Running the Treadmill to Fame

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Nov 29, 2006 2:29 PM

Know these guys?


That was the 50th-something take of that video, after hundreds of tries during practice.

Read the fascinating story of how this band, OK Go, used new media to give their year-old album new life:

Interestingly, the treadmill video first aired on VH1 on July 31 — a sign of how involved Capitol had become in the marketing of OK Go's supposedly homemade creation.

Fans almost immediately started posting copies on YouTube. Within three weeks, the video had more than 4 million views and cracked YouTube's top 10 all-time most-popular videos.

This time, Capitol was ready. It booked Kulash on The Colbert Reportand OK Go on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and other shows. The label's publicity department helped land stories in mainstream press from the Los Angeles Times to Spin.

And the hubbub translated into sales. A year after the Oh No CD was released, OK Go saw a 182% jump on Billboard's Digital Album chart, and Capitol shipped an additional 50,000 units to stores. That kind of resurgence for a year-old album is almost unheard of.

Internet video. The sillier the better.

Update: Here's my favorite part of how OK Go promoted their first viral video for "A Million Ways."

On tour, OK Go had its own strategy. The band would burn the Million Ways dance video onto unlabeled DVDs before each show.

"We'd give them to the kids who looked the nerdiest," Kulash says. "We told them we weren't allowed to give them out, and say, 'The record label would totally freak out if they knew!' The next day, it would be everywhere on the Internet."

Give nerdy kids verboten, copyrighted material, warn them not to post it on the Internet, for goodness' sake, and voila! Instant fame! Know your audience.