An exploration in locally organized pop culture marketing
ABOUT WE GO HARD
I am a huge fan of live music, especially dance music. Whenever I speak to people about how they got into a style or genre of music, they generally talk about the first exposure they had. More often than not, that is a live event or concert. I’ve also noticed that when I try to get new people into the music that I like, they’re more likely to like it as well if their first exposure is at a club or live show. People tend to not like music playing from laptop speakers. So with this project I set out to provide a series of live events that would allow people the best environment to be exposed to new styles and genres of music. The project was a mixture of live and digital experience with a website built to complement the live product. Attendees could visit wegohard.co.uk and listen to curated mixtapes of 10+ genres that would be played at the live event to get a rough idea of what they’re interested in and what they should be looking out for. That way when they show up on the night, they have a rough idea of what to expect.
The name came from the Waka Flaka Flame song Hard in the Paint because the hook is “I Go Hard” and the song is so popular and catchy that there is a remix for just about every music genre. I wanted the theme of the event to be more community oriented so changed the I to We.
The concept for the logo was to fit into the music/entertainment space somewhere between a Kesha type and a Killers type. I wanted to appeal to millennial 18–24 females — the thinking being that, similar to “girls get in free” bar nights, an events brand that appealed to the female demographic would bring with it men in similar numbers. I used a few friends of mine as the focus group for this theory.
So obviously that didn’t test well — it’s more designed for nerds who love twitch.tv shows than people who are willing to embrace brands like what I was looking for. After spending too much time on the drawing board, here’s what I came up with:
I built the website myself on top of a rudimentary cms created for photography portfolios. I wanted to get it up fast so there was a lot of digital ducktaping involved, but it worked in the end. The idea was to make it seem like you were visiting a digital record store where all the records were genre-mixtapes. By clicking on one, the album artwork revealed a player and tracklist. The entire website was built responsive and utilized modern technologies (no flash) so it could be visited on any sized device and work just the same. This allowed people to call up the website on their phones and turn on any mixtape they chose. In case they needed something to play for a pre-game party or after party — we were there for them.
The mixtapes the site provided are some of my proudest work. They’re some of the technically tightest mixes I’ve heard in a long time. Normally when DJs are putting together mixtapes, they focus on a genre already, but since genres in electronic music are so fast paced and fluid, you can often only work with music released in the last three to six months or run the risk of sounding stale or “out of touch.” The great thing about these genre tapes is that since these tapes were targeted towards an audience that had never heard or experienced the genre before, we encouraged the DJs to use their favorite songs regardless of how old they were. This resulted in an overall higher quality mixtape since no one had to go dumpster diving for a 6 minute song released two months ago just to meet the time limit. This was something of a greatest hits mixtape for them. The songs that always got the best responses out of crowds at live shows. I made a number of the mixtapes myself and years later they’re still some of my favorite work.
The player and the mixtapes were hosted on soundcloud, which has sadly taken down most of the mixes as a result of their ongoing copyright dispute with the major record labels. A couple still exist from the original soundcloud account:
In a small town with a surprising amount of events, it can sometimes be quite difficult to stand out among the crowd. This is where real in person advertising works best. The first thing I did when starting this whole thing up was to recruit an awesome team of outgoing and charismatic people who could carry the brand with respect. Then I ordered them some shirts with the logo. The great thing about marking a late-night event like We Go Hard is that you can market it at night by just going to bars and speaking to people — so that’s what we did.
We would go around to after parties giving out shirts and getting in the middle of dance parties. Sometimes one of the DJs from the online mixtapes would take over DJing for a bit — or we would just turn on one of the mixtapes from the website on one of our phones. My favorite part of this strategy was that it was not only incredibly effective in getting the word out about the brand, it was also a lot of fun. This was a great way to get the word out about the event and the brand — and it was a terrific complement to the website. Given how the name was already in the millennial lexicon, it was easy enough to direct people to the website.
We ran a print campaign in tandem with the online and in person marketing to create synergy between what you saw online, in person, and in the streets.
So as with any new-concept event, you’re going to have a hard time selling tickets if you can’t explain exactly what it is in a clean and well put together way. Not everyone is going to sit through a wall of text before deciding whether or not to buy a ticket to something. More often than not, they’ll just decide to not go. Thus, in addition to the in person marketing, print campaign, and website, I made a quick and dirty explanation video.
The event went swimmingly! It was held at the local aquarium where I had a relationship with the management. It doubles as a music/special events venue at a capacity of about 300. We had fortunately sold more than half of the capacity through presales online and in person so we did not have to spend too much time at the door selling tickets before we could have some fun ourselves.
So the whole thing worked out swimmingly. I loved working on this project becuase of the creativity it allowed me. The fact that I was running it as a passion project was both good and bad. It was good in that I knew what I was talking about and what I was doing. It was bad in that sometimes I ended up targeting myself in advertisements instead of the audience. One of the flaws in working with what you love. All in all it was a positive experience.
Thanks so much for reading. Stay tuned for part 2!