The last couple days Canadian indie Youtube sensation Dave Carroll is everywhere. I first heard about him on the Ceeb, and by then, I think his Youtube video sensation “United Breaks Guitars” had already garnered half a million hits. In a strange twist of life, getting his guitar violated by an airline was maybe the best thing that ever happened to him. My indie Canadian music heart was swelling like a hot air balloon.
The story goes that United Airlines busted up his guitar — any musician knows this is like someone breaking your arm — and they refused to do right by him. So vowed to take to the interwebs and put out three videos detailing his bad customer experience and wrote up his story. I imagine, at the time, they thought “What harm can this do?”
Well, they got some really funny, really touching, really bad press. They probably hadn’t bet on Dave having some nice songwriting chops. They probably forgot how much people like to tell a great story. They probably didn’t expect the Globe and Mail to pick it up… Or ABC. Or for the big O (Oprah) to be ringing him. Did they forget about the power of the viral collective?
This is how I’ve come to think of ‘new media’. It’s not about so-called social media mavens on Twitter, it’s not about ads on Facebook… it’s about the idea that if one voice is particularly interesting, on one particular subject, it actually has a window into the collective consciousness of the world. It’s about access. Everyone has access. Most people will never get heard much, but still, they can sure darn try.
So corporations, take note. If you want to treat your customers like crap, you are free to do it. But don’t forget, everybody can broadcast it now. It’s not that you should be perfect, but you have to be prepared to go up against David. And everybody knows, David always wins against Goliath.