Music is all about reaching people through vibrations, words and sound. It not only establishes a particular mood, it is a vehicle for communication and an avenue for personal expression. When you listen to your favorite band, concerto or guitar riff, it stirs something visceral within and you instantly feel a part of something more significant: a community and a movement.
Music Drives Social Connections
This fact that music and sound brings people together is something that has influenced a new crop of social technologies. Services like Spotify, Deezer, and the new MySpace (set to launch shortly), turn everyone into a DJ to discover and listen to new tunes, create mixes on-the-fly and to share them with friends across the globe. Down a parallel, yet more utilitarian path, mobile app Chirp uses audible frequencies as a means to transfer files between devices. Now the sound of bird-tweets can be used to send photos, links and notes to your best friends.
The cutthroat music industry is all over ways to maximize revenues by helping create more transparency into the business, and now, social media has become a vital component of every music label, artist and brand partner’s engagement strategy. Record labels are continually publishing social media content on behalf of their artists, in addition to the exclusive tweets, videos and photos that artists are generating themselves.
Record Labels Tune In to the Power of Social
Interscope Geffen A&M, the label representing Lady Gaga, Madonna, U2, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Eminem, among others, today unveiled a new website designed by Autumn 01 that brings social communications to the forefront. Using real-time social technologies from Echo and Arktan, Interscope has created an immersive experience that is woven from the online activities of its artists.
In an exclusive interview with Adotas, Lee Hammond, VP of Digital for Interscope Geffen A&M stated, “We designed the site to further Artist Discovery, so that fans who might come to the site to check out popular artists like Lady Gaga or Eminem can easily find new artists like Priyanka Chopra and Kendrick Lamar.”
To do this effectively, Interscope needed two things: first, a fluid, visual, app-like experience that makes browsing known and unknown artists fun and easy; second, lots of rich media content from all sources — some social, some traditionally derived — but all presented in the same socially consistent manor.
Hammond added, “Fans are really digging into this new format. Early analytics from the beta launch are showing an increase of time on site, page views and traffic to pages of developing artists who normally wouldn’t be seen in a more traditional website experience.”
Other music labels like Atlantic Records, Columbia Records, Capitol Records, EMI and Sony Music have ventured in to the social area, some through creating a formal presence for themselves and the bands they represent on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.
Social Technologies Drive Engagement & Discovery
Interscope’s new site provides fans with a music resource that encourages deeper engagement with their favorite artists while inspiring them to discover new bands and musical genres. By weaving all of this content together into a seamless, social experience, Interscope is flipping the content production funnel on its head and is bringing what fans care about most to the spotlight through Arktan, a curation service that aggregates real-time social data from popular social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, blogs and RSS, uniting all social activity for each artist and brand.
Interscope leverages Echo’s Pinboard Visualization Plug-in to display each piece of real-time content on the site. By injecting an RSS feed from their merchandise store into Echo StreamServer, Interscope is able to display artist merchandise in a significantly more interesting way and integrate relevant products throughout the site in a visually-rich, cohesive manor.
The Future of the Music Industry + Social
According to Chris Saad at Echo, “In [our] view, the future of social in the music industry is the same as the future of social for all industries and the entire web. According to Webtrends, two-thirds of the Fortune 100 saw an average decline of 23 percent of their website traffic from 2010 -2011. Meanwhile, Facebook’s traffic grew by 68 percent for the same period. To keep pace with this evolution of the web, brands need to start thinking about how they can make their websites and mobile apps as addicting as these leading social networks.”
Interscope Geffen A&M’s new website is a groundbreaking example of this holistic approach. They stood back, understood how fans wanted to engage with their artists, and used that as a guiding light when developing the strategy for this new website.
There is an important distinction here, though: The next generation web is not just about integrating social widgets or plug-ins into your site that show the latest chatter about your brand. Rather it’s about adopting a holistic strategy that takes the features, UI themes and viral loops that have been used so successfully on those sites and across the web, and then applying them to a brand’s own content. In my view both Interscope and Echo are a bit late to market, but on the right track towards redefining the intersection between social tools and fan engagement for the music industry. They are indeed, poised to start a new trend by create a one-stop destination for the consumption of both multimedia and social content outside of the walled gardens of social networks like Facebook.
After an artist lays down tracks, the real magic begins and people come together around the music. When you are at a party meeting someone for the first time, the topic of music will undoubtedly come up. One’s musical interests reveal a lot about that person and it helps individuals form an instant rapport with others who also appreciate the same kind of music. Social media empowers fans to use their voices to connect with others around multimedia content to discuss and share opinions, both good and bad. Sadly, in today’s music industry, popularity and consumer voice carry significant weight in brand success, sometimes having more influence than the talent and voices of the artists themselves.