Good music marketing takes skill, ingenuity and dedication to move the needle for artists.
And it’s only getting harder as social media channels get even more saturated with paid ads, and (at least on Spotify) artists submit over 20,000 songs per day to be considered for playlisting.
That’s almost 1000 songs released per hour. Plus that stat is from 2018 — so I’m pretty sure it’s increased since then.
Music marketing comes with a couple of primary problems: how to make an artist’s brand really stick, and how to continually build a fan base.
Even when the music is fantastic, that doesn’t guarantee traction.
Capturing people’s attention is a bit like playing a convoluted game involving:
- Your audience
- Your aesthetic/brand
- Social algorithms
- Other brands/artists
- The real world
Due to the current state of affairs (side-eye at Covid-19), it’s rather difficult for fans and prospective fans to interact with your music beyond streaming online and because of the pandemic, most social media channels are absolutely saturated with content.
So the million-dollar question is, how can you cut through the noise online?
Research shows the best music marketing ideas are interactive.
A smarter digital marketing strategy for music includes content that is interactive & experiential.
That means finding ways to tell your story using:
- Augmented reality concepts like face filters or merch augmentations
- Immersive web experiences with 360° spaces or 3D objects (Gallery views)
- Physical immersive activations like special pop-up shops
- Gamified interactions like interactive music videos or scavenger hunts
- Personalized communications like emails that use a fan’s name in the subject or body
- Cohesive storytelling and content scripted around releases
- Video Challenges
There are multiple reasons why an interactive marketing strategy gets more traction in the long run.
Psychologically speaking, the sense of control/presence we have with interactive stories can be a more powerful driver of memory formation.
The brain is a complex organ, and we all process information uniquely.
New research via the Journal of Interactive Marketing shows that when content engages multiple senses, a customer’s intent to purchase increases and there’s an improved effect on brand consideration.
Historically, it hasn’t been so easy to do something like that. I mean, just imagine if Micheal Jackson and Pink Floyd had access to virtual reality when they were making their music.
Today, we have access to new tech in the realms of extended reality that makes multi-sensory storytelling easier than ever.
Interactive content has the potential to elevate your entire marketing mix and improve the results of your creative campaigns in unique ways. Across many case studies, I’ve found that these new concepts earn huge engagement with fans.
Burna Boy recently announced his forthcoming album, ‘Twice As Tall’ would be accompanied with a graphic novel for fans. So beyond the audiosensory experience, he’s delivering a visual experience as well.
Before you mention you don’t have a big budget, it’s still possible to create a mind-blowing fan experience, virtually.
This may become a longread so let’s get comfortable.
Beyonce became a fan favourite because of her dedicated work ethic, astounding sound and her cryptic messages. In the early 2000s when the news was rife with gossip on Illuminati and other secret societies, she decided to take advantage of the attention by dropping hints on forthcoming releases and her personal life.
This made people curious about her content and the potential Easter eggs that they might have.
Very recently, 21 Pilots launched an online scavenger hunt for fans to unlock content around a new album. It kicked off with a livestream (check out the ‘START HERE’ YouTube video). It prominently features a US phone number — 1–877-LVL-CNRN — note: the band’s new single is called ‘Level of Concern’.
As someone with a limited budget, one could use typical curated content as a means to drop covert hints that could keep fans guessing about what is to come. One could also hide hints in physical locations/online to create a sense of adventure around the release.
Let’s talk videos.
Music videos are essential when it comes to telling the story of an artist.
They can amplify a song’s meaning, call attention to things like lyricism or rhythm in the music, and help connect a musician’s image with a specific sound or style.
Gary Beckman (a legendary arts marketing consultant and director of Arts Entrepreneurship Minor) frequently says “people buy the artist, not the art.”
That means when a fan spends money or data, they are buying the story, the context, the broader sense of aesthetics, and more — not just the work of art.
Music videos provide context for an artist’s aesthetic landscape and lately have become almost like visual short stories that speak beyond the song’s contents. They provide an enjoyable experience and help fans figure out where an artist fits within the context of their personal music consumption.
Lyric videos, interactive videos (think Bandersnatch episode on Black Mirror) and engaging visual content are 3 ways artists can use videos to connect to their fans through videos.
How engaging are your videos?
How many repeat views do you get?
What’s the buzz around your content?
Consider how Nas worked to establish his reputation as one of rap’s frontrunners in the ’90s. In addition to writing and recording his classic albumIllmatic, he was dedicated to showing listeners where his music was coming from. This meant filming music videos in the place where his sound was born — New York City.
Even album art can be interactive. Childish Gambino’s Because the Internet had a remarkableinteractive album cover that tied in with his theme. By choosing a moving GIF as his album cover art, Donald Glover ensured his personal brand was staying up to date with his internet-obsessed fans (myself included).
Interactive art is nothing new. In 1971, Bob Marley’s Catch a Fire had this fun cover art that turned the album packaging into a model of a Zippo lighter. The only thing missing is the flame!
Led Zeppelin pretty much paved the way for interactive album covers with their III album. The album cover had spinning circles that allowed for interaction and kept some messages of the album cover hidden until the viewer performs the required action (spinning the wheel to the correct spot.)
These examples are a great demonstration of how interactivity in design intersects with music and art. By incorporating these principles into content, artists can maximise their marketing budget and deliver a premium interactive experience the audience will be sure to love.
Here’s The Weeknd’s The Hills remix — a very different visual experience for you.
The video for the The Weeknd’s remix with Eminem is an immersive experience that lets viewers see and feel like they’re in Abel Tesfaye’s world.
Important note for mobile users: Unfortunately you can’t watch the embedded 360-degree videos via Medium on most mobile devices (yet). Instead, you’ll need to use the native YouTube app. Just click the links below to get the 360 experience.
Interested in more content? Leave a comment on what you’d like me to write about.