Taylor Swift may have pulled her music from Spotify last week, but the pop star has found another way to promote her album and upcoming world tour: Unstaged, an app that lets fans interact with her latest music video.
Since announcing her decision last week, Swift has released a new music video – for “Blank Space,” which Yahoo leaked a day early – and the app, for which she partnered with American Express. Andrew Solmssen, managing director for Possible’s Los Angeles office, doesn’t think the timing is coincidental.
“I think the Spotify pull was absolutely part of the plan. I imagine [her music] will end up back on Spotify after the rush from the album dissipates a little,” he says. “I think it’s a great way to get press.”
Indeed, the video already has more than 18.2 million views on YouTube since Monday. In the Unstaged app, fans can watch the video at 360 degrees, tilting their devices to follow Swift as she goes from doting on her boyfriend at the dining room table to throwing a vase at his head in a jealous rage. Users can also opt to ignore the couple, instead poking around the mansion while “Blank Space” plays in the background.
“We’ve been able to create something I’ve never been able to give to fans before, which is a 360-degree, interactive experience where they’re getting to explore the storyland of our video and be in the room with us,” Swift said in a statement.
Throughout the mansion, there are 41 virtual objects for users to collect and share across social media, showing off their findings and helping others locate them, as well. This ensures multiple views, as well as engagement.
Swift is well known for her engagement with fans, from showing up at their bridal showers to inviting them to her house to hear her album before its release. According to Solmssen, that’s why the singer – who he compares to Bill Murray, another star known to randomly appear at fans’ kickball games and bachelor parties – was able to pull Unstaged off.
“Taylor is not aloof. She is as ‘of the people’ as it’s possible to be,” Solmssen says. “That’s the secret of marketing. That’s what allows her to do something like this and have people follow.”
Beyond watching and interacting with the music video, the app also has links to purchase Swift’s “1989” album and learn more about her 2015 world tour, as well as watch four behind-the-scenes videos. In addition, there are links to other Unstaged-related content. Unstaged is a four-year-old concert film series sponsored by American Express and broadcast on the various artists’ YouTube channels.
In Solmssen’s opinion, the partnership was smart, as well as mutually beneficial.
“I think American Express is over the moon. You’re talking about reaching a generation that’s probably between three to five years away from getting their first credit card,” he says. “It’s the kind of cradle-to-grave marketing where you’re telling them, ‘American Express got you Taylor access.’ If there was ever a great brand halo, this is it.”
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