Musicians conquer US on air and online

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Norwegian duo Nico & Vinz have stormed the US Billboard singles chart this summer, maintaining their grip on the top five when the latest chart results were released on Wednesday. Industry insiders have compared the way Nico & Vinz used maximum radio play and iTunes downloads as the key to their meteoric rise, while the Ylvis brothers shrewdly used YouTube to launch their viral hit The Fox last year.

Nico Sereba, left, and Vincent Dery performing as Nico & Vinz on US talk show LIVE! with Kelly and Michael last month. The pair have dominated radio play across American stations, helping them hold onto fourth place on the Billboard singles chart for the second week. PHOTO:

Nico Sereba, left, and Vincent Dery performing as Nico & Vinz on US talk show LIVE! with Kelly and Michael last month. The pair have dominated radio play across American stations, keeping them in fourth place on the Billboard singles chart for a second week. PHOTO:

Nico Sereba and Vincent Dery were never in doubt they’d make it big. The 23-year-olds told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) last December their eyes were firmly on the prize – the world’s most prestigious hitlist, the US Billboard Hot 100. “We’ll get there,” Nico said at the time. “Write that down, and then we can look back it it later.”

It was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Nico & Vinz’s hit single Am I Wrong, which the pair wrote themselves, reached number four last week, and held onto its spot when the latest chart ranking was released this week. The only Norwegian act to do better was a-ha, when it topped the charts in 1985 with its international hit Take on me.

“Words can’t describe how lucky we feel and how grateful we are for the support we’re getting from our fans the world over!” Nico & Vinz wrote to newspaper VG on Wednesday. “We are proud to represent Norway and hope we can inspire people to follow their dreams, whatever they are.”

“We are super happy and proud that the song remains in fourth place on Billboard,” Warner Norway’s Silje Larsen Borgan told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “It takes a lot to stay in the top five of this list, and it’s great that they’re holding their place.”

Radio, TV and downloads the key
Those in the industry said the key to the duo’s rise has been their dominance of US airwaves. About 90 radio stations snatched up the single when it was released in the States in April. Borgan, who worked with Nico & Vinz in Norway, said the Warner team in Los Angeles was now helping the duo’s trajectory.

“They anticipate from their analysis of how many radio stations are putting this on their playlists that it will come to peak on radio later in July sometime,” she said. “That is promising, because radio is so heavily weighted on Billboard.” The amount of airtime the pair garnered attracted the interest of TV networks, and they’ve made appearances on popular shows including Jimmy Kimmel Live. Oscar-winning director Ron Howard has used Nico & Vinz songs in moving trailers and an upcoming film.

The song also topped iTunes downloads lists in more than 20 countries, reported VG. The official music video had been watched almost 28.5 million times at the time of publication.

Am I Wrong was released in Norway in April 2013, when Nico & Vinz performed under the moniker Envy while signed to EMI. After Warner acquired the pair after a partial buy-out of EMI, Norwegian boss Guttorm Raa took them to meet Warner’s chief executive in the US late last summer. Nico & Vinz moved to the US and struck a worldwide record deal with the head of Warner Bros Records and Warner Chappell, Cameron Strang. DN reported it contained an option for several albums.

The duo’s 23-year-old manager Amanuel Kidane who grew up with Nico in Oslo accompanied them to LA. They were linked to manager Troy Carter who has represented Lady Gaga, Miguel, John Mayer and Sky Ferreira. Music Norway, Norway’s state-backed program to promote musicians, helped with the move, supplying NOK 50,000 (USD 8,000) through its relocation program.

Norwegians strong on air and online
It comes as no surprise that Nico & Vinz’s success has been compared to Norway’s other recent global music stars, the Ylvis brothers. Viral hit The Fox reached number six on the Billboard chart last year and stayed there for three weeks, despite the fact Ylvis secured very little airtime on US radio. “With The Fox there was minimal radio, but a lot of YouTube and sales,” Warner Norway’s Borgan said.

“Radio play was almost non-existent, as the song The Fox was perceived as comedy and as a curiosity because it had become a YouTube sensation,” said Jørgen Thue from management company Stageway. “Until now, it’s had fully 425 million views. We came in sixth place virtually without radio.” Woodgate