tl;dr I want to create an ARG (Alternate Reality Game) for [label name] fans. It would allow fans to participate in crafting the narrative behind the mysterious [label name], interact with other members of the community in a fun and collaborative way, and build significant hype around future label releases, tours, and merchandise.
What’s an ARG? #
In 2007, a fan went to the bathroom at a Nine Inch Nails concert and found a discarded USB stick in the stall. After the concert, they plugged it in and found an unreleased high quality NIN song and immediately posted it online. Soon, other community members noticed that the last few seconds of the song had strange static and someone put it through a spectrograph, revealing a phone number. The phone number told callers about the “American Bureau of Morality” and led to further puzzles that continued the narrative - the players were the resistance against the aforementioned bureau. The game concludes with a resistance meeting at a secret location in LA. After a short speech by the resistance “organizer”, NIN plays a secret concert for the players that is shut down halfway through by a “SWAT team” from the Bureau of Morality.
This entire experience was an ARG called Year Zero. ARGs are not video games. Instead, they are a series of clues and puzzles scattered across online platforms like Reddit and Twitter that players can work together to solve, uncovering an immersive narrative in the process. While mostly digital, ARGs can provide players the opportunity to interact with the narrative during real-world events (such as concerts).
What does this have to do with [label name]? #
[label name] is one of the most respected brands in the [subgenre] music community. An ARG would allow fans to be able to interact with a narrative built around the mysterious [label name] in a novel and interactive way. It would also lead to many benefits for the label including:
- Generating more excitement around new songs, tours, and membership announcements
- Engaging the community between releases
- Rewarding the most passionate fans of [label name]
- Increasing interactions and buzz about the label on social media
- Building out a larger community around the [label name] brand
People are hungry for content like this. A couple examples: fans of DROELOE recently found something that could be an ARG and it is the most upvoted, viewed, and commented on post on their subreddit of all time. ODESZA did a lightweight version of this with The Last Goodbye and drummed up tons of excitement among their hardcore fans before the official release. Imagine if we could create a continuous experience like this that fans could be a part of for the long-term.
How do we make this happen? #
It’s simple! If you think this is a good idea, you just need to give me the green light and you can be as involved as you want. I’m a huge fan of [label name] and a talented software engineer who writes fiction as a hobby. I have the necessary writing, engineering, and (basic) design skills to build the ARG myself. I’m happy to do this for free in my spare time - this is a work of art that I’ve wanted to create for a long time and I’m not looking for any financial incentives.
Label participation can be minimal and could be limited to tweeting a single link to the start of the ARG or could be more involved and incorporate elements of the ARG at artists’ concerts or music releases. The more involved [label name] is in the process and the more resources that are devoted to the project, the better it will be but I’m open to any level of participation. Of course, I am happy to give [label name] final sign-off on all narratives and puzzles.
[label slogan] - let’s work together to make the community a part of it! If this sounds at all intriguing to you, I’d love to jump on a call to discuss more.
Sample ARG Scenario #
This is a quick and simplified example of what part of the ARG could look like. To be clear, this isn’t the actual proposal, this is just to give you an idea of how an ARG might work:
On [label name]’s next release the [label name] sticker’s illustration is a QR code. Scanning the code reveals a number that players can call which plays a recorded audio file of an artist ([label artist]?) reporting of a break in at [label name]. Several of the artists have gone missing (at this point, artists that have gone missing go dark on social media) and leadership has changed into the hands of an antagonist organization.
The one remaining artist is on the run and needs help. Players are directed to the [label name] website where they must solve a series of puzzles to free artists and take back control of the institute. As artists are “freed”, they resume social media and rally the fans behind them by releasing new songs. Eventually, original leadership regains control of [label name] with players’ help and this kicks off a new [label name] tour. The most active players get free backstage tickets and get personally thanked by the artists for “freeing them” after the show.
Other ARG examples