Free copy of the NME anyone?
The NME is now free and distributed.
The New Musical Express, since 1952 has been providing musos up and down the country with their weekly music digest. We love NME, so naturally we’ve been discussing the new format.
Having anticipated the arrival of the free version for some time, we were delighted to get our hands on a copy last Friday. On an industry level, there’s been mixed reviews about content, quality and sustainability of a free model.
We wholeheartedly believe that anything that gets people closer to music is generally a good thing. The question is, has there been a shift to the mainstream in a bid to make content more appealing to the masses and subsequently, to advertisers? Quite possibly so, but come on….we all understand this is the way advertising works. With online content being so widely available, it’s a sign of the times that falling sales of print editions has forced a rethink of the distribution strategy. Used cleverly as a gateway to more in depth, niche content on the website – it feels like an acceptable and justifiable approach.
Some might argue using Rhianna on the front cover goes against the underground nature of the publication. But we believe the decision to use her was a clever one. RiRi’s certainly a household name that everyone can recognise and according to Mike Williams (Editor In Chief) she embodies the personality of NME – both iconic and individual. Featuring a woman on the front cover as opposed to an all male underground prog-rock band immediately positions the new-look NME as an option for everyone.
Content in the main body of the magazine has experienced a few new twists and turns. There are more lifestyle pieces, a slight shift away from pure music and the addition of product reviews. There’s a hilarious new column fronted by comedian Katherine Ryan. In-depth editorial feels a little on the light side – there could be more live reviews. On the other hand, there’s a strong argument in favour of publishing digestible content that today’s millennial generation demand. We live in a time strapped society with attention spans getting close to ADD levels. It is however, still possible to delve deeper – just go online where NME continues to generate substantial content across many content pillars. All the journalism we know and love remains, including an excellent blog.
Regular readers of the online NME will enjoy being able to flick through a print copy. There’s a lot to be said about the physical experience of reading something – not to mention having it in your bag for those moments where we can’t get online, or (pray it never happens) when we leave our phone at home or the battery runs out.
For city dwellers, it almost seems that the Friday slot was waiting for the NME to provide a generous helping of music fodder for the daily commute to work or study. Currently, we have the Metro and Evening Standard daily, accompanied by ES Magazine, Time Out, Stylist and Shortlist for the rest of the week. There’s an abundance of free publications and an ever-growing advertising opportunity for brands to get closer to their respective audiences.
From a targeting perspective, we know the NME is an 16-24yr old audience and this explains the distribution strategy – hand-to-hand at all stations where there’s a whiff of cool, hipster or student. So that rules out Clapham for me, but I guess I’m outside the target demographic. Fear not though, it is still possible to grab the NME at a multitude of pick up points dotted across the country and for those who live in the far recesses of Scotland, there’s a mail order option for just 75p.
So there you go. The free and easy NME. Music journalism brought to your hands every Friday. Read and enjoy. I’m looking forward to picking up issue 2.2 on the way home from work today.
Long may you live.
Why Big Fish?
People sometimes ask me why I called the company Big Fish…
It’s a fair question and one that I have never had a great answer for, now on the eve of our 16th birthday I think I understand and can explain why.
Back in 1999, Big Fish was a suggestion made by a friend of mine, at the time there were loads of agencies cropping up with ‘interesting’ names and when she suggested Big Fish it seemed to feel suitably obtuse and a conversation starter.
16 years later, as we are developing a team to deliver deeper insights into how brands should work with music, David Lynch the legendary director has shown me that in my sub-concious, I have always known the answer. As soon as I read his quote I realised – in the same way as you realise once you have had a child that they have always been there, waiting in the wings and that you have known them all your life – I knew the answer as to why Big Fish.
So thank you Mr Lynch for dragging the answer from the depths of my brain and being much more eloquent than I have been till now.
So ask me again… Why did I call the company Big Fish?
Funny you should ask, it’s because… Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure.They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful. – David Lynch
YMS 2016 / Millennials, Music & Brands
Big Fish Music Partnerships are delighted to be hosting the music panel at YMS 2016 – the UK’s biggest youth marketing strategy conference taking place at the iconic Roundhouse 7-9th March 2016.
Bringing together first-class speakers from across the music industry, we will discuss:
Why music continues to inspire generation after generation of young people:
Music is a huge passion of many young people – it continues to lead the way in creating new tribes and new followers in a way that brands can only dream of. At one of the most iconic venues in the UK music scene, our panel of music industry maestros will discuss:
- What can marketers learn from the music industry and the power that artists, record labels and live event promoters generate?
