Monday, January 7, 2013
In a ritual that spans the age, people of all ages, nationalities, races, genders, and walks of life would sit down to play and listen to musical performances. For centuries, music existed as a written language that transcended word of mouth and served as a primary source of entertainment.
That was then. This is now, the age of digital.
It is more common today for individuals to sit down at their computer, push a few buttons, and instantly gain access to 10,000 songs. It is no secret that the digital revolution has presented numerous road blocks for the entertainment industry. Purchasing music has become less of a public statement and more of a personal act, rewarding customers with intangible audio files for computers, mp3 players, mobile phones, and the like. So how are artists expected to make a splash when releasing new material? Often times music tracks and albums are leaked weeks before even becoming available for purchase, severely damaging the economy of the entertainment industry.
The artist known as Beck recently took an enormous gamble by putting his faith in the true fans and music lovers, whose numbers seem to dwindle every day. Instead of looking for a new innovation in music distribution, he took a lesson from history by releasing his latest collection of work only in written form. That's right -- just sheet music. This move proves that the ancient language of sheet music is still alive, and allows the user-generation of music connoisseurs to experience an artist's work more fully than any digital download ever could by creating and recording their own interpretations of the music.
But here's the catch: "Song Reader" is a book of 26 unrecorded songs, meaning fans of Beck have nothing to compare their own versions to. But that is where creativity flourishes. Suddenly, people are flocking back to music stores, holding a book of sheet music in their hand, and committing time to making something that only exists as some notes on a piece of paper. Beck's gamble paid off, as hundreds of unique recordings have begun to spring up on the Internet, allowing individuals to share their own work and experience others'.
Sheet music will not be for everybody, but this scheme has certainly changed the way musicians and recording companies can monetize their art. But more than that, there are a number of lessons that marketers can learn from what we will call "The Beck Experiment."
- Users, customers, clients, whoever interacts with a business wants to be engaged, not just spoken to. Come up with opportunities for them to participate alongside you.
- Sometimes the old ideas still work the best. Don't simply write off a pre-existing strategy becuase it has been done before. You won't have to re-invent the wheel, you just need to figure out how to use it effectively.
- The power of sharing is ultimate. Word of mouth is still the strongest form of advertising. If you can get followers to do the marketing for you, you're golden!
- The arts are alive! Many believe that as things become easier with technology, the traditional arts lose their meaning and appeal. The thousands of people that just recorded their own songs have proven that wrong.
Next time you double click on a song in your iTunes or Spotify playlist and it doesn't seem to be the meaningful experience that you expected, consider that you could be the individual that learns to play the new cover instead. Happy playing!
Looking for advice on how to truly engage your audience? Check out 5 Things Consumers Want from Interactive Marketers for tips to improve engagement across email, Facebook, and Twitter.