At the American Music Awards last month, Taylor Swift’s five wins and Adam Lambert’s controversial performance got the most day-after headlines. But one other moment in the show had its own shock value: Gloriana won the T-Mobile Breakthrough Artist of the Year honor, surprising the pop-music scribes who assumed the trophy would go to dance maven Lady Gaga.
The AMAs are voted by fans, and the Breakthrough category is entirely decided via text messaging during the run of the show. So if that upset victory proved anything, it was that Gloriana has definitely engaged its fan base.
“Our fans vote,” group member Cheyenne Kimball told Pollstar. “They are constantly looking us up on Twitter or Facebook, saying ‘I’m voting for you! I’m voting for you!’ They make YouTube videos. They do all that stuff. We were very hands-on with the fans and I think that makes a huge difference. They’re very loyal, and it was because of them that we won that award.”
Country music has long had the most personal relationship of any genre between the artists and their followers, and the Internet has made it a whole lot easier. Taylor was the first country star to establish a major audience through MySpace, and it’s no coincidence that Gloriana’s American Music Award came at the end of a year in which they opened for her on the Fearless Tour.
“We’ve learned so much from Taylor [and her crew],” Gloriana’s Mike Gossin told Pollstar. “They’ve been nice enough to coach us in a way, give us good advice. I think we all agree it’s very important to stay in touch with the fans on a lot of the Internet outlets — Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, all of them — because it gives them a chance to stay connected with us on a more personal level.”
The band has plenty of opportunity to learn more from Taylor. Gloriana joins Kellie Pickler once again as an opening act when Taylor resumes her Fearless Tour in 2010. The schedule includes a sold-out performance June 5 at the home of the NFL’s New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.