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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Why ‘You Oughta Know’

    What do The Fray, James Blunt, Corinne Bailey Rae and Keane have in common? Besides being largely successful, all were boosted by a big push from VH1’s “”You Oughta Know”” program.

    The question of the success of these artists has been a music lovers’ version of the chicken-versus-the-egg: Which came first – were these artists cherry-picked by VH1 at just the right time or was their shot to stardom based on VH1’s support?

    The program, which started back in 2004, began as just a presence on VH1’s Web site but developed into a much more authoritative presence on the TV channel in 2005, said Sandy Alouete, vice president of music and talent relations of VH1.

    Mat Kearney, a singer-songwriter who came to prominence after having songs featured on “”Grey’s Anatomy,”” is one of the latest recipients.

    “”There have been some really cool artists that have been ‘You Ought to Know’ artists,”” Kearney said. “”That was probably mostly what I got excited about and I’m sure it’s helped to bring people out to shows.””

    VH1 works closely with record labels to find the next big thing in music. They hold weekly meetings to look at all the new videos coming in to find what should be added to the repertoire, Alouete said. Since VH1 has been so successful in the past, labels often approach them about working with artists even before a video has been made.

    “”Now sometimes labels are really aggressive and really on it,”” Alouete said. “”They contact us way in advance of even a video, and they come in and play us new music.””

    It’s hard to miss the program’s presence. The artists get prime placement all over VH1’sWeb site, pointing viewers to a “”You Oughta Know”” section, advertisements for the upcoming tour and special stripped-down acoustic performances.

    The artists’ videos are placed in the “”medium rotation,”” Alouete said, which guarantees at least 10 spins a week. The video is always preceded by a promo spot that shows the artists discussing their music. While the video plays, it’s plastered with a bright orange “”You Oughta Know”” logo and banner with information about them.

    “”It’s just a lot of repeated impressions, and we really are convinced that that’s what drives it all home,”” Alouete said. “”That’s when viewers really start to get a feel for the artist.””

    Rocco Deluca, frontman of the band Rocco Deluca and The Burden, has found the “”repeated impressions”” of VH1 really make a difference to his career. Deluca has signed to what he calls “”an extremely indie label,”” Ironworks, which has meant his record has been a “”slow build.”” VH1’s assistance has been invaluable.

    “”I personally think the difference I see is when I go over to the label to pick something up or to record, there are more smiles on everyone’s faces,”” Delucasaid, laughing. “”I think they actually see what was just an idea manifest, and VH1 obviously has been a huge part of that.””

    Although VH1 has been pushing only Deluca’s single “”Colorful,”” Deluca said it’s made an impact in the audience for his music as a whole. People coming out to his shows now are not only familiar with “”Colorful,”” but other songs on the record as well.

    “”I’ve also noticed though they’ll sing back to me ‘Gift’ at the shows and that point I’m realizing that door’s been opened,”” Deluca said. “”Now they’re actually receiving the rest of this record and this project and that to me, that’s the greatest gift right there.””

    The latest spin by VH1 on the “”You Oughta Know”” program is the combination of three main artists, Kearney, Deluca and British band The Feeling to form a nationwide tour that kicked off Saturday. This tour is a bit of a “”guinea pig,”” and if it does well, they will continue to expand the tour next year, Alouete said.

    It seems as though there’s not much more VH1 can do to support their artists.

    “”If they made a Mat Kearney channel on VH1, that would be good,”” Kearney joked.

    He’s not far off. VH1 is looking to expand the program by working on more retail relationships and creating a half-hour or hour block devoted only to playing “”You Oughta Know”” artists, Alouete said.

    Even as Kearney, Deluca and The Feeling are enjoying VH1’s support, the clock is ticking; VH1 is already starting on its next egg. Their latest burgeoning artists are Paolo Nutini and Amy Winehouse. Nutini, a singer/songwriter from Scotland performed Tuesday at Club Congress.

    “”We get a sense sort of intrinsically when it’s feeling like it’s time to kind of move off of something and replace it with something new. For example, The Fray,”” Alouete said. “”After a while, it was like, OK, this band is a platinum band. If you don’t know who The Fray are by now, you’re living under a rock.””

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