Since the birth of social media, we’ve seen hundreds of songs from legacy artists have their own viral moments and reach new audiences across generations. There have also been countless times where such artists have been trending after appearing in funny or controversial videos. This begs the question: why aren’t more legacy acts capitalizing on this momentum and re-energizing their fanbase by being present on these platforms, creating their own content?
According to entrepreneur/music marketer Sean Taylor, AKA BrandMan Sean, a primary reason for this is that they’re skeptical about the value that social media will bring when they’re already successful. He believes that artists are missing out hugely due to their reluctance to adapt when it comes to investing their time being on one platform in particular. “There’s no faster way to market established acts than by getting them active on TikTok. Once you win TikTok, the other platforms fall like dominoes”, Taylor states.
One such artist who wasn’t convinced that TikTok was for her was Grammy-award winner Macy Gray. The R&B/Soul singer was a firm believer that her core demographic wasn’t on TikTok and the platform wouldn’t be the best way to spend her time/budget to promote her music.
However, since working with BrandMan Sean’s content marketing and advertising agency, ContraBrand, not only were they able to change her mind but they were also armed with content ideas ready to strike while the iron’s hot following Gray’s viral performance of ” The Star-Spangled Banner” at last month’s NBA All-Star game. This has worked to such great effect that you could confidently cite Gray as being a trailblazing legacy act on TikTok.
While her performance was doing the rounds across socials in the hours following the game, garnering millions of views, existing and new fans were also able to connect with the American singer-songwriter directly, rushing to follow her on TikTok and Instagram. While many legacy acts have verified accounts, they are often being run by their management being used as merely a music promotion tool. However, in Gray’s case, she’s been posting her own videos, doubling down since her performance at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland. As a result, she went from around 400 followers to over 90,000 in just a matter of days.
“When it comes to Macy it’s not even as much about gaining new fans like it is with newer clients, it’s just more about how do we reengage these people who already know who you are, and remind them that you exist”, explains Jacorey Barkley, co-founder of ContraBrand Agency. “You need to let them know that you do have new music coming out, which is what the digital ads and even the social moments are all helping to do. It’s easy from an execution standpoint, and a material standpoint, but it has been hard from a standpoint of convincing Macy to hop on and give TikTok a try as she’s already successful”, Barkley states.
There have been plenty of videos going viral featuring Gray in the past couple of weeks. From LeBron James trying to hold back his laughter during her rendition of the national anthem, to fans taking to social media to talk about her aggressively hugging Jennifer Hudson backstage at the NBA All-Star game, Gray’s big personality is tailor-made for social media.
“The great thing about working with Macy is that every time she goes out in public and does something with somebody she’s literally like a walking viral moment”, Barkley laughs. “That’s been really great because even now we’re building out these game plans and how to strengthen those viral moments and give them a little bit more legs rather than just letting them just be one-off things that happened here and there and actually having a place for fans to and follow and engage with her directly.”
ContraBrand is a content marketing and advertising agency that first made waves in the industry after working with rapper/singer 24kGoldn, leveraging TikTok to accelerate trends that helped his single, CITY OF ANGELS, to over 200 million streams. That success led to several future TikTok campaigns, including helping build a groundswell for his first Billboard #1 hit, Mood.
Gray’s not just been benefitting from being a walking viral moment when around others as Barkley describes her, she’s also been creating her own solo viral videos. Gray recently participated in the trending #dropitchallenge, with her video racking up over 1.9 million views to date.
Her caption ‘when you’re 50 and u can’t get all the way down….’ sparked lots of support in the comments on TikTok, including Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Nicole Scherzinger, who wrote, “U did your thing on it sis!!!”, as well as a fan who wrote “I’m 34 And I’m with you. I love you, your music makes my not flexible body move just fine.”
ContraBrand Agency’s focus when building campaigns with artists lean heavily on utilizing narratives, influencers, and social trends across multiple platforms to build omnipresence within digital communities. BrandMan Sean firmly believes that Gray can and will become the blueprint for how to successfully market legacy artists in the TikTok era.
“Macy is a unique personality that has always benefited from being herself and there’s no faster way to rebrand an established act like Macy Gray than TikTok”, says Taylor. “But be clear that TikTok is just the starting point. We have big ideas and there’s plenty more to come.”