- How music influences young people by making an emotional connection and how your brand can tap into this.
- The tools and strategies to create live music experiences that wow.
Find out more about the YMS conference 2016.
Recent research reported in Music Week (AEG Live / Momentum: July, 2015) shows a strong positive synergy between millennials, music and brands. We’ve highlighted some of the of the insights below (click on the image to enlarge):
IBIZA ROCKS / SUPPLY & DEMAND COLLABORATION
Offering an (at the time) unusual and improbable alternative of live bands to the rave capital of Europe, Ibiza Rocks has grown to become one of the most recognisable names on the Spanish club island in the last decade. The music promoter and holiday operator is a permanent fixture of Ibiza now, and in their tenth year they launch a collaborative range with Supply & Demand that combines the best style of New York and the Balearic island. Look out for some photography of the range on this website soon, as well as some exclusive RWD interviews with big-name performing acts at the Ibiza Rocks venue across this summer.
Supply & Demand x Ibiza Rocks will be available exclusively at Ibiza Rocks and JD stores from 29 June.
Big Fish Music Partnerships are delighted to be working with both parties to deliver this multi-layered brand partnership.
Record Store Day – Is a new brand strategy needed?
As both a DJ and a lover of vinyl, some might be surprised that Record Store Day didn’t have me falling out of my seat to get in on the action. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely 100% support our local independent stores (I buy music year round) and I think the more we can do to keep them in business the better.
Record Store Day originally launched in the US in 2007 and now also happens in the UK each year, with the aim of raising the profile of independent record stores up and down the country. Aimed at generating buzz within the industry, many stores can expect take 2 or 3 week’s worth of business that day, significantly boosting sales.
Rough Trade Records in Notting Hill had an exclusive performance from the Palma Violets – enjoying a manageable crowd and good community spirit. Berwick Street in Soho feels a bit more crowded – some argue that it is too busy.
It’s a great opportunity to shine light on smaller vinyl retailers and for these communities to come together across exclusive events.
But it’s not all good. The hype RSD creates leads to bulk orders being placed for exclusive limited edition products, which has been known to generate total disruption across pressing plants and distribution services. This can lead to bottlenecks in production leaving many stores uncertain as to whether orders will arrive in time, with the smaller independent stores not getting a look in.
Shops who want something different are expected to place far greater orders than what they actually expect to sell. What started out as a celebration of the independent music retailer can end up being costly and time consuming with a whole load of unsold stock left after the hype dies down.
That’s why many of the smaller stores have chosen to do their own thing. Rather than jump on the bandwagon of producing exclusive picture discs by bands from yesteryear (yes, there is actually a limited edition version of Take On Me by Aha) they’ve chosen to magnify existing stock, opening their doors record fayre style with local DJ’s and bands.
We spoke to Teamy from the label Wrong Island who says, “I really enjoy the events around Record Store Day the buzz around Berwick Street in London is great – we’re doing a day party with 2 Bears in Soho this year and I’m genuinely excited about it.”
“But the reality is that over the last few years RSD has become such a big thing that the majors are taking over, and clogging up the pressing plants. Getting a release schedule together is really hard work.”
“Last time we put something out the total turnaround was something like two and a half months. That makes things very difficult to manage. I’ve heard some rumblings that RSD could be moved to Autumn to ease things up but I don’t think it’s any more than an idea”.
So is a new brand strategy required?
Certainly streamlining the process so RSD works better for all those involved would be a start. Understanding the differing needs of the smaller independent stores against those of the larger retailers to make sure RSD delivers real benefits. The danger is that fringe events eventually become the true Record Store Day, with commercialisation of the official day drowning those it was supposed to support.
Paloma Faith: Putting the message into music
“I wanna dedicate this to all the underdogs and all the grafters who work hard….”
Those were the words of Paloma Faith as she accepted Best Female Solo Artist at this year’s Brits. Watching her collect the award – designed by Tracey Emin, was warming. There was something utterly sincere and honest about her few minutes up there. And you absolutely got it that she is one of those grafters. Good on her.
There’s something appealingly fresh about Paloma. She kinda just does her own thing. Besides having a wonderful step-back-in-time film star glamour that sucks you in, she has good chat and likes a giggle. She’s the archetypal down-to-earth girl next door, but with a big helping of quirk on the side. She even describes herself as ‘cockney madam in panto (brilliant)’. She’s straight talking and that’s why we like her.
