Apps & Mobile

QR Codes Move Into Music’s Mainstream

image from A music industry tipping point of sorts arrived for QR (quick response) codes as PepsiCo announced that, through June 26, Taco Bell customers who buy the "Mountain Dew Free Music cup" can scan a QR code on the bottom of the cup to download free music and videos. The downloads will also be available for free, no purchase necessary, via the dedicated download site of Mountain Dew's surprisingly cool Green Label Sound. They hope to distribute over 60 million cups in the course of this promotion.

Though QR codes for music promotion are apparently old news in Japan, momentum and acceptance seems to be slowly taking hold in the States. Noteworthy efforts have included Odd Future's appearance on Jimmy Fallon and Lupe Fiasco's Laser promo in San Francisco's Union Square facilitated by RedLaser.

Actually, judging from sources like the Tappinn-connected QR Anywhere blog, a lot of experiments by mainstream brands are happening but somehow QR codes still have that edgy feel and that's why folks can get so worked up about efforts like that of Odd Future. So does all this mean QR codes are coming into their own and it's time for your music brand to get going?

Yes, absolutely. Smartphone usage in the States continues to grow as "69.5 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones during the three months ending in February 2011, up 13 percent from the preceding three-month period." Awareness of QR codes among those smartphone owners is considered high though usage certainly lags awareness. And a variety of services are now available for generating and utilizing your own QR code.

In addition to the previously mentioned RedLaser and Tappinn, ShareSquare is available with a QR based music promo platform after a debut at SXSW. You can also create QR codes on bitly, as did Odd Future. Numerous other contenders are also available with more likely to be on the way.

Given that QR codes still have a certain trendy appeal yet are getting a boost into the mainstream by corporations like Pepsico, it appears that now is the time to start sorting out your own use of this promising tool for music marketing.

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  1. It’s great to finally see QR Codes being embraced and making its way to the mainstream. If you want to stand out and get content in front of people faster, start using this now.

  2. Saw this over the weekend and was impressed. Education + Incentive + Cool factor = win for QR codes and mobile accessibility. Glad you guys covered this.

  3. My band utilized QR codes on our most recent tour. We wheat-pasted paper bees with QR codes on them in every city we played, some ended up in back alleys at SXSW, others in venue bathrooms amidst a sea of graffiti. We didn’t use any branding on the bees themselves, just the QR code, with the idea that if someone was brave enough to scan an unmarked QR code in the shape of a bee then we would reward their audacity by taking them to a link to download our album for free in exchange for an email signup.
    We’re working on version 2 for our next tour that would incorporate a scavenger hunt using clues on Twitter.
    QR codes are already big in corporate advertising and people are willing to participate, but I believe the key to using it effectively in the music industry is to present it in a creative manner that actively engages fans.
    I would love provide links to our QR campaign in action, but part of our angle is to never post pictures of what they actually look like. 🙂

  4. Pat, how’s the response on your stealth approach?
    I actually almost added a poster I just saw here in Asheville on the streets that had a graphic and a QR code but no text info. It seemed like what not to do to me unless you’re really going for a tiny audience.
    But if it works, it works.

  5. The edgy feel of qr codes is going away fast because most bands dont deploy qr codes correctly, leaving a fan with a bad experience. SXSW filled every flyer with a qr code!
    QR codes are the light switch – focus on the light.
    my 5 tips on successful qr code campaigns here:

  6. Your tips are really dead on!!! I have been trying to get my team behind QR codes and how effective they can be, i am always hit by “middle america doesn’t get it yet, why waste our time” so sad.

  7. “You can also create QR codes on bitly, as did Odd Future. Numerous other contenders are also available with more likely to be on the way.” Really? That many help!

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