Nearly 16 years after the first iPod silhouette commercials became instant music-marketing vehicles for bands big, small and critically beloved, the so-called “Apple effect” continues to show little signs of fatigue. Just ask acts like Marian Hill, Sofi Tukker and Billie Eilish, who all scored recent chart hits as a direct result of their music’s use in an Apple ad.
For the latest evidence of Apple’s impact, consider Washington, DC-based indie-pop trio Shaed. Over the past three years, singer Chelsea Lee and twin brothers Max Spencer Ernst had built a small but growing following with their debut 2016 EP “Just Wanna See.” The band also started to make a dent on the touring circuit, supporting acts like St. Lucia, Bishop Briggs and X Ambassadors and filling intimate clubs in its hometown like the Rock N Roll Hotel.
But after Apple debuted its latest MacBook Air campaign in late October, featuring Shaed’s jazzy electro-jam “Trampoline” as its soundtrack, the power of Apple’s reach (8.3 million YouTube subscribers) and spend ($25 million in U.S. TV airings, according to iSpot.TV) tripped the accelerator on the band’s trajectory.
Early Shazam activity from the Apple commercials helped break the song at alternative radio, where it continues to climb after 15 weeks (it currently sits at No. 5 on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart). Apple’s global exposure helped the song chart on the Spotify Viral 50 chart in 52 countries and achieve gold status in Switzerland, as well as sell out the band’s first-ever London show earlier this year. Summer festival bookers quickly took notice, too, with Shaed confirmed to play this year’s Hangout, Bottlerock, Governors Ball, Firefly and Lollapalooza, among several others.
And when Shaed returned to play DC on its first headlining tour earlier this month, it sold out the 500-cap U Street Music Hall, located just a few miles from where the band first wrote the song.
“We had just moved into a house in the DC suburbs, and we were watching a home video of Max and Spencer at 3 or 4 years old jumping on a trampoline,” recalls Lee of the writing process. “I thought of the line, ‘I’ve been having dreams, jumping on a trampoline’ and it kind of just evolved to writing this song about looking in our backyard. It was very much focused on nature.”
“Trampoline” first hit the radar of the Apple music team last summer, when one of the brand’s music supervisors reached out for the track’s stems. And then, in typical mercurial Apple fashion, little intel was shared until the MacBook spot premiered on October 30 during a special keynote from the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Says Spencer Ernst, “Chelsea ad I were driving down the road, watching the convention on her phone, and all of a sudden they were talking about the MacBook Air, and Chelsea looked at me and said, ‘That’d be awesome if ‘Trampoline’ was used for that. Then it aired and we were so excited we pulled the car over and called Max.”
While getting a big synch nod from Apple can create an overnight sensation effect for bands still cutting their teeth, Gerardo Cueva, VP of marketing at Shaed’s label Photo Finish, wanted to make sure the band was well-equipped to capitalize on the momentum.
“It was really important that the timing be great,” says Cueva. “Their live show is so much better than it was a year or two ago. We kept developing and got them this bigger opportunity to reach the next level.”
That includes the band’s full-length debut, expected later this year. “We’ve got great features and some great collaborations they’ve been demoing themselves. We’re trying to figure out what to roll out next with content and music and continue to grow from there,” says Matt Galle, founder of Photo Finish and a senior agent at Shaed’s booking agency Paradigm.
“Hopefully they become a headline artist in ballrooms and bigger. We believe they could be a big band.”
Songs for Screens is a Variety column sponsored by music experiential agency MAC Presents, based in NYC. It is written by Andrew Hampp, founder of music marketing consultancy 1803 LLC and former correspondent for Billboard. Each week, the column will highlight noteworthy use of music in advertising and marketing campaigns, as well as film and TV.