Beyond her obvious music talents, she’s witty. Actually, she’s hilarious. She’s also warm and the sort of person you’d want to have on your team. I guess what I’m trying to say is that she has personality and is personable. But not just that (and I’ll get to the point of this article in a sec) – she has stuff to say. And people relate to her.
She’s got a point.
Which leads me to my point….
Hearing that Paloma Faith has invited left-wing political commentator Owen Jones to be her support ‘act’ on her forthcoming tour made our ears perk up. Her motive? To provide an argument against what she describes as an increasing right wing movement towards a UKIP vote. Her method is both unique and passionate. An idea that puts the message into music in a big way.
But music has always been at the heart of driving passions of the human race. From the chorus of gospel to the rhythm of the tribal beat; people unify and share ideals through music. Whether it’s a love song or a hate song, you can guarantee there’s a song in your personal collection to suit any mood or time.
And if we think about the artists who have used music to take a political stance, the list is endless. It’s the perfect medium: making a statement, delivering ideas, opposing systems, standing up for your rights. It’s everywhere in music, but sometimes the message gets lost. To start a movement, the story has to stand out in some way. It needs a contrast; a noise against the silence.
One of the best juxtapositions was Rage Against The Machine topping Christmas No 1 with Killing In The Name and serendipitously knocking off a Top 10 that was riddled with X Factor humdrum. There was a certain eloquence in the ineloquence of that wonderful happening – it made the Queen’s speech a bit more bearable and was a firm-fingers up at the state of the nation’s charts at that time.
But as far as political song concerned…there’s not enough time to give them all justice here – but to name a few; Gill Scott Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, Edwin Starr – War, Dead Kennedys – Holiday In Cambodia, the Red Wedge collective, Rock Against Racism, Band Aid – Feed The World, and the ultimate song of freedom – The Specials – Free Nelson Mandela. These songs stood up, made a heavy point and became a collective voice for many.
But as we continue to find ever more ways to express ourselves (and feel) – through music, film, theatre, art, spoken word and ultimately our experiences – there are new ways to deliver those messages. And that’s why we think Paloma has really hit on something. Ok – we don’t know how it will go or indeed what Owen Jones is going to get up there and say – or how he will be received. But whatever it is, it will have impact. It’ll be the stark contrast of a single spoken voice where there would normally be song. And those people who buy into Faith’s music may also buy into the message that willl be relayed that evening. Or at least look at things from a different angle.
And that’s the power of music.
EKOCYCLE: Will.I.Am putting Coke back into recycling
It’s a brand/artist partnership that’s made in heaven. We’re talking about Coca-Cola teaming up with Will.I.Am to launch EKOCYCLE – an ultra slick sustainability project that takes recycling to a whole new level. The whole ethos is about regenerating waste plastic to create desirable, design led products that balance form and function – whilst saving the world. (Oh and in case you hadn’t’ noticed – EKOCYCLE is COKE spelled backwards. Nice).
This is designer eco-chic with a great big chunk of clever marketing power behind it. But the one thing that’s going to make it fly, is an aspirational ambassador, who has not only sold a awful lot of records worldwide under various monikers, but also one who has been forging a name for himself within the world of technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. We can’t think of a more suitable, worthy or believable man for the job.
So exactly what are these next generation, highly covetable creations? Well they’re only available at Harrods for a start. And there’s a plethora of other respected brand names form the world of designer fashion who have been working collectively to shape, create and stamp their seal of approval on everything that is produced. They’ve actually managed to create a luxury brand out of the blue, and with an equally high price tag to boot. Now that’s not an easy thing to do.
This venture actually flies in the face of the traditional luxury brand model – heritage being an important pre-requisite. Luxury is linked to expensive, hard to come by materials – something that empty plastic bottles and old phone covers are certainly not . Craftsmanship however, has been ingeniously remodelled with a futuristic innovative slant that pushes the boundaries of the (some might say) stuffy old school of luxury. (Now we’re not having a dig, but luxury fashion were the last to adopt eCommerce and it took a long time for the industry to get that accessibility in real world does’t devalue the product. Of course now, it’s creatively pushing the boundaries using technology to the max circa Burberry et al. But that’s another story.) But the key to making this believable is by partnering up with other respected designers and having a whole load of connected people creating together.
