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Visual Content is Queen: 5 Creative Ways to Combine Visuals with Music Marketing

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Music Marketing contains lots of different ways to promote an artist’s music – radio and DSP guest playlist help to bring awareness of new music to people, recorded and written interviews let them know about an artist more and consequently check the music out, as well as performances at TV shows like “Late Night Show with Steven Colbert”, “SNL” etc. However, the more society moves towards the use of different technologies, such as the Internet which includes social media, the more it needs visual content. To promote music and make people perceive it deeper, the artist management team should try to use as many people’s senses as possible – and for now, the most affordable way is to deliver it through audio and visuals.

Nowadays, artists and their teams have tons of tools that they can use to visualize their ideas, especially after the pandemic. Throughout the years, artists proved that there are a few creative ways to combine visuals with Music Marketing, get creative and deliver amazing marketing campaigns which lead to its success. Here are a few of them: 

Lots of Music Videos

The music industry is a creative field, which is responsible for providing people “products” for their ears. To bring more attention and represent the artist’s imagination, they release music videos to visualize what an artist portrays in his lyrics and build a stronger connection with a viewer. This tool can be one of the main music marketing campaigns for an artist’s album. Usually, artists release three or four music videos, depending on how many singles an album has. However, some artists started experimenting with it a long ago and investing more money in visualizing their music and creating “visual” albums, which can be named as one of the most creative and yet obvious moves for promoting an album.

For instance, in 2016, Beyoncé released her sixth album “Lemonade” premiering it on HBO as a short one-hour movie. After the release, she started slowly uploading parts of the movie as music videos for each song. The success of the album was undeniable – it had the most creative marketing approach from all of the albums Beyoncé released, debuting at No. 1 on Billboard 200 albums chart, including all 12 tracks from the album on the Billboard Hot 100 (which broke the record for a female act), receiving 772,049,020 streams on Spotify (on July 6, 2021) and Recording Academy Award for Best Progressive R&B Album. However, it was not the first time when the singer delivered a visual album – her fifth album “Beyoncé” (2013) had music videos for every song on the album, while previous work “4” accompanied by eight music videos. Beyoncé is a perfect example of an artist who proves how memorable and successful visuals can be – it is always better to deliver more visuals than less, especially in the world where everything is consumed via social media and YouTube (visual content).

In 2021, the artist who supported the idea of visualizing music albums as much as possible was Dua Lipa, releasing eight music videos for “Future Nostalgia”, which is above the norm. The latest music video for the album was released almost a year ago since the release of the deluxe version of the album. “Future Nostalgia”, without any doubt, became the most successful album for Dua’s career so far, not only because of great songs, but marketing as well – on July 5, 2021, it has 3,728,311,719 streams on Spotify, the Recording Academy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album, spent four weeks at No.1 on Official Charts and 66 weeks in general.

Even though the albums mentioned above are the examples of famous artists with big budgets, it only proves that the more an artist invests in visuals, the more chances it has to get more discussions, publicity, interests from the audience and success. Visuals let artists show their imagination and marketers to deliver an album in a creative, high-quality way.

Interactive experience 

Many people discussed it before – the pandemic brought lots of new technologies and tools in the music industry. One of them is interactive experience, which brought the experience to another level. There is no better way to create a bond between a fan and an artist, whether than ro come up with an individual experience for fans. 

 Indeed, it is interesting to see a visual presentation of an artist’s music, but more involving and exciting is to be a part of it.

 One of the first artists who used it was The Weeknd, promoting his last album (which came out in the beginning of the pandemic) “After Hours”. The singer performed his album through the virtual show “The Weeknd Experience” on TikTok, where viewers had an opportunity to vote in the comment’s section and choose how the visual theme would change during the show. The experience was available for all TikTok users and brought 2 million viewers.

Later, he did it again but this time on Spotify and specifically for fans – in “Alone With Me: An Experience With The Weeknd”, singer’s character analyzes a fan’s Spotify account and counts how often his music was played by this fan, talking and thanking for listening.

 This feature, in comparison with visual albums, is new and almost not used by anyone. It is a cutting-edge, innovative and creative tool for presentation of an artist’s album which cannot be compared to anything else.

 Virtual Shows

 Another tool which was brought to artists’ attention during the pandemic – virtual live streamed shows.  It is still unclear how often the feature will be used when everything will get back to normal and live events will function as it was before COVID-19, but there is one thing for sure – the opportunity to perform for fans from different parts of the world at the same time will not be forgotten. It brings attention, publicity, and new viewers to an artist, which is a creative way to promote an album. Even if an artist has a free virtual show, the impact will be seen in numbers of streams, music videos’ views, and growth of a fan base.

 During the lockdown, such artists as Billie Eilish, Lady Gaga, Tame Impala, Justin Bieber, The Kid LAROI, Dua Lipa and others, tried the tool to bring joy to people at home and to promote their albums. However, the brightest virtual show was “Studio 2054” by Dua Lipa. It has brought 5 million viewers all over the world. From the latest, Olivia Rodrigo premiered her livestream concert film “Sour Prom” on YouTube on July 1, receiving 9,321,229 views.

 It seems like artists loved the idea of live-streamed shows not because it can be an additional revenue channel, but because they can get creative as much as possible – a livestream show can be a simple performance or a complicated and planned in advance movie with the whole storyline and constant change of location, usage of VR and interactive experience as well.

Spontaneous visual announcements on social media

 This marketing move was done before but still wows people. Traditionally, music artists announce the release dates of a lead-single, singles and the whole album in advance to create more talks about it, prepare fans to support the music, etc. It also can help to see how excited people are, which can help to come up with a prediction of how many sales will be made in the first week of a release. However, nothing is better than to surprise fans, posting an announcement on social media saying that a single / album is out now and available everywhere. This strategy will create “the shock” effect, making people run to streaming services to listen to the music and press urgently writing news about the release.

