Digital Placemaking Category

Maintaining Musical Connections in a Socially Distant World

by Crack Magazine

Everything Is Music is a collaborative project between Crack Magazine and Landmrk.

Landmrk create location-based campaigns that allow people to unlock unique content in real-world locations. They’ve worked on high-profile music-related projects for artists like Ariana Grande, Shakira, Louis Tomlinson and more. Crack Magazine is Europe’s biggest independent music magazine bringing print, digital and social media content to dedicated followers of contemporary culture. From humble Bristol beginnings, they’ve gone on to deliver ambitious collaborations with artists like Bjork, Massive Attack, Thom Yorke, FKA twigs, IDLES and Gorillaz.

Everything is Music is a network of location based experiences built around newly commissioned pieces, unheard archival works and classic material forming an immersive journey through the musical history of Bristol and Bath. Audiences will travel to specific locations where they unlock media linked to that place. A new timeline is now in place for testing in October before building on evaluation from this and real-world R&D in the Autumn/Winter period in preparation for a showcase in April 2021. We want audiences to find a level of delight and curiosity through our project – engaging with something tangibly explorable and understanding the cultural fabric of the city through physical locations. Due to both Covid-19 restrictions and the global conversation around diversity, this experience has a renewed resonance.

Like a lot of placemaking projects, physical distancing has fundamentally changed our plans. Essentially, our project is about getting outside and discovering links between sounds and locations. It’s also a journey we envisaged people would have with friends – exploring cities and experiencing a new form of storytelling together. If Covid-19 restrictions have taught us anything it’s that new forms of storytelling are needed, audiences are becoming tired of social media livestreams and video calls have a clear ceiling of connectivity. The physical, shared experiences would have been a driving force in the project’s word-of-mouth marketability which now feels harder to attain. We now have to be even more focused on our social media output and integration – creating a vibrant visual language and shareable user-experience that will help encourage a digital community and momentum around the project.

There are also a number of practical consequences which have come about as a result of this new world. Physical tools like Bath’s CAMERA facility have shut, artists who we were planning to work with are now outside of promotional cycles, shoots at Crack Magazine’s green-screen studio are no longer an option and in-person testing with older generations is no longer possible.

We have, however, continued working together. As a result of venue closures and event cancellations, Crack Magazine had to quickly remodel its business. A new digital magazine was launched in April promoted through an AR spinning cover created and executed by Landmrk. We’ve no doubt that the groundwork which had already been done on Everything is Music was pivotal to us responding so rapidly and collaboratively during a time of uncertainty. In some ways, this further collaboration has been an unexpected gain of the current situation. Placemaking offers audiences memorable experiences and brings stories directly and exclusively to them. These values of personalisation and directness are more beneficial for platforms than they have ever been. As we look forward to an ongoing process of adaptation and development, the partnership feels paramount.

The global lockdown has also re-focussed Landmrk's approach to the use of location. The launch of their Virtual Tours product has seen the likes of Sia and the Jonas Brothers deliver content to groups at a citywide and nationwide level.

European Space Agency provided space data has also been used to create a series of contextual experiences for fans of Atlantic Records' electronic music imprint; Big Beat Records and playlist curation service Topsify.

"We’re reminded that place is simply where you are."

Both Crack and Landmrk have seen the home transform into a newly relevant place of its own. Through virtual performances, makeshift studios and location-specific experiences using home addresses, audiences are now open to new levels of immersive experience which can be achieved at home. We’re reminded that place is simply where you are. In the long-term, this is a shift in understanding both of our organisations can build on.

We’re using the extra time to drill even deeper into research – finding music and stories that will be new to local audiences and delight visitors. By establishing a firm bedrock of well-researched pins for our map, we’ll be able to designate even more time to immersive artist collaborations and more elaborate audience experiences. For Crack Magazine, this work is curatorial – our researchers are populating an in-depth plan for the content which will be hosted on our map.

"Audiences will have a new relationship and understanding of places they formerly thought of as familiar."

Our hope is that, when we unveil Everything is Music, audiences will have a new relationship and understanding of places they formerly thought of as familiar. Somewhat ironically, this had always been an objective of our project – creating an experience which reframes your understanding of places you thought you knew. We’ll now be unveiling our project in a world where going outside, in and of itself, is novel. Everything is Music will hopefully enhance that renewed sense of connection.

We’re also excited to be creating a music experience that doesn’t necessarily rely on indoor, mass gatherings. We are connecting people with meaningful sounds and stories in open spaces with individualised routes that won’t lead to big meetings. This objective has a new significance in a socially and physically distant world.

Above all, the common ground between Crack Magazine and Landmrk has always been a shared goal of creatively engaging audiences. This crisis has shown us that imagination and innovation on this front is more needed than ever. We’ll be launching at a time where technology has provided countless solutions for people from all walks of life during an acutely challenging time.

We’re hopeful about our project, eventually, finding momentum in this optimism.