James’s recent project with The Lounge Kittens has given us a few simple insights into how to make a song go viral, and how to make it give you the break you want.
Choose a song with a difference
The Lounge Kittens came to the studio to record a demo of three tracks, choosing Firework by Katy Perry, Rollin’ by Limp Bizkit, and Ob La Di Ob La Da by The Beatles.
The Kittens sing in three-part close harmony, but they have a twist: don’t expect a classically styled version of the Andrews Sisters, these girls are rock chicks in disguise. The song choice pretty much reflects the weird and wicked directions they go in.
So which song do you think was the one that went viral?…
Record it with style
James spent a whole day training and refining the Lounge Kittens to get the best performance and vocal production on each song. You don’t want people moving on after less than five seconds listening on SoundCloud or YouTube, so the recording and production has to sound top notch professional. And your song has to catch people early on – really early on – to win them over. James recorded the girls on U87 and vintage ribbon microphones, he used an Addictive Keys piano sample – his ‘go-to’ sample library – then he spent another day treating and mixing the tracks.
Create a video with personality
The Loung Kittens left the studio exhausted from their drilling, but thrilled when they heard the results. Now the next bit of hard work was up to them. They took their favourite track and the one that they could have the most fun with, Rollin’ by Limp Bizkit, and produced a tongue-in-cheek video, playing with cheeky humour against their angelic voices. The girls had found their niche.
The power of Twitter
The Lounge Kittens are a relatively new group, formed in 2012, and started building up a social media following from scratch with these, their first professional demos. The power of Twitter though is not in how many followers you have, but how much influence and engagement those followers have. They tweeted a YouTube link of Rollin’ by Limp Bizkit and succeeded in getting Kerrang magazine and then Fred Durst, the band’s front man, to retweet and compliment it. It is not how many tweets you make saying, “How great is this?”, it’s how many retweets and mentions you get from people saying “How great is this?!” So find your influencers, celebrities, journalists and agents, and get them recommending you. Be careful how you do it. There are a few tricks, such as, do not @name someone at the start of a tweet as this will only be seen by anyone who already follows you AND them, but say “Hey @name” or even “.@name” because that tweet will appear in the feeds of people who follow you OR them. To help identify who your big influencers are, look at Twiangulate as this shows you the “Reach” of people who might be interested in what you’re doing. (It’s a lot of fun that one). Also help other people connect and they’re more likely to return the favour.
The Lounge Kittens have cleverly tapped into a very loyal, rock following and and Limp Bizkit fanbase without copycat-ing anyone at all. Well done ladies.
Be prepared to get a break and work it
Within a few days the Lounge Kittens had 50,000 You Tube views on Rollin’. But in the end, that ain’t worth anything unless it helps you meet your goals. You need to be sure of what those goals are and be ready to take advantage of the trend. For the Lounge Kittens this meant some seriously heavyweight live bookings: they are performing at Glastonbury Festival, Sonisphere Festival and the Boomtown Fair this summer 2014. From local private parties, to international festival bookings from one demo and video – WOW!
Understand what worked or didn’t and why
The key, I think, is in learning what works and what doesn’t and why. Without understanding that you won’t be able to replicate success again or grow it. Don’t give up if your attempt doesn’t work first time. Study successful people and do what they do. So if you want to be like the Lounge Kittens and generate over 150,000 views on YouTube of your song, then invest in planning, production and be clever with the promotion. It doesn’t take mega bucks, but it does take a vision and the right people around you to produce your song and video a high standard.
How to make a song go viral… tell us your experiences
Please post your comments below if you have any more ideas about what makes a song go viral. We’d love to hear from you!