RFID-chipped wristbands for concertgoers. A Facebook RSVP form for SXSW and "couch-by-couch-west" music fans. WiFi-enabled cameras. Bluetooth picture transfers—from cameras to iPads to photo subjects' social networks.
It's as if Warner Music Group (WMG) sang, "If there's a future, we want it/Now," instead of Paramore rock band lead vocalist Hayley Williams.
As much as WMG brought the future to the 2013 South by Southwest Music and Media Conference in Austin, there's still more possible next year, says Camille Hackney, senior vice president of brand partnerships and commercial licensing at Atlantic Records, a WMG label.
What WMG was trying to accomplish at SXSW, Hackney says, was to increase the number of fans for its artists, capture data about them and create brand awareness for its partners. To do that, WMG put on free live concerts, capturing data for future marketing about more than 85,000 music fans who pushed "Join" on the event's Facebook page.
"It was just a really, really successful activation," Hackney says. "We're looking forward to next year. I think our direct-to-consumer marketing aspects are really just going to grow and be amplified even more next year."
For instance, she says WMG may track the radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips in the fans' wristbands to learn which concerts they attend so subsequent messaging can be more relevant and personalized.
If WMG had done that type of tracking in 2013, chances are Paramore data would have had a strong showing. During the band's March 13 concert, #ParamoreWarnerSound trended higher on Twitter than #SXSW. @ParamoreFB says the next day, "#ParamoreWarnerSound was the first trending topic worldwide."
For the event—dubbed "The Warner Sound, Captured By Nikon"—WMG advertised with Facebook and Twitter, posted Facebook updates and asked "everyone on the team" to tell fans and others about the shows, Hackney says.