On The Road With DJ Shadow – The Shadowsphere Meets The Death Star & Reaching Fans Online
(Updated) Wow. In what seems like the snap of a finger I am on my 11th day on the road. A day off. Finally. We are already 1/3 of the way through the DJ Shadow "Live From The Shadowsphere" North American Tour, and things have been going great so far. I must admit though, I forgot how grueling touring can be. The last tour I went on was March of 2008, on the "Hard Sell" tour through Europe with DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist. That's almost 2 years ago, and I think I purposefully forgot how tough it can be. That said, this is an experience of a lifetime, and the first time that I have been on a full US tour.
First and foremost: the shows have been going very well. For those of you not familiar: this tour is a highly technical, visual and auditory experience. The setup and maintenance, before, during, and after the show is extremely intense, and although I do not take part in this realm, it has been interesting and impressive to witness Ben Stokes and his crew setup, maintain, and manage the visual landscape. If you haven't yet, check out: http://www.djshadow.com/tour – to see some of the photos from the shows. In a nutshell: Shadow performs inside a sphere which has visual projections on it to create optical illusions in cohesion with the backscreen. Here's a little teaser:
The Shadowsphere as the Death Star (Photo by Arian Stevens)
The remaining photos below, are all uploaded by fans via their iPhone at the show (all archived at djshadow.com/tour):
The Shadowsphere as a basketball, bouncing on a court:
The Shadowsphere as a Baseball. At one point, the backscreen becomes a field, and an illusion is created where the baseball is hit out of the park. In front of the San Francisco crowd of 10,000 people, at Cow Palace, the night after the Giants won game 1 of the World Series, Shadow said (right at the point that the baseball was being knocked out), "Go Giants." Classic.
OK, enough of my shameless plugs (although I hope you all find the actual artistic part of this interesting too), and down to the nitty gritty marketing and merchandising tactics that all of you Hypebot readers want…
Here's an update on the plan I discussed in my first post:
Geo-targeted push notifications on the iPhone app to fans at each venue, asking the fan to take photos of the show. This has been going AMAZINGLY. Just check out DJShadow.com/tour , and the Tour Archive. You will see loads of photos and comments for each show that have been synced from the Mobile API. Fans have really gotten into this element of the show, and it has reached levels of engagement that even I was not expecting. We also began pushing this as a visual text projection, onto the Shadowsphere, before the set begins. This has brought in an impressive amount of iPhone app downloads, and in turn, email addresses. This positive reaction has me really considering the push to expand the app to the Android market. The more engaged, the merrier.
SMS text message campaign for a free download. The results for this campaign were not very impressive at first, but after the first few shows, we ditched using physical flyers as the sole way to promote this, and started using the Shadowsphere, before his set, to promote. It simply states: "Want A Free Download? Text 'Shadow' To 88769" This displays a few times prior to Shadow's set beginning, and has boosted the results for this campaign.
Accepting credit cards at merch table via Square. All I can say is: USE SQUARE. I swear they are not paying me, or us to endorse them (although maybe that's not a bad idea…. ; )…. But this thing is great. Without giving any specific numbers as to how we are doing with merchandise sales (and we are doing well, and better than expected), I can say that just about 33% of our touring merchandise business has been through credit card on Square. That is impressive. I have no way of saying how much it has increased our sales vs. not accepting cards at all, but my educated guess is that it has raised sales by about 20%, which is significant. I do have just a few gripes: learning the swiping motion that works 100% of the time is a "practice makes perfect" sort of physical motion. Square needs to enhance the abilities of the reader and it will be perfect. Other than that, the ONLY issue I have run into is poor 3G service (thanks iPhone), and/or shoddy Wifi service in the venues. That said, I have used the Square at every show except 1, and I have run into very few overall issues.
Old fashioned email sign up at the merch table. Always has worked like a charm, and continues to. Impressive results. My advice: always have a merchandise salesman that will push the brand, and will tell people to sign up. There is a huge difference in results when you just let people find the sign up sheet rather than pushing them to it.
Street Team: These dedicated fans have been amazing. I honestly could not have done this without them so far. They hand out flyers, and buttons, and generally act as the ultimate brand ambassadors. They have all expressed that they have had great experiences becoming involved with the Shadow team, and I look forward to more projects with them in the future.
Topspin powered iPhone Merch Store. This has finally launched, and is active under the "Merchandise" tab in the free DJ Shadow iPhone app. The mobile e-commerce space has a lot of growing to do, but the presence of the store is essential. I expect this to eventually be an important stream of income.
Buttons. We hand out a unique 50 at each show. It has been going great, and the super-fans look at the giant, over-sized circle, smile, and then immediately proceed to pin it to their chest.
Continual utilization of the tools at DJShadow.com. I've been extremely busy with the duties that the road calls for, but I have done as much for my "at-home" gig as possible. We have sent a few geo-targeted email blasts, and have posted some News items. I am planning to gather some photos to post to the Gallery ( http://www.djshadow.com/gallery ) within the next few days as well. Fresh content = fresh visits.
Facebook. As always, this is extremely effective. Geo-targeted marketing messages for each show are King. The ticket purchases for walk-up have great, and I would like to think it may have something to do with viral Facebook posts targeted to specific regions. I guess I'll never know for sure, but I can certainly speculate.
Twitter. Great updates and commentary from the man himself. Always entertaining, and always helpful.
Myspace. I have a complaint. Why in God's name do they only display 3 tour dates at a time now on Myspace pages (you have to click "View All" to see the full tour schedule). I have had emails from marketing managers at venues/promotions offices asking me to "please post the date to Shadow's Myspace." The dates have been posted for months, they are just missing that almost invisible "View All" link, and it is certainly not their fault. To Myspace: Is this my punishment for not upgrading to the new Myspace back-end yet? I like our layout as is, thanks guys. If anyone knows how to fix this, please let me know, Twitter: @mfiebach
So Myspace isn't getting any love in this post, even though I DO still think they are (slightly) relevant despite everyone's extreme hate.
Merchandise. As I said earlier, merch is doing very well. Better than I expected. The multiple product options in various price ranges is proving to be the correct approach. Overhead may be high, but it is way more interesting than having one simple tee shirt design, and one CD offering. Variety works. And now that we accept credit cards right at the merch table, and now that we have little shopping bags, people can pile the merch up! More on the next post on Merch…
"Shadow Radio" http://www.djshadow.com/radio – streams prior to each set. This is promoted by the occasional "Transmission Broadcast: Shadow Radio" being displayed on the sphere, and "Shadow Radio" as the auditory "radio ID." This is promotion of the radio shows streamed from DJShadow.com, yet another reason to bring people to our web-home.
The web traffic to the site has been great. Touring always boosts the traffic to the web site. Facebook fans are increasing rapidly, we are almost at 240,000 fans! Twitter is moving as Shadow Tweets, and causing a lot of viral @ messaging.
I can confidently say that things are going well. I am on a day off in Flagstaff, AZ. I took advantage of the time off and strolled around town a bit. Then quickly realized that there was plenty to tend to and spent the rest of the day working. Touring…. It's fun. But it ain't no joke. Next stop Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Please stay tuned to the tour at:
Much Love, From The Road With DJ Shadow,
Michael Fiebach is the Project, Marketing and Merchandise Manager for DJ Shadow. Over the next month as Michael and DJ Shadow cross North America on tour, Hypebot readers will get a look inside how they market and stay connected to fans via exclusive blog posts and videos.