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.
On the ground at SXSW, street teams put up posters and handed out fliers.
All efforts drove fans back to the Facebook landing page to RSVP, whether for the SXSW venue or "couch-by-couch-west" to watch the live streams at home.
"They'll go into our general Warner Music Group database," Hackney says. "And then, [where some of the registrants] have selected particular artists that they're fans of, they'll go into the artist's fan database."
Using the databases, WMG will send messages about live events, including next year's SXSW concerts. Fans will also see Facebook posts and receive emails about album and single releases.
"For the most part, we drive revenue via our album sales and digital single sales," Hackney says. "So it's really just making people aware of what's new in the marketplace."
That's where WMG's SXSW event's title sponsor comes in. Hackney says staff members roamed around the live event, letting attendees take pictures with the Nikon WiFi-enabled, high-definition cameras. Using Bluetooth connections to iPads, they could upload the photos to the individuals' Facebook accounts, which were linked to the wristband RFID chips.
If the data fans provided predicts the future, a Paramore performance at next year's show could include a lyric from the band's new album that summarizes how WMG feels about music lovers: "And after all this time, I'm still into you."