The National’s “Start a War” dates back two albums to 2007, but it’s the track the Brooklyn band will perform on the Oct. 31 episode of Fox’s “The Mindy Project.” The band’s presence adds to Mindy Kaling’s aura of cool and certainly assists in exposing the National to a TV audience most likely unfamiliar with its music.
This kind of stunt casting is infrequent, but it’s smart when the demographics fit. The key for the National and its label, management and publisher is to maximize the exposure, and to do so they need a helping hand from Kaling, her cast and crew, the network and the production company: They need to tweet about it.
It sounds so simple but it’s not being done enough at the network level, and it’s key to ensuring a TV appearance is mutually beneficial. Sure, a check will arrive in the mail for the National, but TV music budgets these days aren’t sufficient to make an appearance or synch a be-all event. TV stars offer an audience of distinctly different eyes and ears than blogs and iTunes, not to mention numbers (Kaling has 2.5 million Twitter followers, the National 146,000). Bands have to create a barter system, one that puts that star power to work for them.
After watching recent live televised events and the ensuing spike in volume on social media networks, I started to sense that there’s a missed opportunity to help promote artists and their new music.
Consider Miley Cyrus. Not during or after her twerking debacle at the Video Music Awards, but nearly two hours prior when the Cyrus conversation focused on the presale launch of her next album, “Bangerz,” and its ascent on iTunes charts globally. From an announcement on the VMA preshow to her 13 million-strong Twitter fan base, Cyrus was able to generate a quantifiable second-screen commercial success. Now, how do you scale that down and repeat it?
Obviously a performer has to pick the right televised opportunity, which could be as simple as an extensive synch on a scripted show. Get the show and its stars to tweet about the song’s importance and, should the band secure a talk show spot in which it performs the song, get them to tweet about it again. It appears, based on awards shows data, that one of Twitter’s strongest assets is its ability to get people to tune in to TV shows with music. In the fall, a greater effort needs to be made to make that connection with series TV.
As good as certain shows are about getting their song lists posted right after airing, nothing beats the immediacy of a tweet. Epic Records act A Great Big World secured a strong, emotional TV placement of its single “Say Something” on “So You Think You Can Dance.” The single’s release coincided with the episode airdate (the day after Labor Day) and the usage played a major role in giving it digital legs. A day later, the band graciously thanked supporters and those who sent messages, but the major ones — from the two dancers on the show and the program itself — never mentioned “Say Something” or the band on its Twitter feed. Perhaps this barter system idea needs to be formalized, and then we’ll start seeing the real power of the second screen when it comes to creating musical hits.