When Artists Take the Wheel And Embrace Innovation…. Singer Lily Allen on “Twitter Hunt”

The following is a guest post by Christie LaBarca.  Christie is an avid music fan.  She attends Hunter College in NYC and hopes to one day work as a lawyer in the music and entertainment industry.

It’s no secret that the music industry has been highly resistant towards technology.   We all know that if record companies spent as much time embracing the internet as they did fighting it, they would be in a lot better shape than they are right now.  It’s not just about the piracy and the p2p networks, but also about communication methods.  Music artists and fans can now connect in a way that was not possible before.  Social media networks are the key.  Facebook, MySpace, Twitter….they allow a reciprocal relationship between the artist and the fan.

1760769-1British singer Lily Allen is a prime example. Through MySpace, the singer successfully established herself to an audience that might not have heard her music otherwise.   In fact, when she was first signed to her record label, they had other priorities.  They were catering to Coldplay and other big named artists.  Meanwhile Allen was busy setting up her MySpace account and posting the demos she created with the little money the label gave to her.  MySpace users quickly caught onto her music and before a few months she developed a fan base.  By keeping in contact with fans and responding to them regularly, this fan base grew even larger.   This, obviously, caught the attention of her label.   Her fan base was already established.

Allen has continued to use social networks to connect with fans and generate buzz.   During her U.S. tour, that ended two weeks ago, she organized scavenger hunts via Twitter.  Before each show she hid three pairs of tickets in the vicinity of the venue she was playing.  She sent clues out on Twitter, which allowed fans to access the clues from the mobile phone and quickly attempt to figure out where the tickets were hidden.   The clues were written mostly in clever riddles that would be familiar to locals.  Clearly, the singer did her research for each city….for Washington DC, one of the clues was, “A gate made of water, but where will we fix em? A bed made of flowers where they f***ed it for nixon .”

In Los Angeles, Allen hung two on a tree tickets outside of Victoria’s Secret at the Grove.  As soon as she posted the tweet, a guy walking by on his iPhone stopped in his tracks and looked up at her.  He asked when she wrote it, and she responded “thirty-seconds ago.” This type of endeavor is really something unique that artists were unable to do before.  Fan interaction has been taken to an entire new level due to social media and this is essential for artists.  Music isn’t selling as well as it used to, now music fans are looking for more than the music itself, they are looking for an experience, and this is how the music industry will make money in the future.

How did the Twitter Hunt help Lily Allen? It’s responsive.  It got people talking, it got her fans talking…word of mouth is the strongest promotion anyone can ask for.  Every audience member at her shows knew about her ongoing Twitter Hunt.  Everyone wanted to be a part of it. They all sat glued to their phones waiting to see what the next clue was, even if they already got tickets, waiting to see if they would get a Twitter response.  She kept people interested.  She kept her fans interested, all by being responsive and engaging in technology.

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