Inside the Defected Records ‘hype machine’

The following MBW blog comes from James Kirkham (pictured inset), Chief Business Officer of UK-born house record label Defected Records, which is now five weeks into hosting its Virtual Festivals, and approaching 10 million views. Kirkham joined Defected in January, having previously run his own digital agency called holler. After that, he became the Global Head of Social and Mobile at ad agency Leo Burnett and then led one of the world’s largest independent football businesses, COPA90 in the UK. Here, Kirkham lifts the lid on what he calls Defected’s dance music “hype machine”. He tells MBW that it’s “especially relevant to understand how we can continue to break artists and records – even in the time of crisis and uncertainty”…

We’ve carefully cultivated over 5 million fans and followers across social platforms, which is giving us huge potency.

Our posts average a minimum of 5,000 Facebook likes per post, and every Defected curated post gets on average between 10 and 300 times the effectiveness i.e engagement or reach – than if the same post was solely on an artist page. In short, the brand is trusted by our fans.

Beyond this social growth, we also have a living, breathing highly active eco-system which will enable us to deliver output with confidence, via an assortment of platforms, channels and tactics.

This includes our weekly radio shows, reaching over 20m people through smart digital syndication, with over a million weekly downloads.

“Our fans spend 300 minutes per week with Defected content – from audio, video to live. This is flying in the face of any current assumption that young audiences have a low attention span.”

James Kirkham, Defected

Our fans spend 300 minutes per week with Defected content – from audio, video to live. This is flying in the face of any current assumption that young audiences have a low attention span.

If you engage them properly, they’ll do the marketing for you but interrupt them without invitation and they will ruthlessly filter you out.

Also key are the asset creation and delivery across social platforms, a newsletter with over 120,000 subscribers – leveraging first party data.

This assortment of weaponry at our disposal, alongside our events (500,000 paying ticket going members of the public coming to Defected festivals, events, parties annually) means that when we deliver a new record we’ve an un-matched ‘hype machine’.

So below is an example of this, the science of our success – which this year will help drive over a billion streams of our music…

Phase 1 : Discovery.

Include [the track] in our Defected Radio Show 3+ times or more

We begin the process in the ‘discovery phase’ by leveraging our own radio show – playing and name checking the record here. This is now the No.1 show on iTunes with over 1m monthly downloads. Syndicated to over 50 countries around the world.

“We often describe our Radio show as the ultimate marketing device.”

An overall potential reach of 20m which is supported across all of our social channels (Facebook. Instagram, Twitter, You Tube, including multiple posts on Radio Show swipes, plus a dedicated post when it’s Most Rated). We often describe our Radio show as the ‘ultimate marketing device’, being the perfect discovery vehicle for dance music fans world wide. As such, it is the obvious first place to find a new release.

Full Social Announcement:

Off the back of this, we’ll drive massive discovery from our community with the first announcement via our social channels, creating bespoke posts distinct to the platforms (i.e Twitter or Instagram, Facebook), with live video variations of DJs playing the record in the clubs and at events ensuring it has a real world context wherever possible. This also enables us to contextualise music so we see exactly how it feels for fans. Emotional takeout is key, connecting the digital to real world or providing ‘instant memories’ via our songs.

We then Introduce an artist through Instagram swipe and dedicated post on Facebook / Twitter. When required, we’ll purposely introduce the artist too through socials – again with bespoke content experience distinct to the platforms they’re sat on. Simple social storytelling getting you closer to the artist.

Lyric Video Tease and Pre-Orders:

Lyric videos are still an important piece of the marketing puzzle. They both leverage YouTube efficiently, acknowledging its role as the ‘reflex’ search device, and giving those people looking to find the video a chance to discover and learn the song. We therefore drop a teaser to the lyric video, (which is broadcast concurrently) alongside the pre-orders going live on Beatport and Traxsource. This combined effect within an organic social media play means maximum discovery.

Phase 2 : Advocacy.

Most Rated on Radio:

After the first radio play, we follow it up by making the record ‘Most Rated’, which is our co-sign to make it the hottest record of the week. This is also posted across all social media channels ensuring there is a feeling of announcement and recommendation here.

“Enthusiasm is infectious, and we look to illicit this in everything we do in terms of assets and the way we produce the communications.”

