Is Gamification Turning the Music Industry into a Playground?

How Gamification of music has played a role in social platforms, such as Spotify and TikTok.

Ever heard about the term Gamification? Most especially used in the music industry context? Probably not. This is a rather technical term that proves how much of a playground the music industry has turned into. Gamification in layman terms is adjoining gaming elements into non-game habitats. For instance, augmenting an online audience or business by reeling in their participation through game-like tactics.

Put on your music industry marketing glasses and think of how you have seen some artists being shoved down your throat or seeing artists pop out of nowhere and instantly become superstars. Gamification has infiltrated the industry even deeper than the general population can imagine. It has become the go-to marketing strategy for artists who can’t rely on organic loyalty from their fanbase. 

Music in the Digital Age of madness

I recall reading an article that was published about 10 years ago. The author held an argument about whether the music industry is ready for gamification. Before I dive into what he said. I just want the ‌public to be honest and compare being a fan of an artist’s music before versus now being in the digital age. I would like to believe that there is a stark difference in several aspects. The experiences aren’t as organic or give off a full content experience. This digital era that we’re currently in is all about riding these gaming strategies, installing apps every once in a while, or seeing pop-ups of avatars everywhere in the digital sphere. It is madness. 

Now, in this gamification article I came across, the author said,

“ it becomes hard to gauge gamification’s place in the musical realm, if there is one. Do game elements tarnish an experience that can be so personal and emotional? Does a band creating a point system to track its top fans spoil the band-audience relationship? It’s certainly a possibility, which is why those who integrate game elements into their company’s strategy need to be very mindful of their purpose and the potential downside it presents.”

(Pulvino)

Just like everyone in this world, I’m a tech nerd. I am aware of music labels and music streaming services presenting themselves as businesses first. And just as with any business, the number one goal is turning a product into profit. Here monetizing on every strategy they pull out for their artists. But it would be ignorant to avoid all that’s happening to the music and the artists with these gaming strategies. There is a vast degradation in the value, accessibility, and quality of the music. 

Gamification Techniques Used In The Industry

Let’s look at Spotify for starters. The growth of this ‌streaming service is impressive and has made it one of the biggest in the game. At every end of each year, since it launched, Spotify has used various marketing strategies to gain more listeners and downloads. The most recent tool that applies to Gamification is Spotify Wrapped.

Research from collected data has shown an increase in downloads since this strategy dropped last year. When millions of people all over the world received an unexpected pop-up message, “What did your 2021 sound like?” or “Your Top Songs” and then got directed to their most played songs for the year. This sparked a huge campaign on social media pages, such as Twitter and Instagram. Where people shared and compared their lists with followers, friends, and the public.

Some people were even reminded of songs they put on repeat sometime earlier in the year. This sort of campaign creates hype for users and automatically draws in people who have not subscribed to the platform. It creates this desire of “I want to see what next year brings” amongst users. I can’t fault a genius move such as that. 

Now with TikTok, there are countless gaming elements that brands, music labels, and artists use for user content interaction. TikTok right now comprises young people, who are always up to date with trendy content. So music labels and brands use this to their advantage. Then again, with TikTok, videos pop up one after the other without stopping.

So it’s easier to reel in user engagements. TikTok gamification basically comprises influencer marketing, the creation of tutorials to teach users about certain services or products, and user-generated content by making your audience feel like real ambassadors. 

The future of music using these gaming digital marketing strategies looks promising. It affects streams by seeing a huge spike in streams, which means record labels get a good return on investment through revenues. For instance, Universal Music Group has a gaming tool, Colabox creates,

“superfan ignition’ campaigns around track and album launches, with a mixture of minigames, listening parties and user-generated content. It has run more than 20,000 so far, and is using the data from those to understand what makes for a successful fan activation.”

The Chief Scientific Officer at Colabox, Richard Summers, points out the sole purpose of this tool. He says, “The purpose of games is not the game itself,” then continues by saying, “It’s Easter egging. How you embed unique bits of content within the game that generate all these sharing conversations, and this waterfall effect.”

Do you think these gaming tricks, gimmicks are changing the music industry for the better or worse?

Works Cited

Cury, Cecilia. “What Spotify Wrapped Can Teach about Successful Marketing Strategies.” Rock Content

Dredge, Stuart. “Music Marketing: Games, Gamification and the Metaverse.” Music:)

Gamification on TikTok: 3 Ideas to Entertain Your Audience.” News about Digital Marketing Campaigns: Giveaways, Contests, Games and More

Grasmayer, Bas. “Projecting Trends: How Musicians Gamify Their Fanbases.” Synchtank

—. “Three Game Mechanics for the Music Business.” MUSIC X

Pulvino, Richard. “Leveling Up: Is the Music Industry Ripe for Gamification?” Hypebot

“The Dark Side of Spotify.

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