In addition, smartphones (71% ownership in the UK, Tech Tracker Q1 2016) and other mobile devices have made music easily available to a large majority of the GB population on the go, wherever and whenever they want. In the first six months of 2015 alone, the total number of music streams had already reached 11.5 billion, compared to 14.8 billion for the whole of 2014 (BPI data).
All these new consumption moments provide more chances for brands to potentially engage with fans, yet the sheer number of options available for consumers means it can be as hard as ever to stand out. However, there are a number of apps tackling this issue head on giving brands new ways and opportunities to increase fan engagement. One such app is Bkstg which promises to “connect artists and fans in a direct relationship”. Whilst this may sound like just another social media platform, the stand-out feature of the app and the thing which should be of most interest to brands is its ability to allow artists to offer their fans a variety of exclusive content, merchandise, exclusive tickets or certain discounts on them, live-stream, or even arrange meet-and-greets for fans, all from one place. This creates a great opportunity for artist and brands connected to them to deepen their relationship with fans as well as build engagement across a number of digital and physical touchpoints.
Though free to download, Bkstg is really aimed at about 5-10% of an artist’s fan base who they believe are responsible for 80% of artist’s revenue stream (which obviously has a potential impact for brand partnerships). Consumers respond to feeling part of something, or feeling like they’re getting something exclusive or special just for them. The ability to make a consumer or fan feel special is key to winning them over, and in the end, winning over what they pay attention to and spend their money on. An app like Bkstage successfully taps into these need states by doing all of these things. After all the best partnerships are those that resonate naturally with an audience, and any tools that brands can harness to ensure they are cutting through and reaching relevant target audiences will need to become a key part of marketing strategies of the future. In addition, this way of connecting with fans offers artists the opportunity to get to know them better and be more targeted in their offer towards their interests, making it a powerful tool to build more and deeper engagement.
As the value of music itself diminishes, all these things will play more of a role in the ever important value exchange between consumer and provider in the music industry. And here’s where brands can get involved. If done in the right way, an artist endorsement or brand partnership can significantly increase consumer sentiment towards a brand or product.
Reebok are the first brand partner to sign up with Bkstg to launch a 3 part video series about upcoming rapper K Camp, letting fans gain a first-hand insight into his life (and of course a quick shot of a certain brand of fresh white shoes he’s wearing), as well as offering them a chance to win competition prizes such as new shoes or exclusive concert tickets. Reebok has a long history of working with artists, including rappers, as well as producing engaging video content so this feels like a good brand fit, and in a time where branded content and engagement are two key industry buzzwords, this feels like a good example of a brand providing something of value (engaging content) to a relevant audience within a well-suited platform and there has been a marked response on social media with fans engaging with Reebok, Bkstg and K Camp as a result of the campaign.
Another interesting recent development in the world of apps, brands and fan engagement is Shazam for Brands, a new tool allowing brands to use data-driven storytelling to produce their own content. New data insight tools now available to brands could allow them to partner early with up-and-coming artists and associate themselves with a new ‘in’ artist by using its data to understand which songs or artists are increasing in popularity.
Audio watermarking is another new development which allows any live event to become ‘Shazamable’, giving brands new, in the moment opportunities to engage fans, for example by using branded artist pages or content on Shazam.
Brands need to stand out from the crowd more than ever, and these new engagement opportunities presented through apps like Bkstg and Shazam, as well as other technological advances provide rich new ideas for brands’ marketing teams. VR is taking off this year and music seems to be a well suited entertainment sphere for this, with Coachella launching a VR offering for people to experience the festival, this surely provides a wealth of brand engagement opportunities – sponsored stages, VR meet and greets, to perhaps even full-scale branded virtual reality worlds. These are all areas that brands should be exploring to maximise consumer engagement in the right place at the right time, yet careful consideration must be given to ensure all the right boxes are ticked and the level of branding is right. Consumers are ever more wary of being targeted by advertising so branded content must provide something of value.
At Ipsos we are experts in brand, media and content research and have recently run an internal research project exploring consumers understanding of and experience with branded content as well as testing a number of branded content examples. The right research can be fundamental in helping a brand optimise content or evaluate brand partnerships or campaigns; with qualitative research providing key depth to what are often very nuanced subjects including understanding how to improve consumer engagement, as well as the ever important question of what makes ‘good’ branded content.