Tag Archives: music promotion

ThingLink music marketing 101 by ‘stache media

Interview with Ava Ryerson, ‘stache media

stache media has been using ThingLink for artists like Slightly Stoopid, Kate Earl, Ryan Leslie, RNDM, Santana, Steve Vai, Paloma Faith, and many others.  CMO Neil Vineberg recently sat down with Ava Ryerson to discuss fan engagement and ThingLink.

Q:  How are you using ThingLink?

We are using ThingLink as a tool for our media partners and artists.  ThingLink images give media partners added value, interesting content and something cool for their site.  It’s also great for fans to engage with artists’ content in different ways.

Fans don’t have to leave an image to engage with content because all the magic happens within the image.  Fans also don’t have to enter their email address to discover, click on and play content.  It’s very low commitment with high engagement.

Q: What kind of content are you putting into photos?

We put music tracks, videos, social links, and anything we think will be fun for the fan really. If there’s a special or exclusive sound byte from the artist that you can only find within the ThingLinked image, that’s something that we also try to use as well.

Q: What do you find to be the most effective and popular content for engaging fans? I think people want to hear or view content, so audio and video players are most effective. If there’s a personal message from the artist, that is super valuable to the fan. ‘stache media is part of RED Distribution so we partner with retailers all the time. Depending on the campaign and the artist, we’ll tag the image with Target or an independent retailer for pre-orders.  A lot of the time we are tagging images with retailers like iTunes, Amazon, Best Buy, and FYE.  For the band RNDM, we tagged Newbury Comics who had a special pre-order package for the album.  

Q: What kind of engagement are you seeing, and how does ThingLink engagement differ from other media platforms? We work with a wide variety of genres so it depends on the artist. Our highest engagement came from a Jason Aldean Billboard magazine cover that actually lived on the Billboard website, country blogs and radio station sites. We’ve been sharing image performance with artists and it makes them want to get more involved as well. ThingLink is an interesting tool for the artists because images can also live on their Facebook page or band site and its just another way for them to reach their fans, so they dig it.  

Q: Does it always start with a great image?

Yes, the image has to be compelling. It’s a way for us to get the album cover out or an interesting press photo of the artist.

Q: What about the new ThingLink?

It’s important for us to have all of our artist images available within one area where people can find our artists and media tools. I think the new social integration is great , we see new fans engaging and discovering images. I love the fact that I get notifications when I have new followers and when people are commenting on images.

We’re working with Kate Earl on Downtown Records; her album cover is very compelling and beautiful and the video for One Woman Army plays within the image. It’s awesome to see fans discovering her album and video through ThingLink.  The layout is interesting as well…very similar to a Pinterest or Tumblr. There are tiles of the images and its easy to digest for viewers.  Also stoked on ThingLink going Mobile!

Check out the ‘stache media channel on ThingLink.

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Album Covers Go Interactive With ThingLink

by Cortney Harding

Twenty years ago, I went to a record store in a mall in Clackamas, Oregon and bought a copy of Nirvana’s “Nevermind.” I tore the cellophane off the cassette and eagerly pulled out the packaging, looking at the photos of the three strange looking men with odd-colored hair and clothes fresh from the Goodwill. I wanted to know everything about them — based on that one image, I took trips to the library to read Rolling Stone, watched for their videos on MTV, and listened to that cassette until it wore out.

I wrote that extremely dated paragraph to prove a point — fans want to interact with artists based on images. And those most iconic artist images, their album covers, are key points of entry for many listeners. Luckily iTunes and Spotify haven’t destroyed album cover art — they simply made it another image to be shared and utilized.

ThingLink makes it easy for artists to transform an album image into a shareable container for music, videos and social connection. Now I don’t have to go to the library and page through back issues for more information on an artist. Inside an album image I can click on a link and read a blog post in a nanosecond. Ditto for waiting for a video to show up on the TV — just hit the YouTube link. And while listening to a new track once required waiting for radio to spin it, now it’s a matter of hitting a Soundcloud music player. And…well, you get the picture.

People, especially kids, still get excited about album releases. And what better way to connect news about the album with an interactive cover that contains music, video and more. In a way, it’s almost like going back to days of unfolding vinyl albums or CD booklets — people want to interact with the album art, but now they have an even deeper way to do it.

Take the cover of the recently announced Bruno Mars single, “It Will Rain,” which is also the lead track from the forthcoming Twilight soundtrack. The album cover shows Mars slouched beneath an umbrella and featured links to the Twilight trailer as well as his social media properties. It created the right mix of branding (rain, the umbrella) with an air of mystery — there was really no way to tell what the song was about, merely a call to keep following and figuring it out.

