Ever since I was in college, I’ve been reading Billboard. Those daily email updates written by Jonathan Cohen made me feel connected to a business that was only a bus ride away in Manhattan, but felt a million miles away in terms of where I was in life. They had a section called, “This Day In Music,” where they shared little bits of history, like “Today is the day in 1976 when Bruce Springsteen jumped the fence at Graceland to meet Elvis.” I would enter these and famous rock stars’ birthdays into my Palm. I’m still walking around with them to this day.
My band recently put out an EP called “Rock Pony.” I thought it was an awful name for a record. But the rest of the guys thought otherwise. When I saw the album cover Jesse designed for it — a gloriously hot centaur lady wielding a guitar — forget being sold on it, I was in love.
In an interview with The Phoenix, they asked how the album cover came to be, which created an opportunity to tell a wild and entertaining story. They also asked if the rock pony was single.
That’s when it clicked.
Five months and a campaign later, we were in Billboard.
Here is the article, followed by the whole interview, uncut:
1. What were the lessons you learned from this experiment with the Rock Pony dating profile?
We learned as long as you can make someone laugh, they don’t mind being marketed to. We learned how much effort it takes to get a unique social media stunt off the ground, and the time it takes every day to keep it living and breathing. We also learned the correct word for a female centaur is “centauress” (one of the Rock Pony’s suitors informed us of this) and that they enjoy horseshoe Lucky Charms with their oats.
2. Were there downsides to the strategy?
We ran this with the risk our work might be taken down at any time. After putting all that effort into creating it, we had to accept it could be gone tomorrow. We said on the profile that it was being maintained by the band, and hoped if site administrators noticed, they’d appreciate the unique use of their platform and the entertainment we were offering their members. If they’re listening, we’d like to thank them for allowing us to try something new.
3. Is this something you’d encourage any artist to do, or do you think it was a one-time opportunity?
We’ve had a colorful history with social media stunts, starting with our Slush Puppie Flashmob in 2009. Any band can attempt an online dating project, but you need to have the right ingredients. To start, there must be a compelling figure from your album artwork to build it around. Iron Maiden might have pulled it off with Eddie, or Blind Melon with the bumblebee girl. (But we got there first!) For the profile, you need someone who can write, which most bands should have. For the responses, you need someone who can get into the mind of the character and respond to incoming messages as them, with the right kind of humor that endears people to your band. Understand that not everyone reads your whole profile and reaches the disclaimer. Your response messages need to be ridiculous enough to make it obvious the profile isn’t real, completely original so they know a human being is behind the controls and funny enough that they’ll share the laugh. A few *whinnies,” *gallops away* and *whips back mane*s always helped the Rock Pony.
4. Additional background
Our fans loved the artwork and everyone was curious about this mysterious Rock Pony figure. The Phoenix, an alt. weekly in Boston, asked us for the story behind the cover, which got us thinking, “Who is the Rock Pony? What does she like? How did we meet her? Are those things real?” They also jokingly asked if the Rock Pony was single. That’s what got us thinking this pony had a lot more to offer, and inspired us to put her on the market.