Millennials, Music, Marketing

Millennials, Music, Marketing

By Jose Villa

The last two weekends, all three combined for the ultimate West coast music festival, Coachella.

By the time the dust settled on the Empire Polo Club grounds Monday, marketers had again spent millions on connecting with the millennial festival attendees.  Amid the dancing masses under light changing palm trees, the seemingly never ending balloon chains and the iconic Ferris wheel, brands like Absolut, Heineken, Samsung, H&M, Sephora and even NRG, all paid top dollar for their own branded tents or “houses” on the festival grounds.

In the marketing world, Millennials dominate the conversation via Twitter, which played a central role in the battle for a growing user base between two livestreaming apps: SXSW darling Meerkat and the now Twitter owned Periscope.  The majority of those who could not attend were expected to take to YouTube to watch the performances live for the fifth year in a row. The social media savvy (i.e. millennials) were making a first time choice between Meerkat and/or Periscope to supplement watching live performances, with livestreams that include backstage interviews and exclusive parties.

Riding on the wave of momentum caused by the acquisition and suspension of the Twitter social graph to Meerkat, Periscope was able to win the Twitter mention battle.  According to Zignal Labs over the two weekends, Periscope totaled 1,848 mentions to Meerkat’s 1,064, or around 49% more.

While Periscope won the numbers game, both platforms were utilized by major brands and performers.  Periscope solidified its lead in race, but it’s far from over.  It is possible that by this time next year, there will be a clear winner and only one of these two live streaming apps would be available.   However, I am not yet convinced that Meerkat will be unable to hold on to at least some market share to stay afloat.  While not exactly a parallel situation, there is something to be learned from Meerkat CEO Ben Rubin’s reference to the similar relationship between Skype, Facetime and Google Hangouts.

While MeerKat and Periscope fight it out, the music industry itself, with one genre in particular, continue to win as a whole.  Well over one billion dollars will be spent this year alone in sponsoring music venues, festivals and tours.  Once shunned by the mainstream and plagued by negative connotations, the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) genre has seen an explosive growth in popularity these past few years as evidenced by the EDM dense Coachella lineup. This growth is highlighted by the whopping $66 million that Scottish music producer/songwriter/DJ Calvin Harris made last year, good enough to top hip-hop mogul Jay Z and country superstar Toby Keith.

In large part due to its numerous sub-genres (trance, trap, house, dubstep, etc.) that appeal to a wide variety of audiences, EDM is becoming marketers’ new preferred method to reach millennials.  Above all, EDM culture values the music, individuality and acceptance, values already common among millennials. A good example of this can be found in the 30 second Super Bowl spot for Mountain Dew Kickstart.  The spot features the aforementioned “trap” music, specifically “Out the Speakers (ft. Rich Kidz)” by A-trak, Milo & Otis.

Not a terrible spot right?  People can argue, but it certainly turned plenty of heads during the Super Bowl.  The inclusive nature of this musical melting pot that is EDM is not limited to a select few.   This music cuts across all demographics, an aspect that has contributed to its recent growth.

As millennials continue to push EDM culture into the mainstream, the hesitance among brands to associate themselves with it seems to be disappearing.  Brands that are able to align themselves accordingly while utilizing the proper platforms (looking at you Meerkat/Periscope) may yet be able to truly connect with Millennials.