If 50 million YouTube hits doesn’t land you a record deal, nothing will
February 9, 2012
To the surprise of no one, Burlington’s Walk Off The Earth have struck a major record deal, signing with Columbia Records. The band’s five-person, one-guitar cover of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” racked up over 50 million views in less than a month.
From the release:
The powerful fan response to the video has turned the five-year-old Canadian group into a media phenomenon and propelled them onto American network television, where a posted video of their appearance on The Ellen Degeneres Show received a half-million views in less than a week.
In fact, Walk Off The Earth’s version of “Somebody That I Used To Know” saw the highest Billboard debut since April 2011, blasting onto the charts at #14 with over 70,000 singles sold to date. The viral effect has been international as well – the song hit #1 on iTunes in Sweden and Germany as well as WOTE’s native Canada, where the track has achieved digital gold status.
The band has already gotten thumbs-up from an impressive roster of show business veterans, including actor Russell Crowe, Coldplay, Mumford and Sons, Wiz Khalifa (they covered his song “Roll Up”), Justin Timberlake, Ryan Seacrest and Adele. Their version of her hit “Someone Like You” has had 3 million YouTube views.
WOTE’s presence on Facebook has grown exponentially as well since the video was first posted on Jan. 5. They now have 300,000 people who “like” them – an 85 percent jump in just three weeks; in addition, their page on Wikipedia has been averaging 10,000 page views a day.
Goyte featuring Kimbra’s original video for “Somebody That I Used to Know” was an internet sensation on its own before Walk Off The Earth’s Gianni Luminati decided it was a perfect song for his band members, known for their creative remakes of current songs. (After seeing the Walk Off The Earth version, Goyte tweeted his approval, calling the new video “hilarious and brilliant.”) In the video, the five play the same guitar simultaneously as Ryan Marshall, Luminati and Sarah Blackwood trade off on vocals. The other band members are Joel Cassady on drums/percussion and Mike Taylor on keyboard.
But the Burlington, Ontario-based Walk Off The Earth, as their loyal fans will attest, is hardly an overnight sensation. Together since 2006, the five accomplished performers have remade dozens of songs and self-released 2 full-length albums of original material, including the first single, “These Times.” Their ability to take a familiar song and give it an innovative twist has made their YouTube channel a hit, with 280,000 subscribers and 80 million combined views of their videos of both originals and covers.
“It’s been a crazy, dream-come-true moment for us,” said Luminati. “Our fans brought us to where we are now,” said Blackwood. “We will continue to play for them for a long time to come.”
It was Luminati – a musician since childhood who specializes in layering musical sounds and beat-boxing – who first envisioned the five group members playing the same guitar.
Once he heard the Goyte tune, “I knew right away it was the perfect song for the idea,” he recalls. “I started messing around with different parts seeing if it would work.” Once he realized it could be done, he asked his bandmates to learn their individual parts before attempting to make the video. Once reunited, he admits they had trouble getting all the pieces to fit together: “It was pretty frustrating.” And once they turned on the camera it took 30 takes until they finally succeeded at around 4 a.m., when Luminati uploaded the video to their YouTube channel. (“All of our videos are one cut because I don’t know how to edit,” he admits).
“I went to bed at five or six in the morning, and by the time I woke up around 11 a.m. it was well on its way around the world,” he remembers. “We were already getting talked about on local radio stations.”
The band is currently in the studio working on original material for their release on Columbia Records.
Watch: Walk Off The Earth’s viral cover of “Somebody That I Used To Know.”