How does BBC Worldwide and Universal Music TV drive their digital agendas? (Part Two)

September SpeakeasyWelcome to part two of our Q & A with two of the industry’s leading digital marketers: Alex Ayling, Head of BBC Worldwide Digital Studios and Nick Moxham, Head of Digital, Universal Music TV. In case you missed part one which focussed on Alex, you can view that here:

Nick has kindly joined is to discuss disruption – a word we hear mentioned a lot in marketing, but the music industry has had to deal with quite a lot: the emergence of streaming and how that has changed the way we value content, we’ve moved from owning to borrowing – we rent everything now.

Q: Tell us about your role, Nick?

“It’s changed a lot. Traditionally, we just sold physical compilation albums, whereas now we do more and more digital download units and have developed a strong presence in playlists on streaming services. Our marketing strategy is increasingly focusing more on digital content and media rather than simply relying on traditional linear TV marketing.”

Q: what’s changed?

“We’ve had to learn how to apply the vast knowledge we’ve developed from the curation of albums, to playlists. It’s about reaching people, the casual consumer who has heard a few tracks on the radio and they want some tracks for specific occasions and moments. They want playlists for those – dynamic albums that we can add and remove tracks to/from.

“In the music industry, it’s the second time we’ve been disrupted. First time around they didn’t manage the transition very well,  but this time around now we’re embracing it. Digital services were seen as a threat, now we see it as an opportunity. This time we’ve embraced it!”. ” Apparently music is the single most important medium above film and everything else, but we don’t see that in terms of revenue. Streaming is disrupting the download market. Downloading is older tech. There’s a new young horse that is streaming and it’s really exciting. Music is way more accessible than it ever was before.”

Q: Alex spoke about fandoms earlier, I believe the term in music is super fans, what are they?

“Super fans follow you on every platform possible. The prime product is not just what someone wants from listening, but the extended customer experience. This has never really changed. Music has always stimulated bits of your brain; it’s important that people can have multiple emotional stimulation from music other than just the sound itself.”

Q: When you release a compilation how do you go about creating that same sense of excitement when you launch it – do you launch it at the same time in store, on Spotify etc?

“Historically it was a TV ad, now we include things like events, getting the artists involved and increasingly, getting people engaged with the album. When the album is curated by a famous person such as radio DJ, we’ll get them to do some kind of content around it to deliver what the music means to them. It’s about trying to deliver an idea and context to the album.

“In terms of playlists, you don’t release it, you update it. It’s a brand marketing job, barriers to entry to the market are zero so it is all about brand trust and rather than just getting someone to buy your album once, you get them to play it every day. We work with the artists to deliver  content to get into their audience and endorse the brand.”

Q: What role does data and segmentation play? How do you do this?

“The beautiful thing about streaming is you get a vast amount of data back: what they are listening to etc. We typically have 8 or 9 different user segments. Segmentation used to be built on genre alone, now with people listening to 10 different genres, it’s more about understanding people behaviours and the ways they are tuning in.”

Q: We’ve talked about curation, are you worried about algorithms taking over curation?

“Algorithms have a long way to go. On its own it won’t do the job, there needs to be a human element in it.”

Q: Do consumers feel the same? 

“I don’t think the consumer knows or cares. Interestingly BBC Radio 1 start their shows with familiar music, then the 3rd or 4th played track is something that audience have never heard of. Then the next track is something incredibly popular – Familiarity vs discovery; there needs to be a good balance. In theory an algorithm can deliver that, but can it ultimately tell what a good tune is?! We will always need human curators.”

Q: Digital innovation requires trial and error, some things work brilliantly, others not so. In the spirit of attendees taking a learning from tonight, what have Universal Music done in digital marketing that didn’t work so well and why was that?

“Marketing kids brands is really challenging. Kids are spending a lot of time on the internet, but actually creating content that is watched is really hard. Parents are gatekeepers – having a brand that’s trusted is really important. In the kids space you’re competing with the likes of Disney, who are incredibly well trusted (by parents), so it’s challenging. Trying to use music that reaches kids is hard because a lot of it has sex or swearing in it.

“Collecting data on kids isn’t easy because of laws. Our  kids brand is 5 years old, has sold six million albums but  they are all CDs – it’s what parents play for their kids in the cars– and mainly marketed via linear TV advertising. This model is challenged.

“Kids consumption of linear TV is dropping off the cliff and there are less CDs being stocked in shops. Trying to apply the traditional model and learning to the internet isn’t easy.”

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