Saturday, 23 March 2013

2 Justins & a Beyonce - The Good, The Bad, and The Can Do No Wrongs: 'Lost In Music' Competition, March Music in the ESPspotlgiht

This is where things change direction. We've established my deep-rooted love of all things musical, and its life-long impact on me and my career choices as a whole over the last few weeks. But it would be remiss of me to have an entire month devoted to the subject and not talk music promotion. So this week, I'll be looking at the different avenues and aspects of how to get your music product out there, with a few choice examples along the way. Stay with me - there are so many more interesting avenues to music, than what we listen to! There are the daily competitions to help you get going for starters, as well as some serious food for thought. Starting with...

Product, Pricing, Placement and Promotion. I first discovered 'The 4 P's of Marketing' created by Jerome McCarthy in 1960, in  the book 'Confessions Of An Advertising Man', by the late Advertising legend, David Ogilvy. It seemed liked kismet then, that when I was factfinding for this piece, I would come across a brilliant article by Brian Fetherstonhaugh on, completely rewriting the concepts, and instead replacing them with 'The 4 E's':
  • from Product to Experience - going beyond your standalone product; instead considering how its overall experience will draw in your (buying) audience.
  • from Place to Everyplace - no longer just about 'store bought access', consider 'intercepting' your target audience in the places most likely to match, recreate and repeat the above Experience.
  • from Pricing to Exchange - today's buyers are bought and sold with more than just financial currency; consider the other, equally valuable forms of sale that you can profit from.
  • from Promotion to Evangelism - not quite a Religious turn,  this facet is about creating the mission to brand experienceinspiring engagement through a call to action, eventually leading to consumer uptake.
For the first Music Promotions highlight, three particular stories dominating the entertainment wires over the past month made me want to touch on that old, misused and misinterpreted adage: 'There's no such thing as Bad Publicity' to ask - is it really true?

The not so simple answer is Yes...And No. And that is because today's culture feeds on controversy - of the right kind. Depending on who you are and what you're doing, the right kind of controversy - even disguised as 'wrong', will do the very thing that every brand covets; it will get people talking. If there's one thing that any PR or Marketing Rep will tell you, it's that 'Word of Mouth' is the most powerful sales tool there is. If people are talking, then people are watching. If people are watching, then you have their attention; if you have their attention, then you have a platform to promote your product. Sales and Marketing 101...Right?

The idea for this feature first started forming when Justin Bieber toured the UK recently. I think we all know by now that Usher Raymond's YouTube sensation is a marketing dream of the non-dry variety. There is nothing that will not sell, so long as his name is attached, so strong and all-encompassing is 'The Justin Experience'. Once a wholesome innocent, the 'bad' publicity from his antics caused controversy and got people talking - Everyplace on Earth. Everyone had an opinion on his turning up ridiculously late for stage times, questionable 'health issues' and brawling with paparazzi... 

The day after arriving 2 hours late for one of his London shows, the press were outside of his hotel, coaxing responses from anyone they could find, including his Manager. The footage of a teenage girl verbally attacking an ITN News reporter, before said Manager could respond to the reasonable request for a comment on the incident was TV gold. The little madam was a perfect example of fan mania (and bad parenting - it was a school day for one thing, no way was she old enough to be out of the classroom; couple that with her rude behaviour and you had a screeching advert for Supernanny Jo Frost...or a good West Indian matriarch). Add the drama surrounding his hospital stay, that had his teen legion frantic with worry, and the paparazzi scuffle for a touch of badboy icing to the mix and what you have is a gourmet blend. You cannot buy the marketing Exchange that those few days and less than 4 total minutes of video provided. 

The 'Belieber' Army waged war through social media and online sales thus Evangelising his 'Greatness' and Bieber's brand management team smiled, a lot. The entire world knew which leg of the Believe tour Justin was on - but did you notice that he personally didn't bother to apologise for any adverse effects, and barely any of the press reported on his actual performance? Justin covered all 4 E's described above, and some may think that the negative press questioning whether or not he's gone off the rails has harmed him. Yet the world is still talking and more importantly still buying - so has it?

Then there's that other Justin

In the run up to the release of 'The 20/20 Experience' - his first studio album in over 6 years; Justin 'JT' Timberlake engaged in a very quiet and sombre promotional marketing strategy. Or did he?

