Dan Konopka performing OK Go song ‘Here it Goes it Again’ with York students, from left to right, Charles Cannon, Laney Toffler, and William Blanchette in the auditorium on Mar. 10.
Dan Konopka performing OK Go song ‘Here it Goes it Again’ with York students, from left to right, Charles Cannon, Laney Toffler, and William Blanchette in the auditorium on Mar. 10.

York alumnus demonstrates the power of one big hit

March 14, 2023

Duke of Distinction, Dan Konopka, made a special visit to Elmhurst this Fine Arts Week, where he spoke at both Elmhurst University and York, sharing his unique insight on making a living in the music industry.
As the drummer for the band OK Go, Konopka was at the forefront of the MTV to YouTube transition in music videos, helping the band become a viral sensation across the internet. In their early years, though, the band had very little recognition following the release of their self-titled debut album.

Dan Konopka responding to a question during his Q&A in the band room.

“In 2000 we got signed to a major label record deal with Capitol Records,” Konopka said. “They flew us out to California, and we made our first record – it was total art by committee. It was very much changed to feel like something that [Capitol] could promote and something that worked with what was going on in the world. We made the record, and it sounded like everything else that was happening, and we made a video, and it pretty much looked like everything else that was happening at the time. It was a million dollar deal, and when those songs came out and that video came out, it was crickets. It was really kind of a dud.”



Similar to Martin Atkins’ speech, Konopka dove into the positive correlation between unique creativity and success. Konopka’s ideas differed from Atkins’s, though; while Atkins believed in acquiring ‘seven different hustles’, Konopka centered around his personal experience of creating a single career-defining work.

“The big aha moment was when the lead singer’s sister had an idea,” Konopka said. “She had a dance studio at her house, and she’s like ‘I think it’d be really awesome if you guys would come to Orlando, come to my dance studio. We can put together some treadmills and we’re going to make a music video’. We spent eight days throwing ourselves at these treadmills, trying to find a way to make something that was going to be super enjoyable to watch, was going to show the spirit of the band, and the attitude that we wanted to come across.”

The end result was the 2005 music video for ‘Here it Goes Again’. It has been viewed over 100 million times and won the 2007 Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video and the 2006 YouTube Awards for Most Creative Video.

“Within the first three months that video had been seen 12 million times – it was the first rock band video to go viral,” Konopka said. “And the week after we went to the VMA’s we sold 30,000 records. All that pretty much put us on the map.”

While OK Go became well known from that video, people weren’t really grabbing onto the music itself. The band started selling less and less records, which wasn’t making their record label any money.

“We got dropped from Capitol Records [in 2010],” Konopka said. “They didn’t want to play with us. They were like ‘you guys figure it out – you can make your own videos, you can do it the way you want to, but we’re not going to support you’. We put our thinking caps on and figured that music videos were always just commercials for the bands, commercials for the records. We kind of had this ability, this concord. We could go to other companies and see if they would want us to make commercial videos for them.”

“It was awesome,” Konopka said after reflecting on his visit to York. “I love coming back here. The kids are all super respectful and seemingly very interested, so I had a great time.”

One of these commercial partnerships included Morton Salt, as seen in OK Go’s music video ‘The One Moment’. Another was State Farm, where a toy car with their logo began the Rube Goldberg machine that the music video ‘This Too Shall Pass’ revolved around. Dan’s favorite music video filmed with OK Go was the zero-gravity ‘Upside Down & Inside Out’, which advertised the private Russian plane company S7 Airlines.

“Partnering with corporate sponsors gave us the ability to let us do the type of art we wanted, while making the companies happy and drawing eyeballs to their product or service,” Konopka said.

While the music OK Go was making wasn’t exactly selling at a billboard-breaking rate, their popularity of ‘Here it Goes Again’ allowed for countless corporations to agree to partner with them for video advertisements. Konopka wanted students to know that one successful hit can open the door for an entire career of self-expression.

“OK Go found a way to make all of their visions come true no matter what,” senior Laney Toffler said, who performed ‘Here it Goes Again’ with Konopka on stage in the auditorium on Mar. 10. “That authenticity was really inspiring to me.”

Dan Konopka was warmly welcomed by the Elmhurst community, and he hopes to come back soon to impact the next generation of student musicians. As for OK Go, they will be releasing a new studio album in the coming months after being separated for some time. 

“You’re never going to figure it out unless you abandon yourself into the situation,” Konopka said. “Get yourself out of your comfort zone, hang with the smartest kids in the room, work really hard, and get yourself in the situation where something can happen and you will find really cool discoveries and things you probably didn’t plan.”

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