Monday, May 12, 2008

Open letter to big labels/artists

Dear Gigantic Label Representing Megapopular Artist:

In a few weeks, many of the top artists in the country will begin their big summer concert tours. So now's the perfect time to talk about your social media strategy for promoting your artist's big summer concert tour. What? You say you don't have one?

That's what we need to talk about.

We both know that your revenues are falling like a rock, and at least one of us knows whose fault that is. But regardless, we also both know that concerts and the merchandise sales that come with them, are a big cash cow for the industry.

So why aren't you guys using social media to maximize excitement and bring the experience of live music to as many people as possible? Have something better to do like suing your own fans?

Let's try something different. Let's create a social media strategy for you that will empower your fans to capture and spread the excitement of a live concert, to as many people as possible. Here's a 4-point plan for getting a social media campaign off the ground to promote your blockbuster summer concert tour:

1 - Start up a blog that will run the length of the tour. Get a staffer, or (shudder) a FAN to write the blog for you. Blog about the towns you are going to, the fans you meet. Take pictures of the fans, take pictures of the town, take pictures of the artists backstage, on stage, under the stage, EVERYTHING! Shoot videos of the band rehearsing and post them to the blog. Give us the 'behind the scenes' look at what it means to be a big-time rock star on a huge summer concert tour. And for extra points, actually let the artist write a post. It won't be the worst thing they've ever done while on tour, will it?

2 - Live Twitter the concerts. Give updates on Twitter BEFORE, DURING and AFTER the concerts. Tell your fans to do the same thing in your email newsletter/blog/MySpace page. Give each city its own hashtag, like for a Foo Fighters concert in Asheville, you could make it #ff-asheville, then the next night in Raleigh, it could be #ff-raleigh. Twitter is EXCELLENT for giving real-time updates at events, ask anyone that's read the updates from conferences on Twitter, and has wished they were at the event after reading how everyone was Twittering about it. Start a Twitter name for this and encourage your fans to follow you, and follow them back when they do. If you do this for the length of the tour, the excitement and number of people tweeting about each concert, will only grow.

3 - Take a gazillion pictures of EVERYTHING at EVERY concert, and post them all to Flickr. Also make your fans aware via email (or a blog/MySpace page, etc) that you will be doing this, and encourage them to TAKE PICTURES AND ADD THEM as well.

4 - Give Flip Cameras to fans at the concert and tell them to go crazy! This is your home run waiting to happen. Give Flip Cameras to say 10 fans at every concert, and tell them to record whatever the hell they want. Explain to them that after the concert they'll return the camera and meet the artist/band backstage (So this pacifies the 'But they'll steal the camera!!!!' fear. ). Tell them that you'll give them a copy of everything they record, and do so.

But you can also use all the footage recorded to post to your blog, AND YouTube. Added bonus: You can also use the footage that your fans record to create a concert DVD to sell! When the DVDs are ready to sell, have the band/artist autograph and inscribe a copy to be send to every fan that shot video for you.

End result? You'll excite the hell out of your fans, and will give them the incentive to create videos, take pictures, tweet, and blog about every concert on the tour. All of this additional social media buzz will create a groundswell of excitement for your tour, and the ripple affect will seriously be felt as the tour comes to an end. And you'll also get bloggers like me that don't care about your artist, blogging about you anyway, because it will be so damned cool to see an artist and label that's actually smart enough to embrace their fans to promote them.

But of course the punchline that you are waiting for'll sell a bunch more tickets and merchandise.

Now let's see how many labels and artists are smart enough to actually do this.

Pic of Foo Fighters via Flickr user Lola's Big Adventure!


Hire Mack!


Anonymous said...

Even better, steal some of my ideas for live event coverage from Build a site with lots of widgets that will display all of the media Mack recommends you make. Widgets can even AUTOMAGICALLY capture the content your fans are generating (it's easier than you think!).

