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John Mayer's LeBron Spoof Satisfies Fans' Growing Content Cravings

  |  July 13, 2010   |  Comments

Mayer video signals broader trend in non-music web content among artists.

Since Monday a new video featuring musician John Mayer's spoof of LeBron James's ubiquitous "decision" TV special has collected an additional 30,000 views. That brings views of the parody video - which doubles as a summer tour promo - to over 192,000 as of noon today.

"After giving it a lot of thought and careful consideration I have decided that I'm going to play for Cleveland," says Mayer in the video in a deadpan monotone. "So as not to offend my fans in South Beach, I'd also like to announce that I'll be playing for Miami," he continues, adding, "I'm also going to be playing for New York City."

Those three cities, as anyone who's glanced at sports coverage recently knows, were among the likely locations for former Cleveland Cavaliers offensive powerhouse LeBron James to choose as his new home as he made his much-hyped decision as a free agent. James chose to play for The Miami Heat starting next season, though the New York Knicks were also reportedly in consideration.

"The John Mayer bit works because it's timely, clever, and reflects his personality," said Edith Bellinghausen, SVP digital business at entertainment firm Razor & Tie, which puts out bands and artists including Day of Fire, Matisyahu, and Natalie Grant.

Decked out in a blue checkered shirt - not unlike the checkered button-down worn by James in his decision TV special on ESPN - Mayer rattles off several other cities he'll visit on tour, as names of venues and dates pop up below him. Mayer goes on to tell viewers to visit JohnMayer.com/tour for a complete list of tour dates and to link to buy tickets.

"I love this game," Mayer quips at the end of the clip.

Mayer, who has over 3.4 million Twitter followers, pushed the video there on July 9, the day it launched. "Stay tuned for a very special announcement to be made in the next hour," he wrote. The singer/songwriter also promoted the "Very Important Announcement" on his website.

While the bulk of online video featuring musicians consists of music videos or live musical performances, the Mayer video could indicate a broader trend in content creation among artists. "In the age of social media, the artist-fan relationship has become more 'familiar,' said Bellinghausen. "Fans are interested in content beyond music; for example, 'behind-the-scenes' video is very popular. Also, fans expect more content more often, and for many artists that means creating content beyond music, simply to fill the demand."

Bellinghausen pointed to Dave Barnes, an artist on the Razor & Tie label who's posted several humorous videos to his YouTube channel over the past few years, including a 2008 "workout video" featuring Barnes as personal trainer, which also promoted a record release. Another features Barnes dressed as a disheveled cupid haplessly attempting to answer the question, "What's the best Valentines gift?"

"This approach won't work with every artist. If it feels forced, it's just not going to work," Bellinghausen said.

Content offering a glimpse into a musician's personality could help foster a deeper appreciation or loyalty among fans of a lesser-known artist, and in turn, help boost album and ticket sales. Yet, the question remains whether the same holds true for a well-known artist with an established fan base such as Mayer.

"It's just another piece of the marketing pie. It works in aggregate. The immediate goal is to get people's attention, get them talking," said Bellinghausen. "Hopefully then they'll check out your website, listen to your music, buy a ticket to the show, turn on someone new to your art."

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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.

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