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Of Monsters and Men - How an unknown Icelandic band became a huge success in the US without even visiting

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When an U.S. tour was announced in 2012 tickets to almost all concerts sold out in a day. How could this happen?

When an U.S. tour was announced in 2012 tickets to almost all concerts sold out in a day. How could this happen?

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  • 1. How an unknownIcelandic band became a huge success in the US without even visiting Twitter: @bolafsson Version #3.1 04/3/2012
  • 2. Of Monsters and Men is an Icelandic band that became popular in Iceland in 2010 ...and publishedits debut album only in Iceland
  • 3. …when U.S. tour was announced in 2012 …tickets to almost allconcerts sold out in a day …without visiting the U.S. …once
  • 4. Tickets for the Chicago show are selling online for the face valueSource: http://www.stubhub.com/search/doSearch?searchStr=of+monsters+and+men+chicago&pageNumber=1&resultsPerPage=50&searchMode=event&start=0&rows=50&geo_exp=1
  • 5. How did this happen?
  • 6. First US attention in Seattle in 2010 …after Iceland Airwaves 2010 Uploaded to YouTube in October 2010Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Dw8qdmT_aY
  • 7. …and “Little Talks” became popular on KEXP in Seattle …and the listeners loved it Ever since we started playing this song, listeners have been writing and calling in “ to ask where to find it. As of yet, the Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men do ” not have album to sell, but you should count yourself lucky to catch them right on the verge of blowing up.Source: http://blog.kexp.org/2010/12/16/song-of-the-day-of-monsters-and-men-little-talks/
  • 8. …but Nothinghappened
  • 9. First* local craze Was in Philly in the fall of ‘11*supported by Google search activity
  • 10. Airplay in Philly started late in August and made Of Monsters and Men a local favorite In August of 2011, my friend Bobby Malone visited Iceland and saw“ OMAM at Culture Day & heard them on Icelandic radio, and was very impressed; so, he sent me a link for the song which impressed me too. So, on August 25th, 2011, I downloaded a demo version of “Little Talks” from iTunes and played it for our audience who absolutely freaked ” out over the song John Allers, WRFF/Radio 104.5-Philadelphia: Program Director/Morning Host Google searches in PhillySource: http://www.google.com/insights/search/#q=%22of%20monsters%20and%20men%22%20-%22little%20monsters%22%20%2C%22little%20talks%22%2C&geo=US-PA-504&date=7%2F2011%2010m&cmpt=q
  • 11. ”Little Talks” become popular on Radio 104.5 in Philly I thought the song was pretty amazing, so shared it with you, the listeners “ of Radio 104.5, the next day and the response was absolutely overwhelming, so we continued to play it more…and ” more…and more!Source: http://www.radio1045.com/pages/johnny.html?article=9489997
  • 12. …and Of Monsters and Men topped stations Year-End lists 2011 Listener Survey Results • Runner up: Best New Artist for 2011 • Honorable Mention: Most Anticipated Album for 2012 2011 Staff Picks • Johnny: Top Song #1: Little Talks • Johnny: Best NEW Artist of 2011 • A.J.: Best NEW Artist of 2011 • Ray: Top Song #4: Little Talks • Amanda: Top Song #4: Little TalksSource: http://www.radio1045.com/pages/year-end-survey/2011-staffpicks.html#ixzz1qSZYO1o3
  • 13. …but nothing reallyhappened
  • 14. The band got some other (minor) US attention last fallSource: http://mplayer.pastemagazine.com/issues/week-10/articles
  • 15. …one example was this coverage in Paste Magazine in Sept ‘11Source: http://mplayer.pastemagazine.com/issues/week-10/articles#article=/issues/week-10/articles/of-monsters-and-men-icelands-folk-pop-stars
  • 16. …still nothing reallyhappened
  • 17. but soon everythingwould change
  • 18. The first success breakthrough was at Iceland Airwaves in Oct ’11 …and they landed an international record deal with Universal few days laterSource: http://ofmonstersandmenmusic.tumblr.com/page/10
  • 19. …after the festival David Fricke of Rolling Stone Magazine labeled them “the New Arcade Fire”Source: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/blogs/alternate-take/sinead-oconnor-yoko-ono-and-new-arcade-fire-of-monsters-and-men-rock-reykjavik-20111019
  • 20. Expect them to be all over “ Americas indie radar shortly. ”Source: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/blogs/alternate-take/sinead-oconnor-yoko-ono-and-new-arcade-fire-of-monsters-and-men-rock-reykjavik-20111019
  • 21. …but nothing really happened
  • 22. …at year end “Little Talks” and Of Monsters and Men had become talk of the town(s)Source: http://www.google.com/trends/?q=%22little+talks%22&ctab=0&geo=us&geor=all&date=ytd&sort=0/
  • 23. So why then?
