Digital Peak Behind The Curtain

Next to a discount ticket offer, the best way to get traction within the musical theatre consumer community is to stop treating them like a consumer. Give them a VIP peak behind the curtain. Technology has made this so much easier meaning that now rather than taking every person backstage individually, a video camera can simply go in their place . . . and the best thing is it only has to go once and then is available forever. But what about the other touchpoints, like a cast album. How do you take people backstage? Sure there are video snippets from rehearsals, but the Dear Evan Hansen creatives have found a new way to initiate their audience.

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After a few months on Broadway, the Dear Evan Hansen (hailed as this season’s Hamilton) cast album was dropped yesterday. To celebrate this moment and to create some hype around the new customer touchpoint, the Dear Evan Hansen Facebook page began a group listening experience.

The idea is rather simple. The album was released at midnight on Friday morning for digital download. Roughly ten minutes after midnight (providing ample time for digital download even on the slowest internet plan), those with the album hit play and followed along with a live video. This video not only brought together a passionate community to react and share their meltdown around the amazing new album, but also provided insider insight into the creative process behind many of the decisions which went into an album.

Twenty years ago, the subsection of people who were interested in this creative process was rather limited. But skip ahead all these years and there is a thirst to know what was going on in creative’s heads – and now the opportunity to actually hear from them as well. And even better than a series of essays regarding their musicological diatribe, these insights were delivered in a series of Twitter-length summaries taking advantage of the potential to use emoticons as well reflecting comments which fans would be posting themselves. Definitely breaking down the barriers between fans and creatives and showing that everyone speaks the same language and those powerful creatives are essentially the same as their followers.

The other great advantage of this idea is, not only rewarding the highly-involved consumers, but also creating an online forum which will appear in all their friends’ newsfeeds due to their high volume of interaction. Not only will this serves as the introduction to a new product but they will also be bombarded with over an hour’s worth of running commentary about how amazing this new cast recording is.

If that doesn’t act as a reassuring review, then there is nothing which will bring these potential new audiences in – and I can guarantee that there are many new musical fans who had no interest 24 hours ago.

Everybody loves a peak behind the curtain . . . and just because a curtain may not be involved in each touchpoint, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a metaphorical one to lift.

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