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Weezer is no stranger to YouTube. In 2008, the group put many viral video stars in the video for its single Pork and Beans. This week, the Snuggie loving band took its internet fanboy status to a new level, announcing the launch of its new album by appearing in 15 new videos created by popular YouTube users.
Weezer is just the latest big brand to hitch its cart to smaller, more nimble digital success stories hoping to win new fans (hello Gap ads featuring the Foursquare founders). Can internet goodwill sell albums?
Weezer's new album Hurley launched today. The band is tapping into the wide audiences provided by YouTube stars like Ray William Johnson, Mystery Guitar Man, Tay Zonday, Annoying Orange, Fred, and Hot for Words, to get the word out.
The album, featuring Lost star Jorge Garcia on the cover, was already set to go down as the most link-baiting album the band has put out. Now Weezer is putting its reputation on the line with these videos. This will either be an amazing PR play or go down as an astoundingly exhuberant but ill-conceived digital stunt.
This summer, the band put out a call for YouTube stars who wanted to participate in the release and let them write and produce video segments with the band.
Ray William Johnson, one of the most popular YouTubers says: "Legitimately, I'm a fan of them." His video has earned almost 900,000 views in the last 24 hours. Most of his videos have over 3 million views, but it's still early and more are sure to accumulate.
This video, done together with the gang from Autotune the News has so far achieved over 230,000 views:
In addition to views, Weezer also has the potential to win a lot of goodwill with this stunt. As contributor Mark Douglas (89.428 views) says: "Thanks for Being in my video Weezer, you guys rock."
"I’ve always been fascinated by how online video as a community brings people together that normally may never collaborate or meet. The fact Weezer reached out to us and considers themselves part of that community felt like another indication that online video as a medium is continuing to rapidly grow. As a bonus, it allowed me to jam with my rock icons. It was an experience I’ll never forget. I hope my wife likes the video."
The video participants are not the only ones who think this was a cool idea.
Wiill these popular videos translate into album sales? That's not as clear. A lot of (new, it seems) fans are documenting their album purchases on Twitter today. But it's not clear that online popularity translates into album sales. For an example, just look to a band like OKGo, which has had lackluster album sales despite runaway popularity online.
Longtime Weezer fans may not be amused by Weezer cowtowing to the digerati, but this could be a very effective way to find new listeners.
Weezer has an ace up its sleeve in case album sales are stagnant — a winter tour that will hit multiple cities in the US, dubbed as the "Blinkerton Tour." At the least, Weezer's new campaign should get new fans into seats for those shows. And if all else fails, they can invite some of the YouTube stars to appear during the shows — some of their YouTube fans will surely follow.