The Road to Selling Records Goes on a Detour

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Unless you’re Beyonce, dropping your music and videos with no fanfare isn’t an option. This is especially true for Gabrielle Aplin, an acoustic singer- songwriter whose style is at odds with the electronic dance music currently dominating the UK charts. 

Her music takes time to appreciate. Aplin’s intricate musicality and subtle lyrics aren’t meant for a night out on the town with the girls. It is something to savour alone, when there is the luxury to listen with no interruptions. 

Parlophone, Aplin’s record label, had limited funds to promote her new work, and was hoping to use her loyal fan base to expand her reach and sales. 


Everyone knows how and where to buy music online, yet most record labels spend their digital dollars driving people to iTunes. Starcom MediaVest Group used this key insight to send Aplin’s fans elsewhere first to a personalised YouTube site that segmented the audience by its relationship with the content rather than by demographics or keyword targeting. This was a first for an advertiser. 

Starcom identified Hot Leads as those who had ‘liked’ or shared Aplin’s videos on social media or who had watched niche content and even grainy live footage. Their digital footprint showed they were clearly loyal fans.

Starcom also segmented Warm Leads as, people who had watched one of her videos or entry- level content. 

Starcom took fans on this detour from the path to purchase so that they could create a deeper, 1:1 relationship with them that would ultimately boost sales. This new segmentation model created content that could easily become social currency that fans shared readily.

By developing a more personalised approach, Starcom also hoped to keep friends who weren’t as familiar with Aplin from forcing true fans to hurry through the album or to quickly skip to the next track. 


Aplin needed time, not clicks. For both targets, Starcom created a sequence of brand new content, retargeting them with YouTube InStream. 

Starcom gave Aplin’s hardcore fans (Hot Leads) something unique:, an 18-minute sampler of the album, an unreleased album track, and an exclusive version of her biggest single. She also filmed a personalised message for them. 

Aplin’s Warm Leads saw a shorter, but equally impactful dose of her music. Starcom included official videos and a cover version of one of her biggest hits by popular British alternative rock band, Bastille. 

Both sets of content began with pre-roll advertising about the new album. 


The album entered the UK charts as No. 2, with first week digital sales making up over 50% of the total; in a market where the industry average is 38%. 

Starcom earned 70% view through rates on the album track, paying only 3p per view. About 15% watched the entire 18-minute album sampler. Overall, the site logged 600,000 interactions on a small £7k budget. Starcom earned as many fans from the free content as those we paid for. On Twitter, for example, fans spontaneously began tweeting #notskipping along with photos of the pre-roll advertising. 

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United Kingdom
April - May 2013
Starcom Mediavest
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