Snapchat Reveals Its Next Marketing Trick: Music Videos

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We have written at length about Snapchat and the way its ability to instantaneously share messages that will self-destruct moments later can be leveraged by artists to grow their fan base, but like all good companies with a heart for music the social application is still finding new ways to help artists engage with their followers. Good on them.

This week, Snapchat unveiled plans to begin working with musicians from all walks of life to help expose their talent to the world through the platform’s recently-launched ‘Discovery’ effort. The first group to be featured is Goldroom, who will release four music videos on Snapchat, each made with the company’s involvement and shot in a way that takes advantage of how people hold their phones. This means the videos will not be shot like classic TV shows or movies using widescreen framing, but instead each clip will make use of vertical, or ‘portrait’ format. You know, like all those live videos on YouTube you hate to watch because you can only see 1/10 of what is going on.

 If that name Goldroom rings a bell, it may be due to the fact Snapchat collaborated with the same band nearly two years ago in order to rollout the company’s ‘stories’ feature. Here’s a quick refresher:

The first clip for this campaign, “Embrace,” will be released next Tuesday, May 26, followed by another clip each day through Friday. 

Josh Deutsch, CEO and co-founder of Downtown Records speaks highly of the partnership saying: 

“Snapchat is a powerful content distribution platform and we are excited to partner and share these beautifully shot videos, designed mobile first, with fans around the world. As music discovery has become more fragmented, the Snap Channel takeover is an innovative way for us to introduce Goldroom to a young, engaged audience.”

The New York Times wrote at length about Snapchat’s decision to dive into the world of music videos earlier this week, and in their article there is some discussion about what this move, as well as the launch of the company’s ‘discover’ tool back in January, may mean for the future of content consumption:

In January, Snapchat introduced its Discover feature, offering bite-size content from major media partners like Warner Music, Vice and ESPN. Peter Hamby, a CNN correspondent, announced last month that he wasjoining Snapchat in a journalistic capacity, and even the television star Sofía Vergara recently said she would do a reality show on the platform.

All of that, analysts say, suggests that Snapchat has landed on a formula that it believes can help media companies capture the attention of fickle young viewers.

“We’re living in a world where consumers feel they can get online content anytime, anyplace,” said Richard Greenfield, a media analyst at BTIG Research, “but what Snapchat has done is create urgency with content that only lasts 24 hours.”

Snapchat, based in Venice, Calif., has become one of the hottest technology companies, raising more than half a billion dollars and last valued by its investors at more than $15 billion.

We have been talking a lot at HQ about the decision to premiere videos via Snapchat, and I think the one question we all have is how exactly the company plans to scale this tool in a way that will have a meaningful impact. If everyone can upload a music video, then the platform will be just as crowded as ever. At the same time, if Snapchat only allows this features to be used by artists directly collaborating with the platform the question becomes whether or not the company will be open to all types of artists or only those that play well with their brand/image. An artist like Goldroom is buzzworthy enough to make the company seem like it cares about developing talent, but whether or not they will continue to work with mid-level artists remains to be seen.

Like anyone working in music today, we welcome any business that wants to put time, money, and effort into promoting great talent. That said, we also want to see the focus of those companies remain with developing acts, and so far Snapchat hasn’t been all that transparent with their plans moving forward. A tool like this could easily become something embraced by artists on the same level as 5 Seconds Of Summer or Nicki Minaj, but can we say the same about someone like The Wonder Years? Only time will tell.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.