“Bum Rush the Charts” recap

Click here to Bum Rush the Charts!

Well, if you were on the Technology and the Arts blog March 22, you saw a post about the “Bum Rush the Charts” project.

The primary goal of BRTC was to boost an indie band, which is also considered “podsafe” (i.e., allows its music to be played freely in podcasts with attribution), to the No. 1 spot on the iTunes Store’s top downloads chart, if just for one day, to show the true power of the blogs and podcasts that have been promoting BRTC. Another objective of BRTC was to demonstrate that music artists no longer need the clout of a major record label to attain success.

The band chosen for BRTC was Black Lab, a group that had been booted from two major record labels and then had to fight to get its own music back from those labels. The song selected for the BRTC project was Black Lab’s “Mine Again.”

So…how did BRTC and Black Lab fare?

Well, “Mine Again” has not made it to No. 1 on iTunes’ top download chart…yet. However, according to the Bum Rush the Charts blog, “Mine Again” did reach as high as No. 11 on the iTunes Rock chart and No. 99 on the iTunes Top 100 list, as of March 24. Keep in mind, though, that Black Lab is an unsigned/podsafe band…and it managed to break into the iTunes Top 100 chart and nearly into the top 10 on iTunes’ Rock chart solely on the strength of an idea generated by one blog/podcast.

It is when you look at the results from an international perspective that you get a feel for the power of so-called “new media.” For instance, in the Netherlands, “Mine Again” reached No. 15 on the iTunes Top 100 chart and as high as No. 2 on the iTunes Rock chart. The song reached as high as No. 10 on the Canadian iTunes Rock chart and peaked at No. 53 on the Top 100 chart.

As far as I am concerned, that makes Bum Rush the Charts a huge success.

Here is what BRTC’s Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff had to say about the results…

…If you were to look at all of the other bands on the charts at the same time, Black Lab was the ONLY UNSIGNED BAND.

Just getting onto the charts is pretty huge. Note that there are record companies out there that can’t do what we did on the 24th.

Was there movement on the charts that wasn’t apparent because they only updated 3x in 24 hours? Possibly. Was there an Apple conspiracy to shut down the charts on Bum Rush day? I really doubt it. Were the iTunes servers probably swamped because of the release of Apple TV and an update to the iTunes software? That would be my guess.

Did traditional media take notice? Washington Post, BBC, San Jose Mercury, Billboard, Spin, CBC, Businessweek and others. Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of any of these.

Was it a success? You tell me. The whole experiment was set up to show that podcasting and new media is a social movement that has a pretty far reach across the globe. Bum Rush got a lot of people inside and outside of new media talking, shed more light on podcasting and helped get some exposure for an unsigned band and helped them tell their story about how they were mistreated by a major record label.

And in the end, even though we may not know the final sales report for 30 days, I’d wager that we raised thousands of dollars for the scholarship fund. Some kid who couldn’t afford college before will get to go this fall because of the podcasting and blogging commuities. I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel pretty good.

Honestly, 100 percent the credit belongs to you, the podcasters, podcast listeners, bloggers and blog readers who took part in Bum Rush the Charts.

Imagine what we could have done if we had made it a whole Bum Rush week instead of a day?

Christopher Penn of the Student Loan Network’s Financial Aid Podcast had these initial reflections on Bum Rush the Charts

…Now, after reading this, you’re probably thinking, wow, Chris, you must have thought Bum Rush the Charts was a complete failure, a complete disaster. Not so, not so at all. In fact, I think for an effort like this, it was a fantastic success. Consider this. How much does a record label spend to get a new single on the charts in one country? How much would it cost to launch a worldwide campaign to do the same? New media may not have achieved as much reach as I would have liked, but there’s no question that the campaign “moved the needle” and achieved very impressive results across the world.

More importantly, the campaign raised some money. While I’ve said before that you can’t shop your way to a better world, this was clearly a case of piggybacking for a greater good. Mark Nemcoff and Mike Yusi were going to run with Bum Rush the Charts (they are the founders) no matter what, and the fact that they were generous enough to let me piggyback on their event to raise some money for college scholarships speaks volumes to their characters. Even if only one person bought the track, that’d be 45 cents that someone wouldn’t need to take out of their own pockets to pay for college, and for that, whoever we draw for the scholarship will owe a debt of gratitude to Mark and Mike.

Finally, look at the incredible amount of press about the event despite an effective budget of $800 (for two press releases) plus the time and labor of those involved. Worldwide top 100 charts in Rock? Worldwide top 100 charts overall in select countries? For $800 plus labor? You can’t beat that return on investment. No, Bum Rush the Charts was a great first experiment to test the reach of new media, and with the lessons learned from our first collective efforts, it’s only going to get better from here on out.

Thank you to everyone who joined in.