The digital world of iTunes and social media has given the music industry both high and low notes. While the Internet offers accessibility, it also caters to specificity. Most predominantly, the Internet offers an array of platforms for artists to upload, share, and send their music. However, while music junkies may be constantly searching for new digs, most people eventually acquire a particular taste for what they choose to send through their ear buds. Internet music services such as Pandora, Spotify, and iHeartRadio allow users to handpick and listen to an endless variety of artists and genres. This narrowcasting of music leaves artists waging campaigns to try to reach listeners. As a result, clutter prevails.
Like in advertising, clutter has become a big problem in music promotion. As Douglas Rushkoff pointed out in The Persuaders, “The more messages they create, the more they have to create to reach us.”
The more opportunity social media platforms – YouTube, MySpace Music, and most recently Vine – offer artist to share their music, the more competitive and important promotion of music and musician become.
So how does a music artist break through all the online music clutter without breaking budget? The answer is: great music, a little luck, and a publicity stunt.
Not new to the music arena are surprise gigs on rooftops or buses in the middle of big cities, events known in the public relations world as a publicity stunts. This past October, music legend Sir Paul McCartney promoted his recently released album, NEW, by doing just such a thing – performing a surprise concert in the middle of Times Square.
Telling fans only hours before – via Twitter – he played a 15-minute long show featuring the single “New”, as well as music from the (not at the time released) album. McCartney was not only able to give NYC fans a concert, but fans from around the world could tune in through Times Square live webcast and watch the performance.
The surprise gig resulted in social media buzz and major news coverage, all promoting the NEW album for free. The stunt was so successful; exactly a week later he performed another surprise concert in London.
Sir Paul McCartney proved how to conquer the masses. Not only did he succeed in making his fans happy, but also he succeeded in executing a publicity stunt that generated both word of mouth and media coverage that ended up promoting his music at no cost to him.
This is an interesting example of an old brand adapting to the new reality very gracefully and organically. Rock on Sir Paul! But one sentence in your post concerns me: “Sir Paul McCartney proved how to conquer the masses.” Well, not exactly, unless you mean he proved how to stay current after being a rock legend for more than 40 years. His is not a replicable formula for just anyone. John Mayer is on the comeback trail and it might work for him . . . . might. One of my favorite artists is Eric Hutchinson but this won’t really work for him. My point is simply this, remember that very strategies are easily transferable across contexts/situations. That’s why Aristotle saw rhetoric as the art of analyzing situations and then responding appropriately. Rock on!
Great point! After reading your comment I realize we should have been more specific in saying he conquered the mass media because so many news organizations covered his surprise concert.You are completely right that what works for McCartney will not work for many other artist because he is such an iconic and respected musician and because of the types of fans he has. Aristotle’s words are very true and something future and current public relations personnel, as well as music management teams, should keep in mind when creating publicity tactics. Thanks for the comment!