Beck Hansen, known to his fans as just “Beck,” is not only an all-American musician, singer and songwriter…he is also a content marketer extraordinaire.
His unique form of content marketing has a storyline with an arc. It is both creative and logical. It has a beginning, middle and end.
So what did he do and how did he do it?
He first published a book of sheet music and artwork, called “Song Reader,” but he called it an album. By doing so, he effectively offered the world a volume of music that was open to interpretation. He invited the world to play it and make it their own, to record their own renditions of his music.
He waited two years before producing another actual album on CD. So what happened in between?
After writing an initial article on Beck’s project, Forbes’ writer Will Burns interviewed Beck, who told him that he wasn’t sure if he would ever put his published “Song Reader” to music. He told Burns that he would wait and see what happened with the songs, if others did something interesting with them, or not.
He wasn’t afraid to throw it all out there and take a wait-and-see approach. His focus group was the whole wide world of potential readers, listeners and players.
You might be surprised by the results you’d get if you just “thew it out there.”
Publishing a book of songs as an album was unique, to say the least. And when an idea is that different, it’s a novelty. And when there is novelty, there is buzz. People are bound to talk. A lot. So, for starters, just doing something incredibly different can generate publicity.
What’s Old is New Again
Beck also presented his audience with a challenge. He offered his fans an opportunity to be part of his creation. As he said to Burns, he was looking for people to “find these songs.” Discovery was part of the process. And as Beck pointed out, that’s the way music used to be experienced by people, before commercialization and digitalization. You would learn a song when you heard Aunt Edna sing it or Uncle Tom play it on his banjo.
Music was all about relationships and interpretation. As a true musician, Beck knew this and found a way to get that age-old experience back for his fans. He understood the interactive heart of content marketing.
To see what his fans did with “Song Reader,” see thousands of uploads on YouTube.
Beck launched his “album” and sat back for more than a year.
As he laid low, his fans played his music, posted their versions, listened to the versions of others. Still, everyone wondered what the “real” version was supposed to be like — Beck’s version. How did he mean for it to sound?
Finally, he played some of the songs, and had other famous artists play. Jeff Tweedy, Jack Black, Norah Jones all got on stage to play their versions of Beck’s music.
People met his renditions with great enthusiasm, of course. And they are ever so hungry for more. As fans hang in the balance, is there more to come? Chances are, this story isn’t over yet.
How can you keep your audience guessing? Make them wait, wonder and anticipate? Let Beck inspire you. You may surprise yourself.