Tag Archives: music

Interactive Web Sites and Hip Hop

Screwing around on StumbleUpon today, I came across this site.

An interactive site detailing the bio of German super DJ Tomekk and his record label F-Records, this site leads you through an interwoven story about Tomekk’s career, and the growth of the label.

I spent a good 30 minutes just playing around with this site, primarily because of the infectious beats and the presence of KRS-One. If you like hip hop and/or interactive marketing, I highly suggest you check it out.


Christmas carols = increased purchasing

If you’re like most people in the US, you’ve no doubt been aurally assaulted by holiday music already. As retailers push for an extended holiday season, and the corresponding increase in revenues, Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier every year.  In most major cities, some radio stations start their “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Winter Wonderland” cycles as early as November 1. Enter any retail store after Thanksgiving, and you’re sure to hear those familiar saccharine tunes over the PA. Of course, this begs the question, does this music entice shoppers to open their wallets, or is it merely for ambiance?

Several studies in the past have shown the relationship between shoppers and music (link). Findings of these studies have found that volume, tempo and even playlist can all affect shoppers’ behaviors. A common finding is that  fast tempo music at high volumes encourages people to spend less time in a store (the opposite also being true),  stores that play age-specific music identifiable to their target demographic tend to have greater appeal to said demographic.  And not surprisingly, people are more inclined to purchase product that they associate with music they enjoy, thus the use of classic rock in truck ads, hip hop in youth ads, etc.

But what about holiday music? Not particularly age, gender or race-specific, they seem to appeal across the board to consumers, provided they are Christians (or at least celebrate Christmas). But is playing seasonal music an effective marketing tool?

It seems that it is. Many music psychologists have pointed that the link between seasonal music and gift-purchasing is a strong one, even if the it’s only September.  Adrian North, a music psychologist in the UK points to the general appeal of music to shoppers in general in an article from the Living Scotsman.
“Music usually fits the product so people can remember it and will come back. If the shops plays classical, opera or New Age-style music, often the shoppers seems to be prepared to spend more money, they regard the product as more upmarket and exclusive.”

Evidence seems to show that while the music may be jarring to some (especially the staff), holiday tunes have a beneficial effect on overall sales. And it need not be a familiar song to reap the benefits of the season. In particular, Budweiser has been running Christmas ads for years featuring a distinctly holiday-feeling song that is merely an interpretation of their traditional jingle.

It appears that that sales benefit simply by association with the holidays. And the best way to create this association? Why music, of course.

This theory is suppported in an article by Daniel J. Levitin in the Wall Street Journal:
“Holiday tunes are supposed to get us feeling at least a bit religious or spiritual, aren’t they? Historically they have worked well in this way. Music’s role in religious and spiritual ceremonies may be as old as religion itself. Although human religions differ markedly from one another, all religious rituals are characterized by a demarcation of time and place — on this day we stand here in this special spot, or interact with sacred objects that we don’t normally interact with — and by the reciting of music or text that is designed to take us out of ourselves, out of routine, and uplift us with higher thoughts. Ritual and religious music helps to differentiate this day or activity from the rest of our secular activities. Because we tend to hear these songs only during this season, they serve as a unique memory cue, unlocking a neural flood of memories related to the holidays.”

This theory indicates that on a sub-conscious level we associate Christmas with gift giving and receiving. Thus, when we hear Christmas music, it subliminally encourages shopping.

So keep this in mind the next time you’re at the mall, and feel like jumping from the escalator after hearing “White Christmas” for the eleventh time. It’s just another marketing tactic, and one that has proven to be very effective.

Music with marketing, not vice versa

Advertisements have long depended on musicians to provide them with catchy jingles or song snippets to help promote their product. Now they’re returning the favor.  Brandweek is reporting that Mariah Carey’s new CD Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel will feature advertisements from Elizabeth Arden and the Bahamas Board of Tourism, among others, in its 34-page booklet.


In conjunction with Elle magazine, this approach to marketing is an experiment by Island Def Jam, probably due in part to declining album sales. If the project  is successful, expect similar deals quickly popping up in the liner notes of other artists.

