Why Is It So Hard To Get Paid In the Music Industry?

Guest Post: Why Getting Paid In The Music Industry Is So Complicated, And How It Can Be Better

Guest Post: Why Getting Paid In The Music Industry Is So Complicated, And How It Can Be Better

 

David Balto is a lawyer and consumer advocate based in Washington, D.C., who previously served as the policy director of the Federal Trade Commission.

In Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow’s recent op-ed called The Penny Paradox, he asked, “Isn’t a song worth more than a penny?” The problem, as outlined by Portnow, is that artists aren’t being paid enough for their work. However, this is a gross oversimplification of a more complicated issue of payment in the music industry. An issue that, unfortunately, consumers (and artists) are caught in the middle of as powerful and less powerful interests fight over how to divide payments amongst themselves.

When Portnow is talking about a song being worth a penny he is, of course, not talking about someone being able to own a song for an actual penny. He is talking about the cost per listen of a single license. An interactive music streamer like Spotify needs two licenses to serve a single song to a customer, and three licenses under certain circumstances. When a consumer buys a song, they make one payment and own it forever. Streaming a song is not ownership, and royalties must be paid for each listen.

This leads to a complex picture of how artists earn money. They can get one payment from a fan that buys their album or a recurring payment as a fan continues to play their songs on a streaming service. Artists can also get paid both ways from a single fan — a correlation between internet radio “spins” and sales were found in 2014.

It gets even more complicated. Artists own different copyrights and get paid differently based on whether they wrote the song and/or recorded the song. They deal with different middlemen and the licensing is handled through different organizations: SoundExchange for sound recording rights, a publishing rights organization like ASCAP or BMI for the performance right and individual publishers for each song’s mechanical rights.

ASCAP and BMI are currently regulated through agreements made with the Department of Justice that are regulated by federal courts which stress fairness and transparency. These agreements were necessary because collective bargaining — like that done through ASCAP and BMI — is illegal under antitrust laws, but all parties considered it necessary to have a collective bargaining system to cut down contracting costs in a complex industry. In other words, it’s a narrow exception to the general rules of a competitive market.

And now it’s getting even more complicated. Publishers, some of which have market power, are lobbying the DOJ to make changes in the consent decrees to allow them to withhold music from radio, venues and streaming services. These changes would let publishers jump out of ASCAP and BMI when it suits them. So much for fairness and non-discrimination. And so much for fair prices for consumers.

Publishers will also be able to agree amongst themselves not to license a performance right unless all owners of a copyright assent. This will give even small owners of a copyright complete control, not just over performance rights but over the sound recording as well. If a five percent owner of the performance rights to Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” refuses to license, for instance, that not only affects other owners of the performance rights, but also Justin Bieber’s royalty payments for the sound recording. A music user has to license all rights to play a song, and if any fractional owner had veto rights they would be able to control the destiny of the entire song and every sound recording, not just what they own.

This didn’t matter when radio and venues could contract with ASCAP and BMI, each of which has to license to all comers at a fair rate. But in a world where publishers can be in and out of ASCAP and BMI, it suddenly matters a great deal. This has the potential to not only hurt consumers, but also artists who can’t get their song played because an owner of a small piece of it refuses to license. Ultimately, both consumers and artists will lose.

I do not agree with Portnow on the simple solution that payments for songs need to increase. This is the solution before the DOJ right now, and it will likely lead to tremendous harm to consumers and potentially artists (we don’t know how much of that increase, if any, will filter through to them and how much will be pocketed by the powerful publishers). However, I do agree that we can do better and that solutions must come from Congress.

Congress, for example, could set up a one-stop shop for the complete bundle of rights needed to play a song, and all the rights owners could divide those payments among themselves. This would make it easy to agree on a payment that is good for artists while still allowing streaming services to be profitable (important after the Copyright Royalty Board’s rate increase led to the closure of many smaller independent and local services). Congress also has many more options to make sure the most vulnerable parties, consumers, and artists, are protected.

Article Via Billboard.Biz

 

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Why Some Record Labels Fail, While Others Succeed?

What I Learned Working with a Label That Failed

 

In early 2015, I was invited to join a “dream team” of music industry professionals.

This team consisted of a former VP of a major record label, a manager from a “major” indie artist, as well as an assembly of top-notch graphic designers, publicists and assistants. Our mission was to work with a brand new record label and assist them in acquiring a larger fanbase and overall develop their brand.

From the surface we succeeded: Social media numbers skyrocketed, we garnered healthy press coverage, and we even had two of their artist chart on radio. Not to mention, we had some official showcases, as well some fun opening spots.

However, despite this, the label ended up folding. Some of their (very talented) roster still operates with them, but what I assume is just until their contracts expire, or they recoup their recording costs.

