With just over six weeks until the winner is announced the competition for Microsoft Ireland’s and Muzu TV’s undiscovered music talent is getting fierce.
Which is to be expected, when you consider that the winner of the 2012 Unsigned and Online (@UnsignedOnline | Facebook) competition will walk away with over €10,000’s worth of online promotional backing to help kick start their professional music career, as well as a filmed studio performance and a live slot in Dublin’s The Academy Venue.
The competition challenges musicians and bands to gain as many votes as they can on the Unsigned and Online Muzu page by creating and promoting a music video for one of their tracks. The musician or band with the greatest number of votes on Muzu (@muzutv | Facebook | Google+) will take home the prize.
To see how things are going, and what’s involved, we caught up with Microsoft Ireland’s Paul Shanahan.
Why did Microsoft decide to set up Unsigned and Online?
When we first started this initiative we felt that a lot of Irish acts were still only scratching the surface of what they can achieve with the technology available today. I’m a musician myself and I know how difficult it is for bands to build a fan base that doesn’t just consist of their friends and family. So we wanted to create an initiative that offered a real difference to Unsigned Irish bands and musicians.
The Unsigned and Online competition is a platform that facilitates and rewards bands who wish to promote themselves using digital channels – a key ingredient today to any music act’s success. Clever promotion will help their music find its way to an audience that appreciates it.
More and more independent acts are breaking through via online channels. Some are creating clever viral videos, others just have incredible music, and some offer both. Either way, the online era has meant more and more bands are waiting less and less for the record exec to come knocking on the door and instead are going at it hard themselves. Having a presence online opens the door to a global audience instantly! This is why the main focus of the prize is on online promotion.
Both Microsoft and Muzu TV have come together to offer the winner €10,000 worth of online promotion via MSN.ie, Hotmail and Muzu.TV. That’s the sort of package that can provide serious hit rates for any band online and potentially become the game changer for an unknown act.
Many great groups have come to prominence through social media, how can Microsoft help?
I think what Microsoft brings to the table here is access to our software tools, which are free, which enables bands and musicians create more freely than before with just a few clicks. Tools like Movie Maker and Sky Drive enable bands to collaborate and share in a way that allows them to be far more productive in a shorter space of time.
In addition, our partnership with Muzu TV adds real substance and reach to the social aspect of the competition. The team there have created a great platform for bands to promote their online content very easily and they’re rewarded duly for doing so. Muzu TV work a shared revenue model with bands so that they get rewarded financially based on hits to their channel. It’s an incentive for the bands to get socially active and unleash their music beyond the realms of local gigs and into new geographies and fan bases online. Combining what both of these offerings can add real value to artists when trying to build a fanbase.
You mention gigs, and of course one of the main prizes in the competition is a filmed studio performance and a slot in The Academy, tell us more about these.
I think this is straight away part of the prize that bands instantly relate to – performance!
As well as €10,000 worth of online promotion the winners will get the opportunity to perform a song acoustically in the Muzu TV studios, where they will be filmed and uploaded straight to the Muzu TV site. Again it’s all about driving that online promotion. To top it off then we’ve arranged that the band will play at Dublin’s Academy venue, which we’re hoping the attendance will be high given their new found fan base!
What advice would you give to musicians and bands that want to promote themselves online?
I need to wear my musician hat when answering this one too! I think bands need to be smarter about how they promote themselves online. Think like a business. Targeting people online, if done right, can be more effective than any other form of marketing. Do your research and make sure you have selected the right sites to promote yourself on. As well as that make sure you have selected the right people to market yourself to!
Strong content is absolutely key. This does not mean you need to be John Landis of Thriller fame – you just need to capture your music in a way that people will remember and respond to. Create videos people will want to share and you begin to realise just how far your music may actually travel – remember, you are not geographically bound online. Why not target an audience in another country to generate more momentum behind your campaign?
Do your research and find out what music is popular in the download charts – if your genre is all the rage right now in Germany then that’s your market! Your music and music video is your band’s product to sell – treat it that way.
Research, target and promote
What has the reaction been like so far from the public?
The response has been great to date – we have 15 bands entered into the competition already with over 15,000 views totted up after just two weeks . We’re expecting a few more entries and the views to really add up running up to the close of competition on the 13th of July.
We’ve had nothing but positive responses to the Facebook site, on affiliate sites and direct to Microsoft and Muzu TV. People seem genuine in their praise in the format of the competition and the prize offered to an Unsigned act!
What has the reaction been like so far from the participants?
We have received great feedback from the bands to date that this is a competition well worth taking part in. In some cases it’s actually prompted the bands to get out of the rehearsal studio and actually start working on the music video for that song they recorded ages ago.
3000 views later and they are delighted they entered! This is what the competition is about.
Unsigned and Online is running until June 13; you can see the musicians and groups participating so far over on Muzu’s Unsigned and Online page.