 Beyoncé is perfect proof that spontaneous announcements can break the world. On December 12, 2013, Beyoncé released her self-titled album without any prior notice which debuted as No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and received the Recording Academy Award for Best R&B Performance, Best R&B Song and Best Surround Sound Album. After surprising fans with the unexpected album, Beyoncé made it her tradition releasing “Lemonade” and “Everything Is Love” in the same way.

 This year, J. Cole announced the release of his album in advance, however, couldn’t keep himself from dropping a lead-single which he didn’t expect to make. On his Instagram he wrote, “Told myself I would drop the album all at once… New song tonight. 12 o’clock.”. Even though the rapper didn’t exactly catch his fans off guard, it still came out of sudden and shocked the fans.

Spontaneity is not new, but it will always be creative and have a sensational phenomenon – it will make people talk about it, emotionally connect to a release, while planned and announced ahead releases will stay typical and easily slip from people’s minds.

Installations / Special Events

Finally, one of the most creative things an artist management team can come up with is a physical art-installation, experience, or event for an album’s promotion. Something that fans or accidentally going by / driving through people can see themselves, taking pictures and recording videos, sharing it on their social media.

For example, The Weeknd used street marketing to promote his “Starboy” album – the installation of a car wrecked by lightning (the album’s main symbol) on Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame made people stop, take pictures/videos, post, and tag #Starboy #TheWeeknd. The album came out on the same day with the installation and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, all songs from the album charted on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time, selling 350,000 copies in the first week and later receiving the Recording Academy Award for Best Progressive R&B Album.

In 2021, an interesting promotional event “Sour Car Wash” was created by Spotify and Olivia Rodrigo to celebrate her “Sour” album release. Fans, who listened to the singer on Spotify the most, got invitations to attend the decorated in album’s colors space in Los Feliz, CA, with an opportunity to wash their cars! And Olivia Rodrigo showed up to surprise her fans as well. It was a one-time event with a very limited number of invitations, however, driving by cars and people could see the signs and billboards of the album and event – the creativity involved in this idea goes across the board and is an amazing example of unique promotion.

As it was mentioned above, visual content not only creatively brings music to people but also boosts awareness of it around the audience. Moreover, it was proven that visual content is perceived better than texts and auditors like recorded interviews, etc.

To sum up, in the 21st century, the best way to get into people’s heads and make them take action (listen, research, read, remember), is necessary to deliver visual content. As social media is not going anywhere soon and can help artists to be heard, seen, and supported by fans and potential listeners.

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References

Aniftos, R. (2020, November 30). Dua Lipa’s ‘Studio 2054’ Concert Watched by 5 Million Fans. In Billboard. Retrieved from https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop/9491446/dua-lipa-studio-2054-breaks-global-livestream-record/

Caulfield, K. (2013, December 17). It’s Official: Beyonce Makes History With Fifth No. 1 Album. In Billboard. Retrieved from https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/5840086/its-official-beyonce-makes-history-with-fifth-no-1-album

Edwards, E. (2021, June). Where is Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour car wash? Spotify throws invite-only event. In The Focus. Retrieved from https://www.thefocus.news/music/sour-car-wash-olivia-rodrigo/

Experiential Success: The Weeknd “Starboy” Installation. (n.d.). In Wilkins Experiental Marketing. Retrieved from https://wilkinsexp.com/the-weeknd-street-marketing/

Hampp, A. (2013, December 13). Beyonce Unexpectedly Releases New Self-Titled ‘Visual Album’ on iTunes. In Billboard. Retrieved from https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/the-juice/5827398/beyonce-unexpectedly-releases-new-self-titled-visual-album-on

Here Are All the Livestreams & Virtual Concerts to Watch During Coronavirus Crisis (Updating). (2021, January 26). In Billboard. Retrieved from https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop/9335531/coronavirus-quarantine-music-events-online-streams

Mendizabal, A. (2016, May 2). All 12 of Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’ Tracks Debut on Hot 100. In Billboard. Retrieved from https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/chart-beat/7350443/beyonce-lemonade-tracks-debut-hot-100

Platon, A. (2016, April 23). Beyonce Serves Up Emotional, Personal Visual Album with ‘Lemonade’ HBO Special. In Billboard. Retrieved from https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/7341783/beyonce-hbo-lemonade-special-personal-revealing

The Weeknd Experience, an innovative TikTok LIVE stream, draws over 2 million unique viewers. (2020, August 12). In TikTok. Retrieved from https://newsroom.tiktok.com/en-us/the-weeknd-experience-an-innovative-tiktok-live-stream-draws-over-2-million-unique-viewers

Trust, G. (2016, December 5). The Weeknd Charts Entire ‘Starboy’ Album on Hot 100. In Billboard. Retrieved from https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/chart-beat/7597511/hot-100-the-weeknd-starboy-entire-album-charts

Wilkinson, B. (2021, June 8). Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia Music Videos: The Definitive Ranking. In The Indiependent. Retrieved from https://www.indiependent.co.uk/dua-lipas-future-nostalgia-music-videos-the-definitive-ranking/

By way of Moscow, Russia, now based in Orlando, Florida - Polina Bogomolova (Paulina Moon) is an Artist Manager and Event Management Assistant at L’Affaire Musicale. With a Master of Science in Entertainment Business and Bachelor of Science in Project Management, her imprint includes management and strategy on artist teams for avant-garde audiovisual project võx (pronounced: wokes/@itsmevox on Instagram) and Brooklyn-based indie dance/disco duo Supertaste (@supertastemusic). She has also worked for former Detroit label Music Noises - now Mi5 Recordings (Universal Music Group).

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