Driving engagement in music promotion
Recently, we shipped some t-shirts to a fan who replied that they had noticed the QR code hidden on the inside of the garment. They thought it was a cool feature. I was pleased to get the feedback, having almost forgotten about this.
For the re-release of Love Hotel in 2011, our label at the time encouraged us to think of ways that we could extend the album experience for fans (at no cost). Our modest efforts were t-shirts that accessed secret digital content—which were sponsored by our partners Jägermeister—and a bonus remix track (with album download) that the band actually paid for.
Nonetheless, we learnt that exclusivity and reward drive engagement.
It should be said that QR technology is old and its effectiveness as a marketing tool debatable. In New Zealand, we’re starting to see better examples of augmented reality transform advertising interactivity. In any case, if you’re getting creative to minimise your band’s marketing costs, get the most value out of the experience with some key considerations.
We created a hidden page that wouldn’t be indexed by search engines. Only the t-shirt had access to it by way of the QR code. We didn’t promote this on any of our channels; we hoped to delight fans who supported us by buying merchandise.
Added value (reward)
This unlocked bonus content which from time-to-time has included mp3 downloads and private links to YouTube uploads of new music videos. We even embedded the entire new album stream prior to its public release. As well as thanking fans who had supported us by buying merchandise, we hoped that creating additional value would increase advocacy.
It’s interesting to be able to say, for example, that more fans in South Africa used the QR code than in Australia; that 65% of all people used an iPhone. What does that say about the technology, our sales or relative popularity in each country? Very little. Our marketing framework wasn’t comprehensive enough.
Still, it’s the right idea.
A cool example of immersive album promotion I’ve seen lately is Rustie’s Green Language website: a Minecraft-like 8-bit adventure game in which fans discover tracks from the album. It appeals to the retrogamer in me but importantly, it was a successful vehicle to expose me to the music.
The question for independent musicians is: as well as understanding your demographic and having a great content strategy, what initiatives can help sustain engagement around an album? It might not be as involved as game development but cheap and easy solutions that get results are possible.
In our experience, exclusivity is its own reward.