A Norwegian rock band recently spread a virus that people actually wanted to catch.
The virus, which swept across 50 countries, was disseminated via a smartphone app created by a trio of Norwegian agencies—Anorak, HES and Notch—to promote the album Violeta Violeta Vol. III by Kaizers Orchestra.
Essentially, the Kaizervirus app, which was made for both iPhones and Android smartphones, used GPS technology to “infect” phones with tunes from the band’s latest album prior to its release, giving fans the opportunity to preview the new songs.
Music lovers who wanted to be among the first to gain access to the viral songs had to show some creativity by posting photos of their favorite listening spots on Instagram along with the hashtag #Kaizervirus or by scouring major cities to find pieces of artwork, which, once assembled, would result in a new virus being planted in that location.
As the virus spread, it became easier to “catch” it and hear a new song. All one had to do was be close enough to someone else with a phone infected by the virus, and the app made that feat easy by providing users with a map showing where other carriers of the virus could be found. Rabid fans were going out of their way to put themselves within close enough range--even chasing other carriers--to nab songs.
When a song was distributed to a certain number of fans, it was then made available to anyone who wanted to hear it via iTunes and other streaming services.
The ultimate gift to fans came in the form of a special concert where Kaizers Orchestra performed songs off Violeta Violeta Vol. III in public for the first time ever. App users who had infected the most people were rewarded with tickets to the show. Others found secret tickets through the app.
So was it worth it for Kaizers Orchestra to share its music with the public in this way? It certainly didn’t kill album sales. In fact, Violeta Violeta Vol. III reached number one on Norway’s national charts in its first week of release. (The album was released in Norway in November 2012.)
Meanwhile, the band’s social media stats went off the charts, according to a video case study created by Anorak, with social media activity on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter increasing by more than 400 percent after the app was launched.
This isn’t the first time Kaizers Orchestra has found an innovative way to engage fans, by the way. To promote the single “Hjerteknuser” a couple of years ago, the band released the sheet music a month before and challenged its fans to perform cover versions of the tune without having ever heard it.
In case you’re wondering, hjerteknuser means "heartbreaker" in English.