So, how did this happen? They had the talent, a good team, and not to mention the capital, so… what happened? And more importantly, what can artists, labels and managers learn from this?

 

Baby Steps

The New Artists Were Treated Like Vets.

Their artists were talented, very talented. One issue I found was that the label wanted myself and my team to completely take over the artist’s social media channels. However, they weren’t ready developmentally for a team to just completely take over their brand and social media.

Come to think of it, even my major artist clients don’t have a team handling their social completely. You might have someone schedule certain portions of content or maybe offer an extra set of hands during a tour, but for the most part, as an artist, you need to showcase your brand online.

Especially when that brand is still being developed.

This led to the artists feeling as if the label wasn’t “portraying their brand” appropriately online. They felt as if tweets went out in a tone that wasn’t “their voice”. And well, yeah — because it wasn’t their voice. Their brand was still too green for someone else to handle it.

These guys were still finding their voice as an artist, so they needed to tweet, do videos and interact on their own. Because they were still growing.

In today’s digital era, your online footprint — your imagery, your tweets, your ‘gram posts — are just as important as your music. You can have a dope track that’s getting radio play, but if your fans aren’t sharing it online, then it’s going to just fizzle out. You can have a team help you out with this, I recommend it, but handing it off completely to a third party — is a bit dangerous.

But social media really wasn’t the problem…

We did well on social media. The pages grew, and we got some great online traction during releases. However, when an artist doesn’t feel as if they have control of their art — the energy stops. You don’t need this, especially from a young artist. I already spoke on how the artist is the CEO, even with a label. You certainly don’t want “too many chefs in the kitchen” spoiling this. You need to give your artist’s room to grow.

However, let’s also talk about this from a growth standpoint. One of the guys on the “consultant team” was an industry vet of 30+ years or so. He’s also the manager of an artist that’s been the indie king, before indie was practical. He’d often gruff that our artists haven’t “paid their dues” yet.

And while that may seem like something any vet would say to a rookie — it’s actually a valuable piece of insight.

By putting a new artist on a pedestal, you’re selling the artist a lifestyle that might not actually come into fruition. The artist needs to be spending time networking, and remaining active on social media — rather than thinking: “The team will handle it”.

This is a major way to set an artist up for failure — by giving them illusions that they’re on the road to success, when their brand still hasn’t matured.

This was ridiculously summarized one week when we were on the road. The artists went out to a few clubs the night before a key performance. The label’s “A&R” pushed them to go, labeling it as “networking”. But in reality, it was just an excuse for them to stay out all night. Did they network? Maybe. But I do know that the only thing to come from their “network outing” was two artists oversleeping, with hoarse voices the day of their major showcase.

Another quick observation was the naivety that a track was going to go viral on it’s own — or the fact that we’d have thousands of pre-orders for these relatively known artists.  Sure, the artist is good — and might be popping in your backyard, but we have to ensure that we have a working platform before we can expect to see massive results and brand awareness.

 

Wheels.

We Confused Movement with Progress

I want to be very clear about the dynamic of this partnership, and the dynamic of any client-agency relationship. It’s your duty to tell your client what their doing a bad idea. In this circumstance, the CEO of the label hired us because he was rather green when it came to the music industry.

However, the CEO would often go against our advice, a lot of this centered around pay-for-play.

The CEO wanted to ensure the artists saw movement, he wanted his artists satisfied because they were playing “during” SXSW, they were being posted on blogs, or they were opening for acts. While this is true, you need to keep your artists happy with movement, that movement isn’t always progress.

We bought onto gigs, which was a great experience for the artist — but didn’t really result in new fans or even moved merch. Especially when the line-up was jam packed with other folks who paid to play.

We paid to get onto blogs, which the artist thought was cool, but at the end of the day,they were mid-tier and some top blogs, who rarely even shared the article on their social outlets. It was found on the website sure — but it wasn’t on the main page, or on their social media. So, who saw it? Aside from the fans we shared it with.

And yes, we boosted on social and more, but the key to PR is to make connections with journalists, not pay to be on a blog that isn’t even promoting their own article.

Similarly, why spend money on paying for shows, when you could be spending time pitching talent buyers and building relationships with venues. Or even spending time genuinely connecting with other bands, so those other artists invite you on as an open act. Organically. Without paying a dime.

One thing we did well was radio. Our guys were great on the microphone, and we had them on the road, going to stations spinning their work to do interviews. This led to more airplay, and it even led to a few music festival opportunities. Did it cost money to send them across the country doing press? Yes. But did it result in more authentic reach? Yep.

Our radio campaign was a great example of using leverage, to further a message. While, all of the paid work, was us moving without progression.

