I am a child of the 80’s. Play some New Order, Yes, or Van Halen and you’ve got my attention. And yes, I’ll even admit that I like the power ballads, especially from Journey. I mean, really, who didn’t grow up in the 80’s and slow dance to “Open Arms?” That song was standard homecoming and prom material. Well, couple my love of 80’s music and internet marketing and this has to be one of the best stories to come out of the age of YouTube.

The Story
The Zoo was a rock band in the Philippines that liked to upload video of their performances to YouTube. They have a solid following in the Philippines and most of their videos are from their performances at the Hard rock café in Makati. They are very well known for their covers of well-known rock songs from the 80’s and 90’s. Their lead singer, Arnel Pineda garnered a lot of the attention because of his clear tone and amazing voice.

Did you know Journey was hiring?
Now, here is the amazing part of the story. Halfway around the world original Journey founder, Neil Schon, was trolling videos of bands on YouTube one night and finds this video. He contacted the band through YouTube, convinced them he was for real, and in short time auditioned to become the front man for Journey. It didn’t take much convincing, and he was announced on December 5th 2007.

arnel pineda - new journey lead singerNow Journey fans, and even those that with a passing familiarity, know Steve Perry was “the voice.” Replacing him bordered on sacrilege. However, after hearing Arnel, I am fully convinced this guy can handle the job.

So, here is your new Journey frontman, Arnel Pineda. From cover band to frontman, all via YouTube, plus some amazing vocal talent.

YouTube, The New Broadway?
The marketing aspect of this has to be respected. YouTube has been the conduit to many contacts, contracts and discoveries. Apple’s use of a fan’s self-created commercial for the iPod Touch was one of the first YouTube success stories. Instead of suing the fan base, Apple realized that the user base were becoming passionate evangelists for the product and it was better to promote the evangelists than shut them down with lawyers. What better way to help people go to the next level of being a fan of the company?

Marketing via YouTube
YouTube has enabled a whole new form of discovery for artists. Singers, filmmakers, actors, designers, animators, and on and on. The new pathway to becoming discovered is much shorter and much more broad. The abilities to reach more people and distinguish yourself is easier than ever. However, the stakes are also much higher. Because the access is so easy for anyone to upload themselves, the competition has increased. There are more people uploading than ever before and creating consumer-generated video.

This is the difference that this story highlights. Even among the thousands of videos of people singing Journey songs, this is the one that got noticed. Why? because the kid has scary talent and a voice that is almost (dare I say) better than Steve Perry. He had a product that got noticed. It was better, stronger, and “stickier” than the competition.

The secret to success
Even though the access is greater, the competition will also be greater, and no amount of additional visibility on the web helps an average product. Products that kick ass and are the ones that get noticed.