It would be a serious understatement and oversimplification to once again say that 2020 has upended the way in which we work and live. As January 2020 began, my consultancy found ourselves advising several musicians on digital marketing and social media strategy. Soon enough their worlds were cratered as tours/albums and appearances disappeared overnight.
But, as with many other businesses in our field, we quickly and nimbly pivoted to meet the challenges before us. In the accompanying video, you can see some of our 2020 music campaign highlights and some anecdotal learnings below.
Powered by a hearty mix of data-driven targeted paid social advertising, we were able to drive significant views and impressions of content whether it was Dermot Kennedy’s sweeping video for “Paradise” (6.3M views) or Sickick’s smoky and sultry “WAP” freestyle (190k views) or “Pain Killer”(290k views).
One major learning in a year of such wild and undulating uncertainty has been to leverage the uncertainty to one's favor. For instance: while many artists have tried to execute paid social campaigns around major pop culture moments relevant to their respective releases (“Folklore” anyone?), we’ve adopted an approach of targeting less on-the-nose moments such as the much-derided VP debate. During the said event, when one errant fly sent the internet into a tizzy, we were ready with pre-programmed social ads that we then strategically targeted to enter the fray of conversation. While none of what we were advertising was relevant to the debate or the fly in question, it once again proved that music could be the salve to alleviate the oppressive news cycle of 2020.
One other development of the pandemic has also been the rise of the “Power of the Playlist” with quarantine-bound fans leaning heavily into key tastemaker Spotify Playlists like Top Hits (27M followers), Mint (5.5M followers), Massive Dance Hits (1.1M followers), and Altar (347k followers) which also regularly catapult artists from “Big on Spotify” to Billboard-charting supernovas (see: 24kGoldn & Internet Money).
In addition to a robust mix of paid social, we’ve learned that it’s always helpful when the music is the ‘message’ and not the other way around. For instance: Paradise perfectly tapped into the ethos of 2020 and the feeling of distance felt by many while its accompanying video also featured a vast array of faces that felt at home within the prevailing culture and conversation around diversity and inclusion.
And then, one thing that always remains true about the music business is to strike while the iron is hot and to revisit the songs of yesteryear and even in some cases, the same year:
Following Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s reign as “song of the Summer” with “WAP”: Sickick expertly interpolated their anthemic call to arms into a freestyle that sounded just as fresh in November as it did booming from car stereos during a summer of seismic cultural change.
Lastly, Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come”, already a timeless soul classic was freshly modernized by Sickick from soul anthem to Club 2020 banger to herald the impending election.
2020 may have been a challenging year but I’m proud to say we were up to the challenge, and we look forward to facing any forthcoming challenges head-on.