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With over 7 million copies sold, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop” is one of the highest selling singles of the past few years.
But WHY was the song such a huge success? And what can you learn from it if you want to score the NEXT big hit?
Here are 5 key insights:
1. It’s A Single
Did you know Thrift Shop was the 5th in a series of singles released from The Heist?
The first single was “My Oh My” (released December 2010). It completely failed to chart. About a month later came “Wing$” (released January 2011), but it didn’t really catch on either. Then, “Can’t Hold Us” (released August 2011) as the third, and a year later “Same Love” (released July 2012) as the 4th single…
…but it wasn’t until AFTER “Thrift Shop” (released August 2012) blew up in October of 2012, that the previous songs climbed the charts, too.
So what’s the lesson? Release and promote a series of individual songs. And: If it’s not a hit, switch. Don’t keep pushing a song that’s not getting any traction on its own. Keep releasing new songs until one catches on.
A couple months back when Ad Age’s staff began working on our Music Issue, I started to obsess about the inextricable link between music and viral media. Think of a pop-cultural moment that’s “gone viral,” and chances are pretty good it’s music-related. (Unless, of course, it’s a cat video. Then again, Keyboard Cat was nothing without his Yamaha.)
Was it possible, I wondered, to pin down the most viral moment in music history?
I also wondered about what, exactly, constitutes historical virality. It’s obviously easier in a post-YouTube/Facebook/Twitter world to quantify buzz. But then again, you might argue that in a pre-social world with way fewer entertainment options — and more of a tendency toward monoculture — what we collectively were all buzzing about routinely had a lot more scale (like when the series finale of “M*A*S*H” drew more than 100 million viewers).
TV and radio powered the popular-music-related conversation for most of the modern age. But was media-prescribed, marketing-driven virality automatically less “organic”? Sure, arguably. Or, you know, maybe people just really liked Michael Jackson.
At any rate, as a sort of thought exercise about the nature of pre- and post-internet music culture, I’ve put together a short list of the most viral moments in modern pop-music history — with “modern” starting, for the sake of argument, 50 years ago. Which means the British Invasion of American prime-time TV makes the cut, but not Elvis’ televised (and semi-censored) hip-swiveling in 1956.
I excluded moments that were purely musical — which means no record releases, epochal or otherwise (like, say, the Aug. 8, 1988 release of N.W.A.’s “Straight Outta Compton,” which ushered in the gangsta rap era). And I left out notable births (e.g., the launch of MTV on Aug. 1, 1981) and artist deaths.
What I was looking for, generally, was viral musical moments that had multimedia dimensionality and which rocked the culture.
Given the way people actually watch music videos these days, or even the way they straight-up listen to music, a YouTube Music Awards show makes way more sense than, say, the continued existence of the MTV Video Music Awards. And this fall, the website will kick off its first-ever annual awards show. As Billboard reports, the people at YouTube have tapped Spike Jonze, arguably the greatest music-video director ever, to be the show’s creative director, which strikes me as a very smart decision. Actor and former Phantom Planet drummer Jason Schwartzman will host the show, and the list of performers will include Arcade Fire, Lady Gaga, and Eminem. Check out a preview video below:
The 90-minute show goes down 11/3 at New York’s Pier 36, and we’ll presumably learn about the live webcast soon.
Source: Stereogum (by Tom Breihan)
Music videos are no small potatoes for YouTube, and Google’s looking at making them bigger in Google Search results — literally.
As part of Google’s quest to more tightly integrate its different services, the company appears to be experimenting with how music videos appear in Google Search results, according to the blog Google Operating System. The top search result for a music video would be significantly larger preview of the video itself, in the style of a Google Now card, with additional information such as the artist name, song title, album name, and year released.
It’s not clear if the preview will let you play the video directly from the search results list, or if you’ll have to click through to YouTube. It’s also unclear whether Google will be opening this test out to more people.
ARTISTS / LABELS: Monetize your videos on YouTube through ONErpm’s Premium Network and earn more revenue! Get started by emailing email@example.com!
Source: CNET (by Seth Rosenblatt)
The popularity of YouTube and other social media sites have turned even intimate concerts into collaborative video events. On the positive side, it’s convenient to log onto YouTube and occasionally see a decent-quality clip of a concert you missed, or a song a band previewed at a show. On the downside, it’s annoying as hell to try to watch a concert through a sea of arms holding their cell phones aloft like torches.
Recently, numerous artists from classical to classic rock have spoken out about fans that film concerts. Prince has banned cell phones at his shows; and, in April before a gig at New York’sWebster Hall, alternative rock band Yeah Yeah Yeahs placed a sign on the door as fans entered the venue that read: “Please do not watch the show through a screen on your smart device/camera. Put that s*** away as a courtesy to the person behind you and to Nick, Karen and Brian.”
NME recently asked various musicians how they felt about fans filming concerts. Ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, who released his first solo album The Messenger this year, was the harshest critic.
"To stand there and just look at [a concert] through [a] phone is a completely wasted opportunity," he said — then became even more emphatic.
"I don’t mean to be unkind, but I think you should just put your phone down because you’re just being a d***, really. Just enjoy the gig. It’s a d*** job, filming a show. Let someone else be the d*** and watch it on YouTube.”
Most musicians interviewed by NME.com didn’t complain about the annoyance of phones held high or the money they’ll potentially lose from DVD sales. They seemed more concerned that those who are busy shooting a show don’t enjoy the most important part of being there in the first place.
"You’re really missing a sensory experience," Marr said. "One of the things about gigs is taking in what’s going on with people around you. Watching on a little screen – what a waste of time."
Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis agreed: “Part of the wider temptation [when you] go around an aquarium, is, instead of looking at the fish you take photos of the fish so you can show your friends and pretend you understand what a barramundi is. I think it’s better just to go and experience the gig.”
"I don’t know why they bother," added Alt-J keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton. "It’s going to look and sound really rubbish. And you’re hampering your own enjoyment of the gig by not concentrating on being there in the moment."
Some acts were more diplomatic. Fans with phones, they claim, are the least of their problems. “I have no problem with people making films at gigs,” said Biffy Clyro drummer Ben Johnston. “Almost everyone’s life is online all the time at the moment. We’re not one of these bands that’ll say don’t film us.”
Deap Vally drummer Julie Edwards took a free-spirited perspective on the issue. “I try not to hate anything people are doing at our gigs because I think hate is kind of a drag,” she said. “So I guess my message would people that people should be allowed to film if they want. What’s the big deal?”
Watch the full video here: http://www.nme.com/news/johnny-marr/71759
Source: Yahoo Music (by Jon Weiderhorn)