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?

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

  1. How an unknown Icelandic 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 published its debut album only in Iceland
  3. …once …when U.S. tour was announced in 2012 …tickets to almost all concerts sold out in a day …without visiting the U.S.
  4. Tickets for the Chicago show are selling online for the face value Source: 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 2010 Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Dw8qdmT_aY
  7. …and “Little Talks” became popular on KEXP in Seattle 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/ …and the listeners loved it “ ”
  8. …but Nothing happened
  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 Google searches in Philly 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 Source: 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 John Allers, WRFF/Radio 104.5-Philadelphia: Program Director/Morning Host “ ”
  11. ”Little Talks” become popular on Radio 104.5 in Philly Source: http://www.radio1045.com/pages/johnny.html?article=9489997 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! “ ”
  12. …and Of Monsters and Men topped stations Year-End lists Source: http://www.radio1045.com/pages/year-end-survey/2011-staffpicks.html#ixzz1qSZYO1o3 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 Talks
  13. …but nothing really happened
  14. The band got some other (minor) US attention last fall Source: http://mplayer.pastemagazine.com/issues/week-10/articles
  15. …one example was this coverage in Paste Magazine in Sept ‘11 Source: http://mplayer.pastemagazine.com/issues/week-10/articles#article=/issues/week-10/articles/of-monsters-and-men-icelands-folk-pop-stars
  16. …still nothing really happened
  17. but soon everything would change
  18. The first success breakthrough was at Iceland Airwaves in Oct ’11 Source: http://ofmonstersandmenmusic.tumblr.com/page/10 …and they landed an international record deal with Universal few days later
  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 America's 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 Google Source: 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 YouTube Source: 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 day Source: 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, I'd 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 2012 Source: 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 Hits January 8th 2012: #18 on the iTunes chart of Top Albums in the U.S.
  33. …a huge US success …without even visiting the country …once
  34. Great Success = Some Talent + a lot of Luck Success = Some Talent + Luck Source: Daniel Kahneman
  35. Luck is Good (and needed)
  36. Anybody can win in the viral lottery …even a band from a small town in Iceland More: Salganik,, Duncan Watts, Experimental Study of Inequality and Unpredictability in an Artificial Cultural Market
  37. This would not have been possible without the social influence and unpredictability of the Internet
  38. That’s why…
  39. Album is Out: My Head Is an Animal Source: 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. @bolafsson linkedin.com/in/bolafsson - April 2012 -
  42. Appendix - April 2012 - What I have learned, mistakes I have made and interested interactions with experts out there
  43. When I made this presentation in mid March I hadn‘t done extensive research. I had read what was available in the local Icelandic media and gathered together a bunch of articles and 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 the presentation 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 have especially 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 Process, Progress and Thanks
  44. • 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). New Findings (and corrections)
  45. Quick recap.. 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; so, we continued to play it more and more. With our airplay, sales of the demo started to jump in Philly and I started receiving phone calls from Record Labels interested learning 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 NYC Also, if you look at your own graphs, you will see that Philly indexed extremely high with searches of OMAM, after our audience started hearing 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 this sequence of events is specifically what launched the label bidding war and impacted the timing of how the band would break in the U.S. John Allers WRFF/Radio 104.5-Philadelphia: Program Director/Morning Host Clear Channel Media + Entertainment : Philadelphia Interesting Insights from John Allers in Philadelphia (April 2nd)
  46. More Data Google, Youtube and Itunes
  47. Very limited national attention before October 2011 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/
  48. Last 12 Months Last 90 Days Last 30 Days Traction moved over time Last 12 Months • Pennsylvania (100) • New Jersey (51) • Washington (51) • 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 Last 90 Days • Pennsylvania (100) • Oregon (87) • Washington (81) • Minnesota (71) Last 30 Days • Washington (100) • Minnesota (76) • Pennsylvania (72) • Massachusetts (62)
  49. Google searches in New York NY NY took off after Airwaves Source: 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 Was that a coincidence?
  50. Pennsylvania still the strongest overall in the US since December Source: 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 Feb Source: 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 +~200,000 +~200,000 +~800,000 +~150,000 Source: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. Numberofviews2weeksago Viewsinthelasttwoweeks
  53. My Head is an Animal Second on Itunes Music Bestseller list on April 3rd Source: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewTop?genreId=34&id=700&popId=11
  54. Source: http://ofmonstersandmenmusic.tumblr.com/
  55. Thanks! - April 3 2012 - Twitter: bolafsson linkedIn.com/in/bolafsson