4 Steps To Getting 1.5 Million You Tube Views In Under 24 Hours (or: Walk Off The Earth and into fame)

Last Friday, you probably hadn’t heard of Walk Off The Earth. They were a little Canadian indie band – fronted by two street-buskers – adored by their steadily growing community of fans, but pretty much unknown to anyone else.

They were thinking they’d like to do a ‘world tour’ sometime but without a recording contract or much press it was a bit of a dream.

Friday January 6 was a normal day, and the band were editing and uploading a little You Tube video they’d made – not even an original, just a cover version of another band’s song.  (They meant to upload it on Thursday but got too tired and went to bed instead). Just another of thousands of bands out there making and uploading music for their fans.

24 Hours later this new video had 1.5 million views and Walk Off The Earth was one of the best known names on the internet.

Overnight, that new little video had been viewed 1.5 million times and has appeared on the front page of Reddit and You Tube, as well as on news channels and radio stations all over the world.

Overnight, the band had over 60,000 Facebook fans (and counting), Russell Crowe was tweeting them asking to collaborate, appearances on Good Morning America, their own Wikipedia page…

By the end of the weekend Walk Off The Earth went from an indie band most people never heard of, to one of the most downloaded bands on iTunes … and that was just the start.

What happened?

Remember, this wasn’t the band’s first You Tube release. They’d been making good stuff for a while. But there was a twist:

On this video, the band performs with 5 people playing 1 guitar. That’s right: 5 people on 1 guitar. 

Below is the video that made it all happen:


Aren’t they fabulous? Well I didn’t just write this to give you some entertainment (though that’s always a good result, right?)


Seriously, I think there are things we can all learn from this story. These lessons can be used by any business wanting to get noticed – not just bands. You don’t need even one guitar to learn from this.


You see, this is about more than 5 people hopping on one guitar. That alone wouldn’t have got these results. Instead WOTE followed 4 steps which shot them into overnight fame.


4 Steps to Remarkable

Step 1. Do great work (average is not an option).


Uber-viral only happens when there is something worth noticing. WOTE were working consistently to improve their work, and deserved the notice even before they got it. As one of their fans put it a few hours before ‘that video’ went live:



There’s no point having a funny gimmick if there’s no quality to hold attention for more than 5 seconds. This isn’t the story of 5 people on one guitar, it’s 5 people working to do great stuff, consistently. That was the cornerstone to everything else that happened.


But of course there is no point doing great work if there’s no one there to notice, right? So that’s step 2.


Step 2. Build a following


Walk Off The Earth already had a loyal following who they clearly care about. Check this out:


They call their fans WOTE-lings (cute). They include gifts from fans in their videos. They take requests for cover songs to perform on You Tube. They are likeable and funny and interact with their fans consistently. They give a lot of work away for free.

By the time they came up with the idea of putting 5 people on 1 guitar they had earned the attention and social media shares their fans gave them. As one fan said:




Did you notice that comment mentions “the massive amount of free entertainment” the band provided?. Let’s talk about that.

WOTE regularly released their music for free on You Tube (as well as having paid for downloads available for each track – they’re generous, not stupid). This free stuff is key.

Free work is what fuels fandom. If you want people to love you enough to pay and spread the word, you have to love them enough to give away quality for free.



Even if what you sell is information, support or ideas: how can you go viral if there is nothing for your biggest fans to share?

This is going to sound dumb but I’ll say it anyway: if 5 people on 1 guitar was a paid-for download no one would have noticed it.

Yes, I know it’s obvious but think about the implications. Are you afraid of giving away your advice in a free ebook or audio because you think that no one will pay you anything more? Are you holding back out of fear of being ripped off?

It isn’t just about one freebie either. WOTE built up its following through their plethora of free work. People saw it, shared it, loved it and the word spread.

