Making a monster of pop.
Streaming intimate live DJ sets and performances to screens around the world, Boiler Room is MTV for the internet age. Although whilst MTV were all about pop, Boiler Room’s focus is everything else - house, techno, hip-hop, even recently experimenting with jazz and classical. The key question for this challenger to watch is, how you grow your audience without ever crossing into the commercial music world you rail against?
“We’d been wondering how to get bigger, and we realised that going more commercial wasn’t the way”, Blaise Bellville, Founder and CEO told The Guardian, “Our fan base liked underground music and so did we.”
Boiler Room are proof that underground music has always had a large global audience – it just never had a platform with which to bring that music to the masses. Now, as we've seen with the success of Vice, these new media brands can harness the internet to reach huge global audiences without compromising on content, or the values and prejudice that sparked their creation.
Launched in 2010, Boiler Room has a monthly reach of 157m, with audiences in over 150 countries worldwide. They record 30 shows per month, with an average of 400k views per broadcast with the UK, USA and Germany being their biggest markets. The business model is based upon sponsorship, with carefully selected partners that are appropriate for Boiler Room’s audience. Red Bull and Ray-Ban have been long term partners.
From a challenger perspective, Boiler Room’s proposition is to be champion of the underground. This is raw, unpolished, live and serves the underserved. Whilst not made explicit, they are the anti-pop, rejecting the genre and the culture of celebrity, fame and fortune that surrounds it. With that as their North Star, Boiler Room are innovating around that proposition, finding new ways to bring their signature, intimate, underground experience to the world, without venturing into music that's remotely commercial.
Broadcasting via Facebook Live increased engagement on live streams by over 400% in the space of three months last year, whilst plans for 2017 include the launch of the world’s first VR music venue – bringing an already immersive live experience even closer, and to audiences all over the globe.
Upcoming event sponsors for events in 2017 include Adidas Originals and Budweiser – a sign of the increasing value attributed to Boiler Room's audience by some of the biggest brands in the world. As they continue to increase both their scale and influence, it will be interesting to see how they balance achieving bigger and bigger commercial partnerships, with their mission of championing and serving the underground.
Editor of The Challenger Project, marketing at eatbigfish. Champion of the underdog. West Ham fan. All adds up really.