In sync with social media

Tomorrow People have a huge Facebook following, writes Paula Yeoman.

Tomorrow People have found the internet to be a powerful marketing tool.
Tomorrow People have found the internet to be a powerful marketing tool.

Ten years ago, a band's idea of embracing modern technology was throwing together a website to promote upcoming gigs. Today, it's a minefield in which groups are expected to manage multiple social networking sites and stay on top of the latest online advancements.

It's hard work. But those who pull it off also reap the rewards.

Take Wellington-based reggae eight-piece Tomorrow People. In the year-and-a-half between the launch of their debut album, One, and their just-released mini album, One.5, they've amassed 55,000 followers on Facebook and taken to Twitter with fervour.

It's helped them spread the word and become one of New Zealand's most-loved live reggae acts - no easy feat in a country renowned for its local reggae heritage and brimming with bands paying homage to the genre. Or for a group that started as a studio project.

"I guess technology allowed us to do things back-to-front in the sense that it provided us the opportunity to leak a few tracks online. The response we got from people on You Tube and social media really inspired us to take it to the next stage and create the live set," says keyboardist Tana Tupai, who self-manages the band alongside Avina Kelekolio, who also plays percussion and ukulele.

In the beginning, Tupai says the use of the internet was more out of necessity, but it fast became apparent just how powerful it was as a marketing tool.

"We were in a position where we didn't have a lot to spend on other advertising realms, so we had no choice but to make the most of that approach. We learned quickly that it was of connecting with your audience."

These days it's the band's Facebook followers that tend to dictate where they play live. And there's barely a weekend when they're not booked back-to-back, sometimes with more than one gig per night and in separate towns.

Tupai says he's humbled by the response. "We're just so ecstatic with the success we've had. You always plan and hope that the things that have happened will happen, but it's far exceeded our expectations."

So where can you next catch Tomorrow People? Follow them on Facebook and you'll find out. You may even convince Tupai and his team to bring their sweet blend of sunshine reggae to a town near you.

Tomorrow People's mini album One.5 is out now. They are performing at the Mt Vibes New Year's Music Festival in Mt Maunganui on New Year's Eve. They're also touring with Sons of Zion. Visit Facebook for dates www.facebook.com/tomorrow.ppl

- Herald on Sunday

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