More composed now

by Alex on December 20, 2009

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Right, I suppose I should write with some reasonable consideration now.

On November 16th 2009, “I’ve Got Nothing” entered the charts at number 36. The song was developed, written and recorded completely through internet submissions, and was the culmination of a project that began ten weeks earlier when myself and three other YouTubers started a new YouTube channel called “Chartjackers”. The aim was to document the progress of an internet-constructed single to be released for charity. The melody, the lyrics, all of it was contributed by the online community, and we purposefully made something very cheesy, something that harks back to the days before pop took itself seriously. (The song is still available on iTunes and the money from every sale goes to Children In Need. You can see the music video here and watch the finished half-hour documentary here – the BBC filmed us on our journey).

We were aiming for number 1, but we had a number of roadblocks in our path. In my opinion, the biggest problem we had was that we relied too much on traditional media. Our internet community were amazing, getting the word ‘Chartjackers’ in the trending topics on Twitter no less than four times, emailing radio stations and DJs, but that was the thing – our show was on television. We asked traditional radio to play the song. We asked newspapers and magazines for coverage. When they turned us down we were disheartened. But we never saw that we had plenty of power all our own. Instead of using the online community to get the attention of the people that (we thought) had the real means to support us, we should have realised that we could have mobilised the internet ourselves and took over the charts without needing traditional media at all.

The Rage campaign, by contrast, is a perfect example of how it should have been done. No old media included. Nobody played Killing In The Name on the radio or on TV this week – they didn’t have to. It was never about that. If they’d emailed radio DJs and said “play Killing In The Name, get it to number 1″ – they wouldn’t have. The media are reactive. So they just did it themselves. And (perhaps ironically) enough people cared about the Rage campaign that traditional media DID start paying attention. Now, I’d argue that this is also because the “beat the X Factor” idea is much more appealing than the “let’s see what the internet can do” idea, because the former incorporates the latter – but I think there’s a lot to be learned from this.

I loved the Chartjackers project and wouldn’t change anything that happened. We didn’t get to number 1, but we DID get to number 36, we raised over ten thousand pounds for Children In Need, and now just over a month later, the internet have controlled the charts again in a much more significant way and raised even more money for charity (over sixty thousand pounds has been donated to Shelter by fans of Killing In The Name).

What I’m trying to say is that I feel like these two events are the start of something. We’re at a turning point for the music industry, where the people get more say and, in the words of Rage, won’t do what they tell us.



Amy x December 20, 2009 at 3:46 pm

I completely agree Alex, I feel that it is the start of something too, and Ive got nothing got to number 1 in the indie charts! woop! I think that it is amazing that a band with very little to no radio play or TV recognition managed to get to number one simply because enough people wanted it to, and I love the fact that people have come together to prevent the x factor tradition, just like chartjackers brought the internet community together to get something that is utterly different in the charts. its like through these experiences, I have realized that if someone wants something, even if they are not famous, they can work hard and get it. I have that same attitude towards your music, think about it, I've got nothing was an undoubtedly cheesy song, but it was pleasant and nice, unlike some if not most songs in the charts at the moment that talk about things like sex, clubbing and so on. Your music is a lovely breath of fresh air and actually means something. You have a hell of a lot of support behind you and your music, keep at it, you will go far. x

smilenose December 20, 2009 at 3:48 pm

im going to college (or “university”) in the fall (just got in so yay!) to study music industry/business and lately ive been thinking myself super lucky and am super excited to be around when its all happening. music is changing, people dont need a producer, or recording studio any more, they just need a computer, EVERYONE can get their voice out there, its not about how much money you have its about talent, so even if a degree in music means i wont have a job, i think its great that there are so many open doors
sorry for the long comment, but is something im pretty passionate about

TheLunarFire December 20, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Amy's right. It doesn't matter that it was a cheesy pop song; its content was “cleaner” than a lot of the other popular music. You and the other guys worked really hard and you've helped a lot of people with your efforts. Keep practicing your music and I'm sure Alex Day will make it to number one some day.

Bri :D December 20, 2009 at 5:18 pm

I love it when the internet comes together. ^__^

Rico December 20, 2009 at 8:46 pm

I agree. What Chartjackers started, rage has seen through to a conclusion. Well done.

Julie December 21, 2009 at 1:58 am

Don't forget that everyone knows Rage Against the Machine and the X-Factor. You guys definitely made a name for yourself with the Chartjackers, but they had a huge advantage. Plus the Rage campaign was far more cynical, and people generally prefer being cynical to being hopeful, unfortunately. Also Joe covered a Miley Cyrus song for his single so that was just doomed to fail…
In any event, keep your chin up, getting to number 36 is very respectable, and besides if you had gotten into the top five (let alone to number one) you would have had something in common with N-Dubz, and who wants that?

Apurva December 21, 2009 at 2:04 am

I definitely see your point about social networking and the internet, but I just wanted to say I think what you guys DID do was just so awesome in and of itself! I'm in the US, so I got some of my friends in the UK to buy the song, and they all said it was a great buy :) Nice job, Alex. It really is rather impressive that you guys all managed to pull together like that.

On a completely unrelated note, I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your videos in general :) The twilight ones make me laugh for hours, and I may or may not have already seen the Chapter 5+6 one more than three times already, haha. I adore your sarcasm, and you are so incredibly cool on so many levels! Please keep doing those, I love them, and I know everyone I show them to loves them as well. You're incredibly talented – not to mention smart and funny and cute, too.

On a second completely unrelated note, this is the first time I came to your blog, and I'm sure glad I did! It's very interesting to hear the guy behind all the music and all the humor :) Thanks for sharing!

