Virtual music concerts are now the bare minimum…

Let’s talk about this Berger Caribbean Virtual Concert! 😀

This blog post has been updated as at 11 May 2021.

Social media promotion for the show came across my Facebook newsfeed on May 5, 2021, and, on clicking through to the link, this viewership count seemed waaaaay too low for the high quality production and entertainment line-up.👀☕️ Three major Caribbean artistes, a seemingly unproblematic brand, a winning and innovative concept, with barely over 1,000 views nine days since its premiere? What was happening here?

I’m assuming that the concert premiered and was streamed to the world via the advertised link on April 27th 2021 – if not, then maybe the premiere stream viewership count is better. Either way, this social media spend comes way too late to make up for what might be the result of a less than robust promotion/marketing campaign supporting an otherwise stellar combination of attributes.

Info Update! In the first version of this article, I was careful to add to my assumption that the YouTube link advertised on Facebook by Berger Caribbean might not be the original stream of the concert. Update: it totally wasn’t. It was a re-upload from the original streaming date of April 23rd 2021. Should I have checked the original show date? And all the promotional material advertising same?! Yeah, sure, that would have definitely helped!🙄🙈😩

I got a really nice email from a representative of Berger Caribbean today that cleared things up pretty nicely. For the Too Long:Didn’t Read crew: Technical difficulties occurred with Berger Caribbean’s YouTube channel, but the night was saved by a quick content re-distribution solution!

So, here’s what happened… 👀☕️
After like, 2 weeks of advertising the stream to take place on their Facebook and YouTube pages, the Murphy of all Murphy’s Laws hit the Berger Caribbean team on the night of the show. Quel désastre! However, the team rallied like troopers and event partners saved the night with a multi-platform streaming solution. Combined, the viewership numbers look really good! Here are some of the public metrics below:

TRIBECarnival: 3,927 views Streamed live on 23 Apr 2021
Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation 8,474 views Premiered on 23 Apr 2021
Berger Caribbean, 1,363 views 27 Apr 2021
Berger Caribbean (Facebook)  17,000+ views, 23 April at 19:56
Instagram views: @bergercaribbean (public metrics not available)

30,764 views and counting. Well done!

Content & creativity are key, but multi-platform streaming can give a higher chance of viewership for your virtual concert.

What marketing lessons can we glean from this?

  • Firstly, a great reminder, do your research first girl. Geez! 😩 I saw the Facebook boosted post, clicked-through to YouTube, skeptically eyed that low view count, watched it anyway and then was blown AWAY by how good the show was. The channel looked legit, the show was great, but the low view count wasn’t adding up – was there a juicy Marketing Mystery here to be solved here?👀 And, yuh girl ran with that.
  • Secondly, massive props to the Tribe Carnival and Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation brands for the YouTube streaming support! Distribution channels are a critical part of marketing success, it also helps if you have complimentary networks through which you can broadcast if you ever end up in a technical jam. The Berger Caribbean Facebook stream (as advertised) having figures through the roof at 17,000 views is decent evidence that Berger Caribbean’s promotion campaign worked to get an audience where they had originally intended. The national flags in the comment section showed audiences tuning in from Jamaica, Barbados, T&T and other Caribbean islands.

While content & creativity are key, multi-platform streaming can give a higher chance of viewership for your virtual concert. Is there some potential for these third-party platforms to be more regular, common channels of virtual concert syndication for other music content and performing arts concert producers? Digicel is one example of how this has been done in the past year, offering simulcasts for their line-up of endorsed Soca stars.

About Virtual Concert burnout

After the year we’ve had in Trinidad and Tobago and the numerous virtual and live-streamed shows we’ve consumed, the virtual concert fatigue is real. I for one am beginning to feel the effects in the deluge of options that have been produced and released to the public over time.

As a die-hard fan of the Caribbean performing and creative arts, I still find myself warily scanning the time-code bar on virtual concert videos and cringing at anything above a one-hour mark, even as I click play and remind myself to be grateful for freeness, letting it run as background music accompanying other work.

Nevertheless, Berger Caribbean’s BOLD: The Concert, with tag-line “Boldly Berger” is worth highlighting for its multi-disciplinary use of art, concert production, media and balanced incorporation of its brand and products.

BOLD was a great example of how brands can better incorporate their unique selling proposition and promotional lead points into the “concert as a promotional” tool approach to customer outreach.

