“My ambition as a rider, Yeah, it’s my ambition as a rider”

Amibitionz – Meek Mill

This a quote from Ambitionz, a track from rapper Meek Mill’s latest album, Dream Worth More than Money. The lyric and song theme is borrowed from Tupac’s Ambitions as a Rider, (the best song from the best rapper ever, therefore the best rap song ever. This is logic, therefore it is undebatable, I digress….), it can also be used to describe his mobile game, Bike Life, whose launch coincided in line with his album release. For an artist, this is a unique strategy and might be a sign of things to come as it is no secret that albums sales are rapidly declining. Artists need to be unique in how they diversify their income as well as how they can make money from their music. Ahead of Meek Mill’s album release date, the album was marketed all over social media, which by itself is not notable, what made this unique was the mobile game that accompanied the album marketing.

A video posted by Meek Mill (@meekmill) on

 

The plan became to launch the album along with the app. As Meek Mill did press, not only was he asked about his music but also his app. One piece of content bled into the other. On social media, With over 4 million Twitter followers and over 5 million Instagram followers, he had a great audience to market to. On launch day, he had his associates market for him as well.  

A photo posted by DJ KHALED (@djkhaled) on


Again it was about the album and the app.

How did this work out? The album is #1 on iTunes and the game is the #1 game in the app store. Meek Mill is the first artist to top the iTunes music charts and app charts at the same time.

MeekMill-MusicChart     MeekMill-GamesChart                                                                          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What were the keys?

Brand Relevance – This game was perfect for Meek Mill as he has shown an interest in riding motorbikes since his career started.  On his social media accounts, there are numerous videos of him riding bikes. 

A video posted by Meek Mill (@meekmill) on

 

Timing–  He had an album coming and used his app to propel album sales. Because his app was free, even those who didn’t plan to buy his album would likely convert into downloading his app. On the other side, those who were searching for games on the app store would land on his app and a small percentage of those folks might convert into album sales.

Marketing–  He drove buzz for his album and app weeks ahead of the launch. During a usual album release, a few music media publications would pick it up, but due to the uniqueness of this strategy, he was able to drive even more press. On the other end, tech media picked up the news of the app since it isnt every day that a rapper releases a game.

Proven Gameplay–  Meek Mill’s team did not take a chance with the content. They adapted existing gameplay that proved to be successful and adapted it to Meek Mill’s brand aesthetic. This lowered the risk of the app becoming a flop while significantly decreasing the build costs. These were the factors made this a success.

One may  assume that the game has to be real good to make this work. Well, for one, there are many excellent games that do not get this exposure and two, there is a minimum level of game quality needed to rise to the top of the charts. Once your mobile game meets this minimum quality threshold, it is all about the marketing and user acquisition.

Meek Mill’s Bike Life app is a run 3d runner type, the game features overhead rear view gameplay, where the player swipes left and right to capture coins and avoid obstacles. The gameplay is smooth and the graphics are above average, but nothing outstanding.

Photo Jul 03, 6 10 04 PM       Photo Jul 03, 6 10 15 PM         MeekMill-Gameplay

Does this gameplay look familiar? It is because this game has been done many times before but with a different look, the most notable examples are Subway Surfers and Angry Gran Run:

Meek-SubwaySurfers     MeekMill-angrygranrun

The development of the game was not complex given that the game framework exists. This was a shrewd move as it’s lowered development costs significantly. For those thinking this is a simple marketing ploy and the free game cannot make money, you couldn’t be more wrong. Given the app ranking and the volume needed to attain that ranking, this game should make Meek Mill and his team significantly more than his album when all is said and done.

This free app makes money in two ways: In App Purchases and Advertisements. The gameplay is made to be difficult so that the player is inclined to use up game coins to continue the game where they died. In order to obtain in game coins once they are depleted the player will need to spend real money through iTunes to buy replace these coins. Only a small percentage of users will actually convert to paying users (~5% on average), but given this app’s reach, it could convert to significant revenue.

MeekMill-IAP MeekMill-IAP2

For users who do not convert, there are advertisements which will monetize the non paying users.

Given the success of the Kim Kardashian: Hollywood game and now the Meek Mill app, we will see a big wave of these celebrity endorsed apps. In this digital age, content creators will need to think outside the box to capture a large audience. As evidenced above, mobile app developers can play a huge part in this wave.