How grassroots band Short Stack used online to go to No.1 on the ARIAs

This is a guest post by Emily Copeland who is the Strategic Integrations Manager for Channel V (MCN - Music) and writes the music marketing blog, OMG with Emily which also has a radio segment on FBi 94.5 - Thursdays at 8.15am.

This week will forever be remembered in musical history. After 7 weeks at number one on the ARIA album charts, we saw Michael Jackson’s reign toppled by an Australian emo band from Budgewoi called Short Stack.

Not only did Short Stack push Michael Jackson into second place, but this release was their very first album, and it debuted at #1!

So how did a group of kids from the coast overthrow the King of Pop?

Back in the 80s, before the members of Short Stack were born, bands kicked off their careers playing in pubs. But in 2005 Short Stack were still too young to tour the pub circuit, so they began placing their tracks on MySpace and entering band competitions such as Youthrock.

As their popularity on MySpace began to grow, the band extended their online presence to include Short Stack TV on YouTube, Facebook fan pages, Bebo, Absolute Punk and Twitter to name just a few.

Short Stack now have almost 60,000 friends on MySpace, and over 10,000 followers on Twitter. They have fan pages for not just the band, but for each individual band member. And back in 2008 they had so many views of their videos on YouTube that they beat Britney Spears to have the number one video of the day.

But lots of bands use social media to promote themselves… how have Short Stack managed to become one of the most popular Australian bands on MySpace, without having released an album until this week? What have they done differently to garner so much support online? How have they turned fans into fanatics?

Graph source

Short Stack used the power of community, credibility and accessibility. And they used their link to a geographic community to strengthen their online community presence.

Community - Embrace Multiple Communities, Real World and Virtual
Short Stack’s home town of Budgewoi, is on the NSW Central Coast. It’s not a large place, but there are a lot of teenagers living nearby – and not a huge amount for them to entertain themselves with. Short Stack used the power of geographic community to initially harness this local young and somewhat-isolated crowd, and make them feel a part of something bigger. They tapped them into the emerging Short Stack online community, and gave them something to get behind when there wasn’t much else for a teenage emo to do. And from it's beginnings on the Central Coast, Short Stack’s music began to spread via online communities around Australia.

Credibility, Credibility, Credibility
The typical emo fashion is to go against the grain, disobey parents, ignore mainstream media, and not get sucked in by large commercial corporations – so Short Stack’s low budget marketing and the fact that they weren’t backed by a major record label at first, made them even more attractive to their fans. The band never discouraged illegal downloading of their tracks – understanding that getting large numbers of people to hear the music was more important initially than trying to push a small number of sales. They boys seemed ‘real’ and relatable which all added to their credibility.

Accessibility - Identify, Understand and Interact with your Audience
Short Stack were lucky that with their long hair and somber emo looks, they appealed directly to teenage girls. The band put their efforts into online communities where their demographic were already spending a lot of time, and tailored their messages directly to this audience. Short Stack have also made themselves accessible – and their fans love them for it! Fans can see the effort that Short Stack go to in responding to comments online, posting regular videos, and releasing free tracks, and they are happy to reciprocate.

It was this reciprocity that saw Short Stack take out Channel [V]’s Oz Artist of the Year 2008. According to lead singer, Shaun Diviney "Our fans are very, very rabid and really into what we do. If we ask them to vote for us they'll do it furiously and really get behind us," (source). Those fans got behind them in 2008 to the tune of 400,000 votes – to see them beat Silverchair and The Presets for the award. Those aren't just fans... they're fanatics. And it is fanatics you need if you want your debut release to topple the King of Pop.


Ben Shepherd said...

great article and I agree - but does anyone know how many units they actually sold.

it's a lot easier to get a number 1 in AU in 2009 than it was in 1999

From my understanding you can go number 1 with unit sales of approx. 7k in a week or thereabouts.

Emily said...

Ben, you're right that you don't need to sell many units to make it to #1.

The top selling album in Australia for 2008 was Kings of Leon's "Only By The Night" and it sold just 350,000 units.

But low album sales figures aside - the fact remains that Short Stack still outsold every other album available in Australia last week. A great success story for any debut release.

Andrew McMillen said...

Good case study Emily. It's a nice overview of the band's success for pedestrians like myself. I've no interest in their music, but the web/community angle is fascinating. Cheers!

Promotional Products said...

