The excitement was so palpable you could almost see St. Albert country rock singer Randy J. Martin pumping the victory sign.
His band, Sweet Tequila, recorded a music video entitled Rough and You Like It, and posted it on YouTube on Wednesday, Jan. 16. Within two weeks, the three-minute song had notched 102,341 hits.
“It’s a phenomenal number. To do that inside a couple of weeks is staggering especially without radio support or a big marketing machine behind us,” says Martin.
“We had a strong song and our intention was to put it on YouTube hoping it had the potential to go viral. But we didn’t anticipate anything like this and it’s caught us off-guard.”
To provide some perspective, North American country staple Emerson Drive’s new hit She’s My Kind of Crazy took six months to reach 487,000 hits. Their success resulted from label backing and strategic marketing.
Canadian Juno Award winning Road Hammers leveled out at 11,612 hits for I’m A Road Hammer. And Alberta darling Gord Bamford, the 2010 Canadian Country Music Association Male Artist, clocked in at 77,267 hits for Learning On a Lonesome Song.
Like Martin, music video director Barrett Klesko is also left scratching his head over the instant success. Possibly it might be a broad fan base he suggests. Sweet Tequila tours about 40 weeks a year and has opened for Reba McEntire, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Travis Tritt and Terri Clark to name a few.
Or, Klesko guesses, the latest song sensation could be the dynamic lyrics and catchy music. Or maybe it’s songwriter Shalisha Liesch’s powerful voice.
“To be honest, I’d love to tell you the secret, but I don’t know,” says Klesko. “There is no magic trickery. But when we did look into it, we discovered that most of the hits come from mobile devices and social media sharing. The rest we just don’t know.”
The St. Albert resident has developed a hardcore reputation for not only promoting his heavy metal band All Else Fails, but also furthering the careers of newbie bands.
Under the banner of his music video recording company FadeBack Studios United, Klesko shot the party scenes at Fandango Live Entertainment Saloon and The Rack.
Over period of four fairly long one-day shoots stretched across a month, he filmed 60 gigs worth of live digital footage. The five hours of footage was edited and condensed into a three minute, 19-second song that straight off heads into a guitar riff with big chords.
With previous experience shooting metal music videos, Klesko has opted for flash that directs the eye to various points of interest.
“Now it’s not enough to just edit a video. You have to get a proper look. It’s style that makes it stand out,” he said.
Martin is one of a growing number of YouTube singer-songwriters engaged in social media who are trying to parlay successful Internet infamy into tangible results. Ironically, the country rock singer isn’t too sure country stations have any interest in spinning Rough and You Like It.
“We’re basically a rock band trapped in a country band’s body. We ride the line of country and rock right down the centre. We like electric guitars and solos with whammy. It’s what we like to do. It’s honest music. It’s who we are and I don’t think we’re willing to change,” Martin explains.
On the upside, Martin adds that Sweet Tequila has been offered a European record deal covering Italy, Switzerland and Slovenia.
“The label would take on catalogue digital uploads, product distribution and possibly touring,” he said.
Together the three countries have a combined population of 70 million people.
“It’s really significant and if we could move 20,000 or 30,000 downloads at 99 cents, there’s revenue there,” Martin said.
At the moment, industry observers are watching Rough and You Like It to determine whether there’s real magic or if it’s just a bit of flash.
“I see a lot of potential in this band,” Martin said. “It has legs and it could have equity in the market. The fact is they’ve got a recognizable quality and they’ve put it into an industry that is sterile.”