Screenshots from BOLD: The Concert, Black Collar Creative

Starting with a cool multimedia concept, the creative team did an admirable job of finding a balance between entertainment, brand promotion, service call-to-action and product display. BOLD‘s set & lighting design seemed to be inspired by specially selected colour palettes by Berger Caribbean, complimentary to colour samples, which popped up during each performance segment.

Harmonious visual themes were consistent across event locations, creating a seamless aesthetic of vibrant Caribbean colour and excitement. Live Visual Art was incorporated, although I would have preferred to see more of the artists’ faces included in the mix along with their work. Photography and Videography were cleverly interwoven with swiped-in transitions like leafing through paint sample slides, and accompanying shade selections matched perfectly to each shot.

This creative process was probably a lot of fun! The host interludes (with fabulously dressed host, Yendi!) were welcome breaks in the music, with Yendi offering us just the right flair and energy for the vibrancy of the creative message and theme. The performances themselves contained fantastic production value and camera work. Lighting design was the star here, customized to both static as well as digital background sets – a miracle achieved with the consistency of ‘look and feel’ across three different studios from Trinidad to Barbados and Jamaica. The ‘Caribbean Connection’ through art was real, and everything else production-wise seemed to work.

Virtual concerts as promotional outreach

First let’s talk about brands, Covid-19 lockdowns and maintaining market presence and outreach in times of recession and crisis. Only the bravest and most resourceful businesses may follow the old advertising adage, “When times are good you should advertise. When times are bad you must advertise.” Brave as these businesses may be, how you advertise has a great impact on how meaningful your activities are and how receptive your audience will be to them.

A promotional message should, as much as possible, meet the target “where they are”, which goes beyond just a channel of distribution.

Undeniably, music was the go-to promotional choice for corporate T&T at the height of the March to August 2020 fluctuating Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown periods. Almost every week, different brands invited the growing online audience to view one-to-two-hour long performances of local and regional musical artistes to pass the time and lift the spirits of a confined and movement-restrained market. Then Christmas came, and music entertainment swept into an even greater upsurge.

Then Carnival came bringing with it several independent, virtual, Trinidad and Tobago-styled carnival events, which included both local and international players all providing music-centered shows. A steady stream of artiste performances, DJs, semi-live music and fully virtual efforts saturated the online space across global broadcast channels on every Internet-receptive device.

Fast forward to April 2021, and we are back where we started with a third surge of Covid-19 cases and Trinidad and Tobago, once more under state-imposed restrictions, a lockdown in effect and yet another series of music virtual concerts on the horizon, coming to entertain us all.

If one is using viewership as the only metric of success, then the promotional efforts did what they were supposed to do – clocking in a whopping 30K+ views across multiple platforms and geographical territories proves this! The viewership was no doubt also driven by the selection of major artistes including Jamaican ‘King of the Dancehall’ legend Beenie Man, Soca ‘Queen of Bachannal’ Destra Garcia and Barbados’ Nikita & Session Squad Project.

Questions like: Who is the viewership target? Where are they? How does one deliver the message to them and attract the interest needed to justify the effort and budget spent on the production? are important, but if the main objective is awareness and viewership then mission accomplished. Stuff like sales conversion, brand resonance and other marketing objectives will probably come later.

Can any of the viewers say what was the name of their favourite colour palette from watching the show? Mine was the Cherry Brandy, Rich Rouge, Camp Fire slate during Nikita’s set….

To have deeper impact, a promotional campaign should, as much as possible, meet the target “where they are”, which goes beyond just a channel of distribution. It should include considerations for where they are mentally, emotionally and with connecting relevance to your product, service or promotional tool. There were some cool promotional ideas in here to tie BOLDness to Caribbean music and to Your choice of colour paint that I feel went really unexplored.

Virtual Music Concerts with a difference…

Marketing aside, in general, virtual music concerts have to happen with a different approach this time around. We are facing another dearth of opportunities for artistes to perform live for public audiences. Another possible “no Carnival” scenario in 2022 is swiftly facing us with the trend of rising Covid-19 cases. Production value, creative concept and a strong promotion campaign to introduce context will be key ingredients for the ongoing success of virtual music concerts.

Producers, artistic directors and artistes can consider exploring revolutionizing or reinventing music performance approaches, styles and thematic performances to re-imagine a familiar discography or catalogue in a different way, within a different context, and beyond a basic “stand up and sing” virtual show. These days, unless the physical performance is especially spectacular, a basic, straight-to-camera performance in a virtual music concert should be considered the bare minimum.

Kudos to the creative team and Berger Caribbean! 😀 #BoldlyBerger
View BOLD: the Concert here!

Published on December 7, 2021

Black Collar Creative