And what Mars’s team did is just the beginning. As I talked about in my previous post, a label could make a game out of spreading pieces of the cover and clips of a track around the web and asking fans to help put it together. Album announcements could feature a recorded clip from an artist with a special message that is changed daily, or pulled after 100 listens. Different pieces of the album art could feature different song clips.

 

The days of buying cassettes at the mall are long over (and thankfully, the associated hairstyles are lost to the ages, too) but the desire to interact with album artwork is as alive as ever.

Cortney Harding is a music evangelist for start-ups, including ThingLink and official.fm. She was previously the music editor and indies correspondent at Billboard magazine, and knows way too much about the music industry for any sane person. Follow her on Twitter or on Tumblr.

 

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Guest Post: Cortney on ThingLink

Going in to my first pitch as a consultant to ThingLink, I have to admit I was a little bit skeptical. Sure, it took about three minutes for me to be completely sold on the product — sitting in a freezing room at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York, I saw a demo and immediately wanted to be part of the team. But would my contacts in the music industry feel the same way? I had set up a nice handful of meetings to showcase the product, sure, but were these folks just doing me a favor because they knew me from my days as an editor at Billboard? What had I gotten myself into, anyway?

About ten minutes in to the meeting, I saw the label president’s eyes light up as she slowly said “this. is. so. cool.” And then I knew I had made the right choice.

We get that reaction a lot, and I joke that ThingLink is the dream client — the product is easy to use, free, and offers infinite possibilities. And people in the music industry are starting to see it that way, too, for the most part. I’m constantly excited by the level of creativity and thoughtfulness in the ThingLinked images labels and managers send me.

In some way, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. People in music are creative types, and if any artist ever tells you they aren’t concerned with and invested in their image, they are lying. Even those who cultivate an unwashed, slacker air, do so with the utmost care. Some, like Lady Gaga and Kanye West, are open about creating and manipulating their visuals, while others pretend not to mind (but you know they paid $200 for that perfect bedhead haircut, and those shredded Rogan jeans don’t come for free, either).

But once an artist had created the perfect visual and hired a great photographer to commit it to film, there was nothing else they could do with it. Until ThingLink. Now, an artist, label, manager, or publicist can take that perfectly crafted, often not-cheap-to-capture image, and use it as a jumping off point for telling a story, creating a puzzle, or driving commerce.

 

Storytelling:

Alex Damashek is great indie hip-hop manager, and used ThingLink within his own site to tell the stories of each of this artists. Where he previously had a list of links, Alex embedded audio, video, and links in photos of each of his artists and let ThingLink tell the tale. It’s a great way to get viewers to explore the page, click around, and listen and learn.

     

 

Commerce: Thanh Nguyen was an early adopter who understood the power of ThingLink and used it to drive interest in the new albums by Simple Plan and Shadows on Stars. He went so far as to have Simple Plan actually make a video explaining the product and driving users to play around and pre-order the new album. In the first few hours, the click through rate for the image was over fifty percent.

 

Social media:

Ed Kiang at Wind-Up is a digital genius, and used Thinglink to tag an image of Evanescence with links to all the band’s social media platforms. It was a great way to announce the band’s new album, get fans excited, and make sure they were aware of all the band’s online properties.

   

 

Ticketing and events: The new Eventbrite tag could be used to sell tickets to the event, as well as embedding video of the opening acts to get fans excited enough to come early and check them out. In the past, there were too many steps between seeing a poster for an event and actually buying a ticket, but with the Eventbrite tag, the process is seamless.

 

And I could go on and on, listing examples, but that seems like a cheap way to flesh out a post. And this is all the process of a summer’s worth of work — who knows what will happen in the next three months (six months, year)?

I think we’re just scratching the surface of what the music industry can do with ThingLink. One idea I’ve tossed around is to break an album cover into six parts, assign a clip of a new track to each, and then spread that all over the web for fans to find. The traffic could potentially go through the roof as fans tried to figure out the puzzle. ThingLink can also be used for announcements and brand partnerships — link up whatever a stylish artist happens to be wearing to an ecommerce platform and watch the fans click away.

Only a few months after that first, nerve wracking meeting, I’ve come to see the disruptive, amazing power of ThingLink for music. And, to quote that cheesy song you’ve heard way too many times, “we’ve only just begun.”

 

Cortney Harding is a music evangelist for start-ups, including ThingLink and official.fm. She was previously the music editor and indies correspondent at Billboard magazine, and knows way too much about the music industry for any sane person. Follow her on Twitter or on Tumblr.

Meet Cortney and the ThingLink team:
September 12th – San Francisco Music Tech Summit, Hotel Kabuki
September 13th – Tech Crunch Disrupt, San Francisco Design Center Concourse

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