This is a great example of how being innovative and persistent can lead to great results. Whether you are trying to get your music out to the public or selling widgets, if you can be unique and have goals that you stick to, you have a great chance to meet your goals and be successful. said...

I consider every person should read this.

Anonymous said...

Amazing blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?
I'm hoping to start my own blog soon but I'm a little lost on everything.
Would you recommend starting with a free platform like Wordpress or go for a paid option?

There are so many choices out there that I'm totally confused .. Any tips? Thanks a lot!

Review my weblog; vacation rental property management

Anonymous said...

Good day! I was interested to know if setting up a web site such your own: http:
// is difficult to do for inexperienced people?
I've been hoping to develop my own blog for a while now but have been turned off mainly because I've always assumed
it required tons of work. What do you think? Thanks!

Also visit my website; furnace repair experts

Anonymous said...

Amazing blog! Is your theme custom made or
did you download it from somewhere? A theme like
yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog jump out.
Please let me know where you got your theme. Thanks a lot

My blog :: duffel bags nike

Anonymous said...

I am actually thankful to the holder of this web site who has shared this impressive paragraph at here.

Look into my page ... I Knew You Were Trouble (Kim Viera Cover)

Anonymous said...

Hello, I think your website could possibly be having internet browser compatibility problems.
When I look at your website in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in IE, it's got some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to give you a quick heads up! Besides that, wonderful blog!

Also visit my web site: solavei

Anonymous said...

I constantly spent my half an hour to read this website's content daily along with a mug of coffee.

My web page -

Anonymous said...

First of all I would like to say superb blog!
I had a quick question in which I'd like to ask if you don't mind.
I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your head prior to writing.

I have had a tough time clearing my thoughts in getting my
thoughts out there. I do enjoy writing but it just seems
like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be wasted simply just trying to figure out
how to begin. Any recommendations or tips? Kudos!

Feel free to visit my homepage: The web’s premiere DJ community

Anonymous said...

Hello! Someone in my Myspace group shared this site with us
so I came to check it out. I'm definitely enjoying the information. I'm book-marking and will be tweeting this to
my followers! Exceptional blog and fantastic style and design.

Also visit my blog post: solavei

Anonymous said...

Your blog seems to be having some compatibilty
issues in my safari browser. The content appears to be running off the
webpage pretty bad. If you want you can contact me at: marcia_amaral@gmail.
com and I'll shoot you over a screenshot of the problem.

Feel free to surf to my blog -

Anonymous said...

I tend not to leave a bunch of responses, however I browsed a few responses here "How grassroots band Short Stack used online to go to No.1 on the ARIAs".
I actually do have a couple of questions for you if it's allright. Could it be just me or does it look like like some of the comments come across like they are written by brain dead folks? :-P And, if you are posting on other online social sites, I would like to follow you. Could you post a list of the complete urls of all your public sites like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

My web page her perfect juicy Boobs

Anonymous said...

It's a pity you don't have a donate button! I'd definitely donate to this fantastic blog! I suppose for now i'll settle for bookmarking
and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to fresh updates and
will share this site with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

Also visit my web site;

Anonymous said...

Good day I am so delighted I found your webpage, I
really found you by accident, while I was searching on Digg
for something else, Anyhow I am here now and would just like to say
thank you for a remarkable post and a all round interesting blog (I also love the theme/design),
I don't have time to browse it all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read much more, Please do keep up the awesome work.

Also visit my webpage ... 건축예술학부 - Havuz oyunları ve daha birçok oyunlar burada said...

Please keep us up to date like this. said...

Thanks for sharing. Feel free to visit my website; said...

It’s always useful to read through content from other authors and use something from other sites. said...

Hi there, You have done an excellent job.

gostopsite com said...

I’d like to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this website.

casinositerank com said...

Such an amazing and helpful post. I really really love it.

sportstotomen com said...

I am realy extremely glad to visit your blog.

19guide03 com said...

Much obliged to you and sitting tight for your new post

casinositerank com said...

It’s really a great and helpful piece of information.

slotplayground com said...

I wan’t going to comment as this posts a bit old now, but just wanted to say thanks.

Magdalena Pineda said...

Great site and a great topic. I'm amazed to read this. It's excellent. Write more

Nehemiah Garrison said...

I like this weblog very much, Its a really nice position to read and get info.

Eugene Richardson said...

Hello my loved! I wish to say that this article is awesome, this is great written

Maxwell Cervantes said...

It's really a nice and helpful piece of information. I am happy that you shared this