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Written by: Matt Lillywhite
During Ultra Music Festival 2018, attendees were told to “expect the unexpected” throughout the entirety of the festival. Packed with stunning performances from the likes of Jonas Blue and Virtual Self, it was impressive to see the EDM community coming together for the truly magnificent event. But of course, the marketing campaign for the closing performance by Swedish House Mafia certainly didn’t go unnoticed. Therefore, in this article, we’re going to discuss some of the strategies implemented, and how you can learn from them in order to build anticipation for your own performances.
On March 2nd, a few weeks before the festival began, Steve Angello posted a photo on Instagram of a past performance in Bayfront Park. Of course, this certainly didn’t go unnoticed, and many fans immediately started adding it to a series of events that fueled speculation over a potential SHM performance.
In addition, Swedish House Mafia updated their Facebook cover page photo to a picture of three spray-painted dots (their signature logo). Slowly, information was being fed to the public that the supergroup may, in fact, be returning to the music industry. At this point, rumors were rife over who would be playing. Guesses ranged from the likes of Daft Punk to an unexpected B2B set, with the social media page updates certainly adding fuel to the fire.
Several days later, Proximity uploaded a video of the Swedish House Mafia collaboration with Pharrell. With over 6.5 million YouTube subscribers, it is undoubtedly considered one of the most influential social media channels for electronic dance music. Accumulating over 1,000 comments, many people began reminiscing about the days of Swedish House Mafia being one of the dominant driving forces within the genre. In contrast, others were saying that “a performance at Ultra is confirmed”. By using such an influential outlet to help promote the reunion campaign, Swedish House Mafia were able to attract a lot of anticipation for the performance in preparation for their set. Accompanied with statements from the likes of Hardwell saying that a reunion had to happen, it was pretty much confirmed in everyone’s minds that Swedish House Mafia’s return was on the cards. But finally, on the evening of the set, photos were leaked to major dance music publications of a Swedish House Mafia sign being prepared on the Ultra Miami festival grounds. At last, it was no longer just a rumor that the trio were reuniting.
After the incredible performance, Steve Angello’s manager, Scooter Braun, shared an image via his Instagram which had the caption “the beginning”. Although some people may view this event as three DJs simply getting back together, it’s important to note the significance of the event within dance music. After all, it wasn’t just a one-off show for the sake of it.
Finally, within the preceding days of the Ultra closing set, Swedish House Mafia unveiled a special line of merchandise, which included T-Shirts, and even custom Nike Air Force 1 Sneakers. With the caption of “03 25 18”, the sneakers commemorate the reunion of the iconic trio.
So what can we learn from the marketing campaign of Swedish House Mafia’s performance at Ultra Miami? The first thing which immediately comes to mind is that social media can be an extremely powerful tool when used correctly. By uploading photos of previous performances in Miami, fans were given potential context as to what was going to happen in the proceeding weeks. Therefore, if you want to announce a festival performance, a series of cryptic social media posts of yourself alongside the festival logo, or images of past performances, go a long way in helping to build audience anticipation and keep them guessing.
It’s also worth noting that social media influencers within a certain niche can be key to helping drive a message or campaign. In this case, Proximity was used due to its extremely large audience. However, upon releasing a new song, producers & record labels could easily use promotion channels, and even vloggers, to help promote their new song in order to gain exposure.
Once you have a lot of attention, and people know exactly who you are, it may be time to release a product. After all, you can easily leverage the attention gained from marketing campaigns to convert into dollars. Likewise, with Swedish House Mafia’s Nike Air Force 1 sneakers, it’s simply a case of waiting for the right time before being able to monetize your audience.