Guerilla Marketing or Public Disturbance?

This week we saw two very different examples of how “disturbing the peace” can work (or backfire) for a band.

LA’s Imperial Stars blocked traffic on the 101 freeway for over an hour while performing on top of their big box van, much to the dismay of stopped commuters and the police department. Their shenanigans landed them in prison with huge fines. The exposure they’ve gained has mostly been in the form of ridicule and criticism. Not a very good trade-off.

Conversely, we saw NYC’s Atomic Tom hop on a subway and perform one of their original songs, not on instruments, but on iPhones! Gimmicky? Sure. But in this case it works. The song is catchy and tightly performed, and despite the expressive limitations of playing virtual instruments on a mobile device, these guys are able to pull if off with excitement and a spirit of fun that carries the tune. Some of the fellow subway travelers are intrigued, some are annoyed, but only for 4 minutes and they weren’t delayed in getting to work.

Since posting the video of this performance, they’ve gotten more than 2 million views and ended up on the front page of iTunes. VERY good trade-off.

Check out Atomic Tom’s subway video below:

Have you done something similar in your musical career? Was it a blunder or a smashing success?

-Chris R. at CD Baby

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