Muse and transmedia

Muse-live-on-stage I hadn't intended to give this post a transmedia spin till I read John Willsher's blog yesterday on how Transmedia has driven cricket back to mass attention. So here's my take on a weekend in Devon watching the Muse take their hometown by storm.

I'll start with the morning after in the Baptist church where the person responsible for cleaning up after the 2 Muse concerts on the seafront the 2 previous nights – turned up at the service to thank the team of 35 of all ages who had turned up at midnight both nights to clean away the rubbish after the concert so the seafront was pristine the following morning. The minister picked up the theme and described the cleanup as a spiritual act as he watched a pensioner pull a beercan out of the mud.

I rewind to a gallery with an electric guitar covered in ceramic tiles featuring the design of the new Muse album – I was talking to Michelle the artist who had created it. The band had signed the back of the guitar and it was due to be auctioned to raise money for a charity in memory of the Muse manager's sister who had been killed in a car crash a few years earlier. The Muse are the principle sponsors for the trust. Other ceramic guitars are up for sale. The drummer of the Muse had been in to buy one only last week.

Then to the posters in the windows of the shops – in Age Concern – party with Muse poster. And wherever we walked the townspeople got conversational and talked about Muse as the local boys who done good. 

When the tickets went on sale the bass player Dom turned up to video the queue – souvenir or photo opportunity? You decide.

There were plenty of rumours that Robbe Williams or Gerry Halliwell had been seen in the town and were set to leap on stage. But after two nights of support from local bands who had never made the bigtime it was clear that this was a homecoming gig and even the Radio 1 DJs and journos were there on sufference. This was their home turf, the band all have houses in the town.

And I suppose I should reference 5 hours coverage on Radio 1 last night. I didn't hear much of it – I really can't claim to be a Muse aficionado – but the penchant of Matt the lead singer and guitarist for sitting at a piano and ripping into a Rachmaninov concerto – took us neatly into Romantic territory – communing with the dead in churchyards. Oh and conspiracy theories about the origin of life on earth (aliens) and how the USA is really running the planet and the 9/11 conspiracy – its all written into their songs.

I am going to do a bundle up posting on transmedia separately from this but the Muse example is a very good one where several stories are told in parallel which connect but which don't seamlessly overlap. You can't get the whole story from one channel – you keep having to hunt around to fill out the picture and the more you find out – the bigger and more disconnected the story gets.   What intrigues me about transmedia is that it is very recognisable. What I am less clear about is how effectively marketing professionals can create this kind of tornado. We can all recognise it when we see it. The challenge to marketers is that by trying to control the tornado they usually stifle it. Can transmedia be orchestrated? Perhaps the Muse should tell us.

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