I Just Can’t Get Enough of making playlists. Coming up with themes, choosing the songs that fit, adding a nice cover photo – I Love It.
Every time there’s a natural opportunity to include a playlist in my Work, I make the most of it. There’s loads of creative things you can do with them, and it never has to be the main Focus of the campaign. It’s often a small supplementary product, enhancing the project instead of taking the Spotlight.
If you’ve always wanted to include music in your marketing campaigns, here’s a few ideas from previous work I've done – once you grasp the concept, there’s No Limit to what you can do.
(I promise I’ll stop with the music puns and be serious)
Promoting Music Or Podcasts
Let’s start with the obvious one. If you’re working with a musician or podcast host, you’ll want to promote their work through music services, which includes getting their music added to playlists. However, there’s plenty of other ways you can use playlists to promote them.
As well as advertising their music, you’re advertising the artist as an individual. Why should audiences be interested in them? What makes them unique and/or relatable? Consider playlists consisting of their musical influences, or songs they’re currently listening to, or even on subjects that are important to them. Your playlists don’t need to be focused on just the individual’s work.
If you’re a record label, consider creating a playlist of songs from your roster. In 2018 I worked with The Label Recordings on their Liverpool Sound City festival stage. To mark the occasion, I created a playlist of songs by artists performing during the festival and shared it in the weeks leading up to the event. The purpose was to get people to listen to a few songs, find artists they like, and visit their stage during the festival. Smaller artists thrive from getting more exposure at big events, so this playlist helped people find new music before they’d even arrived at the festival.
Your audience don’t exist solely to be sold to. Audiences are retained by supporting them throughout their journey (and beyond if necessary). If they have something positive to share with the world, and it’s relevant to your brand, you should uplift them.
Depending on your job, there’s times where there’s cause for celebration. It could be a major award you’ve won, or an event for your audience, or even an annual festivity. Someone in your organisation may create a playlist to play at a physical event, but have you considered sharing this playlist online too?
The most successful playlist I’ve ever made was a Graduation 2019 playlist at my last job. For two years in a row I created playlists for upcoming graduates to listen to when getting ready for their ceremonies or celebrating them afterwards. The playlist was specifically constructed to start with upbeat and uplifting songs such as Best Day Of My Life by American Authors, followed by bittersweet songs such as The Climb by Miley Cyrus, ending with supportive songs like Lean On Me by Bill Withers.
Getting Your Audience Involved
It’s one thing to make a playlist yourself, but what about allowing your audience to
make a playlist? Not only is it a great way to foster interaction, it gives you a sense of who your community are.
To mark 100 years of some women’s right to vote, I collaborated with people across my last organisation to promote a celebration and awareness-raising event. One of these ideas was to develop a female empowerment playlist with input from students and staff. We had around 80 to 90 suggestions for songs, which was cut down to a playlist of 60 alongside female colleagues. This playlist saw its debut at the event and was later shared on social media.
There’s a few things you need to consider when developing an audience-curated playlist. Are the songs suitable? Do they flow well? How do you choose which ones make the mix? It’s your audience’s job to suggest tracks, but it’s your job to make sure they work.
Music is subjective, and sometimes your playlist won’t resonate with your audience. Influencers are great for various types of content, but you should consider playlist curation as one of their tasks.
In my last job, I managed a group of students called Digital Content Assistants. They assisted with many tasks including campaign planning and content creation, and as part of the latter I invited them to create playlists. One of my students developed a lo-fi/jazz study playlist that was not only relaxing and non-disruptive, but also showcased her own music taste.
As marketing professionals we’re not always able to do everything ourselves, not because we don’t have the skills but because we’re unable to relate to every single potential audience. By getting someone else involved with content creation, you gain a different perspective and new ideas.
A playlist doesn’t need to be a serious part of your marketing strategy – sometimes it’s just a bit of a laugh. If you’ve got a few minutes spare, a playlist can be an extra light-hearted asset.
For #SocialMediaManagersDay on 17th September 2020, I wrote several blogs and appeared in a video interview about my work. During times where I had a few minutes to spare, I started working on a playlist themed around being a social media manager. It was divided into sections based on what the song title represented, such as dealing with a crisis (“Trouble”, “Controversy”, “False Alarm”) or posting something by accident (“Save As Draft”, “Oops” “Tweet And Delete”). The playlist was shared in a Facebook group not as a major part of the day’s festivities, but as a fun little addition.
Marketing is full of potential entertaining add-ons. They don’t define the campaign, but they make it a bit more enjoyable to consume. Don’t overthink them, just try them out and see if they work.
Showcasing Your Personality
When you meet someone new, how do you break the ice? Some people ask what music the other person likes. It’s a great way to see what artists you both like or what their preferred genres or styles of music are.
While many brands may not be able to showcase their personality through commercial music, it’s far easier if you’re promoting yourself as an expert (such as a freelancer). Personality goes a long way, and you need to sell yourself as a professional and a human being as well as your skill set.
Earlier this month I created a playlist of 100 songs that I love and/or which represent a significant moment in my life. I keep this playlist on standby for a range of purposes, including when someone is interested in me or my work. I don’t expect people to listen to the whole thing but scanning through lets people know a bit more about me and starts some great conversations.
Alex Duffy is a social media manager and content creator with experience in the charity and higher education sectors. His writing work covers topics including social media, student life and online abuse.