Disclaimer: I’m not (yet) a professional, so my criticisms here are from personal opinion. I have a tremendous amount of respect for all the work these businesses have done and am thankful for the time and effort they put into planning this event. That being said, I think we can all agree the attendance was not what anyone anticipated. Perhaps two-hundred people attended and the venue is capable of holding over a thousand guests. There were some shortcomings in the promotions the prevented the event from reaching its potential scale.
Music Choice and Comcast Xfinity teamed up to produce #AmpYourCampus, a contest in which college students could vote to get Hot Chelle Rae, a pop/rock boy band, and Sammy Adams, a rapper out of Cambridge, to perform a concert in their city. Boston University won and the event was scheduled for April 30th at the House of Blues on Landsdowne Street. There was also a live chat with the artists prior to the show that was streamed online; guests could win tickets to be admitted to this interview.
This sounds like a thorough and comprehensive campaign; having college students vote to bring the performers to their city sounds like a guarantee of high interest and large attendance. The exclusivity of the event brings in this younger audience and would increase its demand. It promotes an awareness of Music Choice and reminds these young adults to consider Xfinity by Comcast during their college years.
All of these things appear reasonable expecations, but there are a few factors that prevented this from being the grand music event envisioned.
Sammy Adams is the clear choice for a college show; the song that made him famous is “I Hate College.” He’s made a name for himself performing at colleges across the country. His recent collaboration with Enrique Iglesias and remix of Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” has increased his reach. His music focuses on a fun party lifestyle (one of his songs is “Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll“); what says “college” more than that? Although I’m biased (I’ve been a fan since 2009), I believe he was an appropriate choice for this demographic.
Hot Chelle Rae…not so much. They’re too clean. I know their one hit, “Tonight, Tonight” and that’s it. My mother probably would have approved of me listening to them when I was in middle school. Sammy Adams would not have been welcomed as easily. I certainly wouldn’t want to be caught listening now to the same material I sang in the shower when I was thirteen. However, I’m not a dedicated fan; I might be missing something that others find overwhelmingly appealing. I’m not saying this group is bad; they certainly serve a market, just not the college market.
The combination of these artists is also odd; their images are completely different. I can’t speak to any market research that went behind this, but from a consumer perspective, it seems like an odd combination. Their backgrounds don’t have any overlap. I don’t think they even compliment each other. Totally different demographics.
Music Choice was active on Twitter, spreading word of this promotion and posting when and where they were giving away tickets. They were the only presence; if you knew to look up #AmpYourCampus, you would see all their information. Otherwise, it could very easily go unnoticed. I didn’t even see them mentioned in the trending topics on Twitter; I follow Trendsmap Boston and regularly check what’s popular, yet I never saw it once. Sammy Adams tweeted out the information a few times, and his reach exceeds 200,000 people, but only so many are in the Boston area. It simply wasn’t enough to make a large impact in the Twittersphere.
Too much emphasis was put on this concert spreading by word of mouth; I think the numbers speak for themselves regarding that method.
Free tickets sound amazing until you know everyone present at the concert got them just like it; it lowers the value of the occasion. Additionally, the first places I look for tickets to new events are StubHub and Ticketmaster. Due to the fact that this show was categorized as a private event, it was not listed on either webiste. I actually called House of Blues Boston the day before the show to verify that it was actually occurring. People looking for an event would have completely missed this; that’s not the most effective method to drawing a crowd.
The process to obtaining these tickets was confusing, even for those even in the loop. By voting for the artists to come to Boston, I unknowingly entered myself to win tickets (not complaining about this). Several weeks later, long after I’d forgotten about the contest, I received a very confusing email that was phrased as though I might be eligible to receive tickets. I didn’t understand that the attached voucher would guarantee my guest and I access to the show. The concept of the live-chat was also not thoroughly explained and I was only more confused by it. I desperately tried to find a relevant phone number to call and ask about this arrangement, but none could be found. When all else fails, turn to twitter: I tweeted at both Music Choice and MGR marketing, some of the groups involved in organizing this. Fortunately, I was immediately put in content via email with people who explained the entire thing. I had been given free tickets, I would find out shortly if I could attend the live chat with the artists, and this concert was open to Boston area students (I was concerned if it was only open to Boston University students–I attend Emerson College). Although I eventually got the details, I doubt most prospective attendees would go to this much effort, especially if they weren’t originally fans of the groups performing.
