Street team marketing, also known as “guerilla” “viral” or “grassroots” marketing has been around for quite some time. During the 80’s, street team music promotion was based on collecting names for fanzines, gluing posters all over town and distributing flyers to potential fans.
Street teams are still a popular promotion tactic within the music industry, however, today we may not physically see as many music promoters out and about ‘on the streets’ as a lot of them have now moved online.
According to Donnie Estopinal, of Disco Donnie Presents, “younger promoters just push send on the computer, they don’t believe in flyers and posters”, but in fact, the offline element of person-to-person marketing is still hugely powerful and recognising this, many events and artists are opting to invest in offline street team marketing campaigns as well as online.
The evolution of street team marketing
If we were to define street team in the vinyl and MP3 era it is a group of fans who create a buzz about artists, events and brands and promote them on and offline. That could be on websites, blogs, posters, flyers, IM, Facebook pages and of course word of mouth.
During the 80’s the street team concept was hatched by rock & roll “aficionados” who desperately wanted to spread the word about their favourite acts and artists. In principle, it’s pretty simple, your fans have unconditional love towards you but they would also like to see some love in return for their support.
The main goal of street teams was to make the artist more popular through word of mouth and hype. One of the most significant campaigns was without a doubt the KISS Army created in 1975. Starkey and Evans were two teenage KISS fans from Indiana; they worked together for months to promote KISS to other kids at school or during their free time. The team made such a big impact, that it was quickly taken over by the official band and KISS Army recruits were offered limited edition merchandise and seating.
During the offline era of street team marketing, the team was rewarded with free merchandise or show access in exchange for:
- Placing stickers and posters
- Bringing friends to the shows
- Convincing friends to buy merchandise
- Bringing vinyl or cassettes to local DJ’s
- Maintaining fanzines dedicated to the band.
How Daft Punk is using street team marketing
One of the best examples of street team music marketing today is from the French duo Daft Punk. We all know who they are, well almost, but we can’t deny that the two androids are everywhere and at the same time nowhere. Wait, what? That’s right, Daft Punk has one of the most brilliant marketing campaigns of all time without having any concerts or events.
The band chooses to use some good old-fashion-new-fashioned marketing strategies in the digital era, and it works. For their last album, “Random Access Memories”, they created a six-month never ending buzz with the unconditional help of their street teams.
Since the creation of the new album, Daft Punk wanted to recruit their soldiers (fans) to promote “Random Access Memories”.
The old school + new school of street team marketing = newer school
The album itself was drawn from the 70s and 80s music, the vision was to fuse the best of the past with the best of the present. Marketing wise: offline meets online.
So to keep up with that time theme, Daft Punk decided to go back to old school street team marketing; which was originally developed by urban and independent record labels. It was an affordable and highly effective technique. Loyal and passionate fans looking for a job in the music industry often filled the position of a street teamer.
As marketers, options are plentiful to bond with audiences; in this case, Daft Punk used several old and new communication channels:
- Video: planned placement on television, Coachella music festival and online channels.
- Online: microsite for the album of only two pages. One with social sharing options and purchasing. And one with video content.
- Billboard: they purchased several billboards all over the world to promote the release of the album itself.
- Street team marketing: deployment both online and offline
The robots’ online campaign took off almost instantly, with fans sharing the content like wildfire. Within just a few seconds of the pair appearing at Coachella the band had created huge buzz on social media; a trending topic on Twitter and hundreds of videos on YouTube - all created by their fans.
The short clips made us want to hear more and share them with everybody, it’s a mysterious act, and we wanted to participate. It also gave bedroom producers the opportunity to create their own edits of the new song. Daft Punk is one of a few artists that can actually say that their fans and street teams do about 50% of the work.
For the offline campaign, Daft Punk’s management company, Sony Music, used old school street team techniques to get people's attention. For example, in Singapore, street teamers dressed as robots and handed out flyers to potential fans. Simple but effective old school street team music promotion.
What the future holds for street team marketing
Daft Punk is one example of an artist bringing traditional street team marketing techniques into the fold of the digital world – combining offline tactics with online to spread the word about their music.
Street team marketing is still a hugely effective promotion tool within the music industry and despite the massive growth of new online marketing channels, person-to-person marketing should be part of any promotion strategy within live entertainment. Digital communication channels work well but an in-person recommendation can hold more weight as it is personalised and tailored to the individual. Social cues such as body language and expressions that are lost online can all add deeper meaning to interactions among fans with shared interests and passions.
The key to street team marketing success, whether executed online, offline or both is recruiting fans who are truly passionate about your brand. That’s why “Random Access Memories” achieved such impressive awareness with the public based on their traditional “mystery approach” and street campaigns, cut with the power of social media. They identified and mobilised their super fans, created an incredible message and coordinated the campaign promotion at the right moment, all over the world using a combination of online and offline tactics to generate massive buzz that spread rapidly from person-to-person, fan-to-fan.
One of the best and quickest way to reach more people in the music and live entertainment space is through your most passionate and influential fans. Identify who they are, recruit them on to your street team, build meaningful relationships and reward them for their loyalty and advocacy.
Learn more about the power of street teams in the music industry with our P2P marketing guide for festivals and events