  • 24. A Buzz built up…Source: http://ofmonstersandmenmusic.tumblr.com/page/12
  • 25. …and people started to look more for the song and the band on GoogleSource: http://www.google.com/trends/?q=%22little+talks%22,+%22of+monsters+and+men%22&ctab=0&geo=us&geor=all&date=ytd&sort=0
  • 26. “Little Talks” gets many million views on YouTubeSource: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=little+talks&oq=little+talks&aq=f&aqi=g10&aql=&gs_sm=3&gs_upl=1002l2094l0l2202l12l9l0l1l1l0l157l591l2.3l5l0
  • 27. …and number of fans increases by ~1000 a daySource: http://nextbigsound.com/323522/stats-Of-Monsters-And-Men#323522----fans
  • 28. At year-end ‘11 over 40 music blogs had praised them With the eminent release of their [Of ” Monsters and Men’s] debut sometime “ at the end of the summer, Id urge you to listen to two tracks and sit back as the group blows up in the near future.Source: http://thisbonustrack.com/2011/08/29/of-monsters-and-men/
  • 29. ...and fans on Facebook and Twitter told their network about this band
  • 30. …and things started to move…quickly
  • 31. The digital EP became a bestseller in the US iTunes chose “Little Talks” as “Single of the Week” and the EP exceeded sales of 22k in “ one short month. As of now [February 8th], various digital sales have surpassed 100k cumulatively, making the band the #2 best- ” selling alternative artist of 2012Source: http://www.theblueindian.com/features/band-of-the-month/february-2012-band-of-the-month-of-monsters-and-men/
  • 32. …and is in good company among Recent HitsJanuary 8th 2012: #18 on the iTunes chart of Top Albums in the U.S.
  • 33. …a huge US success …without evenvisiting the country …once
  • 34. Success = Some Talent + Luck Great Success = Some Talent + a lot of LuckSource: Daniel Kahneman
  • 35. Luck is Good(and needed)
  • 36. Anybody can win in the viral lottery …even a band from a small town in IcelandMore: Salganik,, Duncan Watts, Experimental Study of Inequality and Unpredictability in an Artificial Cultural Market
  • 37. This would not have been possible withoutthe social influence and unpredictability of the Internet
  • 38. That’s why…
  • 39. Album is Out: My Head Is an AnimalSource: http://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/my-head-is-an-animal/id509345651
  • 40. Check out Of Monsters and Men• http://www.ofmonstersandmen.is/• https://www.facebook.com/ofmonstersandmen• https://twitter.com/monstersandmen• http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/of-monsters-and-men/id487906750• http://ofmonstersandmenmusic.tumblr.com/
  • 41. @bolafssonlinkedin.com/in/bolafsson - April 2012 -
  • 42. Appendix What I have learned, mistakes I have madeand interested interactions with experts out there - April 2012 -
  • 43. Process, Progress and ThanksWhen I made this presentation in mid March I hadn‘t done extensive research. I had readwhat was available in the local Icelandic media and gathered together a bunch of articlesand blogs from all over the web. I had a lot to learn on this (but still had a lot of fun).In the spirit of continous improvement the story is changing. I have updated thepresentation once and now updated and added an appendix with some more detailed“technical” slides.I have had a lot of fun making this and enjoyed the distribution it has gotten. I haveespecially loved the feedback I have gotten and want to especially thank…. • The team at Next Big Sound www.nextbigsound.com • Josh Jackson (@joshjackson), editor of Paste Magazine (@pastemagazine) www.pastemagazine.com • John Allers (@Radio1045Johnny) at WRFF/Radio 104.5 in Philadelphia www.radio1045.com/pages/johnny.html
  • 44. New Findings (and corrections)• I got an email from John, the radio host in Philly that seems responsible for the local affection in Pennsylvania. It is confirmed by Google analysis that Philadelphia was the first melting pot of Of Monsters and Men fan craze in the US (though it became popular at a Seattle station in 2010).• In October, just after Airwaves, Universal Music Publishing signed the band and have since then put considerable efforts (and money) into its future. This has probably been very influential in the following internet craze.• The manager, a veteran named Heather Kolker, at a respected agency in NY, is very well connected and influential. She has for sure played an important role in their success.• Large group of global music journalists wrote about the band after Iceland Airwaves in October 2011 – and soon after internet interest increased drastically.• It is not completely accurate that the band had never visited the US. It has visited and even played some promo gigs to try to gain attention – but never toured in the US (which was the underlying point).
