The word ‘remix’, has long been synonymous with the music industry. The ‘remix’, as many of us know it, went mainstream in the 90’s when hip-hop exploded onto the scene, with crews like P Diddy’s Bad Boy Family leading the way.

Nowadays, a high percentage of music released will come with a number of remixes in order to reach a number of different audiences and maximise airplay and sales.

Though ‘Diddy may claim to have invented the remix, in truth remix culture has been around for decades, as hip hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash explained to Remix Theory;

“The concept of Remix often referenced in popular culture derives from the model of music remixes which were produced around the late 1960s and early 1970s in New York City, an activity with roots in Jamaica’s music.”

What is Remix Culture?

Grandmaster Flash defines remix culture as; “the global activity consisting of the creative and efficient exchange of information made possible by digital technologies that is supported by the practice of cut/copy and paste.”

The idea of Cut/copy and paste mentioned by Grandmaster Flash has transcended generations and technology. From disco DJ’s cutting and pasting tapes together to make remixes in NYC during the 60’s and 70’s, to the remixers of today cutting and pasting together digital content.

The remix has extended much further than music and has become a part of everyday life, playing a huge part in the way we communicate and helping the general public become producers, rather than passive consumers.

What does this mean for brands?

Many brands have already embraced remix culture from Nike opening up design to consumers and allowing us to remix their trainers with Nike ID, to the numerous websites opening up their API’s to third party developers.

However, many brands are still missing out by not embracing this culture. Remix culture drives creativity and presents huge opportunity for brands to create a loyal fan base.

The ‘one size fits all’ approach no longer works and looking at customers as merely a target audience is no longer an approach brands should take.

Now, a brand’s target audience are their partners. Partners should have an input into product and the direction in which a brand moves.

Our culture is obsessed with remixing content and showing individuality. Brands should look to embrace this by creating content and messages that can be remixed and easily passed on.

Brands need to embrace the fact their adverts may be remixed on YouTube, the fact their print designs may turn into memes or the fact their product may be criticised or redesigned across blogs.

Remix Culture in Action

Smirnoff

In 2011, Smirnoff utilized their online community of customers and fans to ideas for their Nightlife Exchange project.

For this campaign, the Vodka brand asked their online community ‘what makes your nightlife most original? Allowed them to vote for their favorite ideas and even enter for a chance to be there for one of the events.

This is a great example of how brands can collaborate with their audience and make them producers rather than passive consumers.

Old Spice

Old Spice is well known for their online campaigns over recent years and a few months ago they launched their ‘Old Spice Muscle Music’ campaign.

The video itself features Terry Crews and shows him playing a variety of instruments by flexing his muscles. But that’s just the beginning; once the video finishes playing your screen turns into a recordable player and every key on your keyboard drives Terry to take an action on screen whilst you record it.

The video is even accompanied by a keyboard map to give you a guide on how to create your remix. The campaign launched in August 2012 and now has over 8million views and over 16,000 likes on Vimeo.

Check out the video and make your remix here: http://vimeo.com/47875656

The original ‘Old Spice Man’ campaign has also had its fair share of remixes with Tony Turner’s remix reaching over 2.1million views and Barely Political’s version racking up over 1.6million views on YouTube.

Conclusion

It’s hard to sum up remix culture in one blog post, but I hope this acts as an introduction.

I feel the future of marketing, product development and fan engagement revolves around making your customers producers and a part of your brand, rather than passive bystanders in your brands story.

I’d love to continue the discussion and hear your thoughts on remix culture. Leave a comment or send me a Tweet with your thoughts.

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