3 Content Marketing Lessons The Music Business Has Taught Us

Content marketing is about hitting all the right notes, and the likes of Beyoncé and Radiohead are showing us just how to do it.

3 Content Marketing Lessons The Music Business Has Taught Us
[Image: Flickr user gettheshot75]

With the music industry taking a major dive in the past 10 years, it’s no wonder that more and more musicians are turning to content as a way to reach new audiences.


Visionary vanguards Radiohead made the practice commonplace with their self-released album In Rainbows, the first pay-what-you-want album to hit the web. They went on to publish an exclusive newspaper to promote new releases, release the audio files of songs to allow fans remix, and even develop an app as an “audio visual experiment” that allows users to discover the music in a non-traditional landscape.

Despite the fact that the band itself is vehemently anti-advertising unless used for the greater good, there’s much we can learn from their and other artists’ practices. As marketers, we should always see the benefit of breaking the rules and letting go of the reins when appropriate. Here’s how:

Lesson 1: Stay true to who you are

Volvo’s latest content marketing example, “Made by Sweden,” feels less like a car commercial and more like a music video-come-love story. The ad follows Swedish pop star, Robyn, from the studio through the streets of L.A., driving a vehicle featuring Volvo’s low-emissions Drive-E powered engine. It seamlessly weaves an environmentally responsible message with images of pristine Swedish landscapes, all moving to the calm, sinuous beat of Robyn’s latest song.

Robyn timed this launch perfectly to coincide with the release of her new EP Monument, both reaching new fans and giving an undeniably cool veneer to an auto company that’s almost 90 years old.

She stated to Billboard Magazine, “I really wanted to make sure I could make something that didn’t feel like an intrusion.”

Lesson 2: Keep your audience on their toes

Despite the fact that they have never had a single hit on the radio, epic jam band, Phish, has grown legions of fans for the past 20 years. Why? They never play the same show twice, and they often incorporate secret messages into their set lists that only the most dedicated fans can decipher. You can do the same by creating content that engages and sometimes challenges your audience.


Lesson 3: Make your own rules and go the extra mile

When it comes to content marketing, there is one reigning queen: Beyoncé. The choice to launch her self-titled fifth album as a surprise was a smart move, but her dedication is what made it a legendary marketing example.

She over-delivered in spades, creating a shocking 17 videos for 14 new tracks. But that was only the beginning. She has now released a star-studded, four-minute-long trailer teasing her coming tour with Jay-Z, garnering more than 7 million views in three days. From Instagram to Tumblr, her social presence is consistent, air-tight, and always of the highest quality, proving once again that we are but mere drones in her mighty hive.

But the one biggest lesson marketers can learn from musicians? Make sure that everything you do is about building, maintaining, and evolving relationships with your audience. It’s the best way to keep them listening ’til your encore.

Adam Weinroth is CMO of OneSpot, a content advertising platform that helps marketers distribute, target, sequence, and measure their content marketing efforts. Previously, Adam held numerous marketing leadership roles including executive director of product marketing for Spiceworks, VP of strategic marketing for Demand Media, and VP of marketing for Pluck.