Wanna be a rock’n’roll star? Then start courtin’ Nor­ton

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Opinion -

THE MOST im­por­tant per­son in mu­sic in both Ire­land and the UK is Gra­ham Nor­ton. You read that right: Ban­don’s Gra­ham Nor­ton is far more im­por­tant and in­flu­en­tial than Si­mon Cow­ell. Or The Voice. Or any la­bel boss, DJ or pro­moter you could care to men­tion. Yes, he’s even more im­por­tant than MCD. And U2. Com­bined.

Nor­ton may have noth­ing to do with mu­sic per se and is per­haps more fo­cused on the fun to be had from a choco­late dildo than in the ca­reers of fel­low Ban­don man Mick Flan­nery, or David Guetta, or Emeli Sandé. But the hard facts tell us oth­er­wise.

An in-depth sur­vey into the re­tail im­pact of tele­vi­sion ex­po­sure for an artist has just re­vealed that an ap­pear­ance on The Gra­ham Nor­ton Show will boost your al­bum sales by a min­i­mum of 70 per cent. In some cases, the re­sults are even more dra­matic. When up-and­com­ers The Mus­graves did a turn on Nor­ton’s show, they saw sales of their sin­gle Last of Me jump 2,827 per cent – and they haven’t even got­ten around to re­leas­ing their first al­bum yet.

You may think David Guetta doesn’t need any pro­mo­tional push, given that he has taken up res­i­dence at the very top of the charts, but fol­low­ing his Nor­ton ap­pear­ance, sales of his Oh My Good­ness al­bum went up by 102 per cent. Which was still nowhere near the 196 per cent in­crease in al­bum sales posted by Will Young fol­low­ing his ap­pear­ance.

To put the sales in­crease in con­text, it would take an aw­ful lot of money and the best ra­dio plug­gers and PR peo­ple in the world, work­ing 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to get any­where near a 70 per cent in­crease via the time-hon­oured routes.

The key is that Nor­ton is a much- liked pre­sen­ter and his show is a per­fectly paced and weighted light en­ter­tain­ment ve­hi­cle which pro­vides the best back­drop for a mu­si­cal act to show­case their wares. In a much-frag­mented me­dia world where so­cial net­work­ing re­ally isn’t ful­fill­ing its early prom­ise as the ideal mar­ket­ing tool, the old­fash­ioned chat show reigns supreme.

You could ar­gue that this has noth­ing to do with Nor­ton – he just hap­pens to be the front man of a much-watched chat show. But com­pare and con­trast his fig­ures with those of Jonathan Ross (whose show airs on ITV) and you’ll find that a Ross ap­pear­ance just doesn’t have the same sales trac­tion. Lana Del Rey could only post a 40 per cent in­crease in sales of Video Games af­ter her Ross ap­pear­ance, Arc­tic Mon­keys only man­aged a 30 per cent in­crease, and Jessie J limped in at 16 per cent.

And The Gra­ham Nor­ton Show is ac­tu­ally in­ter­na­tional. In Ire­land we can get it on the BBC or TV3, and it also screens in In­dia, Canada, Brazil, Australia, the US, Hong Kong, Bel­gium and Mex­ico. That’s the sort of ex­po­sure you can launch a ca­reer with.

It also helps that Nor­ton has a BBC Ra­dio 2 Satur­day morn­ing show. He first picked up on The Mus­graves (a new Birm­ing­ham band) on his ra­dio show be­fore giv­ing the un­knowns prime-time TV ex­po­sure. The re­sults were as­ton­ish­ing: pre the Nor­ton show, The Mus­graves had sold 100 copies of their sin­gle. Af­ter the Nor­ton show they shifted more than 28,000 copies.

To­day, as with most days, I’ve just replied to be­tween 10 and 15 emails from new Ir­ish bands look­ing for ex­po­sure in The Ticket. I tell them all the same thing: print me­dia will come to you, but first you need to find an au­di­ence and you’ll get that from ra­dio play. If ra­dio likes you, there’s a good chance TV will come af­ter you.

All bands dream of the sort of in­stant at­ten­tion and ex­po­sure The Mus­graves have en­joyed in the past few weeks. But there’s no dream el­e­ment here – you just need to get your mu­sic to the right per­son and, if it’s as good as you claim it is, the sales will look af­ter them­selves. It re­ally is that sim­ple.

Es­pe­cially if Gra­ham Nor­ton likes it.

Golden Gra­ham: The Mus­graves saw a huge sales jump af­ter their ap­pear­ance on Nor­ton’s show

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