Lessons in Hype: The Next Big Thing

"Get your hands on the album everyone has been talking about."

This is the strapline from a recent TV ad campaign for a brand new artist. It is running in conjunction with an album launch, nationwide print ad campaign (including billboards and tube posters) and bit of a tour.

Sound familiar? We hear this all the time from the music industry - in fact, its pretty much a standard campaign and message kit. But is it relevant anymore? 

The old way of marketing involved creating The Next Big Thing, with a big splash of hype. Drive the kids to the shops, get them to buy the record FAST - and watch it sail to the top of the charts. 

But now, none of those things matter anymore. The charts are irrelevant, and the kids aren't consuming in the same way they used to. So why do the big guns continue to play this game, and why are they so shocked to see this strategy is no longer working?

The Next Big Thing is now about taking small steps, and building slowly with commitment and belief. Its about building up the artist and community together and nurturing a relationship. One step and a time. Small really is the new Big.

How many times have we seen an artist thrust into the status of Next Big Thing only to fall away without a trace months (even weeks) later? We only need to look at the various Pop Idol/XFactor winners to see that unsupported hype doesn't equal success. 

Seth puts it perfectly in his blog this week:

"A few brands pick out tiny dominos instead. And topple them. And they do it again. They do it so often they create noise, momentum and most important, a sense of inevitability. That's how you win."

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