Once upon a pre-Internet time, music marketing consisted of print ads, street posters, a music video or two, and some radio play. But just as the way we consume music has changed, so too have the avenues musicians use to get the word out on their latest endeavour. Some artists have turned to the digital realm as not only a promotional tool but a means of extending their art to another level.
Denver-based band ManCub (aka Alex Anderson) is using an online video game to promote his new single. The catch? It may just be the most boring video game ever made.
Waiting in Line 3D is a first-person shooter inspired by ’90s classics Doom and Wolfenstein, except nothing really happens and it’s pretty much impossible to win. As the title suggests, players wait in a never-ending line and are forced to punch themselves in the face to stay awake. Anderson partnered on the project with interactive artist and ad vet Rajeev Basu (the guy behind Facehawk) with the goal of making the game an “anti-viral” hit.
“Most bands and labels are fixated on creating the next ‘most exciting and innovative thing’ to try and go viral,” says Basu. “So I thought, what if we did the total opposite? What if we did something so unfun, and so uninteresting, it became a thing in itself? The song is all about not waiting around to do the things you want in life, so waiting in line became a creative take on that. Don’t spend your life waiting in line. Instead get out there and do those things. Or alternatively, punch yourself in the face repeatedly.”
Anderson immediately liked the idea because it wasn’t just another T-shirt logo or music video. “This was a true collaboration and an actual piece of art,” says Anderson. “I had more creative control than most artists get when working on a project like this. It’s not just another piece of swag garbage or marketing scheme. It’s a social experiment.”
So far, the ploy has worked. Within days of launch the game had been played more than 100,000 times and attracted a marketer’s dream worth of Twitter and media buzz.
“Just through the press we’ve gotten in the first week alone, my song has reached more people than I’ve ever been able to on my own,” says Anderson. “I’ve always looked up to bands that do more than just make songs and put out records. Special events, street art, video projects, and interactive art are what I like to experience and, in turn, what I like to create. Some call it guerrilla marketing, I just call it art.”