Yahoo! Outloud - Giving Fans the Complete Tour Experience
There are a great number of companies out there, doing stupid things and making inept business decisions. Yahoo! has never been one of those companies. No matter what incarnation Yahoo! decides to take, they seem to do so wisely, comprehensively and, ultimately, successfully.
Yahoo! has created a tour this winter/spring. And unlike Budweiser or Coke or Pepsi or Miller or even Target, they have opted to be very selective about their maiden venture. Yahoo! chose to envision, build and launch a Weezer tour and they decided to do it in an altogether web and fan-centric fashion. Yahoo! has launched Yahoo! Outloud, a touring and ticketing site via which (currently) Weezer fans can access tickets in advance of the brick and mortar/traditional retail means. But it's just Weezer, today, who knows what next year will bring. From the press release: "For this limited time [through December 31, 2000] fans who purchase tickets on the official site will receive a commemorative ticket at a discounted price of $15 ($5 off the regular price) and a special limited edition gift from the band. Offline tour tickets will be available after January 1, but the special pricing and gift are available only to online ticket buyers through Dec. 31."
Tiffany Hein, Brand Manager Yahoo! stated, "Right now [the Yahoo! Outloud site] is just a ticketing site but it will become a cool site."
According to the press release, February 1 is the launch date for a more robust Yahoo! Outloud site. Yahoo! plans to feature a Weezer Digital Tour Diary, exclusive Weezer footage, clips and interviews, live and on-demand Webcasts, as well as downloadable music. Yahoo! Outloud will also host contests for music-related prizes such as a Fender guitar or MP3 players as well as a charity auction, chats and message boards where Weezer fans can connect with the band.
In an interview with Tiffany Hein, I posed some questions:
[Margee] What inspired Yahoo! to do this, and why Weezer?
[Tiffany] Why is Yahoo! in the rock and roll business? Basically, we look at the most wired people…who is spending the most time online. College kids are clearly the most wired demographic, soon to be replaced by teens. But right now college students are the most wired demographic and we - as a company - were saying to ourselves, 'How can we leverage our network and have a greater expanded relationship with college students? They love Yahoo! but they primarily - in the past - have thought of us as a place for search and email. We really want to establish ourselves as an entertainment brand with them...let us make you laugh, let us make you smile, let us help you find any artist that you're interested in finding and any music content that you're interested in. We also have an enormous database of downloads and, as you know, music is the largest common denominator that any two people would have in terms of interest and it's certainly the most effective and relevant way to reach an elusive target like a college student. So, everybody's out there on campus, shouting messages to them…all different kinds of packaged goods' companies and we had a great opportunity to reach them in a hip, cool, relevant way and bring them an awesome experience.
Weezer has a very wired fan base. They sold out fifteen club shows in less then fifteen minutes, this summer. Their fans are very active online. The tour was promoted solely online via their own website - Weezer.net, and at Ticketmaster.com for Ticketmaster shows. And they're a very net-savvy band. They've kept in touch with their fan base. Last year's tour was not in support of a new album but the fans are so interested, they kept going back to the site to keep informed. In the 70s if you were a member of a fan club, you got a mailed letter every month. In the 80s you got a fax. In the 90s and beyond - with the advent of the internet - you've got a 24/7 chance to participate in the club. Weezer understands the internet and that it's a vehicle between them and their fans, that it promotes dialogue and access to messages, media and marketing. Part of our goal isn't just to entertain a hundred thousand kids in twenty markets, it's really to entertain a very broad audience. Virtually, a kid in Idaho or Kentucky could experience everything with the band and the tour, except for physically being in the building when the band is playing. When the full microsite launches in February, we'll have an enormous amount of digital assets and rich media and contests and polls and chats with the band and live or on-demand webcasts that a broad audience can experience.
[Margee] What are the offline plans for this promotion, and what sort of ticket availability will there be, after December 31?
[Tiffany] That's a good question, except what we've done is held tickets for each radio station. Each radio station, in all twenty markets has - depending on market size - fifty to one hundred tickets. So, there are opportunities for people to win and we'll start promoting it offline, pretty soon.
[Margee] Are you hoping to make this an annual thing?
[Tiffany] It's definitely meant to be an annual thing. It's meant to be an established brand - brand, meaning Yahoo! Outloud - and it's that thing, that experience that we want kids to go through freshman year through senior year. And it has an established reputation of providing great entertainment and an extremely affordable ticket price and an experience with it. No longer do people wait in line to buy tickets, they go online through this program [Yahoo! Outloud], to buy tickets.They can communicate and have an ongoing dialogue with the band, online, that they've never been able to experience before. So, it's changing their experience where they don't go inline to buy a ticket; they don't walk into the show, have a beer or a Pepsi, watch a band and leave. It's a completely different experience because there's a lifestyle pavilion going on - both at the live shows and virtually. The lifestyle pavilion is where we incorporate our sponsors with gadgets, promos and information, so the alternative to hanging around with your drink, waiting for the next set, is fiddling around with a digital camera, for example. And the fans at home can read about the products and participate in some of the promotions. It's a lifestyle pavilion, rather than a flea market. I think what's magical about it - especially this year - is that we've got the right band and we're the right brand. The immediate, initial coup is that we haven't spent a dollar in any offline promotion and we've sold out nine of our twenty shows. I think it's a real testament to - number one, Weezer's phenomenal wired fan base, along with the effectiveness and power of the Yahoo! network, in terms of being able to reach a demographically targeted online audience. It shows the power of what you can achieve with appropriately and effectively placed media.
[Margee] Will there come a time when Yahoo! Outloud is easier to find through links on the homepage?
[Tiffany] There's going to be links throughout Yahoo! Right now, there is a significant banner campaign running, which you can see resulting in over 60% of the ticket sales already. It's on music, so you'll permanently and always be able to find it through http://music.yahoo.com, which - intuitively - would make sense to a college student, then also on weezer.net and on ticketmaster [.com].
[Margee] Anything you want to say that I haven't given you the chance to say?
[Tiffany] I think the two major points that I'd want to communicate are what we've actually done and how we've done it - you know, finding the right band and the right brand. Also, the collaboration between Yahoo! and Ticketmaster and the promoters to create an affordable ticket. [Look at] the phenomena of no money offline so far and nobody in line. It's really how we've been successful that's unique in addition to what we've done to date.
Unlike most media companies, Yahoo! has always kept its eyes on the prize. And unlike so many other companies or CEO's who've decide to blindly leap into the online music world, Yahoo! has focused it's model and maintained the integrity of their brand as well as the brand of their chosen artist. That is the key... knowing your market and delivering what they want without compromising yourself. Go Yahoo!
Ticketmaster - www.ticketmaster.com
Weezer - www.weezer.net
Yahoo! - www.yahoo.com
Yahoo! Music - http://music.yahoo.com
Yahoo! Outloud - http://outloud.yahoo.com
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