Pomplamoose's DIY Revolution

The videosong for "If You Think You Need Some Lovin'," Pomplamoose's most popular original, ends with Conte and Dawn hawking new band T-shirts into the camera. "They're really soft and smooth on my skin," Conte purrs, grinning through his shaggy beard. "'Cause I need silky smooth—"

"Jack's actually taken all of the T-shirts and rubbed them all over his body," Dawn muses flirtatiously into the camera.

"So you get double bonus when you buy a T-shirt," he continues, hardly suppressing a laugh. "Which is pretty awesome, because who doesn't want to smell like me?"

Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn handle virtually every aspect of Pomplamoose themselves, including recording, mixing, editing video and marketing to fans.
Jeff Marini
Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn handle virtually every aspect of Pomplamoose themselves, including recording, mixing, editing video and marketing to fans.
The first time Conte and Dawn tried to record music together, it was a disaster- they dated for a year before trying again.
Jamie Soja
The first time Conte and Dawn tried to record music together, it was a disaster- they dated for a year before trying again.

While most popular musicians create images or characters to inhabit, Conte and Dawn play themselves in Pomplamoose—albeit edited, less crass versions of the real thing. Their poop jokes and Home Depot shopping lists are cut, but otherwise, the Pomplamoose of YouTube is really them—with the result that, as Dawn puts it, "people liking our music is also linked pretty heavily to how much people like us."

On September 13, 2009, Kanye West suddenly interrupted the proceedings of the MTV Video Music Awards. The country singer Taylor Swift had just won the award for Best Female Video—an award West thought should have gone to Beyoncé for "Single Ladies." He pushed his way onstage during Swift's acceptance speech. "I'ma let you finish," he said, in what became an infamous pop-culture embarrassment. "But Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time." He didn't know then that "Single Ladies" would go on to win Best Video of the Year.

Conte and Dawn had recently returned from visiting a friend, Julia Nunes, in Rochester, New York. Her breezy ukulele versions of Beatles songs were ranking higher than the original versions in YouTube searches—and getting lots of views. "We went there and saw what was happening, and then said, 'We need to start doing some covers,'" Conte says. That became priority one: "We would just find a bunch of songs we liked, pick the one with the most hits on YouTube, and cover it."

On September 17, four days after West interrupted Swift and near the height of public hysteria over the incident, Pomplamoose posted their cover of "Single Ladies" on YouTube. Conte and Dawn could tell right away that something was different. "It just started getting millions of hits," Conte says. This was when everything began to change.

Only a few months earlier, Dawn had finished her master's degree in French literature. She had planned to get a part-time job, but her parents agreed to pay her a stipend for six months. By this point, Pomplamoose were also selling MP3s on the E-junkie website. "Single Ladies" racked up views on YouTube and moved MP3s, and Conte and Dawn noticed that their original songs were also selling better. Five months out of college, thanks largely to "Single Ladies," Dawn was finally earning a living—albeit a meager one—through her music. She and Conte began to realize that Pomplamoose could be more than a serious hobby. It could be a career.

The next milestone for the band came in March, when Pomplamoose released Tribute to Famous People, an album of well-known covers that included "Single Ladies," "Telephone," "Beat It" and "Mr. Sandman." This time, it was available at Apple's iTunes store. The Beyoncé cover had been a surprise, but Tribute launched Pomplamoose to a whole new level of fame and financial success. It sold about 30,000 tracks within the first month, according to Conte, a figure that translates into a payday of about $18,600. "We did have a movie moment, where we logged into our iTunes account and looked at our sales for that month, and just fainted," he says. "It was really exciting."

Forging a musical career through social networks was a long-running passion for Conte. His college bands played the "Be my friend on MySpace" game, with limited success. But he was at Stanford in 2005, when YouTube was founded and quickly discovered an online community for which he was particularly well suited. Not only was he skilled in the medium—he got a contract job at Google making corporate videos after graduation, and turned down an invitation to study film at USC—but the community of musicians posting their stuff on YouTube held a special attraction. "It's not like every other social network where it's a picture, and your favorite movies and your favorite books, sort of bullshitty stuff," he says. "It got to be a great community, really supportive. I thought it was going to be a sort of MySpace-y business thing, and it turned out that it was something really special."

