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3/12/2013 @ 6:03PM |2,980 views
Pentatonix Brings A Cappella To The Mainstream -- And To The Forbes Newsroom
Zack O'Malley Greenburg, Forbes Staff
What do the members of a cappella group Pentatonix have in common with David Archuleta, Delta Rae, Train, Jon Bon Jovi and Warren Buffett? If you guessed worldwide renown as a value investor, you’d be wrong. But if you’d said something about having played a live concert at FORBES’ New York headquarters, you’d have been right on the money.
Pentatonix graced the makeshift stage in the middle of our fourth-floor newsroom late last month, a midday treat from a band that tens of thousands of concertgoers have now shelled out hard cash to watch in concert. The group’s star has been on the rise since winning Season Three of The Sing Off; last summer Pentatonix released its debut album, PTX Volume 1, which climbed to No. 14 on the Billboard 200.
“I feel like a lot of people are looking for this kind of raw
organic sound that’s not really produced,” says singer
Scott Hoying. “I think they just want to hear good singing nowadays
and I think Glee showcases that. I think The Sing Off showcases that
and I think we’re really excited to try to be at the forefront
of that movement.”
Hoying and his bandmates are good singers indeed, as anyone working on the fourth floor of the FORBES building can attest. And they’re becoming quite proficient at pulling in cash as well. In addition to the $200,000 record deal they scored for winning The Sing Off, they’ve played more than 50 shows in the last six months alone.
Along the way, they’ve shifted from tiny venues to 2,000-seat theaters; they even did one performance in front of some 15,000 gathered near the group’s home town of Arlington, Texas. That means a rapidly-rising nightly gross in the neighborhood of $20,000, according to Pollstar Pro, and they keep a bigger chunk of that than acts who must pay to lug around heavy instruments.
“It’s a much more economical way of touring when it’s just you and your voice,” says Hoying. “It’s a lot easier. I mean there’s still [a set] now, so we still have to lug that around but, yeah, not having physical instruments it helps a lot.”
Adds beatboxer Kevin Olusola: “It helps that we can arrange a rehearsal anywhere. We can do it in a cab. We can do it while we’re walking. It’s not something we have to set a rehearsal time at a rehearsal venue to do.”
That sort of impromptu musicality is key to the group’s success, both from a performance perspective and from a financial one (the members of Pentatonix have gotten into a habit of hearing a noise—be it someone coughing or a baby crying—then taking the note and harmonizing).
By the same token, the group is able to churn out a cappella renditions of brand-new chart-topping hits like “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and quickly turn them into viral sensations in their own right. The former’s smash clocked 145 million views in six months; the latter’s cover garnered a respectable 4 million in three months, and Pentatonix’s 480,000 YouTube subscribers trail Ryan Lewis’ number by less than 100,000.
“It’s really about creating your own fan base,” says Olusola. “You can do it all yourself through YouTube, through Twitter, through Facebook. Then you can get your own original music out there and people can enjoy it.”
To see Pentatonix in action, watch the videos below!