The dream of starting a band used to follow the basic formula. Play locally until you develop a following. Then get a manager. Then make a demo and hope someone discovers you and offers you ‘the big break’. However, with the introduction of the Internet, people can gain worldwide fame without leaving their homes.
One Canadian band, Walk Off The Earth of Burlington, Ontario, recently broke the mold with their online success. They formed in 2006 and found mild success covering songs by the American folk band The Gregory Brothers.
The group got lucky with the viral success of their cover of Gotye’s “Somebody that I Used to Know” back in 2012. The video featured the five band members, all huddled together, playing the same guitar in an acoustic version of the catchy pop song. Within the first week, the video had nearly 10 million views, reported the Huffington Post; today, it has over 163 million views.
Thanks to their viral status, the cover quickly grew to number 14 on the Billboard chart and even became the number one most purchased song on iTunes in Canada, Sweden and Germany. Several celebrities, including Russel Crowe, Justin Timberlake and Adele have given the band shout outs on their personal pages. The original singer, Gotye, emailed the group after hearing the cover and even tweeted:
I know who to ask for help with acoustic versions of Somebody: Walk Off The Earth http://t.co/vgnMmKvD Hilarious and brilliant
— gotye (@gotye) January 7, 2012
Soon after they exploded online, they where signed to Columbia Records, although most of their marketing and production remains in house. Most of the work is handled by the band members themselves.
Their online notoriety has resulted in an album, featuring the hit Gotye cover, several other popular song covers and even a few of their own original compositions. The group has also been able to tour both the U.S. and Europe, all thanks to their self promotion through YouTube.
Their YouTube videos mostly consist of popular pop songs covered with not so popular instruments, like the ukulele or theramin, as well as different loops that they create themselves.
Shortly after their viral success with the Gotye cover, the band gave this piece of advice to other musicians on their Facebook page;
“To all the independent musicians out there. I hope this shows that you can make a name for your band with no help from record labels and management and next to no money. Stay true to your dreams and your passions, whether they be music related or not. Don’t wait for people to help you because they never will. The only time the music industry will want to help you is when you have done all the work yourself!”
Image: Walk Off The Earth