Transmedia Storytelling – Renewal in the music industry


Outro: How to revitalize the music business?

Transmedia Storytelling is a field borrowed from our American friends. Existing under this name for about twenty years now, it’s getting more and more followers in Europe. Applying especially to the TV media, Web, video games, etc., it’s still very shy in the music world.

As rightly pointed out by Gerd Leonhard (Communication and Media Consultant) in the book “The Future of Music” (Berklee Press, 2005) of which he is the co-author, the music has, for years, became a free consumer good almost indefinitely available. He compared the music business to tap water, easily accessible, abundant and virtually free. Yet the bottled water sales industry makes billions of euros in profits every year. The challenge is to monetize a much infinitely available common good.

One of the most promising solutions, such as creating a universe for a band through transmedia, is to give up the support, to abandon the musical work to the gratuitousness and sell what remains rare and that can not be hacked, namely: the unique experience, the story that goes with the music. One can speak of added value.

But it can raise another problem: the intellectual property. Who own the story? The authors, the band, the producer, etc.?

man holding a vinyl record in his hands

One of the points of interest in the world of artists who wish to make their music a unique experience, would be to design, beyond music, a multi-faceted piece of art concept. They could get closer to other artists and collaborate on a common and global piece to provide the public a truly enriched experience that will take a different dimension depending on the supports.

We took in the articles a non-exhaustive list of bands (Gorillaz, Johnny Cash, Arcade Fire, etc.) that have turned their world into a Transmedia Storytelling experience. But this list is much longer. One can mention: Daft Punk, Björk, AC / DC, Tori Amos, etc.

Transmedia Storytelling: A new business model that seems to be working

These great artists have paved the way for future generations of musicians. This is a new business model that seems to be working for now. Indeed, storytelling related to transmedia is a powerful weapon to capture your audience. The stories always hold the attention especially if they follow or complement each other on different supports. Hence the interest in developing a narrative universe in music. Each song is already a full story on its own, if we do not want to lose the listener right in the middle of an album, you must put these songs in a more comprehensive story, a bigger picture. An album as a story, the songs as chapters. And if one takes the concept further, each album could be itself a chapter of a larger work, a global universe built throughout the career of an artist.

books and records on a bookshelf

Transmedia Storytelling seems to be the new economic model to be adopted to reach a much wider fan community. While the marketing and economic approach is obvious, we are entitled to ask whether the bands that have adopted this medium to unite a community, do it for the name recognition like Jay-Z or in a sincere approach like Nine Inch Nails?

Intro: What is Transmedia Storytelling?
Episode 1: Nine Inch Nails
Episode 2: Jay Z
Episode 3: Gorillaz
Episode 4: Arcade Fire
Episode 5: Johnny Cash