Kings of Leon is a major alternative rock band signed to RCA Records (Sony Music Entertainment). The band has released four studio albums and currently has both the largest selling album ("Only By The Night") and digital single ("Sex On Fire") in the UK. At the heart of Kings of Leon’s success is the tested "record and tour" approach. They back each album with strong live performances, and are currently on a world tour on the back of releasing "Only By The Night". But is their continuous and relentless touring the only reason for Kings of Leon's huge digital success? Let's take a look at what they are doing in the digital world.
Their main site has the latest news and tour dates as the main focus, with a flash banner on the upper right corner cycling through ads for downloading singles, joining mailing lists, purchasing merchandise and becoming fans of their new Facebook page. The site is filled with the usual but necessary options such as RSS feeds, forums, member areas where fans can create profiles, a store and an area for media (both band and fan content). All in all, there doesn't seem to be much out of the ordinary happening.
However, Kings of Leon do make very effective use of widgets. For example, on their MySpace page they have a dedicated section for these widgets. I won't describe them all, but one I found very interesting was a widget that is essentially a mini-website (by gydget.com). It has all the features/tabs of the main site - home, tour, home movies, news, music and music videos, ringtones etc. It essentially adds the entire Kings of Leon website to your site in a small and discrete widget. Amazing. Moreover, it is extremely easy to share and embed on your site, making it potentially very powerful – imagine having a full website on 5% of your fan base's personal sites. It allows a tremendous amount of information to be conveyed without the viewer ever having to leave their friend's page. You can even watch a video inside the mini-site, among other things.
Another stand-out tactic used was one full month of webisodes - a series of home movies that were uploaded onto the site daily from September 1st 2008 to the release of their latest album on September 23rd 2008. These weren't high quality films. They were simple, short (2-3 minute) movies giving insight into the band members' daily lives and the recording of "Only By The Night". The webisodes were uploaded through YouTube.
I think the key idea here is that these widgets, fan pages and webisodes play to the band's strong points – touring and recording. There are no gimmicks and no frills. If enough of your friends click "demand" on the live show widget, you can be sure they'll add your city to their next tour. As with other bands, plenty of content is made available to listen to or view for free. And everywhere you go in the Kings of Leon online world, you can buy tickets, merchandise, ringtones, and mp3s with just a few clicks.
You probably won't find Kings of Leon chatting away on their forums or setting up a Twitter page to interact with their fans on a constant basis. They are still a band focused entirely on recording and performing music. Had they not been touring on the back of their regular records, they would most definitely not have achieved the amount of digital sales thus far. However, I am quite sure that out of the 550,000 digital sales of "Sex On Fire", a sizeable amount is due to the band's online efforts – actively getting fans excited about new albums and tours with webisodes, regular news feeds, emails, and giving fans easy access to some very interesting widgets. If you are a band that is all about the music, then Kings of Leon's digital pages could be a fantastic online presence model to check out.
This case study was written by Matt Rod, an aspiring artist currently working toward a dual major at Berklee College of Music in Music Production & Engineering and Performance (guitar). You can connect with Matt through his blog and/or Twitter.