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September 27, 2008

What Tokio Hotel Tells us About Small Markets

My daughter who is twelve believes with all her heart that she discovered the band Tokio Hotel (http://tokiohotel.pop24.de/tokiohotel2/index2_en.php) and made them famous.

To an extent, this is true.

While their story might sound like any other teen fascination, I think it has lessons for all of us. She discovered this tiny market “emo” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emo) band from Germany when they appeared on a tiny spot on MTV (http://www.mtv.com/). She instantly fell into an all engrossing love affair with Bill Kaulitz, the lead singer. Still nothing new, right?

What happened next is fascinating. She began introducing the band to her brother’s 15 and 16 year old high school friends and started a movement. Twelve year old younger sisters do not co-opt high schoolers, as a general rule. She drove this band on Facebook and created a network of “friends” in more than one local high school as large as her brother’s – including many she’s never met.

Again we could chalk this up to general teen-ness and let it go, but a couple of things bear considering. First, distinctive differentiation. There are piles of teen bands out there, but this one’s lead singer is instantly recognizable. Some of their videos just show his silhouette and because of his distinctive hair [see picture] and overall look, even I recognize him.

Second, the power of social networks and small markets. This is a German band, whose work is produced in their native tongue first and only later ported to English. Though Island Records (http://www.islandrecords.com/site/home.php), their label, manages a number of big market artists like Bon Jovi, most of their promotion is Internet-only. Their fundamental appeal to teens is essentially under the radar, socially connected, and, totally “in-the-club” driven.

This all came together for me when I was watching the Denver Broncos narrowly beating the San Diego Chargers and realized that the NFL was playing their single, “Ready Set Go” to jazz up a commercial break.

You see, even this low-budget, behind the scenes, grassroots-driven stuff can make the big time.

credits to emgclient.com

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