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Karmin, Online and Rising

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With an abundance of outlets and mediums now available for listeners to discover new music, aspiring artists can’t rely on talent and ambition alone in order to succeed. They need to have some sort of resourcefulness, some basic understanding of how to get their music heard by people other than their family and friends. In the case of Karmin, the internet proved instrumental to their recent rise to major-label stardom.

Early last year Karmin’s Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan began posting made-at-home performance clips of original material to YouTube, but on the advice of their manager they later set up a separate YouTube channel dedicated to performing covers, particularly of current and popular hits. They’d scour search engines and blogs to find out which ones were generating the most buzz online; then they’d record and post their rendition. The plan was that in covering songs by artists like Lady Antebellum (“Just a Kiss”), Adele (“Someone Like You”), and Cee-Lo Green (“Forget You”), Karmin would stand to draw a much larger number of viewers — the logic was that fans of the original artists would, even if by chance, discover and hopefully enjoy the duo’s versions — and generate their own following.

With over 100 million views of Karmin’s videos so far, it’s safe to say that the plan worked. What’s more, thanks in part to the visibility YouTube afforded them, Karmin made new fans in high places — from Ellen DeGeneres, who invited them to perform on her talk show, to L.A. Reid, who recently signed them to Epic Records.

Karmin’s online ingenuity was recognized last month by the American Music Awards, who cited the duo as among their inaugural New Media Honorees. And with the YouTube/VEVO premiere this week of their debut single, “Crash Your Party,” Karmin’s internet sensation continues.


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About Donald Gibson

Donald Gibson is the publisher of www.writeonmusic.com and a freelance music journalist whose byline has appeared in such publications as No Depression, Spinner, The Seattle Post Intelligencer, Cinema Sentries, Blinded by Sound, and Blogcritics, where he was the Senior Music Editor (2011-2012) and Assistant Music Editor (2008-2011). He has interviewed and profiled such artists as Tony Bennett, Lucinda Williams, Jakob Dylan, Allen Toussaint, Boz Scaggs, Johnny Marr, Charli XCX, Justin Hayward (The Moody Blues), Susanna Hoffs, Bruce Hornsby, Delbert McClinton, Jonny Lang, Alan Parsons, Bill Frisell, Rickie Lee Jones, Christina Perri, Don Felder (The Eagles), Jimmy Webb, Katie Melua, and Buddy Guy, among many others.