Umphrey's McGee's one-of-a-kind pre-order campaign for their highly anticipated new studio release, Mantis (January 20, 2009 / SCI Fidelity Records) is already being recognized as a brilliant and innovative use of digital technology. The power of this new pre-order concept is in the hands of the fans. Umphrey's offers fans more free bonus content the more Mantis pre-orders they receive; the fans "unlock" levels of content by getting more of their friends to pre-order the album. The idea is to give the fans incentive to help spread the word about the album, and to offer a totally unique music experience.
Industry and fan response to the Mantis pre-order has been stellar. Industry tastemakers and digital news leaders have taken notice, declaring it "one of the coolest pre-order ideas this side of [Radiohead's] In Rainbows and [Of Montreal's] Skeletal Lamping" and "...a pretty brilliant idea!!"
Thousands of fans have already passed around the Mantis widget, posting it on their Myspace and Facebook pages, blogs, etc. In under a week, Umphrey's sold out of "deluxe package" preorders (which at $49.99 offers a copy of Mantis on Vinyl, a bonus DVD, and a number of other goodies that will be a surprise for fans who were able to grab one of these limited edition gems), and the band has taken more pre-orders than any release in their 11 year history.
Of course, all of this action has already helped unlock content Levels 1-6 of 9 possible levels. Fans are tracking their progress, and the bonus content they'll receive, at the Mantis pre-order page: umphreys.com/mantis. The music has already begun to flow. Just last week the band gave their fans an unexpected nod: those who have pre-ordered were given exclusive download access to a live track from the band's recent Halloween show in San Francisco and a special "fly-on-the-wall" vocal rehearsal from back stage that same night, as well as a free MP3 of the first single from Mantis "Made to Measure". Next, on December 4th, the band releases all Level 1 bonus content.
Chicago's Umphrey's McGee enters its second decade together with their hardest, darkest, and most artistically cohesive album to date. The new album hits streets on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009, when Mantis casts another Windy City family into the limelight. Over 2 years in the making, Mantis pushes the envelope in composition, arrangement and group interplay. In an Umphrey's McGee first, the album offers 100% new material - a drastic change of pace for a band whose typical modus operandi is to work out the material live on-stage before recording studio versions.
In addition to a one-of-a kind pre-order campaign where fans can participate in "unlocking exclusive bonus material, Mantis incorporates PUSH(TM) technology by Digital Insert to deliver new content throughout 2009. PUSH requires no software installation or serial number; by simply putting the Mantis CD in your CD-ROM drive, the disc will act as a "key" to an Umphreys.com micro-site where fans get access to exclusive 2009 content as it becomes available.
Mantis is yet another innovative music experience to be offered by Umphrey's McGee, who have proven adaptive and inventive both in music and business over the last 10 years. Through online community building, creative web-based promotions, and open taping policies allowing live music sharing among fans, Umphrey's McGee has harnessed the internet's momentum to spread their music far and wide. The band's download store UMLive.net is an archive of their ever-diverse live performances, hosting downloads of over 300 shows with 750,000 tracks sold since 2004. Umphreys.com hosts the iTunes friendly UM Podcast which releases two 75-minute episodes of live material each month to its 20,000 subscribers. Since 2001, Umphrey's has released soundboard recordings of each night's concert immediately after the show in both physical and digital formats - and each show typically sells upwards of 300 copies per night. The band's unique approach to online and digital distribution, paired with word of mouth buzz, has helped Umphrey's McGee sell out shows nationwide while keeping their fans a top priority.
Look for Umphrey's McGee on tour now, including their upcoming New Year's eve run at Chicago's Auditorium Theatre, where they'll be joined on stage by musical icons Buddy Guy, Stanley Jordan, Joshua Redman, Jeff Coffin, and Koko Taylor. Previous guests who've shared the stage with Umphrey's include Tortoise, Taj Mahal, The Wailers, Los Lobos and many more.