"Our approach is always to take it slow and steady," Dualtone Records president Paul Roper says of the rollout for the self-titled debut of roots rockers the Lumineers. "We knew the record was special and people would respond if they just heard it."
The stomping barnburner debut single, "Ho Hey," from The Lumineers - which also appeared late last year on the CW series "Hart of Dixie" - returns to the top 10 of Billboard's Triple A chart this week, moving from No. 11 to No. 7. The song has sold 56,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The group's surge is partly due to a May 7 appearance on "Conan" and a positive mention on NBC's "Today." But the success is more likely the payoff from months of patient promotion by the Lumineers' team, plus years of commitment by frontman/guitarist Wesley Schultz, drummer Jeremiah Fraites and cellist/pianist/singer Neyla Pekarek. Meanwhile, "The Lumineers," which debuted at No. 45 on the Billboard 200 the week of April 21, has sold 42,000 copies.
The Lumineers formed in 2009 when longtime friends Schultz and Fraites left New York for Denver, placed an ad on Craigslist for a cellist, met Pekarek and created a trio. During the next three years, the Lumineers booked tours and released an EP, while piecing together and recording the heart-on-their-sleeve singalongs that fill their debut album.
"You have to decide if you believe in [your music] or not," Schultz says. "We believed."
Dualtone manager of A&R/operations Will McDonald took Roper to a Lumineers concert last November, and, by early 2012, the band and label signed a deal. Together, they looked for innovative ways to engage fans, devising an unlock-to-stream promotion (passing a message along on Facebook or Twitter to hear a track) that scored 30,000 streams in a few weeks. There was also a radio push that found supporters at influential stations including KEXP Seattle and Minneapolis' KCMP (89.3 the Current) and KTCZ (Cities 97).
A free iTunes song download, plus a feature in Amazon's Artist on the Rise campaign, helped promote the Lumineers, while the team worked closely with independent retailers to set up in-store appearances. It's all primer for the group's jubilant live show that will tour the United States this summer, playing with Brandi Carlile in June and Old Crow Medicine Show in August.
This fall, the group travels throughout Europe with the Civil Wars, fulfilling one of Schultz's personal career goals for the year.
"We've been doing it for a long time, and people are starting to take notice," Schultz says of the group's recent surge. "To have people know the lyrics and appreciate what you do makes you feel like you're not crazy-and that's a good thing."