Wired magazine has written a very through and, thankfully, accurate account of the viral campaign surrounding the last Nine Inch Nails record, Year Zero. Alternate Reality Games, USB keys, and user-generated merchandising were all brought together for a very interesting experiment on a new way of presenting music in this somewhat uncertain time.
This particular case is of particular interest to me not only because I have dabbled in virals myself, but also due to my involvement in this campaign – I followed the band around the UK during their last tour, visited the Operation Swamp billboard on Old Street, and my friends and I own 11 of the 12 USB keys featuring the “leaked” video to their latest single. (And yes, bought the “I am trying to believe” t shirt). Despite being only remotely interested in the story itself, I was swept up in the furore of excitement, and took an active interest in the mechanisms, if not the content, of the exercise. Surely not by coincidence, several other and more high-profile artists have developed viral-like elements to accompany their latest releases, and the viral format is set to take the marketing world by storm in the near future, particularly with the popularisation of ideal vessels such as Facebook and Youtube.
Here’s the accompanying interview