Local band capitalizes on viral YouTube video

High Society band

High Society rehearses in McKenna Theatre Sunday, Feb. 12. They recently released a viral video on YouTube that has helped promote their band and music. Photo by Hunter Mulich.

Before writing off that sixth installment of the latest YouTube video trend as an overdone joke, consider what might be accomplished from jumping on the bandwagon.

James Guttman, a fourth-year marketing major at SF State and vocalist in the local band High Society, did just that. With his “Shit Band Guys Say” video, an offshoot of the “Shit People Say” trend, Guttman has become one of many independent artists to utilize YouTube in creative ways as a means of self-promotion.

“My manager was hitting me up saying we needed to make a viral video,” said Guttman. “We were just promoting online (through Twitter and Facebook), and it was slow.”

Though Guttman has been playing in bands for four years, High Society is a new project still looking to play their first show. Setting out to create a funny video to attract more fans, he decided to take the ridiculous things band guys say and turn them into a “Shit Band Guys Say” video.

“Everyone was saying how sick they were of these videos, but they were still getting hundreds of thousands of hits,” said High Society manager and Live 105 DJ Dallas Osborn. “People love videos.”

The video was posted after this year’s Super Bowl. Within minutes, it reached its initial 300 view cap, at which time view counter stops while YouTube assesses a video to ensure it isn’t spam.

“The next morning, we had 12,000 hits,” said Guttman.

Over the following days, blogs were circulating the video and internationally known bands, including The Maine, Trivium and Woe, is Me were Tweeting about it.

The video included a link to High Society’s videos and other online accounts, gaining them 1,000 new Facebook friends and quadrupling their music video views.

“We made this video for this exact purpose, but we didn’t really expect it to get to the 300 view limit in two minutes,” said Guttman. “I think it’s great. We got more promotion than we could ever have asked for.”

Osborn says that the visual element makes YouTube a great way to connect with new fans.

“If you’re lucky, you get people to click your link to your song,” he said. “But people like to see (artists) and get their personality. It’s a good tool to have, and it’s better than SoundCloud or a Facebook page.”

Guttman advises all bands and artists to capitalize on YouTube as a tool for self-promotion, and many are doing just that. Daly City artist Adrian Per uses YouTube as the main platform to promote the music videos he directs, some for his own material and some for others.

“(The videos) are all directed by me,” said Per, who may hand the camera over to be in a scene, but does all the editing himself. “I want to have my own creative control over it.”

Per’s videos are produced with quality, but with YouTube he doesn’t need to have a record deal to get his work out. With the right networking, he can draw a considerable audience.

“I had no idea I would get the views I did,” said Per, whose latest video for a song called “Ashley,” shot at SF State, exceeded 30,000 views within three weeks.

He also points out that with YouTube, no matter how many hits your video gets initially, your audience can continue to expand over time. It’s a good starting point, even if your videos don’t go viral.

“Good music is always going to be timeless,” said Per. “It will get discovered, one way or another.”

Artists like Guttman and Per are taking steps similar to those of popular performers like Justin Bieber and Sean Kingston, who were discovered on the internet. Kerry Fiero, a professor in the SF State music recording industry program, said that artists can now do what they once had to rely on record labels for.

“The way people succeed is by having an audience,” said Fiero. “Thanks to things like YouTube, you can find an audience on your own.”

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