Stars of The North

Close up Red Rose

New Stars album out today!!!

Stars’ schtick is to throw roses out at their audience during concerts. They’re very much about sharing the music and the adulation. “We are Stars and so are you” is often repeated during their shows. On Facebook today they addressed fans: “This record is yours.” For concert pics and a previous post on this fav band of mine, click these words!

Veteran Canadian indie rockers Stars released their sixth full-length studio album today named, The North. As you might have seen me post last week on the Snapshots and Needle Drops facebook page, the CBC had been streaming a full preview of The North. While the band themselves seem to have uploaded the album about a month ago to their SoundCloud page.

Releasing content online is becoming a popular marketing strategy for indie artists. Some may find this counter-intuitive, the big labels sure do, but it seems to be proving quite effective. Take the story of Wilco for example. In his book Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music, Greg Kot details how the forth Wilco album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, left their label, Reprise Records of Warner Music Group, unimpressed. The band was dropped- but allowed to keep the record. In September 2001, Wilco took matters into their own hands by making Yankee Hotel Foxtrot available for streaming on their website. It went against every major-label marketing strategy and no band of their prominence had ever attempted this before. As Kot writes “But Wilco had more immediate issues: a fall tour. For Wilco, selling records was only a small part of what a band does. Playing for people was what kept the band alive artistically and financially.”

Online traffic quadrupled on the site to 250,000 visitors a month and the resulting media attention had record labels beating down Wilco’s door. “Within months, Wilco signed a two-album deal with Nonesuch, like Reprise a subsidiary of Warner [Music Group.] Getting the same company to pay for the same record twice was quite a feat. In the next year, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot would double the success of any previous Wilco album, surpassing half a million sales…. Ironically, the more the band tried to give away the music on Foxtrot, the more eager fans were to buy it.”

Thus a novel idea was born: widespread exposure might just be the best advertisement to buying music.

Both Wilco and Stars are alternative legends that have a dedicated fan base. Streaming albums before their release can serve to hype up their fans and clinch that already likely sell. This strategy does seem a bit more risky for new artists, but then again look at Lily Allen. Back in 2005, Allen had signed to record label Regal, but the company didn’t consider her a priority. So she uploaded a few demos to MySpace. Boom. Within months her songs had been streamed millions of times. Her record execs got flooded with media inquiries, they were baffled as there was no ‘Lily Allen’ on the company’s album release schedule. Regal then rushed-released her debut Alright, Still which reached UK platinum certification.

Anyway, that’s my music lesson for the day. Pick up Ripped, it is a super interesting read.

Ugh. I wanted to share “Do You Want to Die Together” but it’s too new and no one has it on youtube yet. So bonus here’s the entire album. Many of you have probably already heard “Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It” is classic Stars. Love it.


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