11 May 2016

How Social Has Flipped the Music Model and Fan Connection - The Connected Music Series

Part 1 of The Connected Music Series, “Music Sponsorships: The Golden Ticket for Brands That Get It,” covered the benefits, data, and examples of sponsored live events done well by brands, with Part 2, "The Social Mobile Concertgoer - Love 'Em or Hate 'Em?" spotlighted the data behind the continuing rise of mobile and social usage in the live event space, with St. Lucia, AEG, and Facebook weighing in on each side of the coin, positive and negative.

In Part 3, I hone in on more of the data revelead in the from the report, We Know Music Fans,” by AEG and Momentum Worldwide, as featured in SXSW Music session, "Does Social Media Make Concerts Better?" as well as unique ways fans and artists are using social media to connect in person for memorable music experiences.

Fan + Band + Social = True Romance

One of the best use cases of music fanatics expressing their deep love of a band through social media was the Rockin' 1000 viral video campaign to bring Foo Fighters to Italy.

In 2014, Fabio Zaffagnini had a dream to do something spectacular to not only get the attention of his favorite band, but to do it in a way that the band could not deny his town of Cesena, Italy any longer. One year later that dream became as a reality as one thousand highly devoted Foo Fighter fans assembled in Hippodrome Park in Cesena.

Hundreds of drummers, guitarists, bassists, and singers all performing in unison to "Learn to Fly," which was all captured to create the historic Rockin' 1000 video. Following that epic performance, Zaffagnini pleaded his case, "Italy is a country where dreams cannot easily come true, but it's a land of passion, and creativity.” While he fully expected the video to be seen by many, many people around the world, and it was, this massive message was really meant for the eyes and hearts of the five members of the band led by Dave Grohl.

The video spread like wild fire across the world with over 30 million views to date, and most importantly, to the five people who mattered most. When the Foo Fighters performed at Nuovo Teatro Carisport in Cesena, Italy, Dave Grohl, still in his cast, recovering from a broken leg, explained his awe in what those 1,000 people did.

"I was on vacation, and my phone was bling, bling, bling from my friends, 'Have you seen this?'" When he finally clicked the link to the video, "I fuckin' cried, 'cause it was crazy." He went on to explain how their band, like most bands, writes music in their own world. "But to see you people singing our song for the whole fuckin' world, to me, it's the greatest moment of my life."

From the big acts to the baby bands coming up the ranks, each one is on a level playing field with the opportunity to empower all they do through social. Some successful strategies utilized by mainstream artists, who no doubt have bigger promotion budgets than more indie-level acts, didn’t necessarily break the bank to craft surprise and delight connections to fans.

Taylor Swift and her team put together a very unique fan appreciation plan for the release of '1989'. Identifying 89 of the most highly engaged and influential Switft fans on Twitter, her team invited each one through direct message to an intimate concert just for them, where she performed the album in its entirety prior to the album's release.

This is an initiative any band of any size can take. It just takes a little imagination, the motivation to learn about best practices, and a willingness to devote the time and resources.

 

Social Media + Live Music Has Changed the Music Discovery + Purchasing Model

There have been numerous influencers that have changed the music industry’s model over the decades. Aside from the obvious ones – the MP3 and music streaming – music-related profiles have been dominating the social channels with seven of the top ten Twitter profiles being owned by bands and artists.

The top three Retweets for 2015 all related to One Direction. Coming in fourth was President Obama Tweeting his approval of the Supreme Court’s ruling on legalizing gay marriage in the U.S.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube channels have become embedded deep into music discovery’s DNA, along with radio, streaming, promotion and advertising, attending concerts and festivals, and the coveted word-of-mouth attribution.

After the discovery point, that’s where the “We Know Music” report reveals how live music has shifted the music-purchasing journey:

  • - 78% say live music makes them want to purchase more music online
  • - 72% say purchasing music makes them want to see more live music performances
  • - 73% say live music makes them want to stream more music

"Before social media, of course people had influence, but it wasn't far reaching," Glenn stated, in regards to the influencer level of fans and their circle of friends. "You may have had thousands of conversations like this happening with band advocates, but their voice was limited."

After social media, the band had a voice and the fan was able to amplify their love of a band to the world. This digital platform has also shifted the music model by allowing multiple points of entry into the music discovery funnel - YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram – along with streaming and fans experiencing live music. THEN the purchase is made either online or right there at the band's merch table during the show.

“Before it was the shelf size of the Tower Records and how many albums they could stock on their shelves," said Glenn of the days of physical product merchandising to drive music sales. "Now, that's no longer a variable. You're able to step in, listen to somebody you trust in the social media space, and consume that music they're advocating for."

As the attendance numbers for live events here in the U.S. and globally continues to rise, music discovery complements the social component. "You might see three bands in a weekend that you might know of but not know a lot about, and you're able to share that with your friends," said Glenn. With promoters like AEG who produce festivals around the world, "they're able to provide that social currency for millennials to talk about the bands they love, or didn't know they love and now appreciate."

The impact of social media has also changed the album cycle model. Previously, a band would release a few singles prior to the album release, and then tour in support of that album for a year or more. Then while they're going back into the studio for the next one, the band would go into silent mode.

Today that's no longer the case. Bands are now known to release up to three or four singles months before the album release date. Promoting each single release through their social channels, artists get both the press and the fans engaged into the game to help create anticipation and excitement leading up to the drop date. Social strategy is then tied not only to their tour dates, but other appearances at in-stores, rounds on the radio, and performances on late night talk shows.

"All throughout they're able to create and continue a direct-to-fan dialogue, possibly release different music that's not on the album," Glenn stated, "And it's all because of the power of social media."

As platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram morph as the future becomes the present, it will be interesting to see and experience what other mediums reshape the music industry.

One hugely successful example of using an existing medium in a different way was the world premier of Beyonce's Lemonade on HBO, prior to the exclusive streaming of the album on Tidal. The timing was no coincidence (we all saw what went down on Super Bowl day), having aired on a night when many HBO viewers were already tuned in for popular season premiers, including Game of Thorns and Silicon Valley. The hour-long show took devoted fans through the storyline of the ablum, and no doubt, exposed the superstar to even more potential listeners and buyers of her product. Beyonce's approach also flipped the model of the one-by-one video releases in conjunction with single releases.

The rallying cry of "I want my MTV" has fallen on deaf ears for many decades. It takes the death of a music legend like Prince for MTV to live up to their brand and change their programming from reality soap operas for tweens to the actual airing of music videos. Meanwhile the use of visual and video-based music discovery tied to branded content is on the rise.

Next in The Connected Music Series, I'll look at how social media platforms are continuing to evolve to support the growth of branded content, and how these changes provide opportunity and challenges for brands, bands and promoters alike.

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