As I kept hearing the word “engagement” in relation to content marketing and social media across B2B marketing conferences including ClickZ Live, B2B networking events, and B2B client conversations this year, I took it upon myself to give B2B marketers an insiders’ perspective on where such opportunities lie in the world of digital-based entertainment. On ClickZ over my next few installations, I will share industry expert stories and tips in the businesses of digital music, comics, games, television, and movies.
Since my first love is music, I want to share where opportunities lie here. And, since this is such a broad category with the development and growth of subscription-based online radio, fan-based online communities, and peer-to-peer platform-based campaign opportunities, this will be a two-part article.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with The New Music Seminar (NMS), 2014 marks its fifth year in its new iteration. Tom Silverman first founded the conference in 1980, which ran for 15 years, and re-launched it in 2009 to address the emerging new music business. The seminar brings together visionaries and thinkers in the music space to discuss the many issues that will determine the future health of its industry. NMS was started and is still run by music industry genius Tom Silverman, founder of Tommy Boy Records. I had the pleasure of covering the conference this year in my quest to give B2B marketers the inside scoop on how to attract, engage, and build long-term customer/client relationships via authentic online partnerships with players in the music industry.
It is uber important that B2B marketers understand what is driving what the industry leaders there call “transition in the music business,” a business that saw revenues of $14.3 billion in 2009 dwindle to $7 billion in 2013. Music streaming on a global level is not only helping the industry players (artists, labels, IP lawyers and law firms, artist managers, tech companies in the business, etc.) drive more revenue, but also enabling brands (and their) online campaigns to reach and engage fans. Throughout the seminar, panelists expressed hope in online subscription and artist play platforms such as Rhapsody, Spotify, YouTube (now going subscription), Sirius XM, Google Play, Pandora, Live365, Vevo, Bandpage – in their ability now and in the future to save and grow this industry.
And, as we have all witnessed in our world, B2B marketing is also going through a transition. We are more and more taking cues from the B2C marketing world, where B2B programs are taking a more human approach. So, here we can, whether we are an agency, a technology company, an accounting firm, a law firm, or a financial services corporation, plug into the world of music marketing in such a way that becomes authentic to the fans.
Consider Rhapsody, a leader of streaming music services supporting mobile devices, tablets, and PCs that is the former Napster (note: Napster is still an entity in Europe and Asia). The service provides its members ad-free access to more than 32 million songs. I sat down at NMS with Ethan Rudin, chief financial officer (CFO) of Rhapsody and a pioneer in the business of music and digital downloads to understand how B2B folks like us can leverage the opportunities his firm and others in his industry present in engaging our target audience(s). He cited his service’s commitment to ad-free listening and rapid mobile deployment as two ways B2B marketers can potentially reach and engage fans. Rhapsody provides customized playlists to listeners and recommended playlists. In these, B2B brands have the ability to create authentic named playlists. Some examples may be “Developers Playlist,” a playlist that coders can jam to while they are developing away. This could be sponsored by such companies as Microsoft, Apple, Magento, and others. On the flip side, a “Designers Playlist” could feature more creative thinking hits where Adobe could offer a deal on their SAAS service. I think you get the idea here. In the ability to reach music lovers anywhere, B2B marketers could offer related telecom services to mobile users, per say, in the likes of Intercall, Webex, Gotomeeting, Join.me, and the list goes on.
Tommy Boy Records may be a label you haven’t heard of if you aren’t an incessant music lover as I am who gets excited at the opportunity to stand next to a Gold House of Pain album (see my Twitter profile), but their crew of hundreds of signed indie artists, from reggae to hip-hop to electronic dance/house, may be of interest to you, as they include De La Soul, House of Pain, Naughty by Nature, and Queen Latifah. By enabling authentic tie-ins to their artists across digital platforms such as YouTube, Spotify, Shazam, and others, your content programs have real chances of exploding. Consider that once you are there you are shared, over and over and over again.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Rosie Lopez, Tommy Boy president. So that you have a sense of why Tommy Boy may be a good choice as you look to become more authentic to your target online, understand that this label has, since day one, “had a commitment to its artists and fans to serve by the passion for the music,” as Lopez puts it. So when you look at how their artists’ fans digest singles on platforms like SoundCloud, Shaazam, Spotify, and BitTorrent in the millions, you will start to gain an appreciation for organic target development through content marketing or social media marketing.
“Music is going through this transformation to complete democracy – where the music artist is not only the creator but is also setting the rules of engagement,” says Lopez, So in similar fashion, we B2B marketers need to understand that our target also owns their online buying experience, from visibility to engagement to conversion. In the end, we must deliver content in such a way that is directly tailored to the tastes, interests, and movements of our online customer in the social networks. A new Tommy Boy artist, Pants Velour, for example, was able to drive more than 440,000 downloads and the label captured more than 5,700 qualified emails in just four days by partnering with peer-to-peer exchange digital platform and social network BitTorrent. This continues to grow as this BitTorrent bundle gets shared across other main social networks. Consider that BitTorrent’s reach is primarily a young tech audience and that Tommy Boy has authenticity with that group. What that spells for B2B firms looking to reach engineers is a win-win. For Tommy Boy’s example, see here.
And that is just the beginning. There are so many untouched opportunities for B2B brands to reach and engage music fans in social media and across these digital music platforms. For initial places to start, consider these:
YouTube carries billions of fans across the world and its advertising platform is highly targeted. B2B marketers can reach audiences who are passionate about their music online and across their mobile phones. Opportunities exist pre- and post-roll. When YouTube videos are embedded into artist sites, label sites, blogs, and other social networks, your message goes even further. At the New Music Seminar, all industry insiders agreed that YouTube is one of the main vehicles they utilize to drive listenership for their artists.
The same goes for its parent, Google and Google Play. Google Play is an Android item. Any B2B marketer looking to reach mobile users would have a hard time not considering the opportunity to support artists there.
And Spotify is rapidly becoming the music lover’s choice for customizing how and where they listen to their favorite artists. The artists and labels alike know this and have done a great job of aligning breaking and featured singles and albums across the platform. B2B marketers can align with a popular artist as a spokesperson that supports their target audience on Spotify and develop the potential to not just reach, but engage and drive share ability of their content across the social networks.
In part two of this article of the digital music industry, I will provide the insiders snapshots of the business side of the players’ club, where those who actively market, protect, and provide advocacy for the artists share their comments and ideas on how marketers need to prepare themselves for this truly engaging in the marketing in the world of digital music. As always, I look forward to your comments here on ClickZ.