96-Year-Old Songwriter Outsells Justin Timberlake and Miley Cyrus

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Why your story is just as important as your music

The major labels may have their million-dollar marketing machines — but with all the money in the world, there’s still one thing they can’t manufacture: an authentic story, something unforgettably unique or heartwarming, something that MUST be heard.

Such was the case with Fred Stobaugh, a 96-year-old man from Illinois who wrote a song called “Oh Sweet Lorraine” after his wife of 73 years passed away. Through the twists of kismet, his lyrics ended up in the hands of Jacob Colgan, a local producer/performer who decided to help Fred turn “Oh Sweet Lorraine” into a professionally-recorded track. They also captured the whole process on video.

The resulting mini-documentary went viral overnight, and now “Oh Sweet Lorraine” has sold more than 100,000 copies on iTunes, surpassing the latest singles of both Justin Timberlake and Miley Cyrus.

I don’t think I’m overstating things when I say that this is a HUGE achievement for an independent artist, especially given that JT and Miley were still in the eye of a veritable hype-storm following their appearances at the VMAs (where Timberlake won a bunch of moonmen and “the twerker” stuck her tongue out a dozen times).

In contrast to that spectacle (which was talked about on every news network, culture blog, and Twitter feed for a week straight), what did Fred Stobaugh have? Sincerity, a touching story, the help of a local musician, and a heartwarming YouTube video.

Oh Sweet Lorraine

Major labels still have a marketing advantage (you can do a lot with money, connections, and momentum), but there’s one area where DIYers have them beat: the viral power of a good story. 

How are you telling yours? Let us know the comments section below.

If you need help uncovering your musical story, check out our podcast interview with Lisa Lepine.

For tips on how to pitch your story to the press, download our FREE guide:

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