TEDxBroadway 2015 Video: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 11.27.59 AMEditor’s note: Jim curates TEDxBroadway each year, working with the speakers on their presentations and helping them to answer the question: “What’s the best Broadway can be?” Below is his insight into the process, so you can find out exactly how this informative and inspiring day comes together.

“I’m going to Kanye this moment!” Justin Paul said to me as we waited in the wings. Daniel J. Watts and Innerview were rocking the crowd to get the third session of TEDxBroadway 2015 started, and Benj and Justin were fired up to get on stage.

I assume Justin was joking, but just to be sure, I blocked his path to the stage.

The Pasek and Paul fans had been obvious at the event all day, and the energy to see them was spiking. I think they felt it. Even I did. By the time they took the stage (without a Kanye-style interruption), the two of them were flying.

In the months leading up to this talk, I’d listened to the evolution of their thoughts on the subject of being a writer or an artist in the 21st century. What I love most about their talk was the nuance: Yes, the tools of online media and social connection have created the platform on which they’ve built much of their burgeoning careers, but they’re not triumphalists about all of this. Benj and Justin feel very strongly about the importance of long-form content as the real point, the real payoff of the songwriting skills that they can sharpen and hone more frequently and with more feedback from real people because of outlets like YouTube.

They compared the online stuff to practicing free throws in basketball*: You can practice shooting all day long, but that doesn’t make you a good player, and it’s the totality, the whole “game” that really matters.

The video is below. Watch for yourself!

* … which is only worth one point.

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