With the success of "Single Ladies" and Tribute to Famous People, it seemed Conte had finally found the path he was looking for—and independence was the key. For every $1 download Pomplamoose sells through E-junkie, the band gets 90 cents. Each 99-cent iTunes download nets Pomplamoose between 62 and 70 cents, with the store taking the rest. But if Pomplamoose were on a label, they would have to split that with the record company—and the company would get most of it. Deals vary, but under a common arrangement, the label would get 53 cents from each download, while the band would keep only about 9 cents. At those pay rates, Pomplamoose's breakout month in March 2010 would have earned it only $2,700.

« Previous Page
Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help

I was going to buy a Hyundai, then I remembered they are total garbage. Kind of like the moronic twee shit this band calls music. Total DIY sellouts. Keep sucking that corporate teat PumpLameAss......


they have attained this level of success because those stupid Hyundai commercials were running nonstop a couple months ago.

Not to mention their music totally unoriginal hipster horses*&t. This woman totally ripped her vocal style from Jolie Holland....a true musical talent.


It's a revolution! A real, honest-to-God revolution!


This article, while interesting, is lazy bullshit when it comes to the reality of the music business - you see, we professionals who lament the death of the Online Guitar Archive (OLGA) understand there's this little thing called copyright. Yeah, they may have sold a shit-ton of downloads on iTunes but they made their name with material still owned by "the major labels." Just because they're popular darlings of the internet they don't have to pay mechanical royalties? The Harry Fox agency and the RIAA haven't sued them into oblivion? What the fuck? Maybe I'm just ignorant as to the new normal of "how to make it" but I'm pretty fucking sure I can't go selling covers of me playing Lady Gaga tracks without some industry goon jabbing me for cash...tell me how they can make money without getting fucked by the system and you've got my vote for a Pulitzer...


Speaking of total garbage.... your comment just makes you sound bitter.


Yeah? Did it occur to you that Pomplamoose legally obtains copyright permissions, pays royalty fees, etc? Its really not that difficult, you know.

Apparently, this possibility never crossed your mind. Wow. Really. Just wow.

You're probably one of those people who might listen to a song by one artist and when you hear a similarity with a song from another artist, you immediately "Plagiarism!" and "Rip Off!" without realizing the original artist was properly credited in the derivative version of the song by the artist you claim is stealing.

In fact, this is something that's very common. Any idea about why that may be? Check out the documentary "Everything is a Remix" for insight into the creative process.


Creativity does not exist in a vacuum. Artists "steal" in the sense that the creative process entails taking bits and pieces of different experiences and inspiration and mixing it up into something new and making it their own.

There is a difference between transformation and imitation; between remix and rip-off; between credit and plagiarism. Its one thing to blatantly copy something with no ideas of your own to add and without giving credit to your sources. Its another thing to use bits and pieces of ideas or concepts from different sources of inspiration as seedlings to develop something new by adding your own ideas and experiences. You can't grow new flowers without the seeds from old flowers. Oysters can't make pearls without putting a grain of sand into it. Freezing water can not form into beautiful snowflakes around nothing i.e. it needs a dust particle from the air.

Most artists are actually flattered to be an influence on other artists. In fact, a really good artist use those tributes from other artists as motivation to take it up another notch. Because that's what winners do.

Haters see someone doing well and it bothers them. If you're a hater, you think that there is only so much pie in the world and if someone else is doing something great then they're taking up all the pie and there is no room left you. That is a terrible way to look at the world. There is plenty of room for everybody. Winners see others doing something great and it INSPIRES. Winners don't get jealous. Winners have a special kind of attitude that allows them to bypass the ego and use other people's accomplishments as motivation to take it up a notch i.e. step up their own game.

If you don't have to filter everything through your ego, you will find that a whole new world is opened up from this vantage point. You should try it sometime.


They have managed the copyright permissions through a proper attorney. Nat is a friend and she and Jack explain the process candidly in a video on Youtube. It is all legit, and as it turns out, remarkably seamless. The legal process is surprisingly accessible to artists.

It is not an original observation that you are making. Journalists have asked and investigated. Legal analysts have been consulted. It is refreshingly legit, and that is why it is getting so much press.

It is called freedom of artistic expression and the legal world has gone to great lengths to both simplify the legal procedure and encourage its proper use.

They'll take that Pulitzer, with our without your vote, thank you!


Just FYI, Pomplamoose has paid for the rights to every song they have ever covered -- they did all of this legitimately, and are doing an awesome job of it.

Dallas Concert Tickets

Concert Calendar

  • April
  • Sat
  • Sun
  • Mon
  • Tue
  • Wed
  • Thu
  • Fri