Band breaks 1M views with years-old music video

A music video by a P.E.I. band passed one million views, suddenly exploding in popularity after years of moderate success on YouTube.

A music video by a P.E.I. band passed one million views, suddenly exploding in popularity after years of moderate success on YouTube.

Paper Lions released the Travelling video in February 2007, and in four years it had 50,000 views.

"And then it started jumping by 5,000 a day and then it started jumping by 10,000 a day," said drummer David Cyrus MacDonald.

It's amazing to think of so many people watching the Paper Lions music video, says drummer David Cyrus MacDonald. (CBC)

"We're getting views in Kuwait, we're getting views in Darfour. We're getting views in Germany, Australia, all over the place … When you start thinking about your music touching that amount of people on a regular basis, it kind of makes my jaw drop a little bit."

There are few Canadian artists who have hit the million-view plateau with a music video. Well-known groups such as Great Big Sea, Sam Roberts and The Tragically Hip have not managed it.

"[It's] pretty incredible. I mean, that's such a massive amount of views," said singer John MacPhee.

"As far as how the video broke, we still don't really know."

Starts on CBC Radio 3

CBC News asked web developer Dave Cormier to try to solve that mystery.

The Paper Lions are now focused on replicating the success of Travelling. (CBC)

Cormier said it appears to have started with a well-placed spot on CBC Radio 3 in October, followed by the free online release of Paper Lions latest album in December. A few Facebook shares and YouTube recommendations later the video was on its way to online stardom.

At its root however, said Cormier, the success had nothing to do with any of that.

"The biggest point of this is that the band's really good," said Cormier.

Some big Canadian songs that fall short of a million

  • The Suburbs, Arcade Fire 974,608
  • Ahead by a Century, The Tragically Hip 394,515
  • Lukey, Great Big Sea with the Chieftains 476,600
  • Fashionable People, Joel Plaskett Emergency 657,420
  • Building a Mystery, Sarah McLachlan 661,205
  • Brother Down, Sam Roberts 661,054

"The music's really great, so everyone who came really liked it and really told all their friends."

The popularity of the video has prompted companies to pay to link their ads to the band, adding to the Paper Lions' bottom line. It's also led to enquiries about the band touring internationally.

"We also have been getting offers to tour Australia and Germany," said MacDonald.

"This is just something that gives those people more confidence to want to make those offers."

The band plans to celebrate with what they're calling a Million Views Party at Hunters in Charlottetown Saturday night.

After that will come the more difficult task of replicating the success of Travelling with their new songs.