Lady Antebellum: The Billboard Cover Story
Lady Antebellum Announces Christmas Album, 'On This Winter's Night'

From its beginning the trio has been active on social media. All three members post messages to their nearly half a million Twitter followers and 5.6 million Facebook followers -- the fourth-most for a country act behind Taylor Swift, Johnny Cash and Carrie Underwood. The group is almost always with a videographer, and the resulting clips show up most often as a part of Lady A's "Webisode Wednesday" series. It's now 163 episodes deep. Posted on the band's website and Facebook and Twitter pages, the brief videos allow the members to show off their personalities. The clips take viewers into the recording studio, as well as backstage, for fun glimpses of life in the group.

Video: Lady Antebellum's 163rd "Webisode Wednesday," Aug. 24

Borman says it was Lady Antebellum's digital presence that helped its 2008 self-titled album debut at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart. "They did it without a hit," he says. The act's first radio hit was its third single, "I Run to You." The April 2008 album moved 44,000 units that week and has sold 1.9 million to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

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The presence of Cameo Carlson helps, too. The former Universal Motown Republic Group executive VP (before that, she was at Apple as manager of label relations and music programming, and prior to that, the rock and alternative music director for AOL Music) became Borman Entertainment's head of digital business development at its Nashville office in April.

Carlson says she loves that Lady Antebellum is so digitally active and willing to try out new technology. "Country music sometimes tends to follow in the digital space," she says. "We don't want to follow."

Two of the band's digital marketing partners for the new album's launch are companies not normally associated with country: Pandora and Spotify. The group recorded an interview series with Pandora that premieres Sept. 9. For Spotify the act will set up a Lady Antebellum user account and share a playlist featuring songs selected by the members. "They really do live in this space," Carlson says. "It's easy to bring in partners because of that."

In mid-August, the act rolled out an online game called "Own the Board," a scavenger hunt that requires fans to visit various partners -- such as Shazam, GACTV.com and country site the Boot -- to search for clues. Fans can win such prizes as a trip to Las Vegas for a special event with the group, as well as iPads, iTunes gift cards and autographed CDs.

Jay Frank, outgoing senior VP of music strategy at CMT, calls Lady A's approach to digital content the part of the puzzle that often goes overlooked. "They have done that every single step of the way."

Next: Shaping "The Night"

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