It’s been just over a month since the World Health Organization (WHO) officially categorized the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) as a “pandemic”.
The nationwide government imposed lockdown, which started on March 9 and initially planned to end on April 3, was extended until Easter to contain the spread of the virus and restrictions are now slowly being eased.
Amidst the banning of mass gatherings, closures of venues, restaurants, cafes, bars, offices and non-essential shops, Italy’s music industry has been left reeling, with local recorded music association FIMI warning last month that the market is already suffering from “signs of crisis with potentially extremely serious effects in the coming months”.
For those labels who have chosen to press ahead with their releases as planned, artists and marketing teams working from home have had to come up with innovate ways to engage with quarantined fans.
“Ghali is the voice of a generation and his fans have never needed him more. We worked to create a campaign that could connect people in these dark times and create a communal moment.”
Marco Alboni, Warner Music Italy
One of those companies, Warner Music Italy, was preparing to launch a campaign for Milan-based rapper Ghali (pictured), for his new album DNA prior to the stringent containment measures put in place last month.
Back in 2016, Ghali – who has sold the equivalent of more than 1.6 million units in Italy and has collaborated with the likes of Ed Sheeran, Stormzy and Travis Scott – became the first Italian artist to have a No.1 based on streams alone.
With key TV and radio promo slots pulled, and still needing to connect Ghali with fans in spite of the lockdown, the label decided to create a UGC-driven music video for his single Good Times by asking fans to send in footage of themselves singing the song at home.
The result was a smash online, with the successful campaign leading DNA to become Ghali’s first No.1 album, which has already been certified Gold, with singles Boogieman and Good Times (also both previously reaching No.1) having gone Platinum and Gold, respectively.
DNA debuted at No.1 on February 28 and went back to No.1 on March 20, while Single Good Times reached No.1 on February 28.
Speaking to MBW, Marco Alboni, Chairman and Chief Executive, WM Italy, said: “Ghali is the voice of a generation and his fans have never needed him more. We worked to create a campaign that could connect people in these dark times and create a communal moment.
“What’s happening in Italy is terrible, but that’s creating even more of an appetite for escapist fun. Music has always got people through bad times and today is no exception. For many young people, Ghali is an Ambassador of Hope.”
In addition to Ghali, other artists that Alboni cites as having had successful digital campaigns during the Coronavirus quarantine by using TikTok and Instagram include hip hop artist Mr.Rain and singer Levante, with the latter artist’s song Andra Tutto Bene (Everything’s going to be alright) becoming a trending hashtag in Italy.
Added Alboni: “We have to be much more supportive than ever of our artists. That is going to be a positive for us because it’s going to allow [us] to move forward and put ideas together and make projects with additional content that we weren’t really looking at before, in terms of marketing campaigns, in terms of additional content and focusing on streaming, video and and audio.
“From making videos to designing [digital] campaigns, it’s about how the possibilities of technology and digital are making our lives easier in these difficult times. Bringing great music and great artists to consumers is what we really want to do.”Music Business Worldwide