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The Universal Music Group (UMG) is the largest music corporation in the world, with 10,000 artists making CDs for it. For many of its
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artists, UMG maintains Web sites where fans can come to see pictures of the star in action, listen to snatches of the star s music, and register their names. UMG has been testing the use of these registered names to promote new CD releases. One example is a new CD release called Essence by Lucinda Williams on a new label, Lost Highway. The pilot program was designed to determine whether online promotions would have an impact on music sales, and whether database marketing strategies and tactics would work in this industry. This was UMG s rst attempt to marry database marketing techniques with e-marketing activities. Universal introduces hundreds of new CDs during any given year. Lucinda Williams was not a wellknown artist, and the genre of music called roots rock was just emerging as a new music style. This was not a Harry Potter type of marketing effort. UMG s vice president of consumer information marketing, Joe Rapolla, sponsored the promotion and worked with Beth Clough, director of partner relations at msdbm in Los Angeles, to run the project. The target audience included both existing fans (customers) of Lucinda Williams and prospects who matched the fan pro le. The second most important audience was Universal Music managers in UMG s New Media and Common Label Operations departments. These managers had been attempting to prove to management that online marketing could reduce costs and nd new customers.
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The Internet was widely used as a channel for music sales through many sites, such as Amazon.com, buy.com, and CDNow.com. However, more than 95 percent of all CDs were sold at retail stores. Most of these CDs were promoted by radio station disc jockeys. The goal of the project, therefore, was not to sell the new CDs over the Web. Instead, UMG wanted to use database marketing strategies to build its email customer base, to gather key information, and to encourage album sales. The market was lled with competing CDs. There were very few radio stations that aired the roots rock artists because of the small audience
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for this genre. Getting rack space for this type of CD was also dif cult because it was a new genre of music and a new label. At the time the project began, there were no systems established to measure the success of such a program if success were to occur. UMG management had not given the idea much attention. The primary objective of the campaign was to develop a successful integrated marketing strategy that would lead to incremental CD sales during the rst week of the album s release. The campaign included the following elements: Supporting the existing UMG Lost Highway marketing strategy Using online and of ine marketing tactics that were trackable, accountable, and measurable Proving the value of database marketing in developing fan support and sales Developing a model that could be replicated for other UMG labels and artists (see Figure 6-2) Using research to create the ideal customer model that would allow Lost Highway to purchase look-alike prospects All of this had to be done in a situation in which there was no prior research and a very limited existing database of fans. All Joe Rapolla had was a le of a couple of hundred Lucinda fans who had registered 2 years before.
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Beth s rst task was to develop a customer pro le of Lucinda Williams fans based on the names in the existing database. She conducted online focus groups to get qualitative research on the audience for roots rock (see Figure 6-3). The focus groups each contained twelve participants and lasted for 1 hour. Each participant received a $75 cash reward through the mail after the focus group was over. Discussion in the groups centered on the roots rock genre, along with broader topics such as the participant s level of involvement with favorite artists.
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