Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

Resident Viral Music!

This one you’ve got to listen to. I had to get this off my mind since I think it’s such a cool idea. Have you listened to music by “The Residents” — “an avant garde music and visual arts group formed in the early 1970s“? They are also “known for their secrecy, singular art, and embrace of new technology” — no wonder that shows in their latest project. (All quotes from Wikipedia)

So here’s the scoop on their latest web CD project (via CNN) that retails at $14.99. It contains (brace yourself) 2 BLANK CDs. Now, here’s what’s cool. The CDs contain a unique code which enables you to access their 5-episode web music series through their website. If you don’t like all episodes, you can download individual episodes for $1.99 each! Not only that, customers “will also receive digital extras like ringtones and mobile wallpaper as well as materials that can be burned onto the blank CD-Rs”.

Here are 3 reasons why I think it’s great viral marketing:

1. Customizable

If youth marketers haven’t gotten the memo from MySpace, Youtube & Scion, I don’t know when they will. The primary reason for MySpace’s success lies in its ability to create a virtual environment where users can showcase their identity with no hassles and no questions. Yes! The website is ugly but who cares. The same holds true for Scion, from the Toyota stable. The car is a HUGE success with youngsters because it affords them the flexibility to “pimp their ride”, as “The Bard” is wont to say. The customer or user wants options and the smart marketer will pander to this basic need. Ask and THEN thou shalt receive a million options!

2. Unique:

Users like to associate themselves with unique products or campaigns. Case in Point: How many of you have had a chance to see a recent ad for Sony Bravia? Well, just Google “Sony Bravia” + “Jose Gonzalez”. That was the hook for a recent viral email marketing campaign. Not only is the method of eliciting interest – “UNIQUE” it actually lends a certain coolness to all parties associated with the ad – both Sony and the artist.

Is this a sign of changing times for music marketing?

3. PULL vs. Push:

Viral campaigns are evangelistic. I haven’t stopped raving about the Sony Bravia ad to all I’ve met and now I’m talking about it on my blog! An important caveat however is that you’ve gotta be REALLY good or REALLY bad or REALLY funny to be a VIRAL success. There is no middle ground here. Choose one or the other as a marketer and position your product so that interested targeted audiences can PULL them into their lives. As a marketer, you can help facilitate that!

As for the Residents expirement, the jury is still out, but my bet is on them successfuly wooing their target audience. Only, Time will tell.

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6 Responses

  1. Mack Collier says:

    “So here’s the scoop on their latest web CD project (via CNN) that retails at $14.99. It contains (brace yourself) 2 BLANK CDs. Now, here’s what’s cool. The CDs contain a unique code which enables you to access their 5-episode web music series through their website. If you don’t like all episodes, you can download individual episodes for $1.99 each! Not only that, customers “will also receive digital extras like ringtones and mobile wallpaper as well as materials that can be burned onto the blank CD-Rs”.”

    I’m not sure if I’m following this…..so for $14.99, you are getting access to ‘5 episodes of their web music series’? What is that? And also some ringtones and wallpaper?

    Now if you were getting all that, AND the CDs came with 10 or so songs already on it, I would say that’s a good deal. But if this is a deal were you are getting 2 blank CDs, and you have to go to their site and download the goodies, I’m not sure how well that will be received. Most people are lazy, and my guess is most will say ‘So they want me to pay $14.99 for a couple of blank CDs?!? What the hell!’. Again, if they were paying $14.99 for one regular CD, and one blank CD-R that could download all the goodies, that might work.

    Or maybe I am missing something here….

    Like

  2. Mario Sundar says:

    Hi Mack,

    You’re right — Resident Fans can get 5 “web music episodes” for either:
    a) $14.99 – 5 music episodes + Extras OR
    b) $9.95 ($1.99 * 5) – just for 5 the music episodes

    Music episodes are supposedly similar to radio dramas of the 1940’s, which “depend on dialogue, music and sound effects to help the listener imagine the story in her or his “mind’s eye”.” The closest approximation would be Pink Floyd concerts albeit “in your mind”.

    I’ve to agree with you, it is pricey even by iTunes standards ($.99 / song), but keeping in mind the core target audience of the band (read wacky) and the fact that Warner Music is positioning this as a collectible, I feel it may be an experiment that could work.

    On the other hand, as you rightly point out, the very fact that it takes a while to understand the project may work against it.

    I guess we’ll find out soon if their fans buy the concept…

    -Mario

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  3. Mack Collier says:

    “I’ve to agree with you, it is pricey even by iTunes standards ($.99 / song), but keeping in mind the core target audience of the band (read wacky) and the fact that Warner Music is positioning this as a collectible, I feel it may be an experiment that could work.”

    Hmmmm…..I’ll agree, if these are popular with their core fans, and this is something their core audience enjoys, then yeah it could work. Will be interesting to see what happens.

    Like

  4. John Glover says:

    Yes. The two recordable CDR’s come with a key that allows the person who buys it to download the five 15 minute episodes and use the blanks to burn their own CD’s. The set and discs are completely packaged as though they contain music, but they are blank recordable discs. You will be required to burn them yourself. Weird, huh!

    The downloads include other stuff too, including additional songs and remixes, and a 15 minute instrumental version of music from the shows to add to your CD’s that won’t be available any other way (of course). All in all, two full CD’s of Residents.

    For those people who don’t want to go through the downloading hassle then a regular CD will be released to the stores which will not include the bonus material.

    Fun for everyone!

    Like

  5. Mario Sundar says:

    Hi John,

    Thanks for dropping by.

    I’m a great fan of viral campaigns, and am glad to see it permeate the music and movie industries.

    Mario

    Like

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