NetEase Cloud Music organized an unconventional online marketing campaign in collaboration with sunflower seed manufacturer QiaQia. The campaign works like this: the brand custom made blue packs and gift boxes, buying each pack gives you 100 votes, and each gift box 1,800 votes. Fans of musicians can support their favorite singer-songwriter by directly voting as well as purchasing custom-made products to redeem extra votes. In the first 15 days of the program, more than 500,000 people went online to vote for their favorite singer-songwriter. 1998-born rookie Fan Kaijie (隔壁老樊) won first place with 373,788 votes. Joint marketing programs that make fans buy products to gain additional voting power are standard practice in the world of idol economy. This program surprised many people by demonstrating the dedication of fans of singer-songwriters.
∧Packaging of snacks for the campaign
Singer-songwriters have grown into a significant force in the music scene in China with the ability to attract fan money as well as name recognition for their songs. Fan Kaijie’s seven songs on NetEase Cloud Music received almost one million comments total and were played 3.5 billion times in the past six months. Singer-songwriter Mao Buyi (毛不易)’s album A Normal Day ranked the first in digital sales on NetEase in 2018, with 415,255 copies sold. Singer-songwriter and rapper Bridge(布瑞吉)’s album New Continent ranked 4th. The successful early arrivers on NetEase, such as Xie Chunhua (谢春花), Chen Hongyu (陈鸿宇), and New Pants (新裤子) sell out their tours very quickly. Some of them even sold out entire arenas.
The popularity of sing-songwriters on NetEase is a result of the demographics of the userbase. 83.5% of NetEase Cloud Music’s users are below 25 years old. These Gen Z kids are attracted to the platform for the social features that allows them to connect directly with their beloved musicians as well as peers with the same interests. They love finding their niches. They heavily identify with their interests and put down money to reinforce that identity. They socialize online more than offline. Singer-songwriters with their distinct personalities and limited mainstream media exposures give Gen Zs a sense of uniqueness. Marketing to this new generation of music listeners would be different and challenging, but NetEase got the hang of it.
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