Marketing Music in the Digital Age

Posted on: November 14, 2011

Can the technology that killed the industry revive it?

Connecting with fans has always been at the heart of gaining support for musicians, but in a world of tweets, tags, blogs and apps – never before has interactivity been so vital. In today’s music industry it seems utilizing online mediums is the key to pushing artists out there, particularly when creating a public buzz around new promotional releases.

It’s no secret that the music industry has been struggling to survive in the internet age of piracy and file sharing. With a drop of £189m in UK music revenues last year, pressure is on for record labels to find new ways of engaging with the online market.


Earlier this year EMI formed an agreement with music gaming corporation MXP4, to produce interactive Facebook games that will feature tracks from the recording giant’s major artists – such as David Guetta. EMI’s announcement is one of many developments for the dwindling music industry that enables artists to connect with their fans across various media platforms in creative and inventive ways. Social gaming is proving to be the marketing boost that music never had before the digital age, but can the technology that killed the industry revive it?

Super Fans

Take for example the launch of ‘GagaVille’, a collaboration between game designers Zynga and a publicity hungry Lady Gaga, where fans were able to access un-released songs from the singers upcoming album release. Similarly, pop-rock band Maroon 5 have rewarded fans through partnering with ‘GetGlue’, an entertainment social network. GetGlue offers a unique mobile app for winning branded content in return for user ratings and recommendations, which essentially engages with fans to promote Maroon 5’s tour and album.

Another cross-promotional campaign example of music gaming is the popular ‘Revenge’ series, an application available on the iPhone. The Katy Perry addition, sponsored by Bing and created by Disney, has exceeded a staggering 4 million downloads. It’s clear that these applications have been designed to serve as a toolkit for the ultimate fan, by providing a game, new music, tweets, tour dates and lyrics, so that users are immersed in content that brings them closer to artist and other fans alike.

Most recently, creative agency Archibald Ingall Stretton pioneered the multimedia campaign ‘Save the 1Day’, an innovative online experience for fans of One Direction. ‘1D’, as they are known by an abundance of teenage girl admirers, are Simon Cowell’s X-Factor protégé boyband tipped to storm the charts with their debut album release this November. On behalf of the music mogel’s record label Syco, AIS have produced an exciting transmedia campaign that operates across social networks to connect with 1D’s young and devoted fan base.

The ‘Save the 1Day’ initiative, which launched last week, challenges fans to complete tasks and work together so they can win first-looks at the band’s new album content. The concept behind the story involves cracking clues to retrieve the exclusive production content stolen by a ‘super-fan’ called 1D Cyberpunk. The character interacts over Twitter drawing supporters together and encouraging them to drive tweet trends, which ultimately builds a strong online presence to make communicating with fans much more achievable.


Some integrated campaigns are even winning the praise and top honours from marketing experts, as seen by Droga5’s ‘Jay-Z Decoded’ book launch effort, when it won the Grand Prix Outdoor category at this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival. The successful promotion for search engine Bing and US rapper Jay-Z is simply inspiring in its use of new media experimentation and just how gaming can market music with today’s tech capabilities.

Incorporating mobile and GPS, New York agency Droga5 conceived the idea of a location-based scavenger hunt for clues to find pages from the rappers autobiography, which were artistically printed onto canvases in real hidden locations such as restaurants, pool tables, jacket linings and billboards. The coded game captured fans attention on a worldwide scale, engaging them with both the upcoming product and Jay Z’s life story.

Whether making a splash in the publishing or music industry, it seems companies are discovering ground-breaking ways of promoting artists using online and mobile campaigns that bring the fun into the hands of who really matters – the fans. Such multifaceted promotions such as ‘Decoded’ and ‘Save the 1Day’ are unlocking not only rewarding content but a possible future revenue model for artists.


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