I guess I should also note that we likely relied too heavily on a radio promoter. After some time, we should have stopped outsourcing it, and brought the radio promotion in-house. Since we were already making connections, and we already sunk a pretty penny into the artists radio campaigns. This could have simply been us paying too much for a promoter, rather than a bad marketing move.

Watching a promising label sink a lot of money into pay-for-play, and pay-for-post opportunities, to the point that they were hurting financially, is why I’m such a vocal component of authentic PR and booking strategies.

However, we wanted to move. The wheels were spinning, but we weren’t really going anywhere.

The key here is leverage.

If you get a blog post, that blog post better be posted on the outlet’s social media, and be a genuine write-up, not just a copy and paste.

If you open up for an artist, there needs to be good marketing via the venue, and you need to ensure you’ll have a chance to connect with fans and move merch.

Sure, you can move, but you have to grow and progress as well. Simple movement isn’t enough, you need to go somewhere. Not just turn your wheels.

In this case, the CEO was paying big money to move our wheels — which later led to the label’s demise.

Cookie Cutter

We Tried Using a Cookie Cutter Approach

The label had four prominent artists: One was an R&B act, two were rappers , and lastly, the label had an indie rock group, to round things out.

While the label kept pushing to use one marketing approach for all artists, you simply cannot use a “copy/paste” view when looking at these three artists. For instance, one could think you can lump the R&B artists and two rappers into one category, however, not so much.

The R&B artist was young and still really appealed to the 13-17 year old demographic. Whereas the two rappers had lyrical content that mainly dealt with sex, drugs and partying.

But even the two rappers were incredibly different — one was more of a lyricist, who had a very “mainstream” vibe to him. While the other had more of a rough image, a focus on production and had lyrical content that was a bit more “in your face” than the other rapper.

Despite having these very different artists, the label insisted they be booked at the same showcases, which, weren’t too bad. Until you remember, oh damn, they had an indie rock band, too!

Yes, the indie rock group was scheduled to play at a hip hop showcase in Austin, Texas.

That’s the thing, the team had in-depth experience surrounding hip hop, and the indie rock group suffered from it. The  group was also incredibly talented, and actually had the most fan interaction on the label. They also (since there was 4 of them) seemed to take a lot of marketing initiative on their own.

The booking issue also came to a head when they were trying to book the rapper, who had a radio single explicit about sex, to play a high school tour. Because it worked for the R&B singer. Luckily, we convinced them to not go that route.

But the differences are more nuanced than just booking decisions. For instance, even if the two rappers were both “hip hop artists” things such as radio stations, press outlets, and even advertising keywords were going to change.

 

Contracts

The Artists Needed Development, Not Contracts.

I’m not a legal expert, and I tend to refer my clients to folks that know more about contracts than I do. However, I do know that an artist shouldn’t have to be held to ridiculously high recoup costs, when there isn’t really a platform yet.

The label seemed to have these artists under agreements that some may consider standard industry fare. However, the label was brand new!

The label/artist relationship is symbiotic. For the artist to make money, the artist has to recoup the money that the label invested. So if the label spends 15K on recording, then the artist won’t see any money until they recoup that 15K. That’s on both of the label and artist to work towards.

However, the label wasn’t at a place in which they had a system to make money, similarly, the artists weren’t at a place where they had popping fan bases who were willing to consistently buy an artist’s product. Sure, this seems a bit a Chicken-Egg situation, however, these artists didn’t need record label – bank loans, they needed to be taught how to carry themselves as artists. And instead of the label depending on the artists to really bring in revenue (miraculously), they needed to spend more time developing their booking, licensing and sales systems before signing various artists.

My team didn’t deal with the artist’s contracts, and more tried to get the label to a place in which they were profiting. However, this showed a naivety that exists in a lot of young labels. Folks think “if they build it, it’ll come” but… no, you have to build it well. You need a solid foundation and solid revenue strategy before signing on multiple artists.

As consultants, as labels, as managers, as publicists — we forget this simple fact that bares repeating:

We are assisting artists in promoting their creation. We are helping an artist bring light to their art.

There’s nothing sexy or cool about this — actually, it’s a lot of pressure. You’re ensuring that you are framing, protecting and promoting an artist’s vision. That’s heavy. Before you delve into any artist relationship, you need to ensure you are properly equipped to give them the spotlight that they deserve.

 

Concluding This.

The above four “reasons” were integral in this label failing, but at the end of the day — the major reason we failed was capital. If we were to have taken our time between each artist, we might still be trucking along on this. But we spent a lot of money turning wheels, and promoting our acts very quickly and rapidly.

Also, there was just a lot of foundational issues that still needed to be addressed and repaired. Those restorations could’ve taken quite some time.

