If you haven't noticed, boy bands are back and they're bigger than ever. As if New Kids On The Block and 'N Sync weren't enough, a new crop has descended upon us, much to the delight of teenage girls everywhere.
First came Big Time Rush, who are today's version of The Monkees, since they have their own hit show on Nickelodeon which regularly draws over 3 million viewers. I've even watched it a few times and I have to say that these guys are pretty talented, although as a boy band, you don't have the burden of playing an instrument competently. You do have to sing moderately well, and at least on the surface, Big Time Rush fills the bill (don't know what they really sound like or how much auto tune goes on).
Then you have The Wanted, who currently have a top 5 Billboard hit with "Glad You Came." Like Big Time Rush, the band was created via an open casting call, which on the surface sounds so very television-like and non-musical, until you realize that many so called "legit" bands or the touring band for artists are put together via auditions. That's basically the same thing. The Wanted want everyone to know that they can actually play instruments though, but as any musician with some gigs under his belt knows, it's a long way from playing an instrument to playing in a band to playing professionally.
But the biggest blockbuster is just now upon us. The British quintet One Direction is about to become a big piece of the music scene for the next year or so (for better or worse). They just made a bit of history by being the first UK artists to have their debut album (called Up All Night) enter the Billboard 200 at #1 (take that, Beatles). Already there's a huge groundswell as little girls in all 50 states anticipate their first US tour, which is guaranteed to make the news more than most of care to notice.
One Direction is the brainchild of former American Idol svengali Simon Cowell, who picked each member individually from the auditions for the British version of the X Factor. You may or may not like his shows, but no one ever said that he couldn't spot talent. We'll have to wait and see about this one though.
Even though One Direction is preparing to take the world by storm, they've apparently been laying the groundwork for quite some time via social networking, as did The Wanted. Months before they ever stepped foot on US soil, the boys engaged in a vast YouTube, Twitter and Tumblr campaign that was more about the guys "feelings" (according to The Wanted's manager Scooter Bruan) instead of being strictly promotional about the music.
This helps to confirm a number of things that I've been posting all along. All of these points come from my speaking at colleges and universities, where I poll the youth of today.
1) YouTube is the #1 music discovery tool used by kids today.
2) Twitter is incredibly powerful if you know how to use it.
3) Despite what you might read, kids are adopting Twitter as a primary social source.
4) Tumblr is coming on strong as a primary social network, and may be supplanting Facebook already in some age brackets.
The point is, you may not be interested in the new batch of boy bands in any way, but it's smart to look at how they're promoted, especially online. It's a blueprint that most artists can use.
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