There’s a lot of ways to drive both attention and consumption towards an artist’s music: campaign activations like micro-games, listening parties, UGC campaigns, or competitions are all keenly sought by marketers. However, creating them can be a time-consuming or costly process – or simply beyond the skillset of the team. Colabox wants to change this by offering a platform that aims to enable users to quickly publish all sorts of sticky digital campaigns.
It’s a ‘build anything yourself’ kind of tool, allowing the creation of all the activations mentioned above. Promotions are streaming-focused and the platform is agnostic, working with all major streaming providers that have the capability of synchronising their players with the platform.
Colabox says that nine out of the world’s top ten streaming artists use their platform. This eye-opening stat might be thanks to the platform’s past exclusive partnership with UMG, under the name Lemonade.
While the idea behind Lemonade was to create a toolbox for creatives at agencies to build stickier promotions that encouraged fans to engage in desirable ways, UMG quickly signed a deal that allowed the label to create campaigns that would have otherwise been outsourced. (During this partnership, the major label’s teams created around 17k campaigns – with 250m fans interacting with the promotions.)
Now, under the new name Colabox and out of exclusivity, the updated version of the platform will soon be available to the whole market, and the goal of founder Richard Summers is tempting: “Think about a creative way in which you need to support an artist’s activity and you’ll find a campaign type that can be customised for that artist and then release it.
Other solutions take three weeks to build, Colabox takes a few hours for in-house designers and 20 minutes to create.”
Colabox will also function as a Customer Data Platform, capturing social and listening profiles – allowing for detailed analysis of people’s listening habits. Summers says that ”with all of that data that comes in from fans interacting and all of that content that’s being produced, you can use these massive incremental insights for audience modelling and ROI measurement.” Measurement is ongoing via streaming and social authentication.
So how does it work? When logging into the platform, you can choose to create a new promotion – then link the artist and release to it, checking that the fan data is connected to the right artist. The interface will be familiar to anyone who has used Mailchimp: templates allow you to add pages, sections and blocks. You can add as many pages as you like – for example, a listening party usually consists of four pages: a landing page, a countdown page, a live chat, and a closing page. For each page you can drag and drop a multitude of content widgets – data capture, Apple Music player, chat room, email gate, Spotify player, and more – and you can easily adjust the style by uploading images, or using a colour slider.
Once the promotion is created and content widgets have been added, you can add integrations to DSPs, social media platforms, or chat rooms. As an example: adding a chat room for a listening party allows you to fine-tune settings like enabling a profanity filter or adding the artist as a featured user, using a personal Spotify ID to handle the chat as the artist. An AI element allows for conversations between artists and fans.
Crowded chat rooms experience a lot of “noise”, so Colabox’s AI filters relevant posts with the aim of making the experience more engaging and to help conversation flow better. And on the closing page, further integrations like a maze game can be added for anyone who has missed the listening party – and the music is still there to encourage people to stream again.
There are many other examples and Summers explains that most interactions are “around 2-3 minutes because of the nature of digital interaction, but it really does add up when you’re talking about millions of fans. An impression of a Colabox promotion is like a high-end equivalent of an ad impression.”
For those who are less familiar with creating promotions, Colabox has a Wizard tool, prompting new users with best practices so they can get straight to creating and testing.
Summers claims that Colabox allows teams to be much more efficient than using an agency, because you can create 30 or 40 campaigns in a day. He recommends focusing on a bigger output of activations and amplifying the amount of social media chatter in a short amount of time, rather than looking for longevity of a promotion. “If you’re really good and serious about it, artists will have a weekly activity. They pump it up, get new subscribers, and when the next feed of activity comes up obviously the pump goes out wider.
“That’s what you’re trying to achieve with a set of promotions. If you did 10 pumps, you’re probably going to end up with 100 times the results. It’s about creating a rhythm of content, tapping people on the shoulder the whole time.”
It’s clear that Colabox promotions can push fans to a deeper, more active level of engagement with the artist – and could be a much-needed and easy solution to sustaining awareness and reach throughout a campaign.
Music Ally isn’t aware of any other company that offers the same breadth of activation possibilities on a self-serve basis; and many other solutions tend to focus on Spotify only. MetaBlocks is probably a key competitor in a similar space, allowing TOOLS users to build custom photo booths, voice and text driven applications, widgets, retail landing pages, and more. However, MetaBlocks only provide a few self-service options, with much of their work being done on a project basis.
In order to keep the barrier to entry low, Colabox doesn’t have a fixed subscription fee, instead taking a setup fee – and then charging based on fan interactions. “When someone engages with a Colabox promotion, they change their streaming behaviour and change that of others. For every person that lands on a Colabox promotion somewhere in the region of $2-4 are generated and we charge back a few cents. It’s about the level of impact – changing a fan’s streaming volume by just 1% adds up with millions of fans and you will only get charged for the level of interaction you generate”, says Summers.
In time, the goal is also to allow individual artists to use the platform, but for now, if you’re an independent or major label interested in using Colabox, you can reach out to Kirsty via email@example.com for more information.