But at the end of the day, despite the label folding, this was one of the most memorable projects I have had the privilege of working on. The “dream team” of consultants have gone on to do many successful and fun projects, and the guys at the label I still have an incredible amount of respect for. Not to mention these artists are still incredible musicians, and I’m sure they’ll find ways to succeed and prosper very soon.

 

Thanks @wtylerallen for this insight…..

As a music marketing strategist, Tyler Allen works with an extensive array of artists, labels, music tech, and music retail entities. Tyler began his music industry career with Sony Music Entertainment and RED Distribution, as well as the advertising industry. He is dedicated to giving veteran artists the tools to preserve their legacy, and new artists the tools to begin theirs (as well as everything in between). Learn more at wtylerconsulting.com.

11 Signs You Have the Grit You Need To Succeed

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There are a ton of qualities that can help you succeed, and the more carefully a quality has been studied, the more you know it’s worth your time and energy.

Angela Lee Duckworth was teaching seventh grade when she noticed that the material wasn’t too advanced for any of her students. They all had the ability to grasp the material if they put in the time and effort. Her highest performing students weren’t those who had the most natural talent; they were the students who had that extra something that motivated them to work harder than everyone else.

Angela grew fascinated by this “extra something” in her students and, since she had a fair amount of it herself, she quit her teaching job so that she could study the concept while obtaining a graduate degree in psychology at UPenn.

Her study, which is ongoing, has already yielded some interesting findings. She’s analyzed a bevy of people to whom success is important: students, military personnel, salespeople, and spelling bee contestants, to name a few. Over time, she has come to the conclusion that the majority of successful people all share one critical thing–grit.

Grit is that “extra something” that separates the most successful people from the rest. It’s the passion, perseverance, and stamina that we must channel in order to stick with our dreams until they become a reality.

Developing grit is all about habitually doing the things that no one else is willing to do. There are quite a few signs that you have grit, and if you aren’t doing the following on a regular basis, you should be.

You have to make mistakes, look like an idiot, and try again, without even flinching. In a recent study at the College of William and Mary, they interviewed over 800 entrepreneurs and found that the most successful among them tend to have two critical things in common: They’re terrible at imagining failure and they tend not to care what other people think of them. In other words, the most successful entrepreneurs put no time or energy into stressing about their failures as they see failure as a small and necessary step in the process of reaching their goals.

You have to fight when you already feel defeated. A reporter once asked Muhammad Ali how many sit-ups he does every day. He responded, “I don’t count my sit-ups, I only start counting when it starts hurting, when I feel pain, cause that’s when it really matters.” The same applies to success in the workplace. You always have two choices when things begin to get tough: you can either overcome an obstacle and grow in the process or let it beat you. Humans are creatures of habit. If you quit when things get tough, it gets that much easier to quit the next time. On the other hand, if you force yourself to push through it, the grit begins to grow in you.

You have to make the calls you’re afraid to make. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do because we know they’re for the best in the long-run: fire someone, cold call a stranger, pull an all-nighter to get the company server back up, or scrap a project and start over. It’s easy to let the looming challenge paralyze you, but the most successful people know that in these moments, the best thing they can do is to get started right away. Every moment spent dreading the task subtracts time and energy from actually getting it done. People that learn to habitually make the tough calls stand out like flamingos in a flock of seagulls.

You have to keep your emotions in check. Negative emotions will challenge your grit every step of the way. While it’s impossible not to feel your emotions, it’s completely under your power to manage them effectively and to keep yourself in a position of control. When you let your emotions overtake your ability to think clearly, it’s easy to lose your resolve. A bad mood can make you lash out or stray from your chosen direction just as easily as a good mood can make you overconfident and impulsive.

You have to trust your gut. There’s a fine line between trusting your gut and being impulsive. Trusting your gut is a matter of looking at decisions from every possible angle, and when the facts don’t present a clear alternative, you believe in your ability to choose; you go with what looks and feels right.

You have to give more than you get in return. There’s a famous Stanford experiment where an administrator leaves a child in a room with a marshmallow for 15 minutes, telling the child that she’s welcome to eat the marshmallow, but if she can wait until the experimenter gets back without eating it, she will get a second marshmallow. The children that were able to wait until the experimenter returned experienced better outcomes in life, including higher SAT scores, greater career success, and even lower body mass indexes. The point being that delay of gratification and patience are essential to success. People with grit know that real results only materialize when you put in the time and forego instant gratification.

You have to lead when no one else follows. It’s easy to set a direction and believe in yourself when you have support, but the true test of grit is how well you maintain your resolve when nobody else believes in what you’re doing. People with grit believe in themselves no matter what and they stay the course until they win people over to their way of thinking.

