When it comes to content marketing, brands are more savvy than ever. Yet, this year the most savvy brand isn’t really a brand at all, but a musical group that’s been around since the 80s: Daft Punk.
“Random Access Memories” Maybe you’ve heard of it? Maybe you’ve heard it? Maybe you’re like me and haven’t heard enough of it yet? Well, in the deluge of articles about the album and its creation, interspersed with what I’m usually reading about online advertising and marketing, my mind wandered to the intersection of content and music creation. Somewhere along the line I posited, jokingly at first, “It’s almost like the album is a ‘sponsored ad.”
And yet, after some thought, maybe there’s something to that idea.
The Robots Re-Emerge
Aside from outliers such as Radiohead, bands typically stick to their established musical voice. The Daft Punk sound is rooted in dance music driven by obscure samples sewn together to create a new whole. And while their success spawned new fans, it also fueled imitators. The band was faced with the challenge of innovating a genre they pioneered. What would they do now that sampling is passe? How would they innovate now that everyone else has copied their technique and is even sampling their samples?
Well, Daft Punk opted to recruit the best contributors from multiple generations to create a new album - lead singers, producers, collaborators and session musicians who were experts on the sounds that have defined their eras. The key was giving these contributors a theme to iterate on, and some inspiration to get started, and then facilitating the magic. The result is an album that bears the Daft Punk name, built primarily by contributors not actually in the band.
It’s less, “This is a Daft Punk album” and more like, “This album is powered by Daft Punk.” It’s a 13 song ‘sponsored post.’
The brilliance of the marketing behind Random Access Memories is how the content was generated and how it is being and will be used as part of a larger ‘content strategy.’
The first phase of this strategy was to define their vision and recruit the right contributors. Daft Punk set out to create something new that captured the sounds of an older era. To do this they recruited artists who were leaders in their own eras, and also fans of Daft Punk (or at the very least familiar with the band.) They knew these contributors would be able to create in the desired voice. With the vision and creative team in place, the duo then curated contributions into a cohesive, highly-engaging album. In doing so, they’ve given their old and new fans new music (just in time for the summer) and given their own ‘brand’ a lift.
This approach has also springboarded their inner circle of contributors into the spotlight. While contributors such as Pharrell, Niles Rodgers and Giorgio Moroder are legends amongst their own fans, Daft Punk gave these contributors an even larger stage via their own network of fans. This extended the visibility of Daft Punk to new audiences, and brought fans of these individuals closer to the Daft Punk family. It also turns these legendary artists/influencers in to Daft Punk advocates.
Finally, with this new album in place, the content strategy shifts to Daft Punk iterating around the content. Shortly after Random Access Memories was released, the duo announced that they would return to remix the tracks on the album. This is very similar to how clients use the Tidal platform. For instance, Liquor.com established its DrinkWire community to amplify enthusiast from across the spectrum of spirits. Through DrinkWire, Liquor.com can now create curated round-ups around any theme, such as holidays like Father’s Day, or specific spirits, etc.
Human After All
Just as Daft Punk aren’t really robots, content creation should never be an automated process. The human element of creating and curating content can not be understated, and it’s those human elements - enthusiasm, passion, creativity - the enable the generation of great content, be it music, photography, video or editorial.
It’s the creative process behind this album and developing a marketing plan for it that brands should seek to recreate to achieve success. This includes:
Have a Vision: Define your editorial voice, recruit the right contributors and provide clear guidance on the theme in which they need to create
Help Others Help You: Use your established presence to elevate the work of your inner circle of influencers
Remix: Iterate around the content being published, and develop ways to augment that content
Will robot suits and helmets help too? Maybe, although it might not get you the right kind of attention. At the end of the day, it’s all about empowering others to help your content strategy succeed. Brands can turn to their fans to create a highly engaging resource, just as the Daft Punk ‘robots’ turned to ‘humans’ to create a highly engaging piece of art. Who knows...maybe this means Skynet will give humans a chance too.