Talking Is Hard; Instagram is Easy.

Ohio natives Walk The Moon (stylized WALK THE MOON) have just had their first Billboard hit with “Shut Up and Dance”, the first single off their 2014 sophomore major label release, Talking Is Hard (RCA Records). Although the foursome of Nicholas Petricca, Eli Maiman, Kevin Ray, and Sean Waugaman have had a large cult following since their independent release of I Want! I Want! in 2010, their first Billboard track has truly propelled them forward. The alt-pop band is taking advantage of their surge of success by updating their social media regularly with, you guessed it, cover songs.

Keeping a keen eye on their demographic—their fans range from 16-30 years old, generally—they keep their fifteen second, Instagram appropriate covers a clever mix of new jams and old favorites that their main fan base will recognize. Just take a look at their most recent covers and you’ll see what I mean:

The covers began in July of 2014, when Walk The Moon was on tour supporting Panic! At The Disco. Still going strong, Walk The Moon has posted over twenty covers to date and show no signs of stopping while on their own headlining tour. From A-ha’s iconic “Take On Me” to the somewhat less iconic, but still quite notable “Graduation (Friends Forever)” by Vitamin C, Walk The Moon has found a dynamic way to mix their musicality with their often hilarious and always energetic personalities to capitalize on what they do best: make the listener happy.

Their “note to listeners” in the album booklet of Talking Is Hard explains their philosophy best:

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The songs on this album achieve what they set out to do, but perhaps even more impressive is that each of their cover songs do the same. The gents in Walk The Moon put as much energy, humor, and heart into their covers as they do anything else. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they’re covering some well-known songs, and using hashtags to identify them. Have a sudden desire to explore Kelly Clarkson’s greatest hits? If you look up her name on any of the social media sites Walk The Moon uses, their fifteen second cover of “Since You’ve Been Gone” will appear in the results, allowing for new fans to not only see the musical abilities of the band, but their carefree spirits that make them so fun to watch live. The personality of a band is often the biggest draw to a fan, aside from the music the band produces, of course. These videos combine both into easy to watch—but easy to keep watching—segments that are a perfect way to introduce a potential fan to a group.

Clever as it may seem marketing-wise, you get the feeling that many of the covers aren’t exactly planned out far ahead of time. Some involve empty rooms with good acoustics the band seems to have just stumbled upon. Others are inspired by wherever the guys may be at the moment. Is the venue near the woods? Why not cover Bon Iver’s “Woods”? Do you suddenly find yourself on a boat? Time to cover “Come Sail Away” by Styx! It really does seem as simple and authentic as that. And if that ain’t some Midwest charm, then I don’t know what is.

#Instabuy: the Future of D2F?

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In a week you’ll be able to twitter your Instagram and “retweet” someone’s Facebook link and share your Spotify playlist to your followers on Soundtracking and then use Chirpify to buy something you heard about on Facebook through either your Instagram or Twitter by sending one hashtagged word:  #buy.  You’ll be busy.

To any artist who engages in Direct-to-Fan marketing and commerce, this must come as welcome news.  The massive Facebook/Instagram merger is only one of many integrations currently forming and getting the kinks worked out of them.  By the time they reach you these apps will be so seductive it’ll feel like the stripper is paying you for a lap dance.

But what’s the catch?  Hopefully none.  Chirpify was purchased by Twitter a year ago for 1.7 milllion and has been a way to ‘in-stream’ purchase items, tickets or tracks immediately from the viewing of one post.  In a few days, it will also be scanning Instagram for its prompt, #Instasale, with the next necessary portion, $(amount).  So you want to sell last minute tickets to your show for for $10 tonight?  Post a photo on Instagram, or Tweet it, put those hashtags in, and Chirpify will set up an account for you.  Let the buying begin!  Say you want to rock out at said show?  As a customer, a #buy response will send you to set up a Paypal account, (only this one time, don’t panic), then you can finish up.  The next time you are so inclined, you wont have to do anything to #buy.  You already did it by pressing ‘share’ or ‘tweet’.  As Chirpify CEO Chris Tero explains,  they want it to be “dead simple”.  That’s it.

But I have to ask:  why haven’t direct sales through social sites and apps really taken off?  It hasn’t, right? Am I missing something?  The possibilities here are endless and the work is done for you.  (Did I mention that as the seller, there is literally only one step you must take before you post so they can begin the commerce?)  As fans get more comfortable with the concept, it’s ultimate acceptance could be a game changer for artists.  Hey, this track is ready; let’s sell it.  Now.  There is also a fundraising option.  Just change the magic word to #Instafund.  A band could get the money together, then give the product right back to the fans. 

But you can stick with Facebook if you have a desk job and like to watch your friend’s brats grow up.  Next, I’ll tell you how Soundtracking has make my head explode.  Get  a squeeegie, because my brain matter went everywhere.