On the surface, this can be viewed in one of two ways. The first, is that it is a great idea. These albums sell hundreds of thousands, if not millions of copies. By placing ads in the liner notes, which almost everyone looks, you are increasing brand awareness on a massive scale. Particularly interesting is the correlation that market researchers will draw between fans of a certain artist and the products they purchase. Thus, it seems logical that Mariah-fans, who are (I’m assuming) primarily women, would be attracted to certain perfumes, champagne and clothing lines.  This is a smart way to focus on a specific audience, while helping the record labels offset their production costs. Considering the decline of album sales in the face of digital downloads and rampant piracy, this is a brilliant move.

On the other hand, from a music purist’s point of view, this can be viewed as the ultimate sellout. A purist may view these integrated CD booklets as an artist compromising his or her integrity for a quick buck. Of course this point of view depends solely on the artist in question. Rappers, for example, are notorious for endorsing virtually anything (except McDonalds, apparently), provided the money is right. But if Beck, on the other hand, were to do this, I imagine there would be a huge outcry from his fan base.

In reality, advertising inside CDs is nothing new. No Limit albums always contained promos for upcoming releases inside the case, and 2Pac’s All Eyez on Me famously had a photo of 2Pac’s crew posing in front of two cars which prominently featured advertisements for a Los Angeles auto customization shop. Of course this is the first time CD booklets have been approached as a marketing medium on a general scale. If this is a success, and I think it will be, it’s a good bet that this type of marketing will soon become commonplace. Smaller, regional labels, in a particular may begin using this type of marketing to generate revenue to increase their budget and promote artist awareness.

Wu Social Media


I’m loving how Wu Tang Clan veteran Ghostface is promoting his new album. “Wizard of Poetry” (hate the name, by the way) drops on Sept. 29, and Ghost is using Twitter to full-advantage. Check out his profile here. By using Twitter to promote the album, he’s almost single-handedly creating a buzz around this album. Being a huge fan of the Shaolin MCs, he’s got my attention.

Of course the foray into social media is nothing new for Wu Tang. Other clan members Raekwon and RZA both have Twitter accounts they use to promote upcoming events and albums (including “Only Built for Cuban Linx 2”!), as does Wu-affiliate LA the Darkman.

In addition, the Clan, being the chess afficionados they are, also have Wu Chess. If you’re unfamiliar with Wu Chess, it’s a partnership with Chesspark that provides an online forum for chess-loving fans of the Wu Tang Clan to get together. To my knowledge, no other music group or entity has ever tried anything like this before, and it seems to be really successful.

It really seems this is just part of the hip hop hustle.  Rappers were some of the first musicians to really develop their personal brands and have really revolutionized the way in which musicians are seen. In addition to the requisite label that ever successful rapper owns, we’ve now got MCs selling clothes, alcohol, bottled water, and more. Jay-Z even patented  his own shade of blue. These street hustlers have completely re-written the rules of marketing and branding. And there’s sure to be more to come…

The Internet vs. the music industry

Yesterday while driving home from work I was listening to The Church of Lazlo on local radio station 96.5 the Buzz. One of the segments I listened to was an interview with Jill Sobule. You may remember her as the singer of the pre-Katy Perry version of “I Kissed A Girl”.

What’s really interesting about this woman is the way she drummed up financing and support for her latest record. Ms. Sobule solicited donations from her fans, a la PBS. If you go to her Web site, jillsnextrecord.com, she has a list detailing what each particular donation amount will net you. Of course the really cool thing is, if you donate $10,000, you get to sing on her record.

This is an interesting tactic, because it takes what the hip hop industry has been doing for years and hones it down even further. Starting sometime in the mid-90s, lots of rappers realized that they were not making nearly what they should off of album sales. As a result, almost overnight you started seeing record labels popping up. No Limit, Aftermath, Roc-A-Fella, all of these labels started as a means for their artists to keep a higher percentage of their sales.

And what Jill Sobule has done is take this to a new level. Rather than producing her next album herself, using her own money, she’s opened it up to her fans. And it seems like it’s beena successful tactic. It’s interesting to contrast this tactic with Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” album. If you recall, Radiohead offered “In Rainbows” for free download, asking only that fans give what they thought was fair. This had never been done before and was wildly successful, leading to 1.2 million downloads in the first 10 days, most of whom paid for the album.

Couple these guerilla marketing tactics with the fact that an entire of generation of musicians has relied on sites like Youtube and Myspace to expose their music to fans around the globe, and you can see this is the beginning of the end for the music giants. We’re witnessing a revolution in the music industry. It’s going to be very interesting to how this works out in the future.