Music is a key component of who we are. It’s part of the fabric of how consumers see themselves and how they want others to view them. According to Experian Simmons, 68 percent of adults listen to music on a regular basis, and 58 percent of Americans consider music to be an integral part of their lives.
Artist affiliation provides a very powerful marketing platform. In addition to engaging fans at an event, brands can also tap into the popularity of artists by permeating multiple media touchpoints before, during, and after the show. It’s all about tapping into the fan experience--from searching and securing tickets, to planning for the event and purchasing related merchandise, to sharing the memories with friends. These steps represent multiple opportunities for brands to capitalize on the unique affinity between artists and fans.
With the summer concert season about to kick off, now is an optimal time to take a look at the best avenues in which brands can leverage the emotional power of music to connect with consumers. To make the most out of the live music platform, here are five key components, with accompanying real-brand examples.
1. Remember bands are brands as well.
Be objective when choosing an artist. Don't be driven to decisions by an artist you personally like or think is most popular. Conduct in-depth research to see who purchases tickets to which artists’ shows, how they communicate with their fans via digital and social media, who listens to their music, and who buys their merchandise.
>> Example: Last year, HP aligned with alt-rock sensation 30 Seconds To Mars to make a splash around the launch of its new e-print technology. After analyzing comprehensive research on several artists, HP concluded that not only did the 30 Seconds To Mars fan base line up nicely with the brand's Digital Tribalist target, but the act embodied the brand's tech-forward and innovative positioning.
2. Look for avenues to add significant value to the live experience for fans while, at the same time, linking your brand.
Keep in mind that bands' livelihood is all about touring and giving fans a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
>> Example: Starwood Hotels rewards its vast loyalty group (Starwood Preferred Guest) with exclusive money-can't-buy experiences around live music. From singing on stage with Sting at sound check, to a backstage barbeque prepared by the Zac Brown Band, to a private drum lesson from Nickelback, Starwood enhances the concert experience for its best customers, creating memorable moments that are further messaged across a variety of communication channels.
3. Remember that community and social media are critical to all performing artists.
Give thought to what your social media strategy would be and how it can benefit your brand, the artist, and the fan. Be part of the dialogue. The options are limitless.
>> Example: State Farm leveraged the fan community of alternative rock icons Weezer to engage a youth-minded audience with its brand. The “Grantin' Wishes with Weezer” promotion empowered fans to communicate their ultimate Weezer wish through a video submission on the brand's Facebook page. The band chose their favorites and fulfilled those wishes (such as performing with the band on stage and a live webcast with a grade school guitar class) at its show in Chicago. These experiences were documented and distributed throughout the social Web.
4. Keep it simple.
Be clear on exactly what the value proposition is to fans. Fans are focused on the artists--so you really have to give them something tangible to attract their mindshare.
>> Example: Citi’s simple and effective music strategy is built around access. From presales, to preferred seats, to private events, Citi’s PrivatePass program provides cardholders with special access to hundreds of artists’ shows. This message is organically communicated online at the point-of-sale as well as through internal marketing channels, such as ATM screens, billing statement inserts, and the PrivatePass Web site.
5. Be as flexible and nimble as possible.
To maximize value and results for your brand, it is best to employ a willingness to be flexible and an ability to move quickly when working with an artist. Though tours might come together quickly, they often last one to four months, allowing time for strategy adjustments and changes to activation and marketing messaging along the way.
>> Example: Sears wanted to relaunch its apparel department to a teen and young adult audience in an effort to create excitement, increase consideration, and drive in-store traffic. The solution, in part, was to host exclusive in-store performances with target-relevant music artists. Sears' ability to be flexible in terms of markets, store locations, and timing allowed it to secure some of the hottest youth artists of the moment, including B.o.B., Travie McCoy, and Jason Derulo--all resulting in strong consumer engagement to the benefit of the brand.