The “selfie” has become so ubiquitous that Oxford Dictionaries named the term its 2013 Word of the Year. Rising DJ duo The Chainsmokers, New York natives with a knack for humor and insight into the club scene, acted on the trend: On a whim, Drew Taggart, 24, and Alex Pall, 28, made a demo of a dancefloor thumper titled “#Selfie” that features a female clubber’s comically vain monologue -- about taking a selfie, of course.
Within days of the track’s SoundCloud premiere, plays began exploding, aided by a viral video and a smart social media campaign. The song, released on Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak Records, debuts at No. 38 on Billboard’s Mainstream Top 40 airplay chart this week, and has sold nearly 35,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
“It’s been life-changing for us,” Taggart says. “Things started happening that we never could have predicted.”
The accompanying video, which as of March 6 has racked up more than 5 million views on YouTube, features fan-submitted selfies, which the band facilitated by uploading a humorous "How to Take a Selfie" video to YouTube. The duo also posted different snippets of the song to SoundCloud, one timed for Vine (less than six seconds) and another for Instagram (less than 15 seconds); the pair received more than 2,000 submissions the first week. Selfies from celebrities including Snoop Dogg, David Hasselhoff, A-Trak and Nervo also appear in the video.
“It’s so on point -- it’s shit-white-girls-say-meets-a-club-remix,” says Oliver Luckett, CEO of social media marketing firm TheAudience, which was co-founded by William Morris Endeavor co-CEO Ari Emanuel and Napster founder Sean Parker.
TheAudience introduced The Chainsmokers to Aoki, helped conceptualize the “#Selfie” video and used its network of cool-kid influencers -- namely celebrities and social media mavens with large followings -- to get the word out. With the Billboard Hot 100 now including streams from user-generated YouTube clips, Luckett hopes the campaign can follow the lead of Bauuer’s “Harlem Shake,” which rode viral videos all the way to No. 1.
“If you start adding up those numbers you can get to 100 million very quickly.”