Bicep flex their marketing muscle – Part 1.

The Blueprint #001 shows you how Bicep and Ninja Tune flexed their muscles with the 'Isles' marketing campaign.

Bicep are the talk of the electronic music industry right now. 

Their second LP, Isles, dropped on Ninja Tune last week and is currently #2 in the U.K. album charts after the lead singles on the LP generated over 25,000,000 streams in the lead-up to the release.

The Blueprint #001 shows you how Bicep and Ninja Tune flexed their marketing muscles to release an album planned for the dancefloor when dancefloors are off-limits. 

Welcome to The Blueprint – a brand new weekly case-study where I share the blueprint for success. 

#001 will be broken into two parts with Part 2 landing in your inboxes next week.

The blueprint to success is right in front of you. You just have to look in the right places.

Bicep | The Blueprint #001 |

Be Transparent

Before Bicep could release their first single off the album back in March 2020, they had to navigate the first Covid-19 lockdown and reschedule a number of planned U.K. tour dates. Four of their five dates planned for London, Manchester and Glasgow were rescheduled. One was cancelled completely. 

The events at O2 Brixton Academy in London sold 10,000 tickets within minutes with 10,000 people joining the waiting list. That’s a lot of disappointed fans…

Bicep used their platforms to release three statements regarding the cancellation of their events and created a website link for their fans to ask questions or receive refunds. Bicep’s fan base stayed with them thanks to their handling of a situation that was out of their control. 

Bicep | The Blueprint #001 |

Daytime radio drives streams

The postponed events did not stop Bicep and Ninja Tune releasing music. Bicep dropped Atlas three days after the original London dates. While many artists and labels delayed releasing music in the pandemic, Bicep and Ninja Tune carried on with their plan.

Without gigs and touring, Bicep relied heavily on radio support to reach new audiences and to drive streams. 

Tess Kendall, Ninja Tune, Senior Product Manager, told Music Week “Both BBC 6 Music and Radio 1 specialist shows have been incredibly supportive in the past. Atlas went on the C-list at Radio 1, which was a first for Bicep. Apricots has been on the Radio 1 B-list for nine weeks as well as the 6 Music A-list. There has also seen a tonne of support on Kiss FM including daytime, as well as spins on BBC Radio 2 and regional shows.”

In a recent live Q&A with Rough Trade Shops, Matt and Andy spoke about how radio has been a saviour to them both during the lockdown. “During [the] lockdown, we have found myself putting the radio on a lot more. With people isolating radio stations have felt like someone else to talk to or another voice in the room. We get our friends texting us in the day hearing our music while listening to Mary Jane Hobbs. It’s a different feeling to being on tour.”

Alongside the Feel My Bicep playlist on Spotify, Bicep reached a new market by launching their own radio show on Apple Music. Tess also confirmed to Music Week that Bicep will be hosting an NTS show later in 2021.

Bicep | The Blueprint #001 |

Create A Big Moment

To create a spike in revenue, you have to create a big moment to get your audience talking. Word of mouth is still the most powerful marketing tool there is. 

In August 2020, Bicep announced their first BICEP LIVE stream on September 11. To attend the event, fans must purchase a ticket through Dice. 

Virtual live-stream events are a very different experience to physical gigs. It’s not about selling tickets on your launch, as the majority of ticket sales for online events happen in the week of the event. There is no capacity limit, live-streams have no ceiling.

Bicep | The Blueprint #001 |

Bicep Live – The Results

Tess confirmed to Music Week that the Bicep Live stream was viewed in over 70 different countries, in five different timezones. The live stream was a big hit on social media with fans raving in their living rooms. Bicep’s fan base shared their live reactions to their Twitter and Instagram Stories while discussing Track ID’s in Facebook Groups like IOM, as well as private WhatsApp groups between friends.  

Bicep premiered Apricots in the live stream for the first time. Three weeks later the duo announced the release date of their album with Apricots being the lead single. 

Part 2 focuses on the album launch and how Ninja Tune used AR filters and a private WhatsApp Group to engage with Bicep’s growing fanbase.

Read Part 2 here.

Andrew at Socially Sound


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