The key to achieving this intimate level of understanding, and establishing a healthy foundation for brand-consumer relationships, is to think macro and deliver micro. In other words, brands with an intimate understanding of how to address audience subcultures at a micro level, are able to build a positive brand perception at a macro level. This school of thought requires a layered approach asking marketers to bet on subculture, react versus react, and differentiate culture from pop culture.
Using this formula, Audiomack is carving out a niche in the streaming industry alongside Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal. Collecting over 5 billion global streams per month with an original content audience of over 200 million, Audiomack ranks in the top 10 music apps on iOS and Android. This performance is the result of brand awareness, trust and engagement with niche communities: Dave Edwards, senior vice president of revenue, says Audiomack’s global audience is over 90 % multicultural and 93% under 34 years old.
Bet on the subculture
Through its Hometown Heroes vertical, Audiomack partners with influential taste makers in various cities such as Yan Snead, Miss Milan, PJ Gordon, Marc Gianni, Rosecrans Vic, Adeyemi Adetunji and more to curate playlists featuring showcases local talent who might otherwise go unnoticed by competitors. To get placement in playlists on most streaming platforms, there is a known barrier to entry that requires connections and a budget in the industry. It is disheartening for the gifted musician who has no connections in the big centers of the industry. This barrier to entry is exactly what gives Audiomack a unique value proposition. By using Hometown Heroes, Audiomack is an accessible brand where emerging talent can develop their fan base locally and beyond.
“It’s about the individual’s opinion of the local culture as a whole,” said Jason Johnson, vice president of strategic partnerships and branding. “Whoever we work with, we want to know that they are involved. Where are the pop-up shops and where people hang out? What community organizations can we partner with to give back musically? It’s about being able to get active in your city by doing something really impactful.
Don’t react. To respond
In recent years, we have seen evidence of reactionary and responsive marketing in the way brands have presented themselves when it comes to topical cultural topics such as race, ethnic and gender equality, awareness to the environment and overall progressivity. Some were reactionary, like Pepsi with its muffled reaction to the trending conversation about police brutality, featuring a celebrity who couldn’t relate to. The campaign had the right theme, but lacked cultural context in an attempt to raise social awareness. The result? Massive backlash and lowest Pepsi purchase intention in 8 years. McDonald’s, on the other hand, responded to a viral video of tainted meat being processed by its supplier with a nostalgia-focused campaign reminding consumers that they have always trusted McDonald’s, as well as a landing page. FAQ editorial addressing all questions about how he makes his chicken. Nugget sales increased 10%.
Responsive marketing wins because it is guided by a full cultural context to inform the best ways in which a brand can be a resource and a partner in the market to which it sells. Audiomack has entered the African market, a formidable frontier of technological and musical advancement, through strategic partnerships with entities such as Afrochella, Ziki Media and Diageo Nigeria. The company has positioned itself as a resource to increase visibility and support for emerging artists through outdoor advertising, educational activations and live concerts and original content. Additionally, Audiomack has made streaming music and content free to over 82 million users through its partnership with South African mobile service provider MTN Nigeria.
“It’s about being intentional,” Johnson said. We don’t have the right to make the mistake of going there and being culture vultures. It was about recognizing that it is about their continent, finding allies, learning about the needs of their artists and being of service.
Culture doesn’t always mean pop culture
Talking about the cultural values of a consumer group is the cornerstone of trust and engagement, but these values are not always synonymous with pop culture. Typically, marketers and advertisers believe culture refers to anything considered cool in pop culture, especially music, fashion, and entertainment.
Neutrogena, for example, can easily be aligned with pop-cultural relevance as product, partnerships, messages are reflected in mass media and the everyday life of a consumer market that cares about physical appearance.
Bass Pro Shop, on the other hand, caters to a high culture. It appeals to outdoor men and women whose lifestyle is a niche. Its clients do not normally appear in the headlines and their vernacular does not turn into everyday language.
By attracting artists and listeners who are passionate about the lifestyle of music connoisseurs, Audiomack also caters to high culture. It does not rely on virality and label partnerships to identify talent. Rather, the brand relies on its micro-communities in local cities, to organically determine what music is on its way to being popular at the macro level of mainstream music. While building confidence as a trusted source of music for the rising generation of listeners.