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The Holidays Are For Box Sets: Finding the Future Through the Past

MachineHead_BloodstoneDiamonds“I wish I could have seen The Cure back then,” my friend Xio said to me the other day. “When I was 13 in 1996, my diary was full of crush notes to Robert Smith.” Xio went on to see The Cure a couple of times, and Depeche Mode too. Of course today, both bands have achieved a legendary status, enough to justify multiple box sets of singles, rarities, remixes, live performances and such. And right now, the holiday gift giving season is the time for the latest avalanche of super deluxe box sets in the physical realm.

With so much of our business moving to digital and especially streaming, you’d think the days of these pricey coffee table heavyweight packages would be over. But as art objects in and of themselves, box sets bring an immersive fan experience that is qualitatively different than streaming some of those same tracks on Spotify. They are an excuse to celebrate our inner geekdom and obsessiveness to the smallest details. Like Jimmy Page’s more prominent acoustic guitar in the Sunset Sound Mix of “Stairway To Heaven” on Led Zeppelin’s just reissued/remastered IV Deluxe (aka ZOSO), or the instrumental versions of some of your Zep classics on I-IV before Robert Plant added his vocals. Really? I never heard John Paul Jones’ keyboard part in there before! Or the improved stereo imaging and fine sonic detail in Bruce Springsteen’s classic The River, just issued this week (as part of The Album Collection 1973-1984.)

But it’s not just a question of sharper bass with more low frequencies or a kick drums that you can feel in your chest vs. fairly HQ 320 kbps MP3s that are easy to purchase. Let’s face it, no one reads 20 page liner notes by veteran Rock writers like David Fricke or Greil Marcus online about all the minutiae involving The Velvet Underground Super Deluxe with its 3 different mixes of the same album or Bob Dylan & The Band Basement Tapes Complete with multiple versions of the same song in different tempos or styles. It’s a different listening experience sitting at home on a Saturday afternoon reading the book while the music plays than rocking some tunes on your smartphone on a bus or a subway on your way to work. Something vinyl lovers have long known as well.

As the physical realm continues to adapt to the realities of the modern niche market place, box sets are where record labels can recoup on long-term investments and trend setting cult artists can finally grab some of the mainstream attention they’ve long deserved. Like British Invasion-influenced Pop masters Big Star finally getting their due with multiple box sets, reissues and a fine documentary, “Nothing Can Hurt Me,” after years of only being acknowledged by fellow musicians and indie trailblazers like The Replacements. Today, the simple act of physically compiling brings streaming attention to the new classics, such that Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson and company can play their college radio “underground hits” to packed stadium sing alongs decades later, as many of us witnessed in Forest Hills, NY this past summer.

In the last few years we’ve seen a wide range of large box sets from icons like The ClashWoody Guthrie, Johnny Cash and even Judas Priest. The real question is who are today’s musical heroes that will be compiled in the years ahead? Will LCD Soundsystem ever merit a reissue like Underworld’s 5 CD Super Deluxe Dubnobasswithmyheadman including live rehearsals by an Electronica group in the act of composition? Are Machine Head destined to become the next Judas Priest or Metallica? Or will they be this generation’s Diamond Head spearheading the mostly under the radar NWOBHM (that’s new wave of British Heavy Metal) and thereby influencing every major Thrash/Speed Metal act in their wake? Will Eminem and Jay Z ever be anthologized like James Brown was on the 4 Funk-filled Star Time CDs? And can the Foo Fighters, Maroon 5 and even Nickelback transcend their mass appeal to reach Journey’s guilty pleasures God-like status for stadium anthems? “Don’t Stop Believin’…”

Streaming: The New Radio & We’re On It

December 16, 2014 Featured News, Marketing No Comments

Spotify_JustCrySadSongsAmong the many benefits that streaming services affords to its patrons, none are as boundless and untamed as the ecosystem of playlists these platforms contain. There is a plethora of playlists for any mood, situation or activity and most of them are curated by everyday people like you and me. Due to the quality of these user-curated playlists, many have garnered large followings over the years. A surprisingly large number of playlists have over 25,000 followers and as many as 500,000! Wowzah.

Now — why is this something to note and how can it help our clients at The Orchard? Well, as terrestrial radio started to teeter, streaming services began to establish themselves as a convenient alternative. Listeners started to tune out of radio and login to stream — many choosing to listen to these expertly crafted playlists. Nowadays, more and more listeners are relying on user-curated content on services like Spotify and Rdio and less so on commercial-based FM radio. Since most content is consumed on mobile platforms, the radio seems to be taking a backseat to its younger streaming sibling.

