2-Stroke: Audrey Spillman and Patrick Lochridge capitalize on overnight success of “Part Of Me” video (Interview)
by Nick Hardy on Sep 24th, 2011
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of “Less is more”. As business people, we are expected to push and push and push, sell, sell, sell. It’s a constant fight jockeying for the position to be heard. As an underdog, a lot of times you feel you’re just not doing enough, when in fact you are doing everything you can. It seems when you are not doing anything at all, except carrying on with your life and enjoying your hobbies is when you can make more of an impact than when you’re forcing it. This certainly was the case for Nashville artist Audrey Spillman and her band. Luckily, they had a few key tools in place to help capture and facilitate new fans to free music. If they hadn’t had these tools in place, they would have missed a very big opportunity to gain new fans. And trust me – that doesn’t come at you every day. So artist, be prepared! You never know what’s going to happen.
One afternoon Audrey’s pianist, Patrick Lochridge was combing Reddit.com when he came across an article on “Great Ways To Quit Your Job”. He replied about a time he quit his job at Bread and Co. because his boss wouldn’t let him off to play a gig with Audrey. Within the post he included a link to Audrey’s video of “Part Of Me”, the title track off her upcoming EP due out Sept. 27. Patrick received a couple of positive messages regarding the song and he left it at that. A day later, Patrick made a hesitant decision to create a new post under Reddit’s video section including a link to the “Part Of Me” video. The video went from 20 YouTube views to 10,000 views and over 160 Reddit comments within a couple of days.
I interviewed Audrey and Patrick about their previous personal involvement with Reddit.com, how they carried the conversations along, how they captured and took advantage of the recent traffic.
1) What has your current involvement on Reddit.com been prior to the video link being posted?
Audrey: I wasn’t aware of Reddit at the time nor did I even know Patrick had even posted anything. I woke up the morning after he made the post to find all these new subscribers to YouTube and comments on the video. I was really overwhelmed, in a good way, in seeing so much traffic to the YouTube video and just seeing people’s reaction to the song.
Patrick: I’ve been a Reddit lurker for years. I think I first found out about Reddit from StumbleUpon actually, sometime around 2008 during the election. It was pretty different then…it was a lot more about interesting links people found and the discussions that ensued and less about personal stories and memes. But I didn’t really frequent Reddit daily until they started promoting the Colbert Truth rally in DC.
2) At the time, did you see the opportunity to promote your music or was it just a natural reaction from your involvement with Reddit.com?
Patrick: I’ve always wanted to show the Reddit community my music, but I didn’t want to just link to a Myspace page. I wanted to show people a video but I didn’t have a great live recording or anything. We had the idea to film our recording session in the studio and put that on Youtube, but posting it on Reddit never crossed our mind. I don’t think Audrey had ever heard of Reddit. I’ve just personally always loved watching footage of bands in the studio, as opposed to contrived music videos.
I actually first linked to the video in the comments of a different post about great ways to quit a job. I quit Bread and Co. because they wanted me to work the same weekend I was supposed to do a show with Audrey. I put a link to the Youtube video, I think it had less than 20 plays at this point, and a few people had replied or sent me messages saying that they really liked it, and that I should submit it to the videos page.
I actually had decided at this point not to post it. It’s very hard to post something personal on Reddit. I knew some people would attack me because they think I was trying to abuse Reddit as some promotional advertisement, or because I was trying to get people to buy an album or something. There are also just people who just want to tear things down, especially if it’s in a field where there are so many “experts.”
A couple nights later I came home after work and after seeing my bank account balance I was feeling very depressed. Without even really thinking I just posted the link to the Youtube video, and tried to be as honest as I could. I figured the worst thing that would happen would be a couple people down voting it and then no one ever seeing it. Although even that itself is very hard for someone to take when they believe as strongly in the song as I did.
I went to bed almost immediately after posting it, and woke up the next day with it trending up the front page and almost 5000 views on Youtube.
3) After the initial posting, did you have to push the conversations (posts) along or did that come natural from the users? Did you see the conversation carry over into Youtube posts?
Patrick: The conversation was moving along before I had made any comments. A lot of people just said something simple like “cool, I really like her [Audrey’s] voice.” The longer posts were almost always people who didn’t like it, or wanted to “call me out.” Generally the people that made comments on Youtube were more positive than the ones on Reddit. At first I was very sensitive of the negative comments on Reddit, trying to defend the song against anyone who didn’t like it. I respect that some people might not like that style of music but a couple people were just being dicks. Eventually I realized that for it to make it on the front page, people must really like it!
4) How did you capture people going to your video? Were you offering them anything free?
Audrey: Once I saw how the views were building, I immediately put together a Topspin widget that would allow people to download the song in exchange for their e-mail. I posted the widget on my Facebook fan page and provided the Facebook link below the video, on Youtube. I wanted to try and make it as simple as possible for people when linking it all together. Capturing e-mails is one of the most important factors in building a fanbase. It provides a direct line of new information between you and the fan.
5) From the Reddit.com post, did you see an increase in Youtube subscribes, Facebook likes, new email addresses?
Audrey: Yes! Immediately I had new YouTube subscribers, Facebook fans and new twitter followers. People were accessing the Topspin widget, so I was capturing new e-mails through that as well. By posting the free download on Facebook, I was able to link everything together, and create some synergy between the different social networking sites. I wanted to be accessible to people and capture new fans through that. I made my Facebook fan page my home base because at the time I didn’t have a website to drive the traffic to. You don’t want to make anything confusing for anyone. You want to make the fans interaction with you as less complicated as possible.
6) After realizing all the traffic you were receiving and then taking action to capture those new people – how do you think an artist can be better prepared for a sporadic surge in viewership?
Audrey: I think linking up with a company like Topspin is definitely important. That way you have the tools you need readily accessible to you, to capture new fans when a sporadic surge happens. For example, offering a free download in exchange for an e-mail. It’s important to have something like that in place so you can capture those potential fans. I think it’s also a good idea to have all your social networking sites updated regularly. You want to make sure you have content such as videos, new music, tour dates, photos, etc. updated and available. Choosing a home base to drive all the traffic to, such as your website, is equally important. The more prepared you are in these areas before any type of sporadic surge happens, the better prepared you’ll be in hopefully building a fanbase.
7) How are you cultivating these new fans and to what length are you going to reach these people on personal level? Are you offering anything for free in exchange for their time they’ve already spent listening to your music and writing about it?
Audrey: With fans, I see it more as building a community. I want them to know that their support and interaction is really important and so I try and be as accessible as I can so that I can keep in connection with them. When people reach out to me via twitter, Facebook, etc., I always make it a point to reach back. I’ve had people reach out to me via Facebook messaging, asking me what the chords were to one of my songs and I’ll write them back with the chords and just let them know I appreciate them reaching out.
For example with the Youtube video and the comments that people left, I reached out to a few people and personally wrote them, thanking them for their comments. I always want to stay accessible to people and interact with them in almost a way you would with a friend. I think those interactions are important. You’re showing the fan they are important and are an influential part of your career. The fans build the community that supports an artist’s career.
I randomly reached out to a few folks who had left Youtube comments; I gave away a free digital copy of the record via a one-time redemption code through Topspin. I think it’s important to do things like that for fans to show that you care and that you appreciate their support. For people who were on my fan list, I sent out a secret link to the first track on the record, “California”, so they could be the first to stream a song from the upcoming release. I always try and think up new ways like that to connect to the fans and to the community of people who support me.
Audrey’s new EP Part Of Me is being self-released on September 27th, 2011. Download the title track from the widget below. If you are in Nashville check out her EP release show September 29th at the Basement.