Spotify hits the spot for The April Maze before homecoming album launch
NOT even Todd Mayhew knows how The April Maze became one of the world's most popular folk duos on Spotify in 2012 but he certainly doesn't mind, writes Jesse Kuch.
When Todd Mayhew and Sivan Agam from The April Maze found out they'd notched up over 10,000 plays in 24 hours on Spotify in late October last year, the alt-folk duo thought there had been some kind of mistake.
The first to admit they aren't that tech-savvy, proud North Queenslander Todd says he'd barely even heard of the world's largest online music-streaming service when The April Maze's music started to appear on the front page of the app across the globe, mixing it with the likes of Pink, Joe Cocker, Rod Stewart, Maroon 5, Usher and Bon Iver.
"It all started the first week (Two) went online at Spotify," Todd says.
"Sivan was up late at night on her iPhone, trying to work out how come we were getting all these plays.
"She said, 'I think there is something wrong, it came up on Facebook we've had 10,000 plays, how does that work?'. It wasn't even up on iTunes yet, it was a real spin-out."
But the pair weren't mistaken.
Before long, The April Maze's sophomore album Two had become one of the 100 most played albums on the service, holding down their position in the 90s for over two weeks (and over 100,000 plays later) and established the duo as one of the most exciting and fastest-rising folk outfits to emerge from Australia in recent memory.
Todd says since the album's initial success, things have continued on a sharp upward trajectory for the husband-and-wife duo, who have now picked up international management and are preparing to jet off for an overseas jaunt in the UK and Europe.
"Things have really taken off for us," Todd says.
"Our manager Dick Miller got in touch from London and he's worked with the likes of Dave Matthews, Wet, Wet, Wet, Marillion and Jill Scott.
"He's continued to work with us and we've got a lot of good stuff that's come out of that.
"We've now got a booking agent based in London, who books some of our favourite acts, including Ben Harper and Pearl Jam.
"That's happening, and we've also got a mob interested in getting our music on TV and film. We've just signed an exclusive sync deal based in London.
"That was one of our dreams, it ticked a huge box for us. If we get some songs signed up (on a film or television show), it means we can continue making original music and touring."
Just how the band took off on Spotify is still a mystery to everyone, Todd included.
However he says it shows the power of social media and the internet, which open up doors for artists who might not have had the same chances in the world before digital and online media.
"It's especially funny because our latest CD was initially just made for our already existing fans, we funded it through Pledge Music crowdfunding.
"We were planning on making it exclusively for the fans who pledged, but through that platform, a bunch of people started getting interested and the video became really popular.
"Our publicist said 'c'mon, put it on iTunes'. So I said, 'I guess we'll do that'. Through iTunes, it was also featured on a bunch of other sites and one of them was Spotify. It actually appeared on Spotify earlier than we'd requested, we didn't even really know it was on there or what it was when it started getting the plays. Basically overnight, the plays went through the roof, we had over 70,000 in the first week.
"It turns out it was featured on the front page of Spotify in front of many people in the UK and US.
"We still don't know how it got there, but we've asked them since and apparently it's all due to plays.
"It went viral, but we don't really know how.
"We knew the power of Facebook, and more recently Twitter, and we'd had a crack at the whole social media thing that's happening now.
"But never in terms of streaming sites. It's really opened up a whole new world for us and the latest spin-off is Spotify is so stoked with what's happened and the publicity we've got that they've asked us to do an exclusive EP for them, which will only be available on Spotify."
Todd, who grew up in Clifton Beach and attended Trinity Beach Primary School, Smithfield High School and Saint Augustine's College before moving south to Brisbane (and eventually Melbourne, where he met UK-born Sivan), says he looks forward to bringing all this success North to his former home of Cairns.
"We're pretty excited about it all and really looking forward to getting back up to Cairns," he says.
"We're already halfway through the next album.
"We're going to record it in the UK, we've been looking for a producer over there and are going to relocate there in April.
"It will just be six months to begin with, we have to do it because it's where it's all happening for us.
"We're just going to take our instruments and our backpacks. It makes it more exciting because these Far North Queensland shows could really be the last for a long while.
"Come and see us, we won't be back for a year. It's going to be a great show."
The April Maze launch Two at Kuranda Amphitheatre on Saturday night, from 7pm. Tickets $20/$15 on the door or from tickets.fnqnet.biz. They then play an intimate show in Yungaburra at Quincan Cottage on Sunday from 6pm. Tickets $20/$15 on the door, but dinner bookings essential on 4095 2555.
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Power of two: Todd Mayhew and Sivan Agam from The April Maze.