Record Labels Go Interactive for Summer Tours, Albums

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Record labels are pulling out all stops, including rich media, e-mail and wireless initiatives, to promote artists' summer tours and album releases.


'N Sync fans can listen to "Pop" and view the video for the single on Jive Record's www.Nsync-World.com to build interest for the July 24 release of the group's album, "Celebrity." A downloadable Flash e-card announcing the album also has been popular, with more than 100,000 downloads by late June.


In addition, a three-day America Online-Jive Records promo in late May featuring the full-length video stream of "Pop" garnered a 70 percent click-through rate on AOL's music page.


"It was one of their most successful features of music content," said Jeff Dodes, vice president, new media and Internet operations for Jive.


Meanwhile, Nsync-World's mid-June, pre-order campaign with retail partners BestBuy.com and SamGoody.com had generated about 7,000 pre-orders by June 25. Fans who pre-order Celebrity at either site and submit their phone number receive a pre-recorded phone call from one of the five 'N Sync members, plus audio clips of three songs from the album.


In mid-June, Nsync-World mailed its in-house list of 650,000 'N Sync fans with the offer, while Best Buy and Sam Goody used newspaper circulars and in-store signage. The majority of people who pre-ordered said they heard about the offer from Nsync-World's e-mail drop.


Dodes attributed the traffic from Nsync-World's e-mail list to the loyal fan base that the site has built, and also that "online retailers don't have huge traffic at this point."


For now, Jive sends sporadic e-mails to 'N Sync fans, announcing events such as the group's video debut of "Pop" on MTV. In the future, Dodes said, he hopes to segment the database further into daily, weekly and monthly deliveries, "so we can really give them exactly what they want."


Though Jive has used rich media e-mails to promote other 'N Sync albums, Dodes said the company now primarily uses a mix of text and HTML files.


"We give people an opportunity to download [rich media files], but we don't e-mail that because they tend to be heavy files," he said.


Meanwhile, Sony Entertainment's Epic Records is using wireless to promote Mandy Moore's late June album release and her television and record store appearances.


Through wireless marketer Upoc Inc., New York City, fans receive a text message when there is Mandy Moore news, including efforts to push viewership of her MTV show. "It's a way for artists to send messages to fans, and also a way for fans to interact [with artists and other fans]," said Greg Clayman, vice president of marketing for Upoc. "One kid gets a message [from the artist] and shows it to his friends. He forwards it as well, but that's not as big."


The mobile marketing has generated interest in bands and albums among Upoc's primary audience: 15- to 29-year-olds, Clayman said. For example, Upoc began delivering voice and text messages from rapper Lil Bow Wow a few months ago, including voice mails from Europe, where he is touring. Fans already have sent e-mails via their cell phones and computers back to the artist. In addition, fans have started 51 separate Lil Bow Wow clubs via the Upoc network.


"This method of promotion and marketing works real well in a mix of other marketing," Clayman said. "People are doing stuff with street teams, online and in magazines. Throwing in a mobile piece helps to tie it all together."


To promote Dave Navarro's summer tour (with his group, Jane's Addiction), Capitol Records' rich media site, www.davenavarro.net, encourages visitors to view video clips that Navarro has taken on the road and at home. The Quicktime clips let users stop, play or pause the videos, and they can e-mail them to friends.


"The point of the site was to include a lot of Dave's home movies and videos to add a personal element, but then let fans have the ability to pass clips on to their friends," said Robin Bechtel, a Capitol Records representative. "So, there wasn't just one viral piece to be passed around the Web, there were dozens."


Capitol is also pushing Navarro's debut solo album, "Trust No One," and his tour by inviting fans to sign up for voice and text messages sent to their cell phones, personal digital assistants or two-way pagers via Upoc. For 10 days leading to Navarro's June 19 album release, fans heard voicemail messages from Navarro. Text message alerts also notified fans about Navarro's talk show appearances and tour dates.


In another rich media venture, Summerfest, an annual concert held June 28 through July 8 in Milwaukee, is Webcasting some of the performances. The festival draws headliners such as Prince and Destiny's Child as well as up-and-coming artists. Webcasting for its third year through House of Blues, the festival will switch from live Webcasts to one-day delayed Webcasts.


"They [House of Blues] don't need as many technical people if they don't do it live," said Dana Hartenstein, multimedia coordinator for Summerfest.


Since Summerfest draws a national audience and officials want to attract international attendees, Hartenstein does not think the Webcast detracts from attendance of the event. "Anything we can do to create the possibility of having an international audience is a good thing," she said.


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