On the Fourth of July, Annie Clark, who performs under the name St. Vincent, retweeted a nugget of wisdom from fellow indie mainstay John Darnielle of the band Mountain Goats. "On your deathbed, you will not say: 'I wish I'd spent more time talking about social media,'" Darnielle posted to his account (@mountain_goats) and Clark reposted on hers (@st_vincent). And yet, social media is the driving force behind the rollout of St. Vincent's new album, "Strange Mercy," due Sept. 13 on 4AD Records.
In mid-July, Clark began promoting the coming release, her third, almost exclusively through the Twitter hashtag #strangemercy. During the campaign's first three days, more than 5,000 fans put the hashtag in their tweets, fueled by the promise that once a certain threshold of tweets containing the tag was reached, a new St. Vincent single would be "unlocked" and released to the Web. On July 22, that threshold was met, and the synthy song "Surgeon" was made available on St. Vincent's dedicated "Strange Mercy" site.
"Although Annie has 400,000 Twitter followers, you [didn't] really know if they're going to be onboard with it, because Twitter hasn't really been used in this way before," Beggars Group Web developer Naomi Scott says. "[But] fans went crazy -- it was almost like people were tweeting in shifts. We had no idea what our target number of tweets should be [to unlock "Surgeon"], and we set it tentatively at 1,000. They would have unlocked everything in a matter of hours had we kept it there."