You have to meet deadlines that are unreasonable and deliver results that exceed expectations. Successful people find a way to say yes and still honor their existing commitments. They know the best way to stand out from everyone else is to outwork them. For this reason, they have a tendency to over-deliver, even when they over promise.

You have to focus on the details even when it makes your mind numb.Nothing tests your grit like mind-numbing details, especially when you’re tired. The more people with grit are challenged, the more they dig in and welcome that challenge, and numbers and details are no exception to this.

You have to be kind to people who have been rude to you. When people treat you poorly, it’s tempting to stoop to their level and return the favor. People with grit don’t allow others to walk all over them, but that doesn’t mean they’re rude to them, either. Instead, they treat rude and cruel people with the same kindness they extend to anyone else, because they won’t allow another person’s negativity to bring them down.

You have to be accountable for your actions, no matter what.
People are far more likely to remember how you dealt with a problem than they are how you created it in the first place. By holding yourself accountable, even when making excuses is an option, you show that you care about results more than your image or ego.

Bringing It All Together

Grit is as rare as it is important. The good news is any of us can get grittier with a little extra focus and effort.

 

Thanks to Dr. Travis Bradberry for Post!

Author of #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and president of TalentSmart, world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence.

10 Guiding Principles for Effective Brand Building

10 Principles For Effective Brand Building

In “The Unexpected Universe” naturalist Loren Eisley tells of coming upon a spider in a forest spinning the sticky spokes of the web that extend her senses out into the world. Just so, brand planners need to find ways of extending their senses far beyond what can be directly perceived by their ears and eyes. Like the spider, brand planners sit in the middle of a complex web, listening, watching, waiting.

At the heart of brand building is the search for more meaningful ways to connect with customers or end consumers. Getting good at connecting with consumers and building strong and relevant brands requires an end consumer orientation regarding how you frame problems and ask questions. The brand planner needs to become the in-house consumer advocate, always taking the consumer perspective in evaluating all aspects of brand performance.

In my years of building the Nike, Starbucks and NBC Entertainment brands I discovered ten principles that proved helpful in the brand planning process.

1. Be Analytical

Annually tear down internal strengths and weaknesses in regards to how you are approaching the marketing process. What has worked? What has failed? What needs to change? There are often tacit assumptions (hidden but operative) about the way things should be done. Have the important hidden assumptions been exposed and scrutinized? Are we more concerned with being efficient than effective? As we look outward at the marketplace where are the emerging opportunities? Where are the threats coming from? Have realistic scenarios been generated that factor in the forces that are changing our business model and marketing effectiveness?

2. Be Mindful

Where is the emotional high ground in this category? Are we anywhere near it?
Do we really understand the consumption moment when it’s “as good as it gets”?
What situations, settings, moods, and feelings really define this high ground?
Be mindful of the deep insights around dream states. These can suggest unique brand points of view for connecting with the emotional high ground.

3. Be Curious

How can we more favorably alter our value proposition?
How can we enhance the brand persona/image? How can we generate buzz?
How can we take the high ground?
What passes for breakthrough advertising today in our category? Across categories?
What past positioning approaches have broken through? Does any of this past work contain deep insights that can be reinterpreted in a new light today?

4. Be Observant

Are any competitors more favorably positioned with groups that matter to us?
Who are we appealing to? How are these consumer groups defining our brand?
Do channel partners present our brand in it’s best light?
Is our storytelling in touch with the zeitgeist (spirit of the times)?
How do our views differ from the views of the people we’re trying to reach?

5. Be Human

All brand impressions work to build image. Do we project a human face? Are we seen as a good citizen? A company that cares? Does the brand seem to have a conscience? Are there warm human attributes and connection points in our story? Part of becoming more human as a brand involves understanding how to strengthen the connection in our customer relationship. In our messaging are we selling functional benefits, emotional benefits, values or personality? Which of these positioning choices are most salient, resonant and relevant – from an end consumer perspective?

6. Be Imaginative

Crafting a brand vision requires going beyond the logical into the imaginative. Creative teams tasked with envisioning the future need the freedom to take imaginative leaps. The essence of this kind of creativity is in seeing new connections between things where no apparent relationship existed before.

To expand the brand concept – expand the ways of looking and thinking about new brand opportunities. In early stages idea generation workshops can be productive. Special rules apply for getting the most out of ideation workshops. Rules like: get offsite, have some fun, think like a kid, relax old rules, keep the group small, invite a range of creative thinkers, use creative exercises and pre-planned stimulus to generate lots of ideas, no killing of ideas during ideation. Screen the ideas later for those with most potential, build and bulge on these ideas. Put them through a rigorous new business development filter.

