In preparing a proposal on the marketing of Canadian music, I asked a trusted advertising agency advisor, my son, for some examples. Wow! So this is where social media really gets integrated into marketing campaigns.
The first was about marketing Pharell Williams’ “Happy” which was launched globally as 24 hours of “happy” performed by over 300 artists [see the video here]. The song went viral and generated over 9 million viewers with an average viewing time of 6 minutes. The music video featuring the “best of” those acts was seen over 200 million times. Result – 50,000 sales of the track prior to the marketing campaign and 7 million within a few weeks after. The campaign spawned the creation of over 1,500 fan-made tribute videos of individuals, celebrities and even the US Ambassador to Armenia enacting their own versions of “Happy.” Eventually, the UN got into the act and declared that henceforth March 20 would be International Day of Happiness.
So, this is great, but we know mega-acts can afford the best marketers in the business, access to global brands, and have plenty of moolah to invest in marketing.
What’s more, Anita Elberse’s work at Harvard Business School points out that “blockbusters” benefit the most from the long tail of creative products – the most well-funded and well-promoted releases benefit the most. It’s the paradox of choice – choosing among more options means more work for consumers, so they tend to prefer keeping their search narrowed to the most recognizable options with the highest perceived quality.
Does this mean social media and new marketing tools are only for the top artists? Well, another example I scrutinised from my son’s suggestions was an account from Swedish hip hop artist, Adam Tensta. Wanting to recreate the anticipation of a new release in a novel way, Tensta’s campaign was launched on Facebook, using both exclusivity and an incentive to share, making the song go viral. The campaign. The single, aptly titled “Pass It On”, “exists in only one copy. To hear it, you will have to install this application.” With an enticing library-style ‘check-out feature, the song could be played by only one person at a time. Fans lined up, and could jump the queue by an order if they indeed ‘passed it on’… either tweeting it, listening to it on Spotify, or downloaded it. The result was a jump in Facebook traffic for Adam by 20 times and exposure in 40 countries – truly a redefinition of a launch of a single. [see the video here]
What can Canadian artists do? And who are more apt to begin with more limited resources and clout?
As it turns out – a lot, actually. In fact, Canadian music has had more than its share of industry marketing and promotion breakthroughs… in no particular order.
These examples show that music discovery and findability are critical. While prominent retail display used to be the gold standard for music promotion, today’s lack of physical product means a multiplicity of strategies become necessary to encourage listeners to try out new artists or musical releases. In responding to these new realities, music industry professionals are finding they need to continuously gain new skills and keep on top of ever-changing technologies – meaning they’re now not only tasked with understanding their artists and their audiences, but also the latest algorithms.
So how do music professionals keep on top of music marketing?
Some of the preferred strategies include:
About the author
Peter Lyman is a founding principal of Nordicity, and its Senior Partner. Although he has zero music aptitude – except as a mediocre snare drummer in a marching band in his youth – he has consulted in the music industry at Nordicity for the last three decades, from music channel licencing at the CRTC to music publishing report completed for Canadian Heritage earlier this year. He fully supports Nordicity’s quest to build its global leadership in music economics, business practices, policy alignment and remains personally determined to master the mysteries of best practices in the music and other creative sectors.
Nordicity has experience analysing the Canadian music industry both nationally and regionally and has worked on strategic planning for clients including the Canadian Independent Music Association and Manitoba Music. In association with Capital Culture, Nordicity is continuing research on how Canadian music can take advantage of new tools.