The music industry has changed a lot in the past years. As a GenYer, I still remember well the first physical music I bought. I immediately bought two CDs, the Killers’ Sam’s Town and Editors’ The Back Room. I even still remember the tracks that would cause the CD to stop playing, since the disc became unreadable. In today’s era of streaming services, I wonder if GenZers will still have such vivid memories of the time they start listening to music.
What is always a key moment for artists to generate attention and buzz, is the release of albums. We found that many releases have a close link to the Brand Religions, InSites Consulting defined. In the previous post in this series, we already shed our light on the Penetration Religion; in this post, we will continue with the Influencer Religion. We start off with a short recap and will then look at two cases, one of Daft Punk and one of Arcade Fire.
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Let’s start off with a quick recap on the Influencer Religion, which is all about the power of conversations as a key to brand success. Believers of this religion emphasize the fact that traditional media is dying out and that traditional brand and advertising messages no longer cut through the clutter. This religion is all about marketing through people rather than to people, as in today’s new media landscape, everyone is a marketer and a very powerful one! It is all about getting conversations started and having other people talk about your brand to create a ripple effect. Therefore, brand activations should ideally function as conversation starters. Imagine talking to friends about a funny commercial you have seen.
Many artists and bands have the potential, as no other, to create a ripple effect through a simple tweet, Instagram picture or post. It is not hard to imagine that for these big artists, each small mention linked to a new release or a new tour would generate a large amount of buzz. Music is all about influencing done by individual listeners as well as through online blogs. How does an artist get the buzz going about their new album?
The Daft Punk myth
Daft Punk is a French mysterious DJ duo. The mystery is really part of their DNA, since they always perform with shiny, large helmets and appear in extravagant outfits, not revealing their true identity. Actually, no real pictures exist of the two members. The low number of concerts and releases in recent years all add up to this secrecy. In the era of exceptional releases, Daft Punk created a fair bit of buzz in 2013 for their album Random Access Memories. For that release, Daft Punk started their campaign by adapting their online profile pictures with the artwork of their new album cover (which was not known yet). Shortly after, a commercial followed with a tv campaign containing that same artwork and 15 seconds of sound. A new mystery was born, what was Daft Punk up to?
In the following month, billboards and posters containing that particular image appeared throughout L.A. and New York. This was massively captured and shared on Facebook. At the end of the month, a second billboard campaign announced the new album. Different artists (also named The Collaborators) assisted the duo in the making of the album.
After the announcement was out, Daft Punk wanted to keep the conversation going. To do so, they used The Collaborators. In mini-documentaries, each of the Collaborators shared their view on their contribution. In the end, this generated 6.8 million views. Fun fact: the Daft Punk DJs are referred to as the Robots.
But the buzz did not end there. To launch their first single, Get Lucky, a teaser video was broadcasted at the Coachella festival. A smart place to do so, since the festival attracts loads of hipsters.
Not long after, the track list of the album was shared via the (back then new) app Vine. Finally, Daft Punk started to go mass media and on national radio channels and via popular magazines. Final nice note on the Daft Punk release: the release party was hosted at the Wee Waa Show, a local cultural festival in Wee Waa, Australia with just 2,000 (!) music lovers.
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How did it work out?
Each of the actions mentioned above proved to be true conversation starters as they caused a lot of traction. Clearly, the success of the campaign is largely due to the immense popularity of any Daft Punk activity. However, one cannot conclude differently than that the marketing of the album was very thought-through, with the right pieces of information at the right time. Or, as a blog pointed out, Daft Punk made every blog on the world link to their iTunes page.
Never a dull moment with Arcade Fire
For their two most recent releases, Canadian band Arcade Fire had two marketing campaigns worth mentioning:
There’s a new band in town – The Reflektors
For their fourth studio album, Reflektor, Arcade Fire created a fair bit of buzz and their strategy might sound familiar. In major cities across the US, street art of ‘Reflektor’ started appearing and the Reflektor logo appeared in chalk. The band started performing secret gigs as ‘The Reflektors’, which really got the buzz going. They used large fake heads as a disguise, but it did not take long before people found out it was Arcade Fire with a new tour. The first gig was recorded and broadcasted on national television in a 30-minute special. Not long after, another piece of the album puzzle was uncovered with a short video which announced the new work would be released on 9/9/9; 9 September at 9:00. This officially linked Arcade to the Reflektor art work. The single ‘Reflektor’ went on to go #1 in the single rankings and also involved a very cool interactive video art work.
Everything Now Inc.
Arcade Fire’s front man Win Butler is known for his criticism on today’s society. In 2017, the band released their new album Everything Now, which deals for instance with today’s consumption society (Everything Now), struggling Millennials (Creature Comfort) and the infinite availability and overload of information (Infinite Content).
For the release of the 2017 album Everything Now, Arcade Fire went a bit further in creating buzz. All their activations around this album were extremely satirical. The band wanted to address the current issues around fake news and made different websites containing fake news. The fake websites were hard to recognize as being fake, since they were often remakes of existing websites. Even some well-known blogs picked up such activations and published them, not recognizing the fake news.
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For example, the band put up a website containing a pre-pre-release review of their new album: “…while ‘Good God Damn’ is probably a guitar-based rocker, because it’s got ’Damn’ in the title.”
How did it work out?
Needless to say, Arcade Fire is a master in creating buzz, especially with their last album. Their last albums all hit number 1 on the Billboard 200. The Reflektor campaign was more ‘blueprinted’ and really a marketing campaign, comparable to Daft Punk. The ‘Everything Now’ campaign tried to raise awareness for the ‘fake news’ scandals around Donald Trump and the American elections.
Influencer Religion in music
Both bands used a campaign where they revealed parts of the puzzle piece by piece. They blueprinted the campaign and knew when each piece of information would be unfolded. The campaign was all about spreading small pieces of information and create a desire for more.
Secondly, we have seen an example by Arcade Fire to create buzz with a stunt, spreading all the fake news. This campaign’s main focus was to raise awareness for the issue of fake news. However, by doing so, they created a massive reach also among media which normally might not pick up news on the bands. In both cases, the artists managed to create a large amount of buzz and the social media was full of it.
Stay tuned as in the final episode of this series, we will continue with the Relationship Religion!
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