Something Phenomenal Happened

Something phenomenal happened during our Austin City Limits Festival live webcast this past weekend.
A band blew up right before our eyes DURING the Festival weekend.
It happened online.
And it further proved that in 2011 Festival webcasts are making a difference for artists.

Full disclosure: I produce the live webcasts and the video at the ACL Festival (and Lollapalooza and Coachella).

Here’s what happened.

In addition to the live webcast of 50 bands, we were asked by YouTube if we could clear at least 4 artist-approved songs for the online Archives by the end of Friday night.
If so, they would promote these videos on the YT Home Page on Saturday, and drive traffic to the ACLFestival page.
We scrambled and got approved titles from Coldplay, Foster the People, Brandi Carlile, and Smith Westerns.
And an emerging band called Cults, who played first-up on Friday at 11:45am, in front of a few hundred on a small stage, just about the lowest slot at the Fest.

The YT Home Page promo went up mid-Saturday.
By midnight on Saturday 160,000 people has streamed the VOD of Cults buzzed-about song ‘Go Outside.’
At that point Coldplay’s new single Paradise was at 150,000 streams. Foster’s hit also had big numbers.
By Sunday the Cults number was 320,000; Coldplay tracking right with them.
As of Tuesday evening when I’m writing this, uber-stars Coldplay are at 502,817 streams, and Cults are right there at 502,416.
Five Hundred Thousand Streams in 4 days!!!
It’s not a dancing cat or a cute baby.
It’s a song.
I knew Cults had a buzz, but WOW.

All these videos and dozens more below:

I just like this story.
Young band, barely out of the basement, gets blog love, still getting their shit together, hasn’t toured much, record just out.
Then HUGE CRAZY numbers of fans find them this week online, and see that they are cool.
And this costs the band nothing.
The label didn’t do it.
The festival promoters (C3 Presents) made this happen (and YouTube, more on them later).
Everyone on the band’s team gets jazzed.
They sell-out more shows.
Get to make more records.
Rock ‘n Roll lives to fight another day.

And it’s surely not our video genius that’s making this happen.
Frankly, our video for Cults is not so damn good.
It was Noon (!), first band of the first day, our smallest stage, director hasn’t settled in, doesn’t even know his cameramen’s names yet.
It’s 101 degrees in Texas, band is barely awake, crowd is just arriving.
We only had 3 cameras working there, so I’m just thrilled we even caught it properly.
It’s all live/live, no edits, no remix.
But a hit’s a hit!

Cults are far from the only ones to benefit from Fest webcasts.
At Coachella the indie-band Freelance Whales told me they vaulted into the top Twitter Trends during their webcast performance.
Foster the People at Lolla got crazy numbers for their perf video of Pumped Up Kicks.
Coldplay has blogged repeatedly about their Festival webcasts, and the traffic has followed.
My Morning Jacket’s’s online fans came back to the band with tons of love for their Lolla and ACL shows.
Just a few examples, but literally every band connects.

So what changed in 2011?
It’s on YouTube, that’s what.
You need a great Festival, committed promoters, and a sponsor who wants to be part of it all.
But YouTube brings it to the people globally, and then let’s them know it’s there.
At Coachella, we cleared Arcade at 5pm on showday, and Kanye at 8pm on showday, and YouTube still got the word out.
They sit in our trucks all weekend, and tweak the user experience non-stop.
And get this, they care about the music. I’m telling you, they are passionate.

So good for Cults AND Coldplay.
And good for another band next time.

Bob Lefsetz
Hank Neuberger, Springboard Productions

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