Elissa Ayadi on Band Promotion Through Video Games

New and established artists are vying for the public’s attention, and finding new ways to promote themselves. Since the release of Guitar Hero and Rock Band, especially, partnerships with video game promoters have flourished.

A prime example is the recent collaboration between Avenged Sevenfold and Machinima.com for the new Call of Duty: Black Ops trailer. Machinima.com created a montage of video game footage, while playing Avenged Sevenfold’s single, then unreleased, Welcome to the Family. Both the new Call of Duty game and the upcoming release of Avenged Sevenfold’s new album gained much mass market exposure.

The MBJ interviewed Machinima.com’s Elissa Ayadi to find out more.

Jamie Anderson: What roles does your job entail?

ELissa Ayadi:? I am the Social Media Manager at Machinima.com. I oversee all our social media properties, including all Facebook and Twitter pages and apps.

JA: What different media outlets do you use to promote bands??

EA: ?Generally, our interest is in promoting the video that we have worked with a band to create. This way, the cross-promotion works most effectively for both entities. Depending on the size of the campaign, we have different tactics. Any video that goes up on our network will generate a fair amount of views without any more push than that.

However, we can do a lot of things on the YouTube side to promote, including; (i) featuring the video on our front page; (ii) messaging all of our subscribers to check out the video; (iii) annotating from videos with a large fan base (or across all videos) with a link to the video; (iv) creating a post roll that plays at the end of targeted videos (or all videos).

On the social side, we do several things, including; (i) general tweets/status updates with a link/embed to the video; (ii) crafting “engagement questions” around the video to get users talking about the content (e.g. “Who from Band Name would you want at your back during the Zombie Apocalypse”?); and (iii)creating contests around the video to drive exposure and excitement.

JA: How do you choose which bands to promote and which video games to pair them with??

EA: ?The bands are, essentially, advertising partners. They buy in to our program at varying levels to have a video and marketing campaign made. Therefore, we don’t get to really choose which bands we do videos for– aside to saying no to some campaigns. In this way, it’s a strictly a business rather than an artistic deal. Sometimes, a label will come to us with several bands that they are interested in promoting, and we will come up with the concepts. But, generally, there isn’t a lot of artist choice at our end.

When we are putting together a campaign pitch with a management company, label, or other, we tend to come up with a list of games and concepts to match the song that they want to promote. Some things are a no-brainer –-picking the season’s big releases, for instance. But we also take into account the character of the band. Slayer isn’t going to go well with Scribblenauts and Taylor Swift won’t work for Halo. Generally, we look for the highest profile game with a similar “feel” to the band. In this example, we’d probably pair Taylor Swift with Fable 3 and Slayer with Black Ops.

JA: Do many indie label bands approach you or do you primarily deal with major label bands??

EA: ?It’s been a mix. We’ve worked with artists from WBR, Island, Fearless… i.e. generally majors and mini-majors. We haven’t worked with any true indies, to the best of my knowledge.

JA: Do you ever promote bands that are not signed to a record label??

EA: vAs far as I am aware, we haven’t. The music program is fairly new for us so we have been approaching mid-to-high level clients (e.g. management companies and labels) to maximize the cross-promotional power for us. If we worked with a truly indie artist with a small fan base, we wouldn’t get a lot out and our fans would not be receptive. Band endorsements are “cool”. We don’t try to be “tastemakers” outside of our gaming expertise.

JA: How do you deal with the licensing of songs and artist royalties??

EA: ?It’s not my area, but to the best of my knowledge, we get the consent of the label/publishing rights holders to proceed as part of the package.

JA: Over the past year, have you seen an increase in the number of bands using video games as marketing tools??

EA: ?We’ve seen this for longer than the past year: Linkin Park making a music video for Medal of Honor, Green Day for Rock Band (and the explosion of DLC from mid-level bands), and in-game songs in non-music games (e.g. racing games). Over the past few years, the music industry has been turning to anyone and everyone to try to pull their profits up. With the success of video games, the entire entertainment industry has been trying to find a way to capitalize and monetize the business.

JA: What type of band do you think would benefit most from pairing themselves with a video game? ?

EA: ?Mid-to-high level bands. There needs to be some name recognition…Gaming does little for unknown bands, and it could possibly damage their image. But getting that “blessing” for an established band can help push them over the edge. Genre and label depend on the genre of the game and the type of marketing. Again, you can put a song into a game if it fits the band and the gameplay. It’s all about pairing things that make sense.

JA: Do you predict a large shift in the music industry that pushes bands to do more promotion with video games??

EA: ?Cross promotion is not a new arena to the music industry. They will keep trying to leverage games more and more, so long as they see a return. But will they do things creatively beyond cramming a song into game? That is the important question. While interdependency in entertainment is good, not getting stale as you move forward is key.

JA: At this point in time, what creative ways of marketing and promotion do you think are most effective in connecting artists directly to their fans??

EA: ?Social media is the medium. It’s the most direct way to speak to fans; it’s where the majority of music consumers spend the bulk of their time. Being creative with social media is harder and far more time consuming than selling your song to a game –-and the marketing effects is not as clear. But it is the best choice, both in terms of building a fan base loyalty and taking advantage of ties to bigger acts. Besides, it’s cost-effective for small bands and, if done well, it can go viral.

By Jamie Anderson



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