Change or die. It’s a mantra I’m sure many of us have heard before.  If you refuse to adapt to changes in your surroundings, your community, or your industry… you’ll fall behind the competition.  Nowhere is this more true than in the world of viral video.

A great many unknown individuals have risen to fame with a surprise video hit.  And many are able to parlay that into further success—most often a sequel of sorts to their first hit.  But sadly, most fall back into obscurity after their time in the sun—their fifteen minutes—and the primary reason for this is refusal to change.  It’s a safe choice to stick with the formula that worked for you the first time, and more of a risk to try something new.

And while the public will definitely return again and again to a well they know has quenched their thirst for humor in the past… eventually that kind of success will die out.  Take the Hitler/Downfall meme, for example.  There have been hundreds and hundreds of those things, and some still even pull some decent view counts.  But by and large, the joke is no longer new for most viewers, and therefore not as funny.  Most jokes run their course eventually.

When our new friend Merton first arrived on the scene back in early 2010, I praised him for jumping on a hot-button trend (Chatroulette) as a platform for his talent.  And now I want to praise him again for stretching and adapting his act for life beyond Chatroulette’s live chatting service.

After a total of four videos—each one a montage of his patented improvisational songs on either Chatroulette or Omeagle’s live-video chat service—Merton has decided to branch out a little.  Leaving behind the video chat shtick, he instead took his act on the road… live… on the streets of Denver, Colorado:

When we interviewed Merton, in song—we found out that he’d been dabbling in live shows, and he even mentioned playing on one of the Denver street pianos before.  In the same song, he sang,

“I guess I recognize the impermanence of Chatroulette, so I’m looking for some real life scenarios.”

I guess then, that we shouldn’t be surprised to see him taking his act to a new arena.  Merton has graduated from Chatroulette.  Which isn’t a slight on Chatroulette at all.  But it’s impressive that Merton has figured out—early on—that a funny piano guy on a trendy chatting website is only going to go so far.

And what makes Merton so popular is his talent and humor, which have nothing to do with Chatroulette, as evidenced in the clip above.  So long as those two elements stay in place, there’s a whole world of venues where he can succeed.

What is it that makes your videos good? How can you take what’s worked in the past and adapt it… reinvigorate it with the spark of something new?  A lot of folks will have success with viral content, and some will even see lightning strike two or three times again after that initial run.  But the very best online video creators—the ones that will have the most lasting careers—are the ones who can break out of the mold of their early successes and continually find ways to reinvent themselves and evolve.