MKTG Insights: WHAT SPONSORS CAN LEARN FROM MODERN ALBUM RELEASES

With the overly saturated music industry experiencing ever-changing shifts in music consumption, artists must find unique ways to gain traction within the market in order to create successful campaigns. Technological innovations such as digital streaming provided by service giants such as Spotify and Apple Music are truly shaping the industry. There is now a greater accessibility to music than ever before and artists can easily get lost in the clutter. The days where studios and labels put mass advertising behind the release of an album are gone. This has caused musicians to increasingly think like brands; relying on creativity and innovation to drive interest in their upcoming sales. Sponsors and marketers also live in a similar dynamic realm where there are constant technological changes and never ending clutter of branded content. The following are leading examples from the music industry that provide key learnings for marketers in today’s world.

In June 2017, in advance of the release of her “Witness” album, Katy Perry partnered with YouTube to launch a 96-hour live stream of her living day-to-day in a camera filled “Big Brother” style home. The live stream allowed fans to observe Perry in a range of content from average daily activities to more intense moments such as therapy sessions. The broadcast was supported with celebrity guest appearances who interacted with Katy for interviews, cooking, games, challenges, and conversations. The live stream led to a concert where Katy performed songs from the upcoming album. The Katy Perry Witness World Wide Live Stream reached 190 countries and garnered 49 million views.

Katy Perry provided fans with an opportunity to receive unprecedented access to celebrity. The raw, constant transparency that a live stream provides allows consumers to feel an authentic connection by being able to tune into an “unscripted” experience.

For sponsorship marketers, Perry’s stunt is a reminder of key operating principles when developing strategy and planning brand experiences. Perry understood the power of designing a brand experience that would organically drive social chatter. Rather than rely on media appearances on TV and radio to plug the album release like most artists, Perry’s live stream was designed for the digital age. By choosing the correct platform, in this case, YouTube, users were able to connect at any time (mobile, desktop etc.) for real-time interactions. The tactic of live streaming her activity scaled access to Perry in a way that transcended geographic borders and time constraints; sponsors planning physical branded experiences must also find ways to bring the consumer experience to those unable to engage in the precise time and place of the activation.

Notable hip-hop stars 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar are examples of artists who have utilized powerful physical, in-person brand experiences that coincide with particular promotional announcements. 2 Chainz released his fourth studio album titled “Pretty Girls like Trap Music” in June 2017 which was supported by a unique physical activation. Inspired by the emerging genre of Southern “trap music” that has been taking control of mainstream airways, 2 Chainz leverages “trap” roots by replicating a real life “trap house” in the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia. The album themed, pink home is decked out with urban artwork and was redesigned to coincide with 2 Chainz branding and larger promotional campaign that matches 2 Chainz album art.

The activation’s main purpose was to be used as a space for listening parties. Supplementary, outside of the home, was a strategically place vintage pink Corvette and stove where visitors were encouraged to take photos and share their “trap experience” on social media. The activation was an enormous tourist and fan attraction, covered by major media outlets that accumulated over 300,000 digital tags.

Similarly, Kendrick Lamar kicked off “THE DAMN. TOUR” by launching retail pop-up shops in select cities that coincide with his tour dates. The pop-up shops sell limited-edition Kendrick branded clothing and accessories. Activations amplify traditional marketing efforts by providing a memorable and engaging consumer experience. Consumers are able to interact on a ground-level and share digitally. This activation style allows for ultimate consumer engagement that is enhanced with wide-spread media coverage.

High-touch activations act as a unique tactic to engage consumers by utilizing multiple touchpoints. These activations allow artists to push branded content online while also providing fans with a real and tangible interaction. Aside from relying solely on social media, high-touch activation experiences allow brands stand out amongst the clutter.

One of the most talked about releases in 2016 was Beyoncé’s sixth studio album, Lemonade. The surprise release was supported by a massive amount of content: a one hour HBO film, an eleven chapter visual album, and the launch of the Formation World Tour. Beyoncé leveraged a combination of art, music, poetry, and politics to create one of 2016’s best-selling albums that had a large impact in a variety of markets that surpassed the category of music.

The element of surprise can be one of the strongest marketing techniques. Brands that execute this type of disruptive promotion cause a change consumer behavior and trigger some of the strongest personal and digital dialogues. Due to the unexpected release, consumer behavior is altered and now brand focused. Fans and consumers erupt in a sense of urgency to dive deep into the branded content. This social eruption causes word-of-mouth marketing, which is seen as one of the top forms of influential advertising. Awareness is built exponentially, consumer emotions are supercharged and a passionate brand engagement is created.

With the recent need for artists to stand out with successful campaigns, the market is seeing a shift in promotional techniques from brands within the industry. Traditional efforts must now be altered and amplified with unique activations, disruptive marketing and brand authentication in order to create more of an impact.  By leveraging these case studies and insights, marketers can truly enhance a variety of brand experiences.

Share Button

Written by Stephanie Rudnick
Stephanie Rudnick

July 31st, 2017 at 12:58 pm

with one comment