Friday, June 5, 2009

Ypulse Mashup Day 1: College Slam Reveals Role of Music on Campus

On Monday and Tuesday (June 1st and June 2nd), I immersed myself in youth culture by attending the 3rd annual Ypulse Mashup in San Francisco. I've been to every year of the national Mashup (see my prior posts about it here and here) and always enjoy the combination of folks and presentations from a range of youth-oriented fields, including entertainment giants (MTV, Disney), cool non-profits (Youth Radio, The DJ Project), technology startups, and companies headed by really young entrepreneurs.

The conference itself was extremely wired and documented in true 21st century style with a special iPhone app, live blogging and Twitter updates (#ypulse09). I decided to go old school this time around, and just kept notes using pen and paper.

I listened closely for the latest word on college students, music, and radio and came back with some kernels to share. This first post will focus on Monday's "Campus Case Study Slam" (see the live blog of this session on Ypulse).

Radio Listenership Low for College Students, But Terrestrial Beats Online

On Monday, I sat in on one of the three pre-conferences: the "Campus Case Study Slam." Dan Coates from Survey U got right in to things by throwing all kinds of stats at us about college students.

In terms of radio, he told us that college students report spending 4 hours a week listening to radio, with 2.6 of those hours spent on "traditional" radio, 1.1 hours on online radio and .45 hours on satellite radio. Young people who aren't in college listen to a bit more radio, reporting 7 hours a week of listening, 5.1 hours spent on "traditional radio, 1.3 hours on online radio and 1.0 hours on satellite radio.

I find this really interesting, especially since one of the arguments that I've heard from college radio stations abandoning their terrestrial signals is that more students would listen if the station were online. This survey suggests otherwise. At the same time, the survey also points out that college students spend 37 hours a week on the Internet (vs. 28 hours a week for those not in college). Perhaps they are listening to more radio while online than they admit?

Vinyl at KALX

State Farm and Vinyl

The next "College" presentation was from State Farm. They've been doing all kinds of on-campus guerrilla marketing tactics (sidewalk chalkings, static stickers, etc.) in order to get students thinking about the important of insurance. Most interesting to me, though, was seeing one of their ads (that appeared in campus papers) which portrays a girl at a turntable, surrounded by a big collection of vinyl records and bears the tagline, "You know where Massive Music Collection meets Miniature Bank Account? I'm there." It's awesome to see vinyl and turntables in a starring role in an ad, but I kind of wonder how many college students these days have big collections of music housed in a format other than mp3.

MySpace Records' Pop Star Hypes University of Phoenix from Tour Bus and Blog

Throughout the morning I heard about the variety of ways that companies are pitching their products to college students (via student reps, spring break promotions, online contests, etc.). Two presentations actually talked about the idea of advertising specific colleges. MySpace Records' artist (and One Tree Hill star) Kate Voegele is doing an entire campaign around her experience of both touring and attending online classes at University of Phoenix. She's driving around in a logo'd tour bus, blogging about her classes, and recording video diaries to get the school's name out to a broader base of kids. During the presentation, it was mentioned that she's got a #1 album on iTunes without having had any radio promotion whatsoever.

MTVu as Incubator for Young Filmmakers, Musicians, and Artists

One of the coolest things that I heard about at the Ypulse Mashup was the "Open Force" project going on at MTV's college-specific channel: MTVu. MTV's Ross Martin talked about how MTVu has 760 partner campuses who work to provide creative content to MTVu's incubator projects. Students in "Open Force" are invited to pitch their ideas for various for-pay projects, including a recent Citicard commercial. The highest profile endeavor was the show "Engine Room," in which a group of young digital artists competed against each other in design challenges using HP products. The winner came away with $400,000. Within the Open Force umbrella, there are currently specific websites for filmmakers (Best Film on Campus) and musicans (Best Music on Campus). Beyond all of that, MTVu's website showcases student-produced work, reports on campus news, has a top 10 video feature curated by students from different schools, and has an entire section devoted to activism.

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