  • 45. Interesting Insights from John Allers in Philadelphia (April 2nd)Quick recap..In August of 2011, my friend Bobby Malone visited Iceland and saw OMAM at Culture Day & heard them on Icelandic radio, and wasvery impressed; so, he sent me a link for the song which impressed me too. So, on August 25th, 2011, I downloaded a demo version of“Little Talks” from iTunes and played it for our audience who absolutely freaked out over the song; so, we continued to play it more andmore. With our airplay, sales of the demo started to jump in Philly and I started receiving phone calls from Record Labels interestedlearning more about OMAM and letting me know that they were trying to sign them to their label. Additionally, other Radio stations(terrestrial and Satellite) started playing “Little Talks” after seeing the response it had in Philly• OMAM had not been written about in Rolling Stone until AFTER Radio 104.5 started playing the song and calling attention to it• OMAM had not been written about in Paste until after our airplay started spawn significant interest.• OMAM did not have an International Record Label deal until long AFTER Radio 104.5 started playing “Little Talks” and demonstrated how much appeal the band/song had• OMAM had been in the U.S. prior to Radio 104.5’s airplay and their current explosion, as they had already showcased for at least one other record label; also, I believe they opened a show for The Airborne Toxic Event in NYCAlso, if you look at your own graphs, you will see that Philly indexed extremely high with searches of OMAM, after our audience startedhearing them. (Your graph suggests that these searches were purely viral)I’m convinced that OMAM would have been discovered in the U.S., with or without Bobby bringing them to my attention; but thissequence of events is specifically what launched the label bidding war and impacted the timing of how the band would break in theU.S.John AllersWRFF/Radio 104.5-Philadelphia: Program Director/Morning HostClear Channel Media + Entertainment : Philadelphia
  • 46. More DataGoogle, Youtube and Itunes
  • 47. Very limited national attention before October 2011Source: http://www.google.com/insights/search/#q=%22of%20monsters%20and%20men%22%20-%22little%20monsters%22&geo=US&date=today%2012-m&cmpt=q/
  • 48. Traction moved over time Last 30 Days • Washington (100) • Minnesota (76) • Pennsylvania (72) Last 30 Days • Massachusetts (62) Last 90 Days • Pennsylvania (100) • Oregon (87) • Washington (81) Last 90 Days • Minnesota (71) Last 12 Months • Pennsylvania (100) • New Jersey (51) • Washington (51) Last 12 Months • Oregon (51)Source: http://www.google.com/insights/search/#q=%22of%20monsters%20and%20men%22%20-%22little%20monsters%22&geo=US&date=today%2012-m&cmpt=q
  • 49. NY took off after Airwaves Was that a coincidence? Google searches in New York NYSource: http://www.google.com/insights/search/#q=%22of%20monsters%20and%20men%22%20-%22little%20monsters%22%20%2C%22little%20talks%22%2C&geo=US-NY-501&date=7%2F2011%2010m&cmpt=q
  • 50. Pennsylvania still the strongest overall in the US since DecemberSource: http://www.google.com/insights/search/#q=%22of%20monsters%20and%20men%22%20-%22little%20monsters%22&geo=US&date=12%2F2011%205m&cmpt=q/
  • 51. …until Oregon took the lead in FebSource: http://www.google.com/insights/search/#q=%22of%20monsters%20and%20men%22%20-%22little%20monsters%22&geo=US&date=2%2F2012%203m&cmpt=q
  • 52. A lot of YouTube views in the two weeks +~800,000 Number of views 2 weeks ago Views in the last two weeks +~200,000 +~200,000 +~800,000 +~150,000Source:http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=of+monsters+and+men+little+talks+&oq=of+monsters+and+men+-+&aq=0C&aqi=g-C10&aql=&gs_l=youtube-psuggest.3.0.0i33l10.42138l43373l0l44613l7l7l1l0l0l0l105l463l5j1l6l0.
  • 53. My Head is an Animal Second on Itunes Music Bestseller list on April 3rdSource: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewTop?genreId=34&id=700&popId=11
  • 54. Source: http://ofmonstersandmenmusic.tumblr.com/
  • 55. Thanks! Twitter: bolafssonlinkedIn.com/in/bolafsson - April 3 2012 -