People Are Receiving Mysterious Cassette Tapes In The Mail


Call it the most creative marketing ploy of the year. Or the plot of the next installment in the Saw movie franchise. Or maybe just call it effective.

About two months ago, kids started receiving unmarked, handwritten packages with no return address. In it contained a single cassette tape tagged with the hand written words “Just Press Play.”

A bit freaked out, kids took to Tumblr, WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to attempt to solve the mystery of A) will they die if they press play B) who sent these and C) how did they get their addresses.

On the packaging of the cassette, also handwritten, it explained that if you didn’t have a cassette player you could visual Shazam the code. Hmm, that’s not really the mark of a terrorist, but rather a major label. Many kids keyed into that and thought it at least safe to play the cassette without fear of a self destruction spy bomb setting off.

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Most of these kids were pleasantly surprised. The song, “Girls Your Age,” by the LA band Transviolet was called “moody, brooding little sister of Lana Del Rey” by Teen Vogue. And a comment on the SoundCloud of the song said “it’s like halsey if halsey was good.”

The meticulous campaign to launch the next Halsey started earlier this year. The Facebook Page was created on May 22nd, but they didn’t really start posting until days before the July 16th release of “Girls Your Age.” The same day Katy Perry tweeted out the Hype Machine link to her 72.5 million followers and of course the song immediately shot to #1 on the Hype Machine charts. A week later Harry Styles tweeted the lyrics to his 25.6 million followers.

This quartet of 3 dudes, Judah McCarthy, Michael Panek, Jon Garcia and one gal, Sarah McTaggart, kept their faces hidden on all social media platforms (and in the “Girls Your Age” music video) up until yesterday with the premier of their new song New Bohemia. Actually, they’ve kept pretty much everything about them hidden. It took some serious social media stalking to actually figure out the names of the band members. There’s no website. No wikipedia. And no info on their Facebook page other than a phone number and an email address. If you call the phone number “Girls Your Age” starts playing. Hilarious. It seems they sent out 3×5 cards with this number written on them in addition to the cassettes. They have a gmail email address listed on Facebook – to make it seem like they’re DIY like Viners and YouTubers. But, as much as I’d like to think this was all brilliantly conceived and executed by these four musicians, it’s the mark of a major label. One that, in all fairness, should be given mad props for carrying out such a non-traditional release. Finally, a major label isn’t just painting by the numbers a new band’s launch. They’re putting some real creative effort into it. And it’s paying off. trans-main

Transviolet, well more accurately, Epic Records, seems to have a calculated monthly battle plan for the rest of the year up until the point where they, naturally, take over the world.

They have a tour booked supporting Mikky Ekko for October and the EP will most likely be released September 29th (as one of the band members told his friend on his personal Facebook profile – I told you I was creepin!)

So, how did Epic get the addresses of all these confused music fans? It seems to be the general consensus from Facebook and blog comments that the one thing every victim, er, recipient had in common was that they were all members of the Fueled By Ramen street team. Which is a bit perplexing considering FBR is under Warner and Epic is under Sony. Either FBR’s list was hacked by Epic, or they’re helping the competition (for a hefty price I’m sure).

Whatever the case, the kids generally got over the initial creepiness factor of an anonymous package and have warmed to the band.

Expect to see much more from these new bohemians as they take over your airwaves very soon.


Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of the music biz advice blog Ari’s Take. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake

19 Responses

  1. tapesucker

    “kids started receiving unmarked, handwritten packages”

    and of course all of those ugly kids own tape players… hahahhaaaa…. big lie…

      • iknoweverythingthatswhyisharemyopinions

        because the list the marketing team used was a list of addresses for ugly kids. duh.

    • GGG

      Bands with no history/following that get signed are usually from one of two things; either nepotism, or simply a label manufactured group, often culled from members of the label’s roster of failed acts/young session people.

      True story: About 6-7 years ago, in my long-haired, guitar-slinging days, I was once approached by a major label A&R person asking if I wanted to join a Kings of Leon-esque rock/pop group that was, and I quote, “being put together purely to make money.” I often wonder if that ever happened and if so, which band it is…

      • Robert Jensen
        Robert Jensen

        not entirely true, if you are marketable and the A&R people or VP like you then you’re in. you do have to be better, in their eyes, than the nepotism and manufactured folk though.

        • GGG

          Well, true. I’d imagine nowadays if they take on the risk of a person with like 1000 Facebook likes, that artist is already, or close enough to, what they’d manufacture anyway. So it’s kinda the same thing.

          • Wolfman Jack

            and not to mention. .. the Radio Departments at most of the labels have all the power and run the show. If you’re an artist being considered to be signed…95% of the decision is based on IF you can get a song(s) on commercial radio. that’s a fact.

          • GGG

            Right, and that would explain why they feel we need another Lorde/Banks/fka Twigs/Halsey/Lana Del Rey/another 30 people this sounds like.

            Not that I dislike it buuuttt..getting over the brooding female pop thing.

          • The lyrics of “New Bohemia” have a message that I resonate with over the artists mentioned in the comment above. I don’t really resonate with the message in the other songs however.

  2. Rocker

    I’d say this is a case of Nepotism definitely, Katy Perry is signed to Columbia, Transviolet marketing team are Epic Records. Epic Records + Columbia Records = SONY MUSIC!


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