A music industry tipping point of sorts arrived for QR (quick response) codes as PepsiCo announced that, through June 26, Taco Bell customers who buy the “Mountain Dew Free Music cup” can scan a QR code on the bottom of the cup to download free music and videos. The downloads will also be available for free, no purchase necessary, via the dedicated download site of Mountain Dew’s surprisingly cool Green Label Sound. They hope to distribute over 60 million cups in the course of this promotion.
Though QR codes for music promotion are apparently old news in Japan, momentum and acceptance seems to be slowly taking hold in the States. Noteworthy efforts have included Odd Future’s appearance on Jimmy Fallon and Lupe Fiasco’s Laser promo in San Francisco’s Union Square facilitated by RedLaser.
Actually, judging from sources like the Tappinn-connected QR Anywhere blog, a lot of experiments by mainstream brands are happening but somehow QR codes still have that edgy feel and that’s why folks can get so worked up about efforts like that of Odd Future. So does all this mean QR codes are coming into their own and it’s time for your music brand to get going?
Yes, absolutely. Smartphone usage in the States continues to grow as “69.5 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones during the three months ending in February 2011, up 13 percent from the preceding three-month period.” Awareness of QR codes among those smartphone owners is considered high though usage certainly lags awareness. And a variety of services are now available for generating and utilizing your own QR code.
In addition to the previously mentioned RedLaser and Tappinn, ShareSquare is available with a QR based music promo platform after a debut at SXSW. You can also create QR codes on bitly, as did Odd Future. Numerous other contenders are also available with more likely to be on the way.
Given that QR codes still have a certain trendy appeal yet are getting a boost into the mainstream by corporations like Pepsico, it appears that now is the time to start sorting out your own use of this promising tool for music marketing.