This is how viral happened:

It was the initial Facebook shares by WOTE’s core fans that got the video noticed by other people, who passed it on to their friends, who passed it on to their friends… and that’s how it ended up on the front page of Reddit. Everything snowballed from there… but it all started with the core fans who couldn’t wait to share.

– You only get what you give out. What are you giving out right now?

– If you made this same video today (or an audio or an ebook) how many people would share it?

– If you don’t have a following you need to sort that out ASAP. Luckily that’s something anyone can do.

Start today: give something away, make that something good.

Continue to listen and learn and interact to the people who love it.  Really listen to them, respond to their needs, and love them to bits.

That’s a much smarter way than being one of the million voices on the internet shouting to be noticed.

The next step is giving your people something they can’t wait to share.


Step 3. Do something worth remarking on: 5 people on 1 guitar.


I’ll keep this short: this video got shared because it was so unusual. 5 people on 1 guitar is something else. That’s why it got on the front page of papers, on the front page of social media sites and it’s why people gave it the initial click.

WOTE knew this when they posted the video on Friday:










WOTE had been doing unusual remarkable work for a while (see their old video where they catch a ukelele), they took risks, they didn’t hold back and didn’t pretend to be anyone other than themselves. Their viral video showcased this in bright lights.

You can do this too no matter how ‘serious’ your business. You don’t have to do Richard Branson style stunts to get noticed. What can you do that is just that little bit different from the herd? What are others not saying that actually a lot of your tribe are thinking? What would you do if you weren’t worried people would laugh at you?

Do that. But also know that a gimmick alone isn’t enough, going viral takes one more step:


Step 4. Be freaking amazing


Here’s what happened when I saw this song on a friend’s Facebook page on Saturday morning.

1. I watched the video 3 times in a row. Then I watched it again.

2. I friended WOTE on Facebook, stalked their back catalogue, and paid to download a bunch of their stuff of iTunes

3. Then I went to the shop to get a device that lets you play iphone via your car radio. Yes, I went to get a piece of technology just so I could listen to them while driving.


Turns out that was a pretty normal response. WOTE’s social media is clogged with love-messages from people who can’t get over this piece:



Times that message by 10,000 and they are still rolling in. At one stage I was refreshing the band’s fan page every hour and seeing fan numbers rise by 10,000 every time. This doesn’t happen because of a clever gimmick!


Most people think this is about 5 people on one guitar, but I disagree.


Here’s the real secret behind their success: check the thousand of comments on WOTE’s Facebook page and Twitter stream where brand new fans (like me!) are raving about this video. Read it carefully. Do you see what I see? Yes, almost none of these comments mention the gimmick of 5 people playing 1 guitar.

All of them mention the beauty, quality and depth of the band’s music, and the fabulous personalities that shine through. The comments are “I love you guys, your music is amazing and I can’t believe I just discovered you!”. Not “you fit 5 people on 1 guitar, ha ha”.


The gimmick (5 people, 1 guitar) reels in the attention and then it’s converted to uber-viral status, solid fans and real success by true quality (ie: beautiful voices, and a great cover version, all of which came about from the time spent practicing and refining their work in public, not hidden in their bedrooms waiting for perfection).


The result?







Somehow, I’m betting they’ll be able to justify that world tour after all.



They happen over dozens of long nights spent building up something that matters. Building up the quality of your work your community and getting clear who you are. Putting it out there rather than hiding in your bedroom waiting to be perfect.

Yes putting yourself out there can be a scary thought.

But, follow this path, and when people look at you and say “you’re so lucky,  you’re an overnight success” you’ll smile because you know the truth is that you did built this over night: over many, many late nights working your heart out for something you care about.

This isn’t the story of 5 people and a guitar. It’s the story of how they created their own ‘overnight success’, and how you can too.

You have the formula right here: do great work, build and care for your tribe, create something worth remarking on and continute to put quality out there.

You have access to the same technology and resources as they do.

You know the secret. Are you up for doing the work?

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