There is an art to getting the ground fertile for really great concept generation workshops. Learn the art, create great group dynamics….push the edges of thinking. If there is a dearth of really great ideas bring in ideation experts. Explore how to add more meaning to your brand. What kinds of new stories, images and myths would add a great chapter to your brand history? What kinds of new products and services would connect with the brand essence? Can your brand presentation be elevated to the next level? Explore ways to layer on qualities that will add to your products perceived value. Imagine how to better connect with important consumer subcultures or activities.

7. Look For Integration Possibilities

Can communications be improved in regards to tying together brand equities, celebrity equities, and brand positioning themes? What creative ways are there to extend branding activity working with co-brands or creative partners?

8. Be The Storyteller

At the highest level brand planners are concerned with storytelling excellence. Is our approach to storytelling breaking through? How can we make our stories arresting, relevant and resonant so that they build better brand affinity?

9. Be Realistic

No brand or product is at the center of how consumers live their lives. Yet this assumption is often made in consumer research projects where a narrow set of options are presented for exploration and validation. Realistic context for understanding the consumer’s involvement and interest in the category is a prerequisite for effective brand planning.

10. Be Patient

Movement in brand image in very mature categories can be glacial in nature – taking years to accurately measure shifts in feelings towards the brand. A continuous stream of breakthrough advertising can accelerate the shift in feelings, if it’s creating cultural buzz then affinity and image measures can move in months or quarters.

If the original insight that connects the brand with the consumer is unique, favorable and strong and that insight is driving your communications then fast improvements in brand strength can be expected. A brand strength monitor with sensitive brand image descriptors is the best way to track a brands positioning efforts over time.

via Branding Strategy Insider

 

The Top 10 Most Remarkable Marketing Campaigns EVER!

10) The Whopper Sacrifice 

Brand: Burger King / Creative Partner: Crispin Porter & Bogusky

whopper sacrifice

The OMFG! Factor:

Sacrifice ten Facebook friends. Get a free Whopper.

Sounds simple enough, right? But what made this campaign particularly remarkable is that it challenged the very nature of the platform on which it played out, and tapped into the essence of how social networks have changed our ideas of what “friendship” means. Whopper Sacrifice (a Facebook app) launched in early 2009 with little fanfare and almost no media support — and lasted only 10 days before Facebook shut it down on the basis of “user privacy violation” (the app notified friends when they were deleted). Sure, they gave away 20,000 free Whoppers. But the infamy and buzz they gained? Priceless.

Steal This:

  • Use a really, really, really simple call-to-action.
  • Don’t be afraid to push the envelope.

9) True Blood: Revelation

Brand: HBO / Creative Partners: Campfire  And Company

true blood

The OMFG! Factor:

What made the marketing campaign for HBO’s first season of True Blood so remarkable was the way it was woven into the mythology of the show itself. Vials of a mysterious red liquid with messages in a “dead language” were mailed to goth and horror bloggers, leading them to a “vampire-only” website called BloodCopy.com. Videos featuring “real vampires” debating whether or not they should reveal themselves to an unsuspecting human populace were “leaked.” An outdoor poster campaign promoting a new beverage called TruBlood (available for sale at http://www.trubeverage.com) and featuring PSAs supporting equal rights for vampires appeared in major metro areas — none of which ever mentioned the TV show.

By creating a complex backstory about a synthetic beverage that enabled vampires to “live among humans,” HBO and its creative partner, Campfire, were able to tap into an existing community of horror aficionados and organically build an audience that made True Blood one of HBO’s most anticipated and successful show debuts.

Steal This:

  • Find the “niche” audience that is super passionate about your product or mission, and explore ways to intrigue, inspire, and deeply entertain them.
  • Invest in really good storytelling.

8) The REFRESH Project

Brand: Pepsi / Creative Partner: TBWA Worldwide

pepsi refresh resized 600

The OMFG! Factor:

After 23 years and hundreds of millions of dollars spent on Super Bowl ads, one of the world’s biggest brands broke new ground in 2010 by opting out of the Super Bowl and pouring 1/3 of
its annual marketing budget into a cause-driven social marketing campaign called “The Refresh Project.”

The Refresh Project featured a pledge from Pepsi to hand out more than $20 million in grants to do-good projects in six categories and in what has since been coined “crowd-sourced philanthropy” (the audience voted on who got the grants). Sadly, the campaign was pulled after 10 months due to fraud allegations and slipping market share — yet the influence of The Refresh Project as a remarkable example of behemoth brands committing more dollars (and brain cells) to digital and social media continues to be felt.

Steal This:

  • Been doing the same thing for 23 years? Surprise the hell out of everyone by not doing it. At least once.
  • Even high-profile, high-budget “do good” programs don’t do much good if they’re not authentic and brand-relevant. Learn from Pepsi’s mistakes.

