When Don Crow starts talking too loudly about the new Octoberfest milkshake that Red Robin is rolling out, I like to plug in my headphones and let the music drown out his excited squeals. The playlist I chose was The xx’s new album, Coexist. I thought I was just committing a simple act of office subterfuge. In that moment, I was taking part in a massive social experiment--and I didn’t even know it.
The xx is an indie band from England that released their debut album, xx, in 2009 to critical acclaim. Their second album, Coexist, was released last Monday...to a single listener.
The xx decided to take social media marketing to its extreme when, instead of the traditional announcement or public reveal, they shared a digital copy of Coexist with just one fan (who’s identity remains a mystery). Coexist was released worldwide on the Young Turks label, a joint venture with XL Recordings which is part of the Beggars Group. Their goal was to recreate the virality that had contributed to the success of 2009’s xx. The band partnered with Microsoft to build a website that would track how quickly the album spread - check it out for the amazing visualization and recap. The experiment started slowly, gaining momentum until, just 24 hours later, the unanticipated volume of traffic caused the site to crash.
Millions of people were suddenly streaming the album and spending an average of 2.1 hours on the site. The website includes a visualization of the album being shared in real-time. Listeners can watch as Coexist leaps from continent to continent in a vivid testament to the power of viral marketing. What started in the hands of a single person took less than twenty-four hours to reach the entire globe.
"In this day and age, a lot of how bands interact with fans online is to reward them with something new and innovative to get people excited," says Beggars Group VP of marketing Adam Farrell to The Guardian. "The xx were a word-of-mouth band, so we thought this was a way to go back to that sense of self-discovery and fans sharing of music. The visualizer paints that picture in stark detail."
Without any promotion, Coexist is now being heard around the world. The band put its trust in the same fans who generated the word-of-mouth phenomenon that made xx a hit in 2009. This risky release allowed The xx to recreate the viral success that rocketed them to fame in the first place.
Author: Lane Jones is our Fall Editor & Word-Smith here at Verge Pipe Media. Verge Pipe Media assists public institutions, enterprises and the non-profit sector with Imaginative Inbound Marketing strategies + campaigns. We also have a development team chock full of Marvelous Mobile Migrators, poised to help transition our clients into a mobile + social world with custom software, iOS and Android mobile apps.