This concert was scheduled for April 30th. For most Boston area colleges, this was right around finals week. Northeastern University had already finished exams and Emerson College was in the midst of them. Other schools were still preparing for them. A Tuesday night event did not coincide well with an 8 AM class the next morning. I understand there may have been limitations to when this concert could have been planned, such as when venues had openings and when the artists were available, but it did not work well for the designated audience.
I’ll be honest, I had no idea what Music Choice was. No brand recognition whatsoever. Only after my friend reminded me did I realize it consists of the televisions stations that solely play music. Comcast seemed to be promoting its Xfinity service for college students. If not for being a marketing major, I doubt I would’ve given either company much attention.
There was lots of “swag” given out while attendees waited in line to enter the venue; t-shirts, flags (with “Boston Strong” printed on the back), and promotional cards were distributed. What the brands didn’t take into account was that these kids were leaving college shortly after the concert and many students are not local. The only items of mine that remain after extensive packing and a stressful trip home are the Music Choice t-shirt (which I wear to bed–a lot of people see it, don’t they?) and the “exclusive access pass” to see the pre-show interview. So much for the little flag, the cards, and every other item distributed. Sorry to say, but it was largely a waste of money (or was it, since I’m writing this blog?)
I’m also finding it excessive how many brands are using the term “Boston Strong” and slapping it on anything. I appreciate the support for the city, I really do, but putting it on a little flag with Music Choice’s logo is a little self-promoting. I’m incredibly grateful to the performers for coming out to support the city and give us a sense of normalcy after the tragedies, but let’s not abuse the event and turn it into a campaign to gain public approval.
Some of the objectives were likely intended to increase brand awareness and position the companies as viable options for television and music services. However, this medium is a dying platform for this demographic. As a on-campus resident, I don’t have a choice over my cable provider. When I move off-campus, I already know I will not be investing in cable. Although I’m not an avid television watcher, my friends who are (and remember, I go to a film school; the Emmy and Academy Awards are practically religious events there) use services such as Netflix and Hulu. That’s also eliminating the fact that many students pirate their material (just sayin’).
If we assume that students are purchasing cable in their apartments in dorms, I would like to know how many are using Music Choice. The rise of services that allow you to customize what you play are dominating the market. At most events I go to, Pandora is played. If people have specific playlists or song choices, they use Spotify. Even the new Myspace and Twitter’s #Music are breaking into the music streaming business. There’s too much competition; additionally, young adults are increasingly using the internet. Although an interactive music channel has been developed by Music Choice, there are too many barriers to entry. You have to set up another account to be able to vote on music videos, upload pictures, and make comments. It doesn’t foster a collaborative community. Sorry, Music Choice, I think you’re fighting a lost cause.
Although I have many criticisms of this event’s promotions, I think the actual event was executed quite well. The pre-show interview was engaging; the hosts, local radio personalities TJ and Loren from 103.3 Amp radio, were humorous, appropriate, and very professional. I thought they engaged well with the performers and seemed very comfortable on stage. They invited attendees up on stage to ask questions and were able to orchestrate the conversation well and in a timely fashion.
The performers rocked the show despite the small crowd. Hot Chelle Rae came on stage first and seemed energized and excited. They were talented and sounded good. Although not my favorite group, I certainly enjoyed their performance. Sammy Adams was second on stage (his friend and YouTuber Sam Pepper popped on stage for a moment between acts while Sammy’s talented DJ JAYCEEOH set up his equipment). Musically, I have no complaints.
Everything considered, I enjoyed myself at the concert. I was happy to have a free event to mark the end of my finals (I was one of the fortunate few who had already completed all the exams and essays) and seeing Sam Adams was enough to make me happy. However, the atmosphere of the show would’ve been a lot better had more people attended, and that’s where the promoters fell short. As grateful as I was to get right up near the stage, the room lacked that extra energy from an excited audience.
Whether you’re a fellow concert attendee, one of the professionals who worked on the campaigns, or simply someone with an opinion, I want to know if you agree (or better yet, disagree) with me on this matter. I certainly can’t guess all the motives behind this initiative; furthermore, I don’t know the companies’ metrics of success, so I don’t know if they even care how many people turned out to the show. I want to know the thought process and the planning that went into the show, so if I’m completely incorrect in all my assumptions, I want to hear from you! However, if you think I’ve got valid points, I want to learn about your experience too. There’s a comments section below for a reason–utilize it!