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How record labels are using AR filters to make songs

Drew Gregory is a country singer from Canada and he has used a Snapchat filter to heavily market his latest single…

The filter, dubbed “What Farm Truck Are You” in reference to a lyric from his song, hovered above TikTok users’ heads and randomly generated a truck-themed personality type for each person. If the effect landed on Yellowstone Ram 3500 Super Cab, for example, that meant the user “likes to be the boss” and was “not to be crossed.”

You might be thinking, well, how does a filter help to promote a song? The genius aspect is that the song was set as the default sound each time a user added it to a video. While Gregory himself has a small audience of around 3,000 followers on TikTok, his effect has been used in roughly 42,000 videos to-date, per counts listed in the app. “Stuck” has been added as a background track across nearly 16,000 TikTok posts.

“Maybe 95% of the users of this song on this filter weren’t familiar with Drew before,” said Suzy Yoder, CEO of YO SUZY, a division of the music-marketing company Songfluencer that created the effect alongside Gregory’s team. “For a developing artist with 2,800 followers, it’s very exciting. I can’t think of another way without spending a ton of money that this could have happened.” 

How exactly did Gregory go about this?
By building custom effects via AR toolkits like Snap’s Lens Studio, TikTok’s Effect House, or Meta’s Spark Studio, marketers can assign a song as the default option for a visual effect, such as a randomizer or beauty filter. If the effect goes viral, thousands of users may end up posting a video featuring the track, driving awareness for an artist and potentially streams on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. 

The use of AR filters has surged in the last year on social media. On Snapchat, more than 250 million users engage with augmented reality each day, driving over 6 billion daily plays, the company told Insider. In April, when TikTok moved its AR-creation tool Effect House out of closed beta, it announced that augmented-reality effects had accumulated over 600 billion views across 1.5 billion videos on its app globally. The popular rise of the TikTok Bold Glamour filter should also be noted (read our article from last week on this). 

Augmented-reality filters are generally deployed as one tactic within a larger marketing strategy for a song release. Platforms like Songfluencer have also hired influencers and created a challenge around the track via its video-contest platform Preffy.

The use of AR in music of course goes beyond song promotion. As the music industry has embraced augmented reality, tech platforms are building tools to help merge AR into live performances like concerts and festivals. 

Snap, which ushered AR into the social-media mainstream via Lenses, announced in August a multi-year partnership with Live Nation to build custom augmented-reality experiences for festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival and Lollapalooza. In February, the company introduced a new music-recommendation system to encourage users to add songs alongside its AR lenses.

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