The Wilderness Downtown

The biggest problem facing Arcade Fire is not enough people have heard their music.

Old time players and music business insiders constantly ask the question "How do I get paid?"  That’s important, but secondary to "How do I get heard?"

At dinner the other night, I asked how many people had heard Katy Perry’s "California Gurls".  You might be stunned, but most people had not.  Because they just didn’t have to.  The days of AM radio, when Beatles fans knew Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra hits because they couldn’t switch to another station and avoid them, are done.  We can avoid anything these days.  Hell, there’s so much information that we can’t even find what we want.  How do you get people to take notice?

It’s very hard if you’ve got no traction at all, if no one knows you.  Then, more than ever before, it’s about the quality of your product.  With so much music and information out there, your only hope for a toehold is quality.  But once you’ve achieved this, once you’ve got a fan base, how do you grow, how do you get people to listen?

I never listen to FM radio.  Never ever.

I’m a big fan of satellite radio, but most people have no access to it.

And I hate Pandora.

I like Slacker.

In other words, by time you deal with everybody’s predilections, you discover you go down a lot of blind alleys if you’re trying to promote something, it just doesn’t reach the target audience.  But if you’ve already got traction, a fan base to spread the word, and you create something incredibly cool using new technology, the word can spread, like wildfire, almost instantly.

Who even knows if the "Wilderness Downtown" story will make the mainstream press.  But even if it does, it’ll be at least a day behind in the newspaper and a week or a month later in a magazine, whereas this is exploding online right now!
Yes, go to:

Oh, I forgot to tell you, you need to download Google’s Chrome browser first.  Mashable says the video will murder Safari, I tried in the Apple browser, but I felt I was missing something, so I finally downloaded Chrome.  This is how you tie in with a corporation, one that has a need, that most people see as benign (then again, after the Google/Verizon net neutrality announcement, Google’s cred is teetering).

Then enter your home address.  If it’s not in the Google system, if you get the error message stating that "Your address doesn’t contain enough Street-View and/or Google Maps data to 100% enjoy this experience.", put in another address you’re familiar with.

Then watch.  To the end.

I don’t think the video is as cool as billed, but when you get to the writing a postcard to your little self at home, be sure to do it, it’s amazing!

Bottom line, my inbox is filling up with this story.  I’ve seen it on Twitter.  To the point where I checked the clip out.  And I’m now telling you.

So millions of people will hear Arcade Fire’s new single, "We Used To Wait".  Some will already know it and will kvell at the breakthrough of their favorite artists.  Others will forward the link even if they don’t like the song, their friends may end up watching the clip and loving the music.

This is how you do publicity today.

And know that the shelf-life online is very brief.  

The key is to burnish Arcade Fire’s image and build awareness of the act and ultimately its fan base.

As for monetization, that’s further down the road.  But it can only come if people know who you are and hear your music.

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