7) Elf Yourself

Brand: Office Max / Creative Partners: Jason Zada  EVB  Toy  Maccabee Group

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The OMFG! Factor:

Who knew uploading images of yourself, friends, or loved ones — then watching them dance as Christmas elves — would be so remarkable? It was a simple idea, but at the time of its launch in 2006, a groundbreaking one. Let people star in their own interactive ecard? Virtually unheard of … but totally awesome. Six years and over half a billion shares later, Elf Yourself can boast not only of being a viral phenomenon, but also an enduring success — one that has literally become a holiday tradition.

Steal This:

  • Give your audience opportunities to “star” in your marketing.
  • Create an annual tradition (that gets better every year!).
  • Make it wicked easy to participate, and just as easy to “share.”

6) The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

Brand: Old Spice / Creative Partner: Weiden + Kennedy

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The OMFG! Factor:

The Old Spice Man debuted in a 2010 Super Bowl ad, bringing humor, sex appeal, and intrigue to a brand that was all but forgotten. Five months later, he made marketing history by appearing in a series of 180 near real-time videos that not only got the attention of celebrities like Demi Moore and Ellen DeGeneres, but also helped Procter & Gamble amass over 40 million views on YouTube and enjoy a 107% increase in body wash sales within 30 days of the campaign launch.

Steal This:

  • Got a spokesperson for your brand? Make sure he/she appeals to and entertains both genders, and provide opportunities for your audience to engage with him/her both on and offline.
  • Short, frequent, episodic, and highly shareworthy content will be shared more than the usual marketing fodder.

5) The Best Job in the World

Brand: Queensland Board of Tourism / Creative Partner: Nitro

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The OMFG! Factor:

Wait … you want to pay me $150,000 to spend 6 months cleaning the pool, feeding the fish, collecting the mail, and exploring a gorgeous, little-known island off the Great Barrier Reef? And all I have to do is submit a one-minute video about why I should get the job? Yes, yes, that’s exactly what the Queensland Board of Tourism did in 2009 in a remarkable campaign that relied on a most unlikely media channel — the “Jobs” section of newspapers.

Fueled by an extraordinary streak of PR and clever use of social media, the Board received over 7 million visitors, 34,000 applicants from 200 countries, and 500,000 votes for this once-in-a-lifetime job. And the lucky winner? Well, he continues his reign of Remarkableness as the Ambassador of Queensland Tourism. Lucky bastard.

Steal This:

  • Experiment with non-traditional marketing channels.
  • Remember that no brand is too small to make a giant, remarkable splash.

4) In Rainbows

Radiohead

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The OMFG! Factor:

The music industry used to have a really simple formula: talent + record label + plastic discs = dollars. But digital and social technology completely disrupted that formula — and a few risk-taking, innovative folks like Thom Yorke of Radiohead, disrupted right back. In Rainbows, which was the band’s seventh album, was released directly to fans with an offer that was altogether unheard of: Pay what you want.

To date, the band reports that their OMFG! strategy paid off — with 3 million downloads in the first year and a cool $10 million in revenue — by far, the band’s biggest commercial success EVER. It’s no wonder The New York Times hailed this establishment-bucking quintet from Oxfordshire as a band “fast becoming as
synonymous with technological mischief as they are with music.” BOO-YA!

Steal This:

3) Let’s Motor

Brand: Mini Cooper / Creative Partners: Crispin Porter + Bogusky

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The OMFG! Factor:

In Europe, the Mini Cooper had long been an icon. But in the gas-guzzling, SUV-loving USA, the teeny weeny Mini had only 2% brand awareness and even less market share. So what’s a clever marketer to do? Why, accentuate that difference, of course!

Rather than pursue the same-old, same-old TV/print/radio ad formula that most car brands were following at the time, Mini and its ever-innovating agency partner decided to eschew traditional media in favor of playing up the fun-factor of the car itself — in shopping malls, on street corners, glued to billboards … and other unlikely places where only a tiny vehicle with awesome gas mileage and a kind price tag could shine. Ten years later, Mini had not only far surpassed its goals of market share and sales in an indisputably disastrous automobile market — it also saw the U.S. surpass the UK as the brand’s biggest-selling single market in the world.

Steal This:

  • Focus on the one thing that makes you undeniably different from all your competitors. Double down on that one thing.
  • Screw the cow path. Blaze your own trail.

2) The BLAIR WITCH PROJECT

Brand: Artisan Entertainment

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The OMFG! Factor:

Arguably the very first online “viral” marketing campaign predating YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, and even Friendster, The Blair Witch Project remains an often-imitated, never-duplicated runaway success. Shot on a shoestring budget of just $22,000, the film raked in over $250 million, thanks in part to its novel approach of terrifying audiences into believing that the fictitious story of three missing film students was 100% real. The key? A deft combination of “found footage,” strategically seeded rumors on online message boards, and a series of low-budget ads and trailers that perpetuated the legend.