People colloquially known as “Tastemakers” curate these playlists and in doing so, garner followers. We in Retail Marketing are treating many of these Tastemaker playlists as mini radio stations, promoting our clients’ releases to their creators. We make sure every track that is being pitched is done so to the appropriate playlist — 21st century radio promotion! After a track is added, followers of that playlists are alerted to its inclusion and due to this, streams naturally increase and in turn so does revenue. People are clicking and really listening! We want to raise the quantity of playlists we pitch exponentially in the new year and as a result we will most likely see a large uptake in the amount of tracks streams. Cheers to 2015 and to the new way to radio!

An Approach to Facebook in Early 2015

December 15, 2014 Featured News, Marketing No Comments

Facebook VideoFacebook has announced a trio of changes to their platform in recent months that will finish rolling out this coming January. As they did earlier this year, the social network is working to enhance the user experience and increase revenue, feed their growth in mobile usage and at the same time accelerate the maturation of their video offering. What this means for marketing on the platform is essentially putting more thought into posts, with a tighter focus on mobile, and deploying video as a way of doing both to increase the reach and engagement of your messaging. In my estimation, it also means putting more effort into other platforms, such as Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest to reach the right fans at the right time while driving those users back to your hub.

One of the changes Facebook is making in January is de-emphasizing the marketing post. “Make sure you buy our record at iTunes” accompanied by a link to the retailer just won’t show up much for fans of your page anymore. If you’re not already having a natural conversation with your fans, this will pose problems for how you engage with your audience.

Another change announced at the same time is an increase in the importance of link posts. Facebook’s research shows that users prefer these types of rich link posts to a status that includes a bare link in it or a photo with a link in the caption. Essentially if you paste the link into the status box, Facebook will generate everything you need, including a title, image and summary. You can simply delete the link itself from the status update box once at that point and hit post — as long as the site whose link you are sharing has done everything correctly, of course (more on that later). Facebook will reward this newsworthy content, the entire area becomes clickable for mobile users, and Facebook’s internal research says they are clicked on at twice the rate of captions and plain links.

The last change worth mentioning here is the greater importance of video. Compared to 2013, video on Facebook this year has become an integral part of the experience, with preferential treatment and auto-play capability being given to native video on the platform. This has pushed a massive growth in video views since May. Part of this change has seen native Facebook videos receive 70% more engagement on Facebook than embeds of videos from YouTube on Facebook. Our own campaigns at The Orchard have been in line with this and we’ve seen more engagement overall on Facebook video than YouTube itself. At last report, there were 1 billion views of video on Facebook per day. Couple that with an emphasis to brands on their pages being repositories for photo and video content and you can see the field being prepared for Facebook becoming a major video content platform in 2015. And we’re not even touching on the positive effects this all has for video advertising on the platform.

Taken together I feel it’s important to tackle these changes through these strategies:

  • being more thoughtful in how posts are made on Facebook
  • ensuring the creation of shareable content on platforms outside of your hub
  • driving traffic from those platforms back to your hub, particularly Facebook
  • redoubling or starting efforts at Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest (or whichever platforms make the most sense for your artist or business)

… Continue Reading

Viral Rock Star Domo Joins The Orchard!

DOMO-ImageWe’re excited to announce that The Orchard has completed a new deal with Japanese Pop Culture icon, Domo. With it, our audio, video and YouTube teams are now involved in all aspects of Domo entertainment. We’ll be managing the Domo YouTube channel, Domo Nation, creating themed audio compilations and releasing long form video compilations of Domo clips and newly produced webisodes.

If you’re not already a fan, here’s the low-down on the Domo story:

Domo began as a character created by broadcaster NHK/Japan to help bridge generational gaps, and has since become the original viral superstar. He appears in short animations, shows up at events, has his own social networks, and is represented in a broad assortment of merchandised goods, from comfy slippers to a Domo toaster.

The name of this fuzzy mascot is actually a multi-use word in Japanese: its primary meanings are “hello,” “thank you” and “nice to meet you.” His success and popularity across the globe can be attributed to his accepting nature and malleable imagery. Domo is about happiness! As such, his primary fans are young adults and teens but the brand is enjoyed across all demographics and millions of fans love to adapt Domo to their interests and stories, including artists and celebrities.

We’d like to extend a big Orchard welcome to Domo!

Take These Holiday Classics for an Indie Spin

IndieHoliday2Have you ever polished a chestnut? Oh, how it shines. We’ve put together a playlist of our favorite Indie artists polishing away, with soft white dream powder (The Raveonettes “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”), with wacko monkey grease (Quintron & Miss Pussycat “Jingle Bell Rock”), with Retro Funk goo (Shawn Lee‘s Ping Pong Orchestra “Little Drummer Boy”), with purple drank (Ying Yang Twins “Sleigh Ride”), with… a shirt, probably, because this guy doesn’t like wearing a shirt (Iggy Pop “White Christmas”). It’s new and nostalgic, at the same time. Happy ho ho y’all.

About The Orchard

The Orchard is a pioneering music, video and film distribution company and top-ranked Multi Channel Network operating in more than 25 global markets. Founded in 1997, we empower businesses and creators in the entertainment industry.

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