Dublin-born London-based singer-songwriter and guitarist Orla Gartland started building her YouTube audience at 15 or 16 years old, performing covers of songs from her favorite artists, just a few weeks after learning how to play the guitar. While her young, growing audience loved her rendition of fan favorites, they also wanted to hear original music from Orla.
Fast forward to 2018, Orla released two singles “I Go Crazy” and “Between My Teeth” with The Orchard, followed by an EP called Why Am I Like This. It wasn’t until the Freckle Season EP in February 2020 where Orla really felt like the collection of songs she was releasing together had become a body of work. The EP was previewed with 3 singles.
Throughout the campaign, The Orchard’s main goal was to create meaningful content for Orla’s fans. While the intention was to grow Orla’s following across her socials, the focus was further establishing the already strong connection between Orla and her young fanbase.
What made Freckle Season different from previous releases was how the music was positioned from a marketing and creative lens. Essentially, the imagery and themes evident in the EP, like the broken heart stamp, were essential to this positioning.
From the very first single, Orla adopted the broken heart image as the symbol for the EP. The stamp was used heavily in the “Did It To Myself” video and from there The Orchard found ways to include it as a key image across the marketing campaign – such as through the website, animated trailers/teasers, merch, and on free stamps at all of Orla’s November shows. As fans entered the venue, their hands were stamped with the recognizable heart. It was important to Orla and The Orchard to have something visual to tie the whole campaign together.
It’s without a doubt, Orla has an incredibly engaged young fanbase. During her November tour, Orla asked fans to tag photos with #Tourlagartland on Instagram and Twitter. A hashtag wall was set up on her website where the images would save and display. Throughout the two week tour there were 1,400 photos entered. It was a special keepsake for Orla as she could see her fans’ fun tour photos all on her own website after each show.
A few weeks leading up to Freckle Season release date, The Orchard ran a pre-save campaign on Orla’s site where Orla incentivised fans to pre-save her EP with a promised secret reward. As fans pre-saved Orla’s album, the status bar filled up on her website and fans could witness the progress. When the progress bar was filled, Orla released the live “Figure It Out” video on her website.
On February 13, just before Valentine’s Day, The Orchard launched an Instagram filter with a bunch of hearts floating in front of the user. When the screen was tapped, the hearts would break and fall to the bottom of the phone screen. Whether or not users knew Orla, Instagram users who selected the filter could see “created by Orla Gartland” in the top left, bringing them to Orla’s Instagram account.
Just after the EP release, Orla participated in a Twitter Very Important Tweeter Q&A after recently seeing another artist lead one, she loved the idea of engaging with fans this way. Orla tweeted asking her fans for questions with the hashtag #askorla. She spent 3-4 hours answering fans questions through video and tweets.
With social distancing measures and the outbreak of COVID-19, artists all over the world had to resort to livestreams when shows came to a pause. For Orla, it wasn’t about the quantity of fans tuning in but more so making sure the quality of the livestream performance was at a high level so her fans could enjoy the performances. Orla did a livestream world tour, timing different 90-minute shows at different stages around the world for audiences across LA, London, Sydney, Moscow, Tokyo, and Paris.
Additionally, Orla ran a successful cover-a-thon to raise money for the NHS Charities Together. The stream lasted a total of four hours and raised £3,500. There were so many requests Orla couldn’t cover them all on the stream. However, she made sure to note and record the remaining cover requests and sent them off to the donators individually. In July, Orla recorded a live session and sold it on bandcamp with all proceeds going to Black Minds Matter, an organization which connects Black individuals and families in the UK with Black therapists and covers all the costs.
To round out the comprehensive EP release, The Orchard UK digital team ran advertising, specifically around tentpole moments such as when Orla’s songs “Heavy” and “Did It To Myself” were synched in the new, popular BBC drama Normal People. The Orchard digital and design team and Demii Whiffin, Orla’s imagery designer, produced all creative assets. The Orchard digital and design teams were responsible for creating and building the website, cutting trailers and teasers, designing and uploading gifs and more, while Demii and Orla conceived and styled the aesthetic direction for the projects.
Throughout the campaign, Orla was always offering new ideas, open to trying different, fun, innovative ways to further engage with an already excited audience.
Orla’s first vinyl release, made available a few weeks ago, combined both EPs on one vinyl. freckle season ep / why am I like this? ep double A side vinyl hit No. 12 on the UK vinyl chart.
- Freckle Season has over 10 million streams to date
- Orla sold out her entire tour last November
- Over the 2 week tour there were 1,400 photos entered using the hashtag #Tourlagartland
- Each livestream show gained 10k-15k viewers. Her fans even created a bingo card to play along during the streams (goes to show how engaged her fans are!)
- Two of Orla’s tracks were synced in the popular drama Normal People. “Heavy” was used in the trailer and appeared in the international version of the show. “Did It To Myself” had a show appearance.
- The two sync’s appearances had a remarkable impact on streaming figures since the show dropped, landing in Spotify’s Global Viral 50. The tracks also appear on Normal People’s Official Playlist and the Protagonist Playlists and led to 2,000 Shazams a day when the series initially launched.
- Orla saw an increase in followers and subscribers across her socials:
Listen to Freckle Season here
- Airene Resurreccion (Associate Art Director, The Orchard) responsible for overseeing creative direction.
- Carla Campos-Rodriguez (Interactive Designer, The Orchard) designed and coded the website.
- Demii Whiffin (Orla Gartland’s Imagery Designer) responsible for overseeing creative direction.
- Jack Blurton (Digital Marketing Manager, The Orchard) was responsible for overseeing the digital marketing for the duration of the full campaign.
- Peter Lum (Interactive Designer, The Orchard) created the popular Instagram filter.