Co-written by Christina Warren
The 53rd Annual Grammy Awards are just around the proverbial corner, and to herald their arrival, the Recording Academy is busting out with an innovative social media campaign involving geolocation, mobile, web, social media and even augmented reality.
This year’s campaign, dubbed Music Is Life Is Music — a joint effort between the Academy and the creative team at TBWA\Chiat\Day — centers around the idea that everyone has a musical journey with memories tied to certain songs and locations.
Mashable had the chance to speak with the Recording Academy and Chiat Day about the campaign, the use of social media and mobile technologies, and the potential beyond the award ceremony itself.
Building on Last Year’s Success
Last year, the Grammy Awards used social media as the basis of the “We’re All Fans” campaign. Television spots were created using fan-generated YouTube performances to celebrate a nominated artist. A website, WereAllFans.com, was also created, using real-time content from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr to build out a “living” composition of an artist or group.
How successful was this first brush with social media? Well, ratings were up 35% over 2009, and we’re sure social media and its role in the campaign and the award show itself played a part.
For 2011, the goal is to make the campaign more interactive. Whereas last year’s campaign used user-generated content, the experience was more passive. Yes, fans could view real-time updates being shared by others related to an artist or band, but directly contributing to that data in a tangible way just wasn’t possible.
Music Is Life Is Music is the natural evolution of “We Are Fans.” Rather than simply aggregating relevant content into a viewable stream, users can follow the musical journey of their favorite artists and share their own musical histograms.
The Academy and Co. kicked off Music Is Life Is Music with a Foursquare-esque app called the MusicMapper on both iPhone [iTunes link] and Android platforms. The app, which is a mashup of Google Maps, SimpleGeo (for the location-based API) and music subscription service Rdio, allows users to tag locations on a map of their current city with songs and notes.
For example, say you saw your favorite band play for the first time on your birthday at that old movie palace in town, and middway through the set you caught the drummer’s sweaty tank top — by searching for that location via MusicMapper, you can drop a virtual pin of the map, and tag that location with the aforementioned story and a track by the artist in question, pulled from Rdio. You can also share your tag via Twitter and Facebook.
The app also integrates Flickr and Foursquare data, highlighting concert venues via Foursquare, and using Flickr to add photos of local artists and nearby venues to augment the experience.
The app — which has been spreading through the Grammy network and picking up steam among interested artists — also has an accompanying microsite called Music Is Life Is Music that allows you to tag any location you like (using the mobile app, you can only search for addresses and tag your current location). It also features a timeline view where you can scroll through all the tags by other users, as well as your own tags and those of featured artists.
The Academy has selected several artists to track their musical journeys, which are demarcated on the map by special markers. Eminem — who the Academy and Chiat Day feel has an especially unique musical journey — is one of those chosen musicians, as you can see in the promo video below.
And that’s not all, folks, the Grammy crew has dreamed up a stage two for Music Is Life Is Music, which should be kicking off today/early next week. The app will now feature a QR code reader, which can be used to unlock exclusive Grammy content via codes on all print material and outdoor advertisements — all content will be specific to your location, as determined by SimpleGeo.
The content in question includes Grammy performances from the past, which is cool because the Academy very rarely releases full performances. Eight full performances will be available within the app, and the Academy was nice enough to let Mashable know about three of them:
- Ricky Martin – “La Copa De La Vida (Cup of Life)” from 1999. This is the performance that introduced Martin to American audiences and served as the catalyst for what would become the Latin-pop explosion of 1999.
- Radiohead – “15 Step” Radiohead at the Grammy Awards? In 2009 it happened and was spectacular.
- Mary J Blige – “No More Drama” Blige’s stirring performance at the 2002 Grammy Awards still gives us chills.
The app will also feature an augmented reality view, which, using the phone’s camera, allows users to see all the tags associated with a space when they enter said space — so, if you were to visit the old movie palace once more, you would be presented with all the other tags associated with the location.
If you’re a music lover, this is a highly addictive app that really plays upon a concept explicated by College Humor’s CEO Ricky Van Veen at the Mashable Media Summit: Documentation is the new hot.
In addition to taking part in an experience, we’re becoming increasingly enamored of documenting those experiences in the moment. This concept is even more relevant for music fans — you know, the folks who compulsively hoard concert tickets, blurry cellphone snaps of their favorite bands and sweaty tank tops thrown into the crowd by their favorite drummers.
MusicMapper: More Than Just a Tie-in App
Having a mobile application at the center of a promotional campaign isn’t especially novel in 2011. What makes the MusicMapper app and experience innovative — and we think unique — is that it is a concept and an execution that could easily be useful and fun, even if completely unconnected to the Grammy Awards.
There is certainly no shortage of music apps available for the iPhone or Android — and many of these apps strive to be social in some way. What makes MusicMapper special is that it works, and it feels natural. Tagging a location with a song and adding a comment is the sort of thing that just makes sense. Not only is the process addictive, finding and reading the musical memories from other artists or music fans is a pretty cool experience.
Furthermore, the ability to play back one’s music journey is kind of like stepping into an aural time capsule. The combination of memory and music can conjure up some genuine emotions — just as Arcade Fire did with its groundbreaking music video for “We Used to Wait,” a.k.a “The Wilderness Downtown.”
MusicMapper unlocks the promise that music startups like Flowd have failed to fully execute (Refresher: Flowd is a new mobile social network for musicians and bands), partly because it has users pre-baked into the ecosystem at launch — i.e. Grammy artists.
Flowd et al. don’t have that advantage, given that they’re startups that lack the clout carried by a massive awards show like the Grammys. Yes, it is a branded app in a sense, but it’s also a damn good app.
Lest you think that MusicMapper will fade into obscurity after the last trophy is handed out, Academy CMO Evan Greene tells us he hopes to keep MusicMapper alive beyond the show.
We hope that’s the case, because with a little more polish, we could really see MusicMapper catching on.
The 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards will take place in Los Angeles at Staples Center on Sunday, February 13, and will air live on the CBS Television Network from 8 to 11:30 p.m. (ET/PT).