This sort of credible recommendation Is everything to our community, where Defected is the Editor of Choice and who will look to learn and take on recommendations where they can. A smart young audience such as that in our community do not want to be lectured or interrupted or preached to, but instead, if you get the product (our music) correct , then they will do the marketing for you. Enthusiasm is infectious, and we look to illicit this in everything we do in terms of assets and the way we produce the communications.

Launch Lyric video:

On release day, we roll out the full lyric video, which is uploaded to YouTube and premiered across both Facebook and IGTV. We keep the concept for this lyric video running through the campaign, especially if there are remixes dropping later down the line. Visual and audio consistency whilst giving the audience all the opportunity to find what they love in the platforms and places they naturally spend time.

Playlist takeover: 

To shine a light on the producer / artist even more, we curate a playlist takeover on Spotify & Apple Music, which is published alongside a piece of ‘Introducing’ editorial on our website.

Again for us it is about being the absolute authority; the more we can convey our understanding, knowhow and authenticity of the music then this will only serve to help both our ability to editorialise music regularly but also perpetuate the trust from the audience.

The site copy is not taken lightly either [written by a] specialist writing team with years of experience knowing exactly how to pitch, articulate and describe the music – then landed into a site that fans can easily seek and discover within.

Phase 3: Super Serve the community.

Use as a key event bed:

Throughout the campaign, we use the record as a bed for multiple event videos, which bring it to life and allow us to present to our audience in a different way. Our running of events around the world such as Defected Croatia and the Defected Ibiza Festival means we have a rare perfect storm. Events giving us opportunity to bring together artists and fans, coalescing around the music.

But the promotion of them also allows us to see music, artists, and tracks in this way – matching and pairing the best moments with the best music. It is effectively like a free advertising and synch strategy all in one, but with brand promotion as the overall benefactor alongside artists and DJs.

“It is about the right people being programmed at the right time and the content disseminated throughout our channels to hungry audiences.”

Just a few weeks ago, several key records and releases were of particular note as part of our Defected Virtual Festival live stream and the take up was so big with everyone from BBC London to Channel 4 news and the Telegraph that artists like The Vision (who performed live) are elevated all over again to a totally new audience.

It is about the right people being programmed at the right time and the content disseminated throughout our channels to hungry audiences.

Influential artists playing record: 

With the record starting to grow, we pull together all of the videos we have of DJs playing the record. We then share them on our socials, tag the influential artists playing it and tag them, to bring in their audiences. This sort of ‘domino’ effect is another crucial aspect to our work, ensuring multiple influential social talent are involved and excited and part of the release – super serving an already hungry community.

Viral videos drop: 

Viral videos are now a key part to the record reaching outside of our community, sometimes we create them with influencers, other times we create them ourselves by dubbing the record over a video we discovered.

Platforms like TikTok are becoming increasingly influential here, where 15 second audio clips get used and distributed alongside often funny often creative videos – flying across the platform worldwide and spreading the song to those who did not previously know.

The activity allows you to penetrate different fanbases too, from sports to creative communities, where recognising the music is a part of the lives of many outside of the regular Defected community.

It is further recognition too that our audiences are not one dimensional but multi-dimensional and multi-faceted; A lover of dance music can also love for example football, or fashion, or design or gaming.. So to transcend into other communities is a smart idea.

Our recent hit Pump It Up by Endor is a great example of where a viral video helps break the usual boundaries. Here the video resulted simply on Facebook with – 153,000 likes and 107,000 comments.

The whole viral campaign for record resulted in over 500,000+ likes and 200,000+ comments on Defected Facebook alone

Launch official video:

After teasing it on socials, we then drop the official video, which is premiered on YouTube in full. We drive to it by posting teasers across all of our social channels.

Radio Playlist 

When the playlist adds on streaming services and radio stations, we use these to create assets and build more hype around the record, showing the support from influential platforms.

Always on messaging

Happening throughout the campaign, we will continue to push via a simple Always On strategy, leveraging hooks, artist pushes, DJ shouts, audio references and more.

Our owned assets, owned channels, owned events, owned DJs, owned records means this is a seamlessly supported offering – true and authentic throughout – never feeling paid for, forced or like we’re pushing something we don’t believe.

Further endorsement from the community and fans themselves can even be elevated; there’s no better sight for example than thousands of smiling faces, dancing at our event, singing the very record we’re promoting on the post.

It is like a perfect karmic principle, a social circle which helps us promote with maximum legitimacy, always ensuring the fans are given just what they want…Music Business Worldwide

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