It can seem surprising that even in the digital age the music industry is still dominated by the bloated record labels from which most chart music still stems. Despite our greater ability to explore new and different music from artists of varying backgrounds greater commercial success still seems disproportionately limited to those select few whom the labels deem worthy for stardom. As such, I’d like to take a moment to examine an anomaly to this pattern, the success of the Finnish rock trio Poets of the Fall.
You’d be forgiven for not having heard of them, in the UK they haven’t made a large commercial impact, yet in their home country they’ve got four number one albums under their belt and two of those albums have been certified platinum. What is more remarkable about their success is their independence; they have always produced everything on their own label Insomniac. This has given them complete artistic control over their work and their method. Yet this has meant they are financially independent as well and have no support save their own success.
So how did a group who recorded their first album in a living room and run their first office out of a car achieve success entirely independent of financial help? First, as always, is the dedication to the dream, all the band members made great personal investment to make their business. For example the lead singer Marko Saaresto sold most of his property and moved back into his parents’ home to fund the first album.
Second was the band’s capacity to utilise media to reach the greatest number of people possible as cheaply as possible. In this contacts helped. Marko’s friendship with the video game writer Sam Lake allowed the band to put their first song, and eventual single Late Goodbye into the credits of Remedy Entertainment’s blockbuster game Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne. Though the game was considered a financial disappointment it still sold around at least the million mark, exposing Poets of the Fall to a huge audience without having officially released a single. The success of Late Goodbye led to their debut album Signs of Life reaching number one in the Finnish charts.
Since their initial success they have built on their achievements, releasing albums at regular intervals and maintaining financial prudence by recognising the necessary balance between music as an art and as a business. They don’t try and overreach themselves and have mostly toured only as far as Germany and Russia, and they maintain contacts, their music was once again featured in Remedy Entertainment’s greater success Alan Wake in 2010. They have even since added another band to their label, Phoenix Effect, fronted by Janne Kärkkäinen the former guitarist of Sunrise Avenue.
Their next album Temple of Thought is due out in March of this year and I would advise you to take a look, and appreciate the success of a band which has done everything their own way and on their own terms. This is the sort of success we would all benefit from seeing more of in the music industry.