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What Pharrell William’s song “Happy” Can Teach About Marketing

I was watching the CBS broadcast Sunday Morning a few weeks ago. They were discussing Pharrell Williams and his new hit song Happy. The conversation was how he had actually released the song with the movie Despicable Me 2 in July of 2013. Now, almost a year later, it is finally making its way onto the radio. What’s funny is I hadn’t heard this song until about three weeks ago. Now I’m hearing it almost every day. The broadcast said it has actually gone number 1 in multiple countries and they contributed it to the music video he recently created. 
This got me to thinking about the publishing world. I know a lot of independently published authors who claim success stories on novels they published ten years prior. This would never happen in traditional publishing houses for the mere fact that the book would have been abandoned a long time ago. However, I do remember an English teacher saying Charles Dickens was not held to such high esteem while he was around to enjoy his following.

The question becomes, how does something go from being a dud to being a trendy success? I think the first ingredient is someone who believes in the work. The scariest thing I ever heard was that Harry Potter almost wasn’t published. In fact, the publisher didn’t want to print it until his little daughter begged him to. Someone obviously believed in Pharrell’s song if they put out a music video months after it didn’t take off in a movie. Most of the time, the person who has to believe in the work is the author. I keep reading and hearing this point recently. That seems scary since I’m so critical of my work, but I get their point. 

The second ingredient is patience. With more and more technology emerging, we are becoming a “right now” society. We want to see immediate results. I am an impatient person, so this really appeals to my nature, but there is a reason why they say “patience is a virtue.” Some things just have to grow. It takes time, especially in books, for things to catch on. People have to read a book. They have to tell their friends. Those friends have to read the book. So on and so forth. I once read that a traditional publisher takes a book out of print in less than 2 years. That’s scary to me. Authors need time to work, especially when technology has made it easier for everyone to speak.

Lastly, I think the timing is key. Pharrell contributes the lack of attention for his song in Despicable Me 2 because it was unlike most songs out at the time. I know I have heard this idea of timing before, another reason why waiting may be important. What interests me is that for whatever reason Pharrell wasn’t noticed in a movie that hit pretty big, but he was noticed in a music video, which many say is obsolete. Maybe the video hit more to his market. I think we can all learn from his story. Don’t be rash…have patience.