Building Content Brands In The Pandemic

In Beats + Bytes by Nue Agency

The world of content has changed.

What didn’t work pre-covid might be a smash success in 2020.

Live stream concerts, virtual world conferences, zoom salons, XR happy hours… it’s a new world and many of the changes will stick around post-pandemic.

One of the breakouts of this era has been VERZUZ. Huge salute to Swizz Beatz, Timbaland, and the team powering this monster platform. It’s crazy to think that before the pandemic they were shopping this idea to the streaming channels and getting no serious interest!

But Swizz and Timbo had the foresight. In late March when everyone was quarantined and confused about how things were taking shape, they pulled the lever. There were no sporting events or concerts, and Instagram Live was exploding in the culture. There’s a fantastic VERZUZ cover story in Billboard this week and a lot to learn from this amazing case study.

I have to hand it to Swizz. I brought him in to do a keynote and DJ set at BrandWeek in November. He was featured on the cover of the magazine, which was the first photo shoot at his beautiful home in San Diego that would become the backdrop for so many of his pre- and post-VERZUZ interviews. At the conference, he dropped many gems about his vision for building brands.

VERZUZ clearly works digitally but will also have unbelievable potential in the real world. I think the power of this brand is that it feels intimate but has the legs to go on the road and deliver an amazing live experience.

It’s not the only game in town, of course. Kitty Cash’s IGTV series, Kitty’s World, is gaining major steam, too. We’re gearing up for a deep dive with her soon.

The big challenge right now, in a creative commercial sense, is how to innovate around release strategies. Sitting on content isn’t going to work. The streaming platforms need to attract new subscribers with fresh material. But it’s tough to make high-grade content with production more or less halted.

I say go, go, go. Hamilton dropped early on Disney+ rather than waiting for a theatrical release and scored a huge win. But Lin-Manuel Miranda holding off on “In The Heights” might have been a mistake. We’ll see. People are starving for fresh albums, movies, and shows. Who will keep the content pipelines from freezing over the winter?                                                                             

P.S. Tune in to Beats & Bytes Live on my LinkedIn at 9pm EST tonight with Nick Cianfaglion, CEO of Artist Republik!
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