Behind The Artist: Kieran Cullen, Insanity Records
4 min read

Behind The Artist: Kieran Cullen, Insanity Records

This is a Q&A style interview series featuring the people behind the artists; the marketing heroes you don’t hear about that often. This time round we talked to Kieran Cullen from Insanity Records.
Behind The Artist: Kieran Cullen, Insanity Records

Messenger marketing strategies & the music industry

This is a Q&A style interview series featuring the people behind the artists; the marketing heroes you don’t hear about that often. They are the ones who help artists build a brand and a strong online presence. This time round we talked to Kieran Cullen from Insanity Records about direct-to-fan messaging. Read all about their thoughts, their expertise and their vision for the future.

Please can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do…

I’m Kieran Cullen, product manager over at Insanity Records, a joint venture with Sony Music. We as a team manage the creative strategy for our roster’s digital and physical marketing & promotional campaigns.

I previously worked as a radio plugger and did a brief stint in digital partnership development before joining the Insanity team two years ago.

I currently work on Tom Grennan, Zach Said, Joy Crookes, Shy FX and some other really exciting developing acts.

What does your day normally look like?

Often a massive plus of the job is every day being different, so it ranges all the way up from creating all creative assets, to running focus groups with an insights team, to strategizing a 12-month plan for online and radio. Interspersed heavily with team WhatsApp groups, digital advertising plans and release schedules.

Heaps of timelines, spreadsheets and a need to stay up to date thinking of new and interesting ideas can sometimes feel like an overload but when music you work with connects and a plan comes together, it can feel worth it!

Can you tell us a little more about Insanity Records?

A really new label in the scheme of things, Insanity was set up in November 2015 as a joint venture between Insanity management and Sony Music UK. Kickstarting with the resurgence of Craig David’s long awaiting comeback release ‘Following My Intuition’, which was our first release and first number one. Both the label and management company now live in Sony’s Derry Street office, having grown massively in the past year.

Helping artists build a strong brand through digital marketing is a big part of your role. How important do you think it is for musicians to reach and connect directly with fans online?

I think it’s crucial and more now than ever given an algorithmic filter on people’s feeds to provide authentic and sincere opportunities to connect with those that want to.

In simpler terms it means that your brand now needs to really think about how it delivers sales messaging, and only engaging, genuine conversation worthy content on socials will sit at the top of your audiences feed.

Being original and having an artist be part of the conversation leads to people really caring about what you as an artist proposition are doing and how they can be part of it.

Do you think it is important for musicians these days to be innovative when it comes to technology?

Yes! I think it’s important musicians and teams around them use innovative tech and use tech in an innovative way — but they should use it with purpose.

Not only picking new tech up when it arrives but looking at ways you can use existing tech differently — Instagram stories for example, how you can change that experience, and not just for the sake of it. Having an objective and being creative with the tools.

One recent innovation is the ability to build and engage a fanbase on Facebook Messenger. Do you think that Messenger marketing is a good way for artists to connect directly with fans?

Absolutely, with changes in Facebook’s feed priority favoring ‘community’, pages and sales messaging are not at the top of the list, so by building a authentic messenger chat base up, you can circumnavigate the reliance on that feed and also be really creative and personal with what you can share with fans.

What sorts of things do you think artists should be using Messenger marketing for?

I think the initial reaction to Messenger marketing was to create an AI performing copy of the artists, which for the most part — didn’t really work.

Creating a real and personal welcoming message and then a sensible response tree lets fans get the information they want and can be delivered in the way the artists would naturally respond.

Living with the Messenger channel for longer means you can iron out gaps and create answers that feel ‘in tone’ but never under the illusion that it’s ‘live’. Then being able to message out via that channel with native videos, GIFs, voice notes, pictures means you can be really imaginative.

How does direct-to-fan messaging differ from “traditional” social media posts in your opinion?

Some really innovative ways of using Messenger lies in conversations which are fresh and new, so it’s consistently a new 2-way conversation, but for the fan, the inbox makes it feel like a new kind of interaction.

I think the channel itself will be considered as more of contemporary mailing list, which fans can access information from, whenever they want in a place more in tune with current online behaviors.

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