Walk Off The Earth epitomizes 21st century music marketing.
In the past decade, YouTube has become an important tool, offering musicians an entirely different platform with which to expose their product to the masses.
There’s arguably no band in the world that does it better than Walk Off The Earth, who take to the stage at Vancouver Island MusicFest later this month.
Walk Off The Earth will headline the Friday, July 13 lineup at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds.
Band member Ryan Marshall credits the evolution of social media for the band’s broad appeal.
“I guess YouTube has a lot to do with it,” he said. “Our videos are very visual … a lot of stuff going on. We find that young parents can plop their kids in front of our videos and we babysit for them for a few hours. There are so many colours, and we use a lot of kids’ toys, and there’s a lot to see. And whether it’s our original music, or one of our covers, it’s catchy, it’s hooky, and it’s something that all ages can really gravitate to.”
Walk Off The Earth were pioneers in YouTube music marketing. The band has grown alongside the platform.
“It’s funny. We got involved with YouTube when it was pretty new; YouTube wasn’t really even a thing yet. So it was harder back then, only because YouTube wasn’t recognized as a legitimate source of music, like radio, or anything like that. So it wasn’t because we weren’t big, or people didn’t like our music that made it harder; it’s because they didn’t know how to collect money off it.”
Marshall said there have been challenges with certain songs, not the least of which was their breakout video, a cover of Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know, which amassed more than 175 million hits in the first four months. In fact, WOTE could arguably be credited with making the song an international hit for Gotye.
“They took that down on us three times, because Gotye hadn’t released that song on North American radio yet,” he explained. “So we kind of blew the song up before they were ready, marketing-wise. So they shut us down… it wasn’t because they didn’t want us to [post it]; they just wanted to make sure everyone knew it was a Gotye song first.”
Marshall said the YouTube success of WOTE has spawned a whole different marketing tool for the band.
Other artists are approaching them to help get their songs heard.
“It’s the same way as to how bands used to go to the radio, now they are going to YouTube artists, saying, ‘Can you do a cover of our new song that’s coming out?’ So it has definitely evolved into a new marketing tool… a new way of marketing, and getting music out to the masses.”
Sheer musical talent aside, Walk Off The Earth’s creativity is a big hook for the band. Marshall, a multi-instrumentalist who plays everything from the guitar to the kazoo, said that’s a total ‘team’ effort.
“We’ve got five really special people. We all get along and we all have different influences, and when we find the right mix … you put it all together and it creates this really cool sound.
“We always had a really organic style but once we started getting involved in the YouTube stuff, we really kind of found our sound. Whether it took doing a couple of cover songs, or whatever it was, it all clicked.”
The 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest runs July 13-15 at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds.
Tickets are available online at islandmusicfest.com/tickets/