Steal This:

  • TELL GREAT STORIES! (Sound familiar?)
  • It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to be remarkable.

1) 2008 Presidential Campaign

Barack Obama

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The OMFG! Factor:

In early 2007, Barack Obama was a one-term senator with a funny-sounding name and less than 10% brand recognition. Eighteen months later, Obama went on to raise more money than any other presidential candidate in U.S. history, ultimately landing him the title of 44th President of the United States of America.

How did he achieve this? In part, because of a brilliantly executed marketing campaign that leveraged social technology and grassroots support in ways his competitors hadn’t even considered. He dominated not only YouTube with over 20 million views, but also claimed the most popular fan page on Facebook (with 2.5 million fans vs. McCain’s 625,000 at the time), broke down barriers with his social media-friendly campaign website that bestowed genuine, in-action photos, videos, and issue-oriented calls-to-action upon its visitors daily — and ultimately, rode that online popularity all the way to the White House, becoming not only the first U.S. President to have a presence on social media, but also the first one to fully grasp and connect with his constituents across ALL of the channels that matter to them now.

Steal This:

  • If the freakin’ president of the USA can master this social media stuff, so can you.

Let’s Add YOU to this list…….WishCreativeMedia@gmail.com

Thanks Hubspot for the Post!

SoundExchange Hits $3 Billion Payout Milestone

Let’s Show SoundExchange Some L-O-V-E

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The popularity of digital radio services in the United States has turned into big money for the record industry. SoundExchange announced Wednesday it has distributed over $3 billion in digital performance royalties to record labels and performing artists since 2003.

“Three billion dollars in distributions marks a phenomenal milestone not just for SoundExchange, but for the entire music industry,” said SoundExchange President and CEO Michael Huppe, in a statement.

Nearly half of these royalties have been paid in just the last two years. SoundExchange paid out $773 million — over 25 percent of the total — in 2014 and $590 million — about 20 percent of total distributions — in 2013.

In 2004, the first year SoundExchange paid royalties, labels and performing artists received just $6 million. Driven by growth in Internet and satellite radio, annual distributions reached $100 million in 2008.

Future distributions could be affected by a change in royalty rates. The Copyright Royalty Board, a three-judge panel that sets the statutory rates for the non-interactive Internet radio services that pay SoundExchange, will announce rates for 2016 to 2020 before the end of the year. SoundExchange has proposed a considerable rate hike. Pandora has proposed a decrease.

Not all distributions will be affected by the decision. Current rates for satellite and cable radio extend through 2017. And Pandora has privately negotiated rates with independent rights organization Merlin.

But a rate change would impact a large — and growing — share of U.S. record industry revenues. SoundExchange distributions accounted for 15.8 percent of U.S. recorded music revenues last year, up from 5.6 percent in 2010.

Story 1st Spotted at Billboard.biz August 5, 2015

Heaven & Tianne King Kick Off Summer Dance Tour!

It’s A Mommy-Daughter Thing Summer Tour Kicks Off in Hampton VA

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Meet Viral Duo Dancing Sensations 
Heaven & Tianne King

Enjoy this fun Master Class, as well as, a Meet n’ Greet (poster signing and photos) in Hampton Va’s Performing and Creative Arts Center (300 Butler Farm Rd., Hampton VA 23661)…as Heaven and Tianne King kick off their U.S. Summer Dance Tour!

Bring your children, family and friends as the pair teach you some of today’s hottest dances, as well as, learn the choreography from their latest Ellen Show appearance and newest videos.

Check Them Out On the Ellen Show!

The workshop is open to all ages – girls and boys and parents are strongly encouraged to participate.

See how it’s done:

Registration is now open for the Hampton VA Kickoff Workshop.

More Cities are being added for the Fall Tour!

Contact us here at Wish Creative to bring Heaven & Tianne to Your City!

NEXT STOP BATON ROUGE LA – May 31, 2015

Contact: DanceWithHeaven@gmail.com for more info

Heaven King may only be 4, but she’s already got her own dance troupe. And along with her mother, Tianne, together they have already garnered over 15 million views collectively on their videos!

In Heaven’s Debut video, she performs choreography by her mother with four other little girls to “Watch Me” by Silento. The cutie cruises in a pink toy car in between performing dance moves like “the Whip” and “the Nae Nae.”

Watch Video Below:

Media Inquiries for Heaven & Tianne King: Kimberly Wilson at WishCreativeMedia@gmail.com or 404.484.5538.