BEHIND THE STATUS UPDATES is an irregular column written Wellington based music writer, radio host, DJ and chronic social networker Martyn Pepperell. In each installment Martyn will breakdown and analyse a situation involving the music industry and social media. It might all look simple when you see the status update or tweet revealing the big breaking news, but there is a lot that goes on in the background to make it happen.
Auckland duo Chaos in the CBD gets a big break from a top US music website. It’s a great underdog story, as told by Martyn Pepperell.
On the 22nd of September 2011, Auckland Tropical House production/DJ duo (and brothers Louis and Ben Helliker-Hales) Chaos In The CBD premiered their single ‘Cause You’re Worth It’ on www.thefader.com, the website for what just might be the coolest music, culture and fashion magazine in the world.
Written up by Alex Frank, the blurb correctly profiled the song, a Ciara remake, as both indebted to Chicago House and playing a game of romantic, syncopated patty cake with Ciara’s vocals, in the process preserving the longing and desire which is probably a centrality in the never ending re-appropriation of her voice by modern garage, post dubstep and funky house producers across the globe.
If you’re not familiar with the inner workings of music blog culture on the Internet, getting a post on The Fader is A BIG LOOK DAWG. And getting a premiere on The Fader, is an even BIGGER LOOK.
So the question posed, which I will circuitously answer for you now, is relatively elementary… How did a couple of brothers from Auckland, New Zealand, end up premiering their new single on The Fader’s website, which as I stated above, is pretty f*&king hip; to say the least.
The only other New Zealand acts I’ve ever seen on The Fader website are Conan Mockasin, Surf City, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Flight of the Conchords, Ladyhawke, Cut Off Your Hands, Motorcade, The Ruby Suns, The Shocking Pinks, The Phoenix Foundation and The Datsuns. That’s a fair few but the point here is this, you gotta be pretty unique, or pretty on-top of your game to hit The Fader co-sign.
I’ve known the Chaos In The CBD boys for a couple of years now, dating back to when I first contacted them online about interviewing them for Rip It Up Magazine in early 2010, 17 or so months before Sunday Star Times music columnist Grant Smithies asked them a bunch of questions for his Out From Under The Radar feature.
Early in September, Louis dropped me through a .wav download of ‘Cause You’re Worth It’ on Twitter. I generally make a habit of ignoring music sent to me by DM (direct messages) on Facebook or Twitter, as I feel like it constitutes an inherent laziness on the part of the musician/producer. I mean, after all, you could just attach the song to an email and send it to me with some information couldn’t you?
Increasingly, it seems that this isn’t the case and, having an ongoing friendship with Louis and Ben, I listened to it straight away and it was great. Then I listened to it again and again.
Louis told me they wanted to give the song away as a free online download. There was talk of putting it up through another trendy music blog called xlr8r.com which had previously given away MP3’s from Chaos In The CBD.
I could see a window of opportunity Chaos In The CBD could slip through here and I was pretty sure I knew how to make sure it happened. I’ve been a long time reader of The Fader, which has over time, led to me following a bunch of its writers on Twitter. In May last year, I started following one of their founders on Twitter, a proper legendary dude named Rob Stone.
Back in the 90s, Rob, then the VP of promotions for Clive Davis at Artista Record, had spent a stint working with Biggie Smalls. Rob would go out on the road with him, take him to shows, interviews, the works. It was a very special time for Rob, as came through loud and clear in the Biggie FADER ICON issue.
I was floored by the content, especially the amazing cover photography and artwork. All fanboyed up on this ish, I sent Rob a message on Twitter, thanking him for the amazing issue. The next day I opened by email inbox to find out that, Ron f&%king Stone was now following me back.
When I checked my mentions on Twitter, Rob had hit me back, and was offering to send me some large scale posters of the album covers as thanks for my kind words. We swapped emails, I got some giant Biggie posters to put on the wall, and that was that.
When the whole Chaos In The CBD and ‘Cause You’re Worth It’ scenario came up, I realised that if I hit Rob up via email about an exclusive premiere on the song on the site, there was a good chance he’d get back to me. Louis and Ben were keen, so we went for it. I emailed Rob and asked if he would be interested in an exclusive premiere of ‘Cause You’re Worth It’. Rob got back to me in less than 24 hours, CC’d me in with Matthew Schnipper, the Editor-In-Chief (and one of the more colourful and enthusiastic music writers out right now) and we wrapped it all up in record time.
The 22nd of September came around and ‘Cause You’re Worth It’ hit the internet, co-signed by one of the best brands in the game.
Chaos In The CBD have had that co-sign twice, and perhaps more importantly, pretty much every step in the chain of events that led to the song’s The Fader premiere was engineered though SOCIAL MEDIA. I heard about Chaos In The CBD through SOCIAL MEDIA. I contacted Chaos In The CBD through SOCIAL MEDIA. I met Rob Stone through SOCIAL MEDIA. SOCIAL MEDIA lead to us contacting The Fader about a premiere, and afterwards, the premiere post became a piece of content to be reblogged, tweeted, Facebooked, Google +’d and Tumbled across the Internet.
Inversely, to play Devil’s Advocate, you don’t need to make use of SOCIAL MEDIA to have a successful career in the music industry, but as myself, and pretty much everyone mentioned in this piece would attest, actively augmenting your activities with a healthy dose of SOCIAL MEDIA sure can help you reach places you’ve never been before.
Even better, it can connect you with like minded people you might never have a chance of ever meeting in real life. And isn’t that what it’s all about really? Connecting, meeting, entering into dialogue, and growing together. The previous paradigm was “Six Degrees of Separation”. Presently, it’s one Twitter follow request and a considered mention, or if you prefer Facebook, a friend request with a clever note attached. Embrace the opportunities and take a chance. You never know how close you might already be.