Heavy Metal Visionaries Embrace the Next Big Thing in Brand Marketing

January 26, 2016

Heavy metal icons Megadeth have always been on the bleeding edge of technology when it comes to fusing their groundbreaking music with innovative marketing ideas to connect with their fans. Megadeth has sold more than 50 million records worldwide and racked up eleven Grammy nominations, so it can be a huge challenge for the band to find new ways to top their tremendous success. 2016 sees the planets aligning for Megadeth with the release of their 15th album and one of the most remarkable totally immersive marketing experiences I’ve ever seen.

I am of course a huge music fan and an even bigger fan of Megadeth, so when the band’s publicist reached out to me with an opportunity to chat with Dave Mustaine, I jumped at the chance. What I got was an insider’s look at an entrepreneur striking a perfect balance between creativity and technology to connect more effectively with his audience in an industry that has been disrupted beyond recognition.

The marketing plan for Megadeth’s new album Dystopia is a perfect example of an always on, truly immersive digital marketing experience. This one has it all, folks: crowdsourcing content from fans, an interactive website, cross channel engagement using social, and a one of a kind virtual reality spectacle.

Creating a Truly Immersive Audience Experience

Pioneering technology is nothing new for Megadeth. On October 31st, 1994 when the band’s critically acclaimed sixth studio album Youthanasia came out, they were the first band to ever have a website. “We can always sit back and say we were very first to do that,” says Mustaine. “We won tons of awards for our internet sites, the chat room, the bulletin boards, all of the graphics, the audio stuff. It just was mind blowing to people at the time.” So it came as no surprise when the band announced they would be diving into the world of virtual reality and pushing the envelope with what’s possible.  In regards to using virtual reality to connect with their audience in a new way, Mustaine replies, “As far as I know we're the only ones that are doing anything like this.”

I'm one of those artists that likes to know as much as it’s safe to tell me. I like to be involved as much as possible.”

Megadeth’s secret weapon: a virtual reality experience that perfectly showcases the incredible possibilities this technology holds for connecting brand to audience or in this case, band to fan.

Pushing the Boundaries of Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is all the rage this year, even taking center stage at this year’s CES.  What Megadeth has done shows what’s possible with virtual reality; and it’s absolutely mind blowing. What started out with VR expert Scott Broock filming Mustaine in his backyard playing guitar in full 360, then morphed into something much bigger when tech entrepreneur, Next Galaxy Corp founder, and digital cinema pioneer Mary Spio partnered with the band using her CEEK application. “Scott showed me the complete 360 thing and I said, this is great, but never did I see that filming format on a mobile buggy-cam like Mary did,” says Mustaine. He continues, “Mary and her team from CEEK had this 360 camera set up on top of this moving remote camera and it was going all around us while we were playing. It’s totally different from just standing there and you turn around and see the guy on this side and this guy on the other. You can't ever walk behind – now you can, now you can walk next to me on the right side or you walk next to me on my left side.”

A 360 Degree Audio Experience Breaks New Ground

But what’s a video experience without the audio to accompany? After all, at the end of the day it’s all about the music. For most VR, the audio is a 2D experience in a 3D environment; but not in this case. The Megadeth VR features a whole new sensory experience that’s been referred to as being “showered in audio” because the sound moves around as the viewer does. Mustaine explains, “So if you're looking at me from the front and the buggy-cam is creeping up, you are going to hear the drums in front of you. If the camera comes along to my side, and you are looking at my left side, the drums are naturally going to be on your right, even if you turn sideways. So, the whole point of view within and everything like that changes is, I think, is super, super awesome and adds to the realism.” The ability to experience different proximity effects from different instruments allows you to experience the sound as it would be if you were actually there.

“I've always been really, really possessive, and protective of our fans, and wanting them to always be in the know."

Technology and Dystopia

While the theory of Dystopia includes an element where technology is dangerous to humankind, I had to ask Mustaine how he felt about using advanced technology to promote Megadeth’s concept record. “Well, it's a little bittersweet,” says Mustaine. “The way that talking about things that I don’t like have helped me to become successful. I've always tried to encourage people to think for themselves. So, with Dystopia the record itself is not so much like I look at the world as just one effed-upped place; it truly is a great place and I think there are a lot of great people here too. I've just started reading Martin Luther King Jr. and there’s a quote that’s something like, I will paraphrase it, “only love can drive out hate;” I choose to be that. I think that there's some kind of macho thing of course because it's metal, but there's a connection that we have in Heavy Metal where, we just get along really well. It makes you kind of wish that the whole world could get that”. 

Check out Megadeath's Dystopia VR set on Best Buy's site. 

Implications for B2B Marketers

While virtual reality headsets may be booming for gamers and the consumer market in 2016, it’s only a matter of time before B2B marketing adopts this technology. As static content increasingly becomes supplemented with interactive content, virtual reality is likely the next step in the evolution of content. Imagine allowing prospects to take a virtual tour of your factory, or a giving a demo of your marketing platform using an Oculus headset within a completely immersive 360 degree environment. It’s all at our doorstep and I’ll be taking inspiration from Megadeth’s approach while jamming to their brilliant new album along the way.

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