Anonymous said...

hey mack
all good ideas.
im doing many of them myself.
im a canadian musician who sold a million records in the traditional music business but have spent a lot of the last few years working on my social media game:)
i use my site as a blog based content hub and RSS out from there to all my social networks. ive replaced my photo page with a flickr group that fans can upload photos to themselves (their latest photo appears on my front page). i also use twitter as a micro blogging tool for all the things you were describing but also RSS the feed to my front page, myspace and facebook accounts.
im really enjoying social media, probably too much.
i think the music business is finally coming around. the web is becoming the talk of the town. (about time)

Jonathan Trenn said...

The thing about this post is that it is both brilliant and common sense. Everyone and anyone could have written it, but only you did. You have brilliant common sense. And I hope more that one musician (David Usher) read this.

Mack Collier said...

'AUTOMAGICALLY!' LOL Love that word! And you're right, all this IS a lot easier than most labels, esp most big labels, think. But unfortunately, the idea of giving music fans any type of input/control over marketing, scares the pants off them.

Laura talking about the potential implications of empowering fans via social media is incredibly exciting and frustrating for me at the same time. Exciting because I see the potential, and frustrating because I know that many labels will never act on it. It's simply a matter of leaving a LOT of money on the table.

David thanks for telling us about your site. I'm going to check it out soon and I'll no doubt be contacting you shortly with questions/feedback.

Mack Collier said...

"The thing about this post is that it is both brilliant and common sense."

It's common sense to us Jonathan, but totally Greek to most labels and artists, I fear. As I was writing this, I could just hear labels thinking 'What the hell is a Flickr? A booger site? I don't get it!'

I was on the phone one day telling a marketing manager at a mid-sized music label that the first label to make a serious commitment to embracing bloggers as marketing partners were going to hit on a goldmine.

That was in 2006, and I'm still waiting for someone to step up to the plate today. The potential is still there, even moreso today, and still remains largely unrealized.

Anonymous said...

Insightful. I also think there are lots of useful ideas in here for smaller bands who want to make it big.

Mike Ashworth
Marketing Consultant
Brighton and Hove, Sussex, UK

IsabellaM said...

some great ideas. we're also looking at using IM during concerts, where fans can request their songs and get dedications...

here's to artists embracing social media

Anonymous said...

These are some great ideas.

I think it was back in the 90's that the Beastie Boys did something similar to the Flip Camera idea. They passed around a couple of video cameras to the crowd once the concert started. The footage was awesome... crowd surfing shots, etc. The video produced after the fact was a hit.

Of course with how cheap the Flip Cameras are there is almost no excuse for some variation of the approach to happen.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Check out Nikki Jean as an example of an artist who used social media (mainly video blogging) to catapult her career.

Anonymous said...

GREAT ideas Mack. The Flip one is something I've been consulting businesses to do for a long time to their customers, and it works.

Jim Kukral

Tim Jackson said...

Mack- See, this is why I said you HAD to post today. Magic, pure magic.

Music labels like to sit back and wait for the bags of money to simply walk themselves into their offices. Lemme tell you something though- the bags are getting smaller and they are walking into a whole lot more offices than ever before. Why not spread a bigger net and catch a few more of those little bags? Oh yeah, that's right... because they're freakin' stupid!

Oy... my brain hurts when I think of how brilliant your ideas are and how NOBODY will use them.


Mack Collier said...

"Oy... my brain hurts when I think of how brilliant your ideas are and how NOBODY will use them. "

Don't forget, equally brilliant ideas here in the comments section as well.

Which will also be completely ignored by labels. Yeah it's a headache alright.

john moore (from Brand Autopsy) said...

smart ideas abound ... love the Flip camera idea.

Anonymous said...

It seems that the bands and their promoters should be aware of the amazing opportunities presented by social media -- odd that a bunch of marketing folks are pointing the way to making use of cool cultural developments...way to go!

Anonymous said...

Great post, Mack. You're dead on. This is exactly the kind of integration we're faciliating with The Wired Ones:

I please comment. I'd love to hear what you think, and perhaps you should sign-up as a participating blogger!