifth Number One) and has so far outsold Lady Gaga’s much-ballyhooed ARTPOP.
  • Cyrus also knows how to collaborate with high-profile artists to complement her talent and also build her brand by association with names who are as big or bigger than she is. For instance, on Bangerz is that Cyrus collaborates with musicians such as Spears and Nelly without being overpowered by them. And bringing in the red hot Pharrell to produce a handful of the album’s songs is a masterstroke. Madonna joined her for a duet on Cyrus's recent appearance on MTV Unplugged. "Ever the trooper, Madge tongued it out right along with her," reported Rolling Stone. "Two tongues, two great artists, one magical night." Too often, collaborations with multiple artists and producers result in a disjointed, forced listening experience, which is thankfully not the case with Bangerz. Miley Cyrus holds her own quite well.
  • Like Lady Gaga, she is the perfect artist for the visual age. We live at a time when more than half of adult Internet users post photos online, and five tweets per second contain a Vine link. Miley Cyrus is twerking and smirking in public for a reason: she understands that now, more than ever, being visual makes you stand apart and make a statement, which is absolutely necessary for her to break away from the innocent brand she created with Disney for many years. It's no accident that her entire personal on digital relies heavily on visuals, including her website and social spaces. You explore her website by clicking on a nonstop collage of Miley images, each leading you down another path to see more of her, whether on Instagram or on Facebook. And her Bangerz tour, launched on February 14, is a visual feast, full of props ranging from a flying hot dog to a huge blow-up of her face (from which she emerges to sing her opening song). As Rolling Stone reported of the opening night, "When the house lights dimmed, all eyes were focused at the back of the stage where a massive 50-foot screen projected a pre-made video of Miley's head, her eyes rolling and her mouth opening and closing, robot-style. Suddenly, out of that video "mouth" fell a massive, inflatable tongue. The actual Miley then emerged from between her own tonsils, and she took a ride to the stage floor via her pink slippery slope, while the audience screams filled the stadium."
    Especially when performing in large auditoriums that generate the major touring revenue, artists need to be as visual as they are musical. So far, Cyrus is delivering.
  • Miley Cyrus is not the only high-profile musician on social media. But she's one of the few who really get it. She is known for having used Twitter to build grassroots support for her new music. She uses social as an extension of her provocative persona as effectively as the most adroit brands. She cross-pollinates her social spaces with a steady stream of provocative visual content, such as the photos from her MTV Unplugged appearance she recently posted on her Facebook wall and Instagram. She also gives fans a peak inside her world, such as the behind-the-scenes diary of the rehearsals for her Bangerz tour. She cross-promotes her content on Twitter and shares fairly random observations about life in the process, but the visually oriented platforms are really where she excels. Oh, and she engages with fans, such as inviting one Matt Peterson to hang with her in concert after Peterson launched a campaign to get her to go the prom with him. If she wanted to, she could probably launch her own social site like Lady Gaga has. But for now, she's doing what artists need to do in order to succeed in the digital era: share with their fans 24/7 instead of hiding behind a veil of secrecy. It's no wonder she has racked up 42.7 million Facebook Likes (more than Starbucks has) and 17.1 Twitter followers (roughly the same as Eminem). For 94 weeks, she's been on the Billboard Social 50, usually ranking quite high. (The Billboard Social 50 is a ranking of the most active artists on the world's leading social networking sites. Artists' popularity is determined by a formula blending their weekly additions of friends/fans/followers along with artist page views and weekly song plays, as measured by Next Big Sound.)
  • Her music, collaborative approach, visual storytelling skills, and social media mastery are converging on her Bangerz tour, which kicked off February 14. She collaborated with several designers on costumes, including Roberto Cavalli, Jeremy Scott, the Blonds, and Marc Jacobs. Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi has created visual props, including "imaginative animals he's made on his own." The concerts have have no time limit, and she's enlisted strong opening acts in Icona Pop and Sky Ferrera.
    The tour was making headlines before it even launched, especially after Cyrus announced that the tour would be educational for kids. As she told Fuse News, " "Even though parents probably won't think this, I think my show is educational for kids. They're going to be exposed to art most people don't know about." But she also relied on her own media platforms to build buzz for her tour. A photo of herself riding a giant hot dog in rehearsal was re-tweeted 17,000 times in five days.
    The tour was gaining positive reviews after Cyrus descending on Vancouver for opening night. Reviewing the opening-night concert, Rolling Stone wrote, "Cyrus delivered on the campy, the vampy and an assortment of other cheeky behaviors with a clear aim to distance herself ever further from the land of Hannah Montana. That said, looking past the shock and awe, Cyrus delivered fantastic vocals all evening long." According to Billboard, "Vancouver residents were treated to hot, steamy Valentine's Day evening, courtesy of Miley Cyrus' long-anticipated Bangerz Tour." As USA Today noted, ". . . she belted out the songs like a diva with a grudge. She might not have the most distinctive voice, but she can hit those notes and hold them, and many of the songs showcase this brilliantly."
    One cautionary note: as Forbes and USA Today note, there is a risk that a combination of high ticket prices and media saturation could hamper tour sales. None of her shows has sold out yet. But ticket sales are strong, and she's targeted to gross $100 million. International dates have been added beyond the initial North American run. To date, the tour is acting as a strong statement about all aspects of her brand; I predict that when the ticket and merchandise sales are tallied, Bangerz will be a triumph, especially as more concert goers on the fence read reviews such as this one from the Examiner, which calls her "outrageously entertaining."
  • Love her. Hate her. Despise her. And learn from her. Miley Cyrus has learned how to engage and hold fan interest in a society that suffers from mass ADD. All that twerking, smirking, tongue wagging, and singing attracts our attention -- and her music keeps us listening.
  • Miley Cyrus will keep us watching and listening by cranking out good pop, collaborating with superstar brands, being visual, and being social – both onstage and offstage.
  • Five Reasons Miley Cyrus Is Unstoppable

    1. 1. Five Reasons Miley Cyrus Is Unstoppable David J. Deal Instagram/davidjdeal
    2. 2. If you thought Miley Cyrus had her 15 minutes of fame in 2013
    3. 3. Think again
    4. 4. Five reasons Miley Cyrus is unstoppable
    5. 5. 1. She makes enduring pop music
    6. 6. 2. She collaborates wisely
    7. 7. 3. She’s an artist for the visual age
    8. 8. 4. She gets social media
    9. 9. 5. She’s touring
    10. 10. Miley Cyrus is here to stay
    11. 11. Thank You David Deal