Commentary

Fitting Brands Into The Electronic Dance Craze

Daft Punk, the so-called “godfathers” of electronic dance music, released their latest album, “Random Access Memories,” this summer, and the timing couldn’t be more fitting. Electronic Dance Music, EDM for short, is on the rise among the millennial generation. According to a recent MTV survey, 62% of millennials listen to EDM and 89% agree that EDM is becoming more popular amongst their peers. The 2012 International Music Summer (IMS) Consumer Report ranks EDM as the fastest-growing mainstream genre in the United States.

If you’re anything like me, a 40-something father of two, EDM probably isn’t at the top of your iTunes playlist. Maybe you’ve never heard of the genre at all. But you’ve probably heard one of the songs in this category; Daft Punk’s hit “Get Lucky” featuring Pharrell Williams was one of the top hits of the summer. 

EDM DJs have also developed international cult-like followings, due in large part to their super-star social media statuses. Tech-savvy DJs, most of whom are millennials themselves, have used the Internet as a natural platform for self-promotion. DJ David Guetta has more than 42 million Facebook fans, DJ Tiesto has 500 million views on YouTube and Skrillex has more than three million Twitter followers. DJ Calvin Harris has raked in over $46 million over the past 12 months – more than Jay-Z, Katy Perry and Rihanna, according to Forbes.

EDM is meant to be experienced live – emphasis on the “dance” in its name. Last year, the Electronic Daisy Carnival festival in Las Vegas (the Super Bowl of EDM) drew 300,000 fans, more than Lollapalooza and Coachella. Even at Coachella, DJ Skrillex was on the lineup and a main attraction. 

What does all of this mean for brands?

With this loyal cult following, vast social reach, and enormous critical mass at live events, marketers have unique opportunities to connect with fans, specifically millennials, through EDM. Here are three best practices to consider when marketing in the EDM space:

1. Use your brand to enhance the EDM experience. Fans who attend EDM festivals and shows are looking for a multi-sensory, larger-than-life experience. The production values at these events are over the top with intricate lighting displays, costumed performers, amusement park rides and fireworks. Brands that can contribute to the entertainment and directly enhance the experience will gain the most mindshare and buzz. In 2011 and 2012, one of the highlights of EDC Las Vegas was the Red Bull Skydivers streaking through the night above 100,000 fans. 

2. Leverage the social nature of EDM to connect with consumers. EDM fans are highly social and digitally connected to one another and the DJs that they follow. Brands that facilitate and enhance this connectivity can organically engage with the community. To promote the adoption of its GroupMe mobile group-messaging application, Skype encouraged fans of Steve Aoki to form virtual groups with friends to discuss the DJ. One group won a trip to New York to meet Steve and see him live. The winning group communicated via GroupMe as they ran errands around the city in preparation for their meet and greet with Steve.

3. Integrate into the EDM lifestyle to demonstrate brand authenticity. Absolut partnered with Swedish House Mafia as the official sponsor of the band’s final tour. More than just a sponsorship, Absolut integrated its brand across multiple fan touch points. Swedish House Mafia created a special track for the brand, “Greyhound,” referencing the Absolut Greyhound cocktail. The song was featured in a television commercial and in a longer form music video with product placement. Fans could remix their own versions of “Greyhound” through Absolut’s Facebook app. On tour, Absolut sponsored pre and post show parties serving the Greyhound cocktail.

EDM is fast becoming the soundtrack of the millennial generation, and its music their parents can’t understand. We’ve reached the tipping point for the genre, and smart marketers will find organic ways to insert themselves into the mix.

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