No longer 'Justin Trousersnake', but a happy, settled down newlywed; the peripheral shenanigans were muted in comparison with previous albums. A week-long Saturday Night Live hosting gig with live performances, provided a full insight into the JT Experience. The week-long free music stream of the full album on everyone's favourite fruity music shop, made sure the product was available Everyplace in the world. The whiff of 'Kanyetroversy' hand delivered the Exchange, by providing a laugh and social talking point at the Rapper's expense, whilst the combination of all, kept the world Evangelising about the release throughout. As I said, Quiet, but effectively done - don't you think?

From JT's guest Mr Carter, to the Mrs...

'Beyoncé as Mrs Carter in H&M' (Photo courtesy of
Back in January, the entertainment press was rife with rumours that Beyoncé was producing a new clothing line with high street chain H&M, after being spotted doing a 'secret' beach shoot in the Bahamas. Within a few weeks came her Superbowl halftime performance which, although partly marred by that little Presidential lipsynching snafu, was solely intended as a launching board for her 'Mrs Carter World Tour' announcement. An Oprah TV documentary and interview later, and UK tour sponsor ads by telecomms company O2 surface, with an unrecognisable theme song - right before the ticket sales caused an online frenzy. A few weeks after that, the theme tune is released online and causes instant global controversy. Within two days, she is announced not only as the new face of the retail chain that she shot with back in January, but as co-designer of the clothing line too, taking her couture label House of Deréon, to the high street consumer. Feeling dizzy after that full-circle ride? And bear in mind - it's only March...

Listen to 'Bow Down / I Been On' (Produced by HitBoy) on

As angry as the masses are over the song's content, if they took the time to step back and look at the bigger picture here, they would see the most sophisticated marketing strategy for quite some time in play. The purpose of the track 'Bow Down' has nothing to do with an upcoming album - I'll be very much surprised if it even makes the next selection. It's only job was to serve as a cog in 'The Mrs Carter Machine', by engaging the naysayers into propelling the concert promotion - for free, whilst bringing the concert to their own wardrobes! You may not spend silly money on a concert ticket (£85 gold dust); but you can still disparage the woman while secretly looking good (with her help) at retail costBeyoncé is the Experience here. In Music, Sports, Television or Clothing - Beyoncé is Everyplace. Her every action over the past two and a half months prompted a wildfire of Exchange that she never had to actually engage in, only fuel. Those unwitting Evangelists are the most affected here, as their cries of offence at being referred to as b*tches more times than I (could be bothered to) count in one song, only serve to grow the focus on 'The Mrs Carter Show' - tour or otherwise...


Now then, it's Competition Time and I'm upping the stakes. Answer ONE easy question and win yourself a complete ESP Artist Development Starter's Package (priced at £90), consisting of the following:
Does it get any better than that? Well Yes, actually - because all you have to do to win, is the following:

2. Tweet confirmation of your entry to ESP Ltd. on Twitter, using the #MarchMusic hashtag.

Yes. That's really all. Why don't you have a little practice before the real thing? In the last competition I asked you to:

Name the worldwide #1 song from Michael Jackson's Dangerous album, that has a Planet in the title?

The answer was of course: Earth Song!

All clear? Good. Now then, for today's super easy quiz question:

Name the clothing label that Justin Timberlake co-founded?

As always, feedback is welcomed and appreciated, so let me know what you think on the points raised via the Comments Box below!

Enjoy your Saturday night folks, and be safe in the snow...
ES ;)

'Lost In Music' Competition Terms & Conditions:

  • Only one entry per person, per day.
  • Review Prize refers to ONE single/EP/Album/Event ONLY
  • Applicable to Events within the London Regions ONLY. Winners outside of London and the UK will receive a Music Review*.
  • Press Release will be written and provided for Winner's use. Submissions to press contacts are NOT included.
  • Promotions Week runs from 22nd-29th March.
  • Entrants MUST complete all stages for entries to be eligible.
  • Answers should be submitted via email, with confirmation of entry tweets containing the #MarchMusic hashtag sent to ESP Ltd. on Twitter.
  • Entrants must LIKE the EricaSharlette Promotions Ltd. Facebook Page for entries to be considered eligible.
  • All methods of entry should contain the #MarchMusic hashtag.
  • The #MarchMusic promotional code must be applied to claim the 50% discount.
  • Entry deadline is 10:00 on the morning after each competition post, winners will be notified via email within 24 hours.