As millions of mobile gamers wander the streets catching Drowzees and Pidgeottos in Pokemon Go – or, just as likely, standing on the streets grumbling about the game’s servers having crashed again under the weight of demand – thoughts are turning to the potential impact on other industries. Music included.
Pokemon Go has far from invented augmented reality (AR) technology, but it is (literally) putting it on the map in a mainstream sense. Equally, music is no stranger to AR in a marketing sense: from Rolling Stones-branded gorillas hanging off famous landmarks to Little Mix fans “blipping” the cover of their ‘Black Magic’ single, labels have explored AR. Often, it was a diverting gimmick rather than a game-changer.
British startup Landmrk is hoping to give the idea another go, fuelled by Pokemon Go fever. It has already worked on location-based AR campaigns for Alt-J and Keith Richards, helping it develop out its platform to “place digital content, in real-time into physical locations anywhere in the world”. 56,000 fans interacted with the Alt-J campaign, which unlocked their last album for pre-release streaming at certain locations, in its first week.
“The Pokemon Go craze is just insane, but it has brought a realisation of the power of platforms like ours. If you’ve got a really compelling story to tell, and good content, people are willing to leave their home or work and go and unlock or experience these things,” Landmrk’s Tom Nield told Music Ally this week. “You can use the tool in a creative way, like you would use your social networking tools, and tell stories with and for artists. This is not just a tool to unlock new music.”
As tempting as it may be for labels to jump on the Pokemon Go bandwagon, it’s still too early to tell whether that game will be a short-lived craze. Finding the artists with the right stories for AR/location-based scavenger hunting could be a challenge too: not to mention the willingness of fans to run down their batteries hunting down music and music-related experiences like they’d hunt down a rare Vaporeon Pokemon – something even Justin Bieber has been spotted doing in Central Park this week.
Still, mobile AR’s magic mainstream moment may not have come with startups like Blippar and Layar, and it may be coming now with Pokemon Go. It’s reasonable for music companies to think about how they might take advantage. Read our full interview for Landmrk’s take on the potential.