Save Your Tears: Billboard Music Awards' content distribution model redefines 'Awards'

Saloni Surti
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Billboard Music Awards

Creating a good event or creating good content? Billboard Music Awards' onsite & off-site performances lead to a viral content phenomenon on social media, underlying the importance of creating quality content that works independently & organically.

My daily morning routine of browsing for music on YouTube Music was slightly more happening than usual. Why? The first suggestion by the platform today was The Weeknd’s remote performance on ‘Save Your Tears’ created for the Billboard Music Awards that happened three days ago and I could not take my eyes off. 

True to his personality, the singer was presented in an “exhilarating” video where he performed amid some 'car choreography'. Directed by Alex Lill and written by Charlie Morse, the video has a synchronized automobile performance featuring vintage cars and trucks. A treat to the eyes, the song, apart from the initial introduction for the Billboard Music Awards, is a property in itself and has clocked 4.4mn views to date. 

The Save Your Tears BBMA version became immensely popular in the last two days and has various " target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">reaction videos cropping up, with each of them raking thousands of views, setting a content cycle in motion with organic traction.

This phenomenally successful video is a combination of the Billboard Music Awards (BBMA) strong brand value (it has been around since the early 90s), the popstar's fandom, and a big-budget quality crew that worked for weeks to create a video of this stature.

The award function, which is a consistent IP, managed to create a subsidiary IP, successful within the event and even independent of its host - across platforms. Too many jargons - but once you re-read the statement, you grasp the beauty of this content creation and distribution strategy. 

The role and brand image of awards have changed in the last few years - globally and back home. An Oscar or an Emmy or a Billboard Music Award - as much as they are the zenith of prestige they are also a platform that can be monetized with the same level of prestige and might I add with decorum.

Now let's take a look at the situation in the Indian sector.

Growing up Bollywood or any Television Awards were a family function. Plans were altered, munchies were bought, and bedtimes were delayed - we couldn’t miss Hrithik Roshan’s first dance performance or the fireworks before Akshay Kumar’s entry. Awards were the galas that brought viewers and advertisers together way before IPL did. Over the years, however, movie and show awards’ brand proposition has diluted if not diminished. 

Also Read: Advertising to Empathizing: A & M comes off age in the face of a pandemic

Movie awards in India over the years have been subjected to various challenges including questions over authenticity and biasness, competition in the awards segment itself, a shift in approach towards the very concept of awards amongst the younger generation, and more. While Awards continue to stay strong and rake in a decent to high per-10 second rate, the ratings have fluctuated to reveal that they no longer hold the headliner of the night position.

Social media has played an important role here, aiding awards to don a more contemporary look. Filmfare for instance is being simulcasted on Facebook and television, for the last two seasons. According to Facebook, Filmfare’s page saw 10 million views within the first 24 hours. 

Brands too have revised their approach when it comes to marketing during awards. While titular sponsorship is still a huge part of the game, newer formats like phygital activations are gaining popularity. Nokia India for instance, launched its Nokia 2.3 model through a phygital experience at Filmfare where all the red carpet dope was #ShotOnNokia and shared on social media - getting both entertainment media and viewer attention. 

The question however is, is this enough? In a world of Oscars and Emmys, are Indian awards creating content that cuts through the clutter? Are they leveraging the bank of content and artists they have to create IPs that can be consumed independently? Is the content created by these awards apt to help with the upkeep of the brand value? Your content speaks a lot about your brand and awards are no exception.

As social media revolutionized content consumption and the pandemic accelerated digital penetration, we were quick to adapt. But, are we innovative enough to make a business out of it? BBMA this year, wasn’t only simulcasted across television, OTT, and social media but also created content subsidiaries and glamour points that helped with the upkeep of the brand image and added the oomph factor. 

BTS’s remote performance from South Korea on their recently released track, Butter, too emerged as a digitally viral piece - it has over 24 million views on YouTube and has been trending on number 9 on YouTube music. The backstage prep video of this performance has been equally famous and needless to say both the videos have innumerable reaction videos. 

To give you an understanding of the BBMA’s content spread - the event saw Duran Duran give a remote performance from London; additional performers included Jonas Brothers, Pink, Doja Cat, Dj Khaled, and more - each of these performances holding an individual content piece on social media. 

And this is just the content play, the award function’s social media mix included an exhaustive set of tactics.

Is it time that Indian awards too went beyond performances? Invest money in creating content, rather than an event? The oldest rule of business is to spend money to make money and maybe it's time the Awards industry revisits this principle. 

In the coming days, we will speak to industry experts, understanding the current scenario of the Indian awards sector and what does it mean to bring a content revolution in this segment back home.

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