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Music To My Ears – Advertising Amplifies Sales

5 minute read | September 2009

Virginia Harvey, Client Service, Nielsen Monitor-Plus

SUMMARY: The rise to stardom does not come arbitrarily, but rather is often the by-product of a carefully constructed plan that brings together a perfect blend of talent, timing and a great advertising promotion plan. Nielsen investigates how some of the more recent campaigns in the music world achieved success.

More than just great songs—exposure is a key contributor…

A sold out show or an album going gold, platinum or diamond is music to the ears of emerging artists and veteran musicians alike. But achieving that goal typically takes more than just great songs—exposure is a key contributor. In the February issue of Consumer Insight, Nielsen reported that music artists saw album sales climb as much as 700% one week after the Grammy’s aired on broadcast television. Now, Nielsen takes a closer look at the backstage-pass advertising that amplifies album sales, digital downloads, and concert sales.

Total concert advertising spend

In 2008, total advertising spend for concerts in combined print, TV, Internet, and outdoor tallied just over $207 million. April dominated sales with $23.2 million, which surpassed May—a close second—by 10%. Contributing $2.3 million to April’s total was spending for Neil Diamond’s Home Before Dark tour.

Ticket sales grossed a 28% increase…

A review of the top three artists’ spending for 2008 reveals that Neil Diamond once again led total spending at $6.2 million, followed by Tina Tuner with $4.3 million and Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) $3.6 million. TSO, which tours on a yearly basis during the holiday season, increased advertising spend in 2008 by 37%. The increase paid off, as 2008 ticket sales grossed $47.3 million—a 28% increase over 2007 results of $36.9 million.

Overall, monthly spending was fairly consistent, with one exception—January started the year slow with a $9.4 million outlay.

Veteran acts re-emerge

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ 2008 tour proved to be one of the biggest of the year. With an estimated 32 U.S. shows and 25 sell outs, total ticket sales grossed $34.8 million. Helping to re-ignite the name—to about 97 million viewers—was a calculated move to play at the Super Bowl XLII half-time show.

The pay-off in publicizing is revealed…

Additional media vehicles that contributed to a successful tour included countless articles in magazines and online blogs about Petty’s recent greatest hits album and tour. From SPIN to Variety, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ had a wealth of media exposure. Roughly two-thirds (64%) of their promotional spending was placed in newspapers and one-third was split between local radio ($223,000) and television ($141,000) ads.

The pay-off in publicizing is further revealed by a review of Tom Petty’s tour promotion ad spending in 2005 and 2006. In 2006, ad spending increased 61%, from $430,000 to $694,000, grossing $25.2 million in ticket sales—$3.2 million higher than 2005 sales.

Hot commodities

A new era of Tween fans have emerged with the introduction Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers. With the help of the Disney Channel, acts such as these have become a household name. The Hannah Montana show—with viewers that number upwards of an average 10.7 million over the past three years—has driven awareness levels so high that traditional advertising for the 2007/2008 tour totaled only $430,000. An additional $2.7 million was spent promoting various Hannah Montana paraphernalia, such as toy figures, playsets and perfume. Hannah Montana sold out all 70 shows from October 2007 through January 2008 and grossed $55.2 million in ticket sales.

Solidifies the importance of exposure and familiarity…

While the Jo Bro’s have been associated with Disney (collaborating to create a Disney Channel original movie), the bands’ main source of promotion was TV, magazine, newspaper, and radio ($1.3 million). As impressive as their third album was—selling 525,000 copies in just the first week of its release alone—they sold out only 54 U.S. shows out of 82 and total ticket sales grossed $41.9 million. While both acts are hot commodities, girl power triumphs and solidifies the importance of exposure and familiarity.

Rise from obscurity

When Apple introduced the iPod in 2001, their eye-catching roller-skating, freestyle silhouette advertisements paired with memorable songs transformed the digital download world—and brought success to many little-known artists. Most notable was the release of the third-generation iPod Nano, when Apple featured the single 1234 from Feist. Prior to the commercial airing in September 2007, the single generated 60,000 digital downloads. After the commercial hit the airwaves, downloads increased ten-fold—rising to 638,000 from September to December 2007, according to Nielsen.

Downloads increased ten-fold…

With the success of that campaign, Apple continued to spotlight up-and-coming bands. When The Ting Ting’s hit single, Shut Up and Let Me Go, appeared in an iPod commercial in April 2008, it peaked at number 55 on the Billboard Hot 100 list. And in September 2008, the newest fourth-generation iPod Nano (Chromatic) line introduced the band Chairlift with a 30-second commercial that featured the song Bruises, which was just enough to send the song to the top of the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart.

Movie soundtracks can also have a profound affect on the popularity of a song. In February 2008, M.I.A released the single Paper Planes, which gained commercial attention when it was featured in the film and trailer for Pineapple Express. Digital copies soared from one week to the next selling 58,800 the week prior to the opening of the movie to 102,000 copies during the week of opening day—a 74% increase. From the time of the film’s opening week in early August, which included $6 million in TV ad spending to the end of September, digital copies spilled over to one million. Several months later, the song appeared in the film and soundtrack Slumdog Millionaire gaining awareness once again. The song eventually peaked at number four on Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for the Record of the Year during the 51st Grammy Awards.

Chart toppers

The right exposure has the power to elevate a band to a level of success not possible otherwise. Finding the best promotion mix is vital. From targeting the right audience and selecting impactful platforms to delivering creative messages that resonate—understanding the consumer is the fundamental building block from which all successful programs begin. Whether the goal is instant stardom, re-introduction or business-as-usual, the ability to top the charts is all about creating awareness.

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