Promoting Little Mix’s fifth album release was the launch of an Alexa Skill in early November, called Little Mix AAA. The skill was developed as a collaboration between Sony Music UK’s Commercial Sales Team and agency 4th Floor Creative. The skill is unique in that it was used to promote the new album launch, as well as create an opportunity to generate continued fan engagement after the album release.
A Focus on Fan Engagement
There are three main parts that make up the skill: Studio, Backstage, and Quiz. Leading up to the album release on November 16th, the Studio portion gave fans behind the scenes information on the album making process. Backstage offers fans the opportunity to hear from Little Mix what life on the road is like. The Quiz is 10 questions, and tests fan knowledge of all things Little Mix, and all things LM5 (their new album). Behind-the-scenes content and artist commentary are exclusive content to the Alexa skill, providing an incentive for fans to use it. In addition, content in the quiz and backstage are replaced twice a week. If you are not a frequent user of the skill, you will miss out on the exclusive content. Sony UK did not release total user or retention numbers, but the team did indicate that users were making an average of 10 utterances per session.
Development of the Skill – Sony in the Voice World
The development process for this skill had to be very strategic in order for all of the small moving parts to come together. Twelve weeks of new content were created from over 400 individual content elements recorded by Little Mix. Adam Cardrew, Digital Director of 4th Floor Creative said,
It took a lot of legwork to create that content in the first place. We had to ensure we had a clear structure to the skill before we recorded those audio pieces. Once the recording was done, we weren’t going to be able to get them back again.
When asked how the development of this skill began, Kathleen Turner, Senior National Account Manager, Sony Music says that the ides for developing the skill came with the recognition of smart speakers’ growing user base, as well as their impact in streaming services. Voicebot recently reported on studies confirming music listening was the most popular use case of smart speakers. The Voicebot Smart Speaker Consumer Adoption Report 2018 found that listening to streaming music was the second most tried feature, but the most used feature on a monthly and daily basis. The only rivals to music listening for the top spot were transactional tasks such as asking general questions and asking about the weather.
The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford found that music listening was not only the most frequent smart speaker use case but also the most valued. Turner said Sony recognizes the influence of smart speakers, and with a new album coming out, developing a unique Alexa skill made perfect sense.
The idea originated with the recognition of how many smart speakers are selling and how they are impacting streaming services. We were speaking internally [about these changes] and looking at Little Mix knowing their album was coming. A fan club, offering a behind the scenes look with the girls and into the album making process via voice is where we started and then we added a quiz element as well. The idea was about educating fans by voice…We wanted to serve these fans and offer an unparalleled experience they couldn’t get anywhere else. We also wanted to give fans a genuine experience from the band themselves.
4th Floor Creative
4th Floor Creative was launched in April by Sony Music UK and aims to offer artists an ‘all-encompassing perspective in order to accomplish their creative vision in an ever-changing and complex digital landscape.’ This Alexa Skill is not 4th Floor Creative’s first skill. Its first Alexa skill created was for Paloma Faith, called Paloma’s Bedtime, that helps babies sleep with lullabies, stories, sounds, timers, and more. That was a successful skill in a different way – it is still seeing usage a year on from launch.