Windows rolls into MySpace with free music: Behind the scenes

Starting today, our client Windows is rolling out a new program as a way to debut their new Windows MySpace profile. In a nutshell, Windows is subsidizing your downloading of over 1,000 songs from a selection of bands featured on ReverbNation.com. Windows on MySpace

It’s an interesting marketing program, but it also helps the artists get paid in a new way for their work. Windows gets some visibility in terms of ads, and the fan gets lots of free music, legally, thereby discovering talented new bands they might not otherwise know about.

At Ignite Social Media, we developed the concept with ReverbNation (who invented the sponsored songs concept) and brought it to Windows. We’ve been working on it for the last couple of months, and thought sharing a little of the behind the scenes thinking that went on might help as an interesting case study in social media marketing for big brands.

Philosophy

Our client at Microsoft, Marty Collins, very much has the philosophy that you need to participate in conversations that are relevant to your target audiences and do so, to a degree, on their terms. She also believes that the communities she’s building (on Facebook, on Twitter, on YouTube, in their own Clubhouse) are long-term investments and that good “behavior” in these communities can add value to the usage of a product and can deepen the connection, and sentiment, toward those products. I couldn’t agree more.

We know from a detailed Community Analysis a lot about one of our key target audiences. Among other things, we found that, where 100 is average, this audience:

  • Indexes 114 for visiting MySpace;
  • Indexes 192 for visiting ReverbNation.com;
  • Indexes 168 for “download/purchase music”; and
  • Indexes 163 for “buy an mp3 player in the last year.”

So clearly this is a group with an affinity for MySpace. Even more so, they have a strong affinity for music, and Windows has long been about supporting creative experiences. The ads in the songs work to convey that as well.

The Program

ReverbNation’s new Sponsored Songs program is debuting with this partnership. It’s really a pilot program to see if brand-supported music can accomplish the goals of artists and marketers at the same time. Artists want to be compensated for sales, and this program does that, and artists want exposure for their work to new audiences–this program does that too.

From a marketing perspective, we don’t know of any other brand that has ever offered this much free music for download. It’s unlimited music downloads for 90 days from over 1,000 artists. Each week we’ll be adding new featured artists to the MySpace page, which encourages people to become friends of Windows on MySpace so we can let them know as new music becomes available each week. It’s important to factor in the value proposition if you want to not only add friends, but begin a dialogue with those friends. Check out the video below or head over to Marty’s blog for her take on the program:

The Marketing

How this is being marketed is also interesting. Of course, there are banner ads on MySpace, as you might expect. But our expectation for the program is that the relationships being brought to this campaign are going to drive far more traffic than the advertising. Which relationships? Windows existing relationships on other social networks. But also those between the 1,000 bands and their fans.  While they don’t have nearly the reach of MySpace ad banners, they have that connection with their fans that engenders real reactions. So each of the bands participating in this have access to their own marketing heft, with widgets, social network updates and more. And they’ve proven in the past that those activities work.

That, to me, is the essence of social media marketing: While the bands may have less reach than an ad campaign, they have significantly more influence.

That’s not a slam on advertising. Advertising can (and does) work, and we trust the ads we developed to support this will intrigue people and bring traffic. But it’s a testament to the power of social media marketing, which suggests that relationships can be much more powerful than ad campaigns. And that’s what Marty and the rest of her team at Windows is doing with this campaign–beginning the relationship on MySpace the way they’ve begun it in everything else they do.

So what do you think of the concept? Have you downloaded any songs yet? Which one is your favorite so far?

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