Musicians looking for a break are increasingly turning away from conventional forms of promotion and toward the more populist venue of the Internet. MP3 blogs, Web-based music magazines, and online record stores all offer small-time bands a chance to reach a wider audience.
Over two weeks this past June, all of those forces mobilized to support a group called Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, a five-piece rock combo based in New York and Philadelphia. It was one of scores of bands making music without the help of a record label, pressing CDs themselves and selling them at concerts and on the Internet.
Such musicians are lucky if they draw the attention of an MP3 blogger like Dan Beirne, who -– as luck would have it — came across the group's unusual name while trolling a file-sharing Web site on the Internet.
"Their name both attracted me and repulsed me at the same time," says Beirne, who writes a column at www.saidthegramophone.com. "So I just had to find out what it was."
What he heard was a track from the band's self-titled debut. "I just listened to it nonstop and then posted it in the next couple of days," he recalls.
Beirne's post hit the Web on June 9, the very same day the band played a record release party in New York City. Soon after, other blogs started making noise about the band.
Then the music Web site Pitchforkmedia.com com took notice. Pitchfork is a dominant force in the indie-rock world. The site is widely credited with launching last year's indie faves the Arcade Fire.
The buzz around Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! was just loud enough to lead Pitchfork's editor, Ryan Schreiber, to the band's Web site. And on June 14, just five days after Dan Beirne's initial post, Schreiber reviewed a single Clap Your Hands track.
In the coming days, still more music Web sites took notice. Then, after Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! played a concert in New York City, two Web sites reported that rock icon David Bowie had been in the audience.
That set off another wave of Internet buzz that helped launch the group's career.