“How many of you first discovered us on YouTube?” asked Alejandro Manzano.
The crowd roared, with nearly the entire building affirming. It was the mythic 9:30 Club in Washington, DC, no less.
Manzano is the lead singer of Boyce Avenue, one of the biggest bands you may have never heard of.
But, I guarantee, someone you know loves them.
At their recent concert in DC, I posted content to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – and many people responded with messages like this, “I thought I was the only one who knew who they were! I love them!”
That’s how it works with the Internet’s Best Kept Secret Band.
The band formed in 2004, after Daniel Manzano returned to Sarasota upon graduation from Harvard Law School and joined with his two brothers, Alejandro and Daniel.
Their game changed in 2007, when they started posting covers of popular songs on YouTube.
Now in 2013 their videos have been viewed over 1,000,000,000 times. That’s a billion. And over four million people subscribe to their channel. And they’ve released 12 EPs of cover songs, two original studio albums, and one brand-new live album.
This is all without a chart-topper. Or any radio play of note.
So how does a band achieve such great success?
1) Talent – If you have heard any of their covers or original songs, their talent is apparent. Alejandro’s voice tells stories, allowing him to bring deeper meaning to songs you’ve heard sung by others for years. They have also served as vocal coaches on the X Factor, putting their talent on display.
2) Content Output – The band is constantly releasing new video content (and new iTunes content). When there is always something new to listen to (and purchase), there is always something to share.
3) The Unexpected – Many of their covers are unplugged versions of pop and R&B songs, transforming them into something completely different. That makes them amazingly interesting. Not to mention, they frequently “mash-up” songs to create something unique. And unique interpretations of popular music play quite well online.
This song, their version of “Umbrella,” was the track that made me a fan:
4) Globalization – They have been a touring machine, playing concerts around the world, giving them a global brand. That has allowed them to play shows where their online base was centered, giving them headlining experience in the Philippines. They even once opened for One Direction, since one of the band members was a fan. [True story – my wife and I saw one of their music videos on a boat in Thailand in 2009.]
5) Digitally Focused – As noted above, their digital presence is one of the best in the world. Beyond YouTube, they engage with fans on Twitter and Facebook. Their presence is focused on the networks that work for them, cross-promoted towards their other platforms, and directed towards buying songs and tickets and merchandise – the things that pay the bills and keep the machine working.
6) Giving Back – With their own label, 3Peace, they are working with other talents making their name on YouTube, most notably Hannah Trigwell.
It’s incredible to see a band combine their talent and creativity with organic digital marketing to achieve great success.
[Personally, it’s fun for me to say that I’ve been on the Boyce Avenue train since 2007! And this was the first time I have been able to see them live.]