As large events have been completely wiped out for the time being, music artists have had to find unique ways to market their music. Instead of concerts and festivals, artists have had to turn online to connect with their audience. Some people may think that artists do not need to utilize marketing because new releases and albums will bring attention to their work. However, artists still have a need to market not only their music, but also their public image and anything associated with their brand, such as clothing and brand deals.
To connect with their audience and market their brand in low-cost ways, artists have utilized guerilla marketing tactics on social media, as well as traditional media such as radio and TV. One example of this is virtual performances. Virtual performances have been on the rise during the past year, and they come in many forms. Some artists, such as Martin Garrix and Kygo, have chosen to perform sets in their backyard which are live streamed on Instagram. Not only do these performances eliminate the logistics and expenses that come with concerts, but they are also broadcasted for free on Instagram, reaching a broader audience. Similarly, country music artists have turned to radio to give live performances to audiences for free.
Other artists have chosen to perform in ways that are more interactive with their fanbases. Popular artist Bad Bunny performed on a bus traveling through New York City, which was live streamed simultaneously. He was able to achieve a somewhat in-person concert without having to pay for a venue. In doing so, Bad Bunny utilized a popular public space to connect with his audience, which is a common guerilla marketing tactic. Recently, Billie Eilish performed a live, virtual concert; however, she chose to charge for a ticket. Fans were able to see a performance with “animated creatures… multiple cameras… and a large stage,” at a cost of $30 per ticket, which is much cheaper than a Billie Eilish concert ticket (Wang). Furthermore, Billie leveraged the online engagement by giving fans the ability to “type into a chatroom and buy merchandise,” which is a perfect example of integrating one aspect of her brand (her music) with her clothing (Wang).
A different example of guerilla marketing that is utilized by artists big and small is putting music on social media, specifically to be used in others’ videos. Several smaller artists such as Arizona Zervas and Kaash Paige saw their popularity explode after their songs became popular on TikTok. Other artists with bigger audiences such as Roddy Rich, Doja Cat, and Megan Thee Stallion have had their songs go mainstream after gaining momentum on TikTok. Perhaps the most prevalent example is Fleetwood Mac, whose song “Dreams” reached the Billboard top 100 for the first time since it was released in 1977 (Garvey). Dreams was in the background of TikTok user @doggface208 video of him longboarding to work with cranberry juice in his hand, which currently has 67 million views. The seemingly random ability of a song to explode after being put on TikTok is a very attractive way for an artist to gain massive exposure for free. This tactic, paired with virtual performances, give artists opportunities to expand their audience in an increasingly virtual landscape.
Wang, Amy “Billie Eilish’s Virtual Concert Is the Rare Livestream Done Right” RollingStone October 26, 2020
Garvey, Marianne “Fleetwood Mac's 'Dreams' returns to the charts, thanks to viral TikTok video” CNN October 22, 2020