“And that’s when I realized there might be a meaning to life, you know, like an organic power that connects all living things, God, Yahweh, I dunno.”

On the subject of fate we’re happy to go with Martin, star of the classic “Grosse Pointe Blank” on this one. Especially when events unfold as they did last Friday.

Picture the morning scene. James sipping a camomile tea (shouldn’t that be builders?), flipping through the morning’s Guardian, when up pops – “How the Arctic Monkey’s debut single changed the music industry and ‘killed the NME’.”

Re-writing the score

For those keen to dispel that breakfast image, the thrust of the aforementioend article is that the Arctic Monkey’s refusal to play by the rules back in the noughties rendered all the traditional king-makers of the music scene obsolete. “No news there” we hear you say and we’d agree. But what really caught our attention were these two quotes. The first by the erstwhile NME editor regarding the indie scene – “We owned the conversation around guitar music” he says. And the second by the author of the original piece – “The Arctic Monkeys proved that giving away music for free wasn’t career suicide.”


Those two sentences serve not only as succint epitaph for old-school marketing but also as timely warning for those standing on the sidelines of the new content-orientated marketing landscape.

He who hesitates

Firstly, it has long been recognised that ‘owning’ a conversation is very much a notion of the past and that if anyone is leading the dialogue between brands and their audiences these days it is certainly the latter. Secondly, the ice-breaker in today’s consumer narrative is ubdoubtedly content that is given away (the sociologists amongst you who are interested in the topic of reciprocity may appreciate this link to a summary of ‘The Gift’ by Marcel Mauss).

Putting aside the paradox of a world where marketing content is becoming increasingly gratis but equally ever more valuable, organisations who remain hesitant about entering the content fray run the very real risk of being left irrevocably behind. Accepting that all artists should be rewarded for their output, for many organisations the production of content is an issue, both financial and creative. Those who have committed to a content-orientated strategy, use agencies (like us at Muse) to identify, plan and generate content opportunities. And many, including museums, galleries and heritage sites have been quick to tap into the vast catalogue of creative material at their disposal. Predominantly through their own blogs, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest accounts many cultural organisations are finding new and imaginative ways to initiate conversations (not ‘own’ them) in order to engage with their audiences by making stuff free. That list of what’s on offer is constantly changing but we thought that you’d appreciate (for free of course) some cultural content that caught our eye of late.

Five of the best (in reverse)

  1. Firstly, Tate Modern are using their to blog allow readers to take a look behind the scenes of what it’s like to be a sitter for the artist Frank Auerbach.

  2. Meanwhile the Royal Academy invite followers on Instagram to enter their Joseph Connell photography competition.

  3. Barbican enable you to download an audio guide for their current Eames show via their Facebook page.

  4. Yorkshire Sculpture Park are giving away free, locally sourced, recipes on their Pinterest page.

  5. Finally and without a doubt our favourite, the V&A are offering free, hipster-friendly, 1940’s knitting patterns via their Twitter feed.

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In truth this is merely scratching the surface of what’s out there but in general the cultural sector is embracing the content- led world far more freely than many other categories. Of course if you have a better example of cultural content going begging then there’s a bottle of wine from the Muse cellars for the best suggestion. Simply email your suggestions to jamespage@musestrategy.com.

But back to the subject of fate, free stuff and last Friday. Take a glance at the front page of the NME, handed out at Picadilly Circus the very same day as the Guardian article appeared – the clue is in the first line.



Click here or email jamespage@musestrategy.com to find out more about Muse or how we help organisations develop their content marketing strategy.