Alongside discussions on tech, drugs and A&R, the fourth annual EDMBiz conference at the Cosmopolitan offered a study of the 18- to 34-year-old age group often categorized as millennials. Moderated by Live Nation’s senior vice president of strategic alliances Jeff Shaw, “More Than a Logo: Brands, Millennials & Creating a Lasting Connection” featured marketing executives from companies such as Uber, Insomniac and UPS (yes, United Parcel Service) discussing strategies to attract an “elusive,” smartphone savvy and often fickle generation. And yes, it was as entertaining (and insightful) as you might expect. Here are seven of our favorite moments:
Live Nation’s Shaw argued that unlike any preceding genre, electronic dance music is claimed by millennials as “their own.” It makes sense, considering that user-friendly technology has proliferated both the music (making it more accessible for anyone to produce it) and the ways in which it’s consumed (streaming, downloading, etc.) What didn’t make sense, however, was the fact that Shaw set up his theory by citing rap mogul Jay Z’s speech from the launch event of his streaming service, Tidal (also where Alicia Keys quoted Nietzsche and Madonna “humped a table”). Tidal, and specifically that news conference, has received so much negative press for being out of touch with consumers that the reference was entirely puzzling.
Betty Tran, executive vice president of marketing and media for Insomniac, said her content strategy comes from treating all millennials like they have attention deficit disorder. To address their short attention spans, she says, her team will generate up to 1,000 pieces of content for a campaign, whether it’s six-second Vine videos or Snapchat posts that disappear after 24 hours.
You wouldn’t think that a shipping company cared or needed to care much about millennials, but it does. So much so, in fact, that UPS (the mail carrier for all things EDC Las Vegas) enlisted colorful EDC “characters” to deliver ticket packages in Los Angeles. Insomniac CEO Pasquale Rotella loved the stunt so much that he tweeted about it.
Eric Blackwood, director of marketing for Dr Pepper Snapple Group, spoke about the company’s four-year journey to capture a millennial audience by “contributing to the culture” of EDM. (Think 7Up’s sponsored stage at EDC or its commercial spots with Martin Garrix and Tiësto.) But no matter what, he said, millennials “still expect you to give them something.” (Free soda or light-up wristbands, for instance.)
Masters of self-promotion, dance-music DJs have embraced the kind of fan-driven, “authentic” experiences these brands aim to provide. Marshall Osborne, head of music partnerships for Uber, praised Afrojack and Diplo for partnering with the car-sharing service and actually driving fans to secret Uber-sponsored shows. Would Jay Z ever do that?
Shaw drew the conversation to a close by summarizing: “If you learned anything today, it’s that if you want to reach millennials, dance music is the right place to reach them.” Granted, he’s saying this at a conference about the business behind electronic dance music, but this conclusion is still too simple to be 100 percent accurate. What about the fact that Sprite is printing Drake lyrics on soda cans now? Millennials love Drake!
During the session-closing Q&A, a twenty-something startup founder asked Stack Wine CEO James Hubert, “What’s the best way to get my logo out there?” and instantaneously embodied that “ADD” stereotype Insomniac’s Tran was talking about earlier. Um, bro, the title of this panel is literally, “More Than a Logo.” Were you paying attention or were you just Instagramming photos of your lunch this whole time?