Delhi rock band goes online to cut their debut album

By Abhishek Chanda , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | June 16, 2009
Them Clones, the Delhi rock band, is inviting its fans through social networking sites to vote for their favourite songs, which would also be part of the playlist for the band's debut album

Them Clones, the Delhi-based alternative rock band, has hit upon a unique and economical way of launching their debut album. Unlike traditional launches and promotional activities such as advertising on music channels or tapping magazines and newspapers, the band has made its way into the online space to generate buzz and promote its songs.

In existence since the year 2000, Them Clones have finally decided to cut their debut album -- Love.Hate.Heroes, based completely on votes received on its official website, The band is using a combination of traditional gigs (live performances) and popular social networking sites, including Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, to drive traffic to their website. On Facebook, for example, the band uses its fan page to send out updates about tour dates and live performances, and to share content such as links, photos or discussions.

In May, the band went on a nation-wide tour to promote one of their singles, My Life. After each gig, the band members would announce their website and give a brief description of the activity, urging their fans to go online and vote.

Once users land on Them Clones' official website, they have the option of dragging and dropping any song from a list of 17 songs available for preview. All these songs are two-three minute edits of the original song and are not available for downloads. Users can create a playlist of their top 10 favourite songs; and these songs then become eligible for the official playlist of the band's debut album. The songs that get the maximum number of votes make it to the final list.

The activity is unique and democratic -- the band is giving its fans the power to choose what they would like to listen to, as compared to the traditional setup of artists or record labels selecting songs for their albums. However, similar efforts have been made previously too, by Indian rock act Zero in 2002, which used peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing to promote its tracks. Similarly, in 2007, international alternative rock major, Radiohead released its album online before its physical release.

The voting will be active up to the end of June and August will mark the release of the full length album by Counter Culture Records/EMI.

The band is also offering its single, My Life -- an animated video, which was released on May 01, 2009, for free download. Currently, the song is playing on popular music channels such as Vh1 and Zee Music. It is "doing pretty well with around 10 rotations a day," claims Surojit Dev, the drummer for the band.

A candid Dev reveals that shortage of funds is one of the reasons why the band chose the digital medium; another was the power and reach of digital. The core TG for the band is also hooked to the digital medium.

Apart from this, he believes one cannot commercialise music. "One has to experience it first hand or probably through recommendations. As far as recommendations go, they will happen only if the piece of work is good. So, at the end of the day, it helps to compose good music and then get talked about amongst the fans or in media, which adds more credibility, as compared to different marketing efforts," he asserts.

Interestingly, Dev is an advertising professional, working in Ogilvy India, Delhi. A group account manager, he looks after brands such as Virgin Atlantic, Duracell and brands from the Seagrams portfolio. Though at a nascent stage in his career, he has about four years' experience and has previously had stints with TBWA and Rediffusion. Past 10 pm, he says, is when the drummer in him arises.

For the record, apart from a number of concerts and gigs nationally and internationally, Them Clones were also the chosen ones at Channel [V] LaunchPad in 2005 and also got voted as the 'Best Band' at JD Rock Awards twice in a row in 2006 and 2007. The band was also the second runners- up at the Channel [V] AMP Big Break All Asia.

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