Earlier this week we launched the Thirty Seconds To Mars promo and I have never been so nervous about pressing the ‘send’ button on a press release. Why? Because it’s the first time we’ve conducted a promo on our own as umusic without combining forces with a mainstream media outlet. Also, because this is no ordinary promo. This sucker involves Snapchat and as far as we’re aware this is the first time the juggernaut app has been used in a promo by a music artist of this calibre.
Heck, we don’t know if any artists have run Snapchat promos at all, but we don’t want to assume because, well you know how the saying goes…
Why did we choose Snapchat for this promo? Pretty much because we wanted to be the first to use it in this way. It’s so hard to break through the noise of all the creative promos that are being executed online, so we wanted to do something fresh that would generate some buzz, not only because of the artist and the prize, but also because of the mechanism being used.
Thirty Seconds to Mars was the perfect band to partner with on this as they have an intense relationship with their fans that is largely played out online. They’ve always been innovative with their use of new technology to connect to fans, and for that reason we knew they’d be receptive to the concept.
The promo is called #10secondstoMARS. The ‘10 seconds’ refers to the maximum amount of time a snap can be viewed for, while also being a nice play on words with the band’s name. The inclusion of a hashtag is just a cheap trick to encourage discussion on Twitter.
We’ve done our best to keep the promo as simple as possible – too often digital promotions are overly complicated and we were determined not to fall into that trap. To learn more about the logistics of the promo, click here.
It’s definitely our plan to continue coming up with creative and interesting promos that stretch far beyond the realms of being caller nine to a radio station. There are so many great opportunities to genuinely have fun with music fans through platforms like Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook – which means the experience of being involved in a promo can be enjoyable, even if the participant doesn’t end up walking away with the big prize.
This sort of community environment helps to foster a fan’s connection with the artist, and long-term that’s incredibly valuable. Along the way we’re picking up followers on Twitter and Snapchat for our own umusic brand, and the more fans we garner as a media outlet of our own, the more influence we’ll have on the musical landscape in New Zealand. Increased influence will eventually lead to an increase in resources to make these creative promos bigger and better.
It’s all very exciting! And to think that once upon a time the internet was an enemy of the recording industry…
There’s certainly no denying that illegal downloading and sharing of music has seriously hurt what was once an incredibly lucrative industry. While it’s true the bottom line of pretty much every record company has suffered greatly, it’s also true that the internet has opened up a world of opportunity for the music industry – for both labels and artists alike.
For years Universal Music had a huge amount of music on its roster that never reached the ears of New Zealand music fans because radio programmers controlled what we had access to. That’s not the programmers’ fault of course – they have a business to run, and there’s only so much airtime after all.
The advent of social media means we can now communicate directly with music fans beyond the gatekeepers in traditional music media: radio, music television and press.
Once upon a time an album campaign involved throwing a bunch of cash into TV advertising, a few billboards, some radio spots and then heading out for a long boozy lunch – safe in the knowledge that huge numbers of people were quite happy to part with their hard-earned money for a record. These days our pockets aren’t as deep, and fans aren’t as willing to spend. That means there’s much more pressure to find effective ways to reach consumers without sending the company broke.
After recovering from the initial shock of plummeting CD sales and the decline in traditional music retail, the music industry has now established some excellent ways to monetise our very valuable product that suit the consumer. Digital retailers and streaming services offer a quick and fulfilling customer experience, and hey, it seems music fans are happy to pay for music after all.
With so much music being consumed online, and with peer-to-peer sharing being such an effective way of influencing an artist’s popularity, direct promotion and communication with music fans is more important than ever. Where it once was the bane of our existence, the digital world – and social media in particular – is now an exciting place for the music industry. We can engage with fans online, and they can stream or purchase music right then and there while it’s at the forefront of their mind.
Record companies no longer have to rely solely on radio play to establish new music in the marketplace. We can now take our product directly to music fans and let them decide what they want to hear. Of course there’s a hell of a lot of music out there, and everyone is trying to be heard amongst the din. That’s why it’s important to focus on creative promos that are effective in reaching the target audience.
Of course we haven’t nailed it yet. I think on the whole we’re still trying to find our feet with online music promotion, not just in New Zealand, but the world over. As we all know, the internet is an ever-changing beast and it’s incredibly challenging trying to keep up as it continually evolves. But with a steadily growing commitment from the music industry to invest in online resources we’re definitely on track.
With New Zealand being such a small market we have the advantage of being able to test the waters with new ideas and campaigns without the restrictions that come part and parcel of operating in a large territory – and it’s my personal mission to make sure umusic is at the front and centre when it comes to breaking new ground in creative music promotion online.