MissSherry88 December 21, 2009 at 6:16 am

Since the first time I post a comment here, I just wanted to say that your music is truly AWESOME!!
I REALLY LOVE your albume and especially No More! <3

The Chartjackers are GREAT too and I'm so glad that you guys reached this level. Well done!!
I'm sure you'll be huge one day if you keep making the awesome music and all the hard working, which I'm sure you will :)

Btw, the day that I've Got Nothing got to number 36 was my birthday! LOL so yaaaay!!! =D
All the best guys! <3

Cheers from Qatar ..

rebeccaish December 21, 2009 at 8:19 am

I'm so glad it got to Christmas number 1! I didn't even listen to it before I bought it, and I'm sure a lot of people don't even like the song that much, it's just the concept of beating the X Factor for once, and I'm so happy the internet did this, and that it's also raising money for charity. Win! ^_^

Je m'appelle Caitlin :) December 21, 2009 at 10:21 am

In the papers it said the Paul McCartney was supporting RATM, i thought that was really cool. :)

itiselizabeth December 21, 2009 at 1:56 pm

This won't be a big comment. But I seriously think you write well, this will be a great source to look back at in years to come!

alexmichelle December 21, 2009 at 3:59 pm

i don't think i've ever been happier to have internet add, because i was supposed to be writing a paper when i stumbled upon your youtube videos, and i haven't looked back since. XD your music is seriously fantastic. the lyrics are all beautiful, and because they all come from your heart they're that much more meaningful. you're an amazing musician (and you're funny as hell) and it is safe to say i'll be coming back to your website every day for the rest of forever.

and i might as well make this comment super-uber-long and mention something related to the actual post, so here 'tis: the chartjackers project was a great idea, and from what i can tell even though you didn't make it to number 1 it was still a big success. the music business really is being revolutionized, and i think it's a stupendous thing. so kudos to all four of you guys for being such awesome people!! (plus, bbc called you “the ladies' man of youtube”. that's gotta be worth something. ;D)

Emma December 21, 2009 at 10:35 pm

Everytime I google your name to get to this website, I get the Alex Day Spa website. Just Saying.

Michael Markman (Mickeleh) December 22, 2009 at 1:04 am

That might be changing. I just tried a Google search on “Alex Day” and got his listing on the DFTBA wiki in first position and this website in second. If anybody wants to help boost Alex's Google juice, it might help to link here from your own blog, tumblr, or Twitter account. Just Saying.

Michael Markman (Mickeleh) December 22, 2009 at 1:54 am

Alex, I think your analysis is incomplete. RATM can't be considered a pure internet play by any stretch of the imagination. First, they are an established band dating back to 1991, with seven Grammy nominations and two wins. Their premiere album (featuring “Killing in the Name”) went triple platinum. It was played on BBC Radio in 1993. So they had even more fame and equity to build on than you, Charlie, Johnny, and Jimmy have amassed so far on YouTube.

Second, the RATM campaign had a villain. Two interconnected villains in fact. Simon Cowell and X-Factor. There was a lot of pent-up rage ready to be unleashed against those machines.

The Mortons picked the perfect band to carry the anti-Cowell banner: “Rage Against the Machine For Christmas No.1″ is a perfect headline. The name of the band incorporates the call to action. Brilliant. The lyrics of the song contain the rallying cry. The video makes the target explicit. Do you think a Facebook page, titled “Chartjackers For Christmas No. 1″ would have the same weight? Compared to “Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me,” you got nothing.

Internetty folks like to imagine that the Internet is the world. It ain't. Yeah, the net is powerful. It's growing. We're all connected to it and engaged with it. It's made many things possible that were inconceivable twenty years ago. And it will only get stronger. But it's not a self-contained universe. It's a dynamic set of pathways in the real universe.

The irony, of course is that RATM is signed to the same label (Sony) as Joe. This little campaign only make Simon Cowell richer. Moohahahaha.

Elinious December 22, 2009 at 6:53 pm

I have to say that I kind of missed the whole RATM vs. Joe thing, as I live in Holland, but heard some things about it online.

Now, what you're saying about this seems sensible, and so far I agree with you.

But I have to add that I think events like these, show old media (and the general public) that new media is much more powerful and deserves more credit. It also shows that old media shouldn't be so stubborn and change, go with their time instead of desperately trying to hold on to the old, or else they'll die eventually.
A lot of companies try, but they don't seem to get it. They throw money at it, but on the internet, eventually this won't work because the power is in the people's hands. The internet is basically free (charging people won't work very well most of the time, except for porn maybe), and if you don't give the visitors what they want, they simply close the page, forget about it and move to another website that fits their needs.

Events like this highlight the power of the internet – whether that's entirely the case is secondary.
And think about it: the internet has only been mainstream for a few years. There is such a long way to go. It would be nearly impossible to have such a big impact on 'real life' at this time without involving old media AT ALL, simply because most people don't understand how revolutionizing the internet really is. (This is why I think ChartJackers is amazing.) We are internet savvy, but it's events like RATM vs. Joe that makes the other people aware and it might move them to become more active.

Chelsea December 23, 2009 at 4:23 pm

the music industry has been changing for quite some time now. but much like corporations don't understand YouTube and how to effectively market to us, the music industry doesn't understand, and has yet to catch up with, us on the internet. companies like DFTBA Records which were spawned from the internet, of course, are the exception. but the big ones (BMG, Sony, etc.) still don't get it.
it's this lack of understanding that keeps them behind. they still think they can dictate to us what the “sound” is instead of finding out what people are listening to and promoting that.
but i hope the bigs never catch on and die. cuz an upheaval of the music industry, including the way they rape their artists (with contracts that leave artists with a tiny percentage of the profits), would revolutionize the way we all receive music.

CurtisJ December 24, 2009 at 7:36 am

I have to ask: are you planning on repeating Chartjackers next year?

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