I recently read On a Cold Road by Dave Bidini. The book is based on Bidini’s journals and chronicles the Rheostatic’s cross Canada tour with the Tragically Hip in 1996. It includes anecdotes by other Canadian artists on touring, recording records, making it big or trying to make it big. I really enjoyed this book and it got me thinking about how times have changed in the music business. Bands still tour, and probably still go through a lot of the things described in the book, but promotion has definitely changed. For artists, YouTube has definitely opened many doors. I recently saw a video by Burlington band Walk Off the Earth.
This video showcases the band’s talent in an interesting way (all playing off of the same guitar and taking turns singing) and quickly went viral.
Because of this video, and with much campaigning from fans of the video, Walk Off the Earth was invited to play on Ellen. What an amazing opportunity that probably wouldn’t have been possible (or at least as likely) before the age of YouTube. If you liked this video you should also see their rendition of LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem and Adele’s Someone Like You. They’re amazingly talented.
The success of Walk Off the Earth on YouTube reminds me of the band Pomplamoose. I first heard about Pomplamoose when they were profiled on NPR in a segment about “Making a Living on YouTube.” Although at the time, Pomplamoose didn’t have a record or a publicist, they had millions of hits on YouTube and were able to make a living by selling their songs on iTunes. One of the things that made Pomplamoose stand out from other talented artists on YouTube was how their videos are made. According to the notes on their videos This cover is a VideoSong, a new medium with 2 rules:
1. What you see is what you hear (no lip-syncing for instruments or voice).
2. If you hear it, at some point you see it (no hidden sounds).
One of my favourites by them is still their cover of Telephone:
Finally, another YouTube sensation who I love is Mike Tompkins (also Canadian). Tompkins hit it big when Perez Hilton reposted his a capella cover of Teenage Dream. What sets Tompkins apart is that all of the music in his videos is completely a capella and all instruments/sounds are from his mouth and his hands. Ellen saw the video and he also performed on her show (yay Ellen for supporting Canadian YouTube artists!).
Here’s Tompkins’ Teenage Dream video:
There’s a lot of talent in the world and I love how with YouTube, a little creativity and ingenuity these artists have managed to break out. I can’t wait to see what the next YouTube sensation comes up with!