On Friday Coldplay filled Montreal’s Bell Centre for the second show in as many nights on their Mylo Xyloto Tour, and I’ve never seen a crowd so engaged as I did there. From the floor to the highest reaches of the 400’s, every able-bodied person in the cavernous arena was on their feet dancing, clapping, chanting and singing along.
I can’t help wonder how brands and marketers might drive this kind of engagement from their own legions of fans…
Setting the Stage
Coldplay sure know how to put on a show. One of the more impressive parts of the night was how in connecting with the audience and putting themselves out there, they managed to remove as many barriers as possible for people to enjoy it.
The stage and catwalk were open enough in concept that most seats in the house had a solid view of the action. Even the obstructed seats behind the stage had a large enough opening to see through, and the stage design included a raised ramp around the back that was used frequently enough to give some love to the folks seated back there.
Mammoth circular screens set up around the arena - not just bookending the stage as in many other arena rock shows, but hanging from rafters facing various angles - made sure the odds were in your favour that you’d be able to see what you came for.
The audience invested time and money to be there; similarly, your audience is investing their time and attention to be “there” for you - what are you doing to remove barriers and be as visible as possible for them?
Intimacy on a Massive Scale
For the encore, the house lights came up and the band set themselves up at a small makeshift stage at one of the back corners of the audience, just above the floor. (at the front of our section, a half-dozen rows directly below us, no less!)
Gone were the light show, canned videos, confetti explosions and fancy stage setup. Just the band and their instruments remained, in the middle of the crowd performing and extra song or two.
The change in setup forced everyone in the audience to affix their gaze somewhere other than where they had for the majority of the night, and somewhere they wouldn’t expect to be looking in a concert environment. The changing of perspectives solidified the feeling of the more intimate vibe, leaving us feeling all the more connected to what was being presented to us.
Where you can you take your conversation with your audience to create a more intimate vibe to foster building relationships?
As every ticket holder entered the arena, they were greeted with a pair of wristbands of various colours emblazoned with a twitter logo and the hashtag #coldplayfilm to affix to each arm. With little explanation as to what purpose they served, it ratcheted up the curiosity and level of anticipation for the show, and how these new accessories may fit in.
When the house lights dimmed and Coldplay started their set, the wristbands all lit up turning the audience into a glowing, blinking sea of neon light. It was an incredible moment to be in, seeing the amazement in the faces of my neighbours, and adding another layer to the elation of the kick-off of the show.
During and after the show, attendees took to twitter to share thoughts, photos, reactions and thanks with the #coldplayfilm hashtag. The wristband gimmick not only worked to put a new spin on the concert experience, but helped introduce more fans to the social discussion on twitter, and provided fans a place to congregate and share feedback.
Not every gimmick is going to work this swimmingly, but what creative twists can you add to your user/fan experience to help enhance their involvement?
Crafting A Chorus
For seemingly every chorus the crowd was crushingly loud. Even more overpoweringly loud were each of the support vocal sing-along parts (the Ohhh and Oooooh bits cleverly worked into tunes), where even casual fans who may not have known all the words could still jump into the fray and sing along.
The sing-song elements are like a dramatic over-simplification of parts of the songs, distilled down to just a hook or melody - letting that purest, most emotional part of the music grab the audience. Like a hashtag or slogan, you hope it’ll help spread beyond your core audience to fringe fans, and have them supporting your message, pulling them into your world.
How can you distill your message to the simplest, most engaging, most sharable pieces?
Don’t Forget Your Roadies
Every band needs roadies. These are people toiling behind the scenes to make your show a success, doing it not for fame or riches, but more often than not out of love of your work.
After the show, one of Coldplay’s roadies took to their blog to share thoughts on the Montreal show, noting;
“Given that I’ve seen them do this show coming on for a hundred times now, the idea that I’m actually entertaining the idea of spending time watching a film of it is pretty remarkable.” ~ Roadie #42
Brands need roadies too. You may already have them. Take a peek at your social mentions, retweets, likes and shares - you’ll likely find a dedicated and active group of fans that are standing by ever-faithful to help your cause.
Don’t take roadies for granted. As the ultimate measuring stick and the choir you’re preaching to, it takes a special kind of performance from you to really impress them.
Strive to impress the hell out of your roadies - if you do, you know the folks from general admission to the nosebleeds will have gone home happy.
The Electrical Storm of Engagement
“This kind of audience reaction sends the band into another level performance-wise and the crackle back and forth between band and crowd becomes its own electrical storm.” ~ Roadie #42
And crackle it did. Even after the couple hours it took to fight our way through the parking lot, traffic and road back to Ottawa, I was still riding the buzz from the show, ears still ringing, feverishly refreshing Tweetbot. Electrical storm, indeed.
So, what are you doing to foster that kind of positive experience and engagement to make an electrical storm between you and your audience?