Social media platforms exploded this week with the return of AMC’s hit series “Mad Men.” The show, a throwback to the world of 1960’s Madison Avenue advertising, has gained tremendous popularity since its debut in 2008, taking a total of four Golden Globes and fifteen Emmys. In an article written for Heeb Magazine Online, Arye Dworken says that a big part of the draw, for advertising geeks at least, is a fascination with “how things were in the good ole days”. They were simpler times, he says, when clients were “okay with just a print ad, as opposed to demanding a microsite, Twitter feed, Facebook page, TV campaign, outdoor event, a one-day stunt, and a promotional limited edition item collaborated with Shepard Fairey.”
Indeed times have changed; nowhere more so than in the music industry. According to Salty Waffle, many of those changes can be attributed to a fifty percent drop in album sales between 1999 and 2009, due to the mass popularity of digital music. That’s about on par with the decline of the typewriter during the same years. The difference is that Godrej and Boyce, the world’s last typewriter manufacturer, has closed its doors, while the record industry is still fighting for survival.
With the decline in album sales record labels have begun implementing new contracts known as 360 deals, which entitle them to a share of the profits from concerts. This was an important, if controversial move, because according to Salty Waffle, ticket sales now make up roughly two-thirds of a group’s profits, album sales only one third, exactly opposite of what it was ten years ago.
So, the labels profit on shows and album sales. But how do they get anyone to pay for either? It’s no longer enough to simply announce the release of a new album or record, or the dates of a new tour. What people want is value, for their money, and their attention, and for this the labels are turning to the one thing that nearly destroyed them: the internet. Many groups understand their fans’ desire for more. More content, more music, more of a connection between the creators and the consumer. So they’re turning to various social media outlets to deliver.
Green Day, for example, has been releasing a series of videos on their Youtube channel as they put the finishing touches on their new album, a follow up to “21st Century Breakdown.” The videos are only thirty seconds long, and they’ve got barely any audio in them, consisting mostly of unlinked video montages, and clips of sound from the recording studio. Yet, they’ve received hundreds of thousands of views, and have garnered attention from various news outlets, including the New Musical Express.
They’re not the first to try this either. Joe Satriani ran a similar campaign, posting one video each day prior to the release of his newest album “Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards.” According to Blabbermouth.net, that album sold more than 10,000 copies in its first week, landing Satriani at his highest position ever on The Billboard 200 Chart, and suggesting the effectiveness of such a campaign.
Youtube isn’t the only tool that is being used. Facebook and Twitter have drastically reduced marketing costs by allowing labels to release news directly to fans, for free in a matter of seconds.
With more and more bands jumping on the social media bandwagon, it seems that this new era of marketing is here to stay. Proving once again that the more things change, the more they stay the same.