Fans Don’t Lie

OzomatliSuccessful music marketers have always found a way to harness the enthusiasm of music fans for promotional purposes. Whoever decided to make the first concert t-shirt was clearly a genius. Enter the age of Internet video and — voila! — music companies can tap fans instead of professional TV commercial directors to turn the sound into eye candy.

The LA Times acknowledged this trend, mentioning the recent “Make Your Own Ozomatli Video Contest,” which was organized by the Lear Center’s Popular Music Project and Concord Records. The idea was to get Ozomatli’s rabid fan-base involved in their new album, in the same way that the band gets the crowd involved in each of their join-the-samba-line live performances.

So fans were invited to contribute their own creative voices to the Ozomatli project by creating a video for “City of Angeles,” the group’s turbulent homage to its hometown. Hip amateur videographers responded and the fans selected an energetic video that captured the spirit of the single and the city.

But, looking back at the experience now, I’m thinking that we could have done it better. In a contest structured to reward one hard-working winner, we lost our chance to showcase the response of a wide range of Ozomatli fans. This is where Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” video contest had us, hands down. Shakira fans didn’t have to produce a full-fledged video to participate: they only had to record their own booty-shaking response to a song they already knew and loved. A professional editor spliced everything together and it instantly became Yahoo’s number one music video, driving the single to number one in twenty countries.

The lesson here? Lower the barrier to entry; make it easy for people to participate and, most importantly, make it all about the fans. Surprise, surprise — fans love fans.

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