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At the end of March, as COVID-19 continued to spread across the world, many musicians were suddenly left without a stage as venues, coffee shops, and neighborhood bars closed around the world.

That’s when Bosch Digital MarCom Manager Rebecca Lakin and her team came up with an idea to leverage their Electro-Voice brand, which creates portable speakers and microphones for musicians, and use their Facebook Page as a stage for these musicians.

“We wanted to create an opportunity for musicians all over the world to get a paying gig at a time when they were few and far between, and also create something for the rest of our audience to enjoy,” said Rebecca.

They took the idea to leadership and said they wanted to hire 18 musicians for a concert series.

“We played up the benefits of what it would do for our brand,” said Rebecca. “Because, at this time we want to keep promoting our products, but we also want to be respectful to the fact that if our customers and consumers aren’t getting paid, they’re not going to buy speakers.”

Rebecca and her team sold the series as solving for two things: One, they would support their audience during COVID-19, and two, it would raise brand awareness and reach their target audience.

Once they had the green light from leadership, Rebecca and her team put out an open casting call to find the musicians they would spotlight in the series.

Because they’re a global brand, that meant reaching out to musicians around the world. But, Rebecca said, they also chose the casting call because it made the most logistical sense for what they were going to do.

“An open casting call gave us more flexibility than a standard social media contest would,” she said. “Ultimately, we hired each of these 18 musicians as a contractor for the show, a similar way you would for a music festival.”

Rebecca worked closely with their legal, financial, and data security teams to ensure they could effectively feature the musicians from the casting call — while keeping the brand safe and secure.

“With an open casting call, we were hiring people who we had no prior relationship with,” she said. “So, we didn’t want to give them direct access to any of our platforms. We needed a new tool that was secure for our company.”

After discussions with Bosch’s legal and data security teams, they decided on using StreamYard — which allowed Rebecca to invite people into a “broadcast studio” where she could manage the stream on the back end and pause or kill the stream if necessary.

They also had to work through rights and who has the licensing of an artist’s song ahead of the casting call.

“The setup of music and copyright is a complex subject,” said Rebecca. “So, we put a bar on any kind of cover tunes. It was only for original music, because we wanted to celebrate that part of music creativity and to avoid any licensing challenges.”

Rebecca and her team started promoting the open casting call across their social media channels and in trade publications at the end of April.

They promoted it through a paid social campaign — which garnered a positive response from their audience — as well organically on their social channels. Then, they worked with their industry partners to share out the details on the platforms and in the trade publications that musicians are reading.

“Our goal was to get 300 people to sign up with our small ad budget of $600,” said Rebecca. “We got 700 signups with 31 countries represented.”

Once they chose their 18 musicians, Rebecca and her team prepared to launch the series — just eight weeks after they’d received leadership buy-in.

“This was the fastest we’ve ever moved to launch a campaign,” she said. “We were definitely building the bike while we rode it. But we got across the finish line.”

For the series itself, all the musicians streamed into their Facebook Live via SteamYard — except for one. “We included an artist from China who had to perform on our WeChat channel, which we recorded and put on Facebook,” said Rebecca.

For their payment, each musician received $300 USD for a 45-minute show as well as some Bosch Electro-Voice equipment.

To promote the concert series, they focused on empowering the artists to drive people to their channels — and they got 40,000 views and one-million impressions in the first week.

“The following week, we were still garnering views,” she said. “The benefit of Facebook Live is Facebook loves it in the algorithm. Considering how little money we spent, we saw a great boost to our engagement rate.”

Plus, she added that the 700 musicians who signed up for the casting call are now leads they can retail to.

Rebecca said this campaign really proved the importance of focusing on what customers needed in the moment.

“We were talking to musicians and heard they needed opportunities to get their music heard, but also get a paycheck,” she said. “That’s the lesson we’re taking forward. This was something that gave them a platform and gave voice to our audience in a way we hadn’t done previously.”

Rebecca advised doing what it takes to make people feel heard by your brand and give them a voice in whatever way makes the most sense for your business.

“In times like these, look at what your customers actually need in the moment and try to fulfill it while also and looking at the goals of your business,” she said. “A concert series made the most sense for us because of the kind of business we are, but look at what would be the best fit for your industry.”

Rebecca emphasized the need for using the challenges brands and communities are facing right now to open the doors to having a conversation about what you can do differently for your business.

“Taking those risks during these times can be scary, but it can really pay off in the end,” she said.