The EKOCYCLE project is one of those lightbulb moments where you can’t understand why no-one thought of it before. In this case, it’s like finding a four-leaf clover. You’ve already hit the sweet spot between brand, audience and market opportunity, but take it a step further by making it cause-related and bring in the credible frontman who’s going to drive it. Good work. Actually, it’s what fundraising departments for charities have been trying and do with brands on a daily basis for years – create meaningful synergies to persuade brands to champion their cause. It’s just unfortunate they don’t always have the money or the clout to get the absolute buy in from a brand to make it happen. But in this case, the brand has taken the initiative. And who better equipped to lead the way than Coca Cola.
Ok, recycling is nothing new and managing our waste has become second nature in our home, at work and even on the high street. But how much do we think about what happens afterwards. Let’s face it, it’s not a particularly sexy process and we don’t really want to think about where our recycled loo roll has been in a former life. But turn it on it’s head and create a story around it – make it fashionable and cool, then all of a sudden it becomes a huge opportunity. It’s branding at it’s best. And partnerships fused together in a creative and appealing way. Whether or not we want, or can afford any of it – you can bet that plenty of trend junkies will be ready to pounce on this.
And as for Coca-Cola’s part? It’s a super smart move and a progression on some of the other sustainability initiatives they’ve rolled out overseas. Increasing brand affinity is always going to be high on the agenda, so where it may be harder for them to improve on health credentials, they can make a big difference in this area. And brands are increasingly expected to up the CSR stakes. There is a lot more opportunity out there though. It feels like we’re only scratching the surface of brand partnerships for both the new, the exciting and the greater good. When we think about the vast opportunities across the internet of things as it evolves to impact our health, lifestyle, relationships, we start to think about where else these kind of partnerships could take us.
As for Will.I.Am? It’s the perfect sideline. He gets to indulge his creative flair, have some fun, make a lot of money and at the same time, be a key force in channeling a strong positive message to a generation of millennials; who are far more receptive to this kind of marketing. It appeals to their own entrepreneurial nature. And he speaks a language they understand. We’re no longer marketing to the naive. This is a thirsty demographic who demand new ways of looking at things – they expect brands to be forward thinking. After all, they are.
Zane Lowe’s mystery move to Apple: Is it all about Beats?
So after 12 years of manning the airwaves during the Radio 1 evening show, we hear that Zane Lowe is moving on to take on an undisclosed role at Apple. The legendary radio DJ has been responsible for shaping the direction of UK music scene for over a decade, breaking a countless number of artists onto the scene along the way. This will be a huge loss for Radio 1 and his fans, though we can be rest assured that his shoes are being suitably filled by an equally capable music maestro – the super talented Annie Mac who will be taking over the controls in March.
But what is Radio 1’s loss, no doubt is Apple’s exponential gain.
At the time of going to print with this article we were still in the dark as to exactly what Zane’s role will entail and speculating as to whether he’d be pushed towards iTunes or Beats. However, there is one thing certain, the acquisition is an extremely wise move by Apple.
Why? Well we know that music sales are slowing down (single sales down 15.3% and album sales down 7.8% in 2014), whilst streaming is on the steady increase [up 65.1% last year]. So it makes perfect sense for Apple to make a strategic move towards enhancing and expanding its streaming services. And it’s equally as clever do that by bringing a globally renowned DJ who is a household name with a sizable following and held in great esteem.
How better to capture the hearts, minds and ears of the nations?
However, with Spotify now boasting 60 million active users and 15 million paying subscribers customers, plus all the other big streaming players on the market such as Soundcloud, Deezer (recently acquiring Muve), Rdio, Google Play, Mixcloud where does that leave Apple’s Beats and iTunes Radio within the mix?
It’s certainly a competitive market and one that is continuing to grow. We’re seeing buy outs and services going public, worth billions. Even Google decided not to buy up Spotify for the $10million price tag.
We know that Apple completed the buy-out of Beats last year, but what it has in store for the music platform is still up in the air. A multitude of reviews around services and points of differentiation across the various services have been written (http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/126892-which-is-the-best-music-streaming-service-in-the-uk-spotify-vs-rdio-vs-deezer-and-more). With sales of iTunes music down it’s looking more than likely that Apple will merge it with Beats to roll out a new improved streaming product.
But there’s more going on than that. Trent Reznor – Beats’ Chief Creative Officer and former front man of Nine Inch Nails has alluded to exciting things on the horizon for Beats in the world of music delivery. And they’ve got Zane. And we know that it’s likely that iPhones will soon be preloaded with the Beats app. Given that Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones in the first quarter of 2013, its starting to look obvious why they chose not to buy Spotify and instead compete directly.
Whatever’s on the cards, we know it’s going to be big.