Radio Helps The Video Star

A friend alerted me to a recent story in the New York Times by reporter Ben Sisario which examines the ever-evolving music industry and how hits are now quite often broken and sustained, through both new and traditional media, albeit with a twist.

A year ago, singer Carly Rae Jepsen was a third runner-up on Canadian Idol and a relative unknown. Today, her song “Call Me Maybe” is the biggest song of the year having enjoyed an amazing run of nine straight weeks at Number One. What makes a song such a big, sustainable hit? Often, it is timing whereby either there is nothing quite like it on the radio at the time or its sound fits perfectly with other dynamics related to season (i.e. a top-down sign-along in summer or ballad in winter).

In the case of “Call Me” guerilla social media has catapulted the song into the stratosphere, thanks initially and appropriately enough, to the man YouTube made: Justin Bieber, who posted a video on YouTube of himself and friends lip-synching to the tune. That was February. Since that time, Katy Perry, the U.S. Olympic women’s swim team and other influencers posted similar video tributes which have, in turn, driven viewers to Jepsen’s original video – 212 million times.

With Nielsen recently announcing that nearly two-thirds of all teenagers listen to music on YouTube (more than any other medium) you can be sure that the viral video approach is here to stay. At the same time, many industry experts counter that while the Internet can be a great place to launch a record, no million-dollar sellers are ever made without radio airplay, with Jepsen did receive slowly but surely, sustaining interest and sales via a wider audience and the hometown community and credibility that only a hometown radio station can provide.

Just another example of how taking a multi-platform approach to media for any communications initiative is always the smartest and safest bet for success.