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Continual cross-promotion is the key to Radio Disney's "Next BIG Thing"

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Continual cross-promotion is the key to Radio Disney's "Next BIG Thing"

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When it comes to the way that it promotes young recording artists, Radio Disney doesn't just think outside of the box. It likes to turn the box inside out.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Take - for example - how this division of The Walt Disney Company handled the recently wrapped fourth season of its music talent showcase, "N.B.T." (Next BIG Thing). The way that everyone else in the entertainment industry stages a music-based reality competition - take, for example, "X Factor" -- is that they first put their singers through the ringer. Once the talent has made it through all of the elimination rounds and the public has then finally voted on a winner ... Well, that's when all of the talk of singles, albums and tours gets started.

To Radio Disney's way of thinking, that's kind of an ass-backward's way of getting the YouTube & iTunes Generation excited about new young recording artists. Wouldn't it be better / smarter in the long run if -- even before the first official episode of this music talent showcase actually airs -- Radio Disney listeners & Disney Channel viewers could have already selected a "N.B.T." group or individual performer that they then could root for? Someone that these tweens, kids and families could enthusiastically follow through all 10 weeks of competition?

This is why in early September of this year - more than a month ahead of when listeners were actually going to be able to access (via iTunes) the first set of singles recorded by the contestants taking part in Season Four of "N.B.T. " - Radio Disney sent all of these performers out on tour.

Before sending them out on tour, Radio Disney introduced the newly announced "N.B.T."
(Next Big Thing) artists to the public with a free live concert performance at The
Americana at Brand in Glendale, CA on Thursday, July 28. Photo by Rick
Rowell. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"Our goal here was to make 'Next BIG Thing' different from any of the other music talent showcase shows out there. We wanted to give Radio Disney listeners the opportunity to see, hear and get to know this year's 'N.B.T.' artists long before it was time to actually vote for them," explained Kelly Edwards, executive director of music and programming at Radio Disney. "Which is why we sent Tay Barton, Hollywood Ending, Zack Montana, Shealeigh and Ladina Spence out on tour with some of our veteran 'N.B.T.' artists."

Mind you, in addition to these appearances at local festivals, fairs and shopping centers in New York City, Boston, St. Louis, Atlanta, Los Angeles and San Francisco, Radio Disney was also using the other national broadcast & online arms of the Mouse's media empire to help spread the word about the fourth season of "N.B.T." Chief among these was an October 15th presentation of the Disney Channel's "Make Your Mark: Ultimate Dance Off - 'Shake It Up' Edition" show. Which featured filmed performances by each of the young recording artists taking part in this first-ever "N.B.T." On Tour.

"This is the sort of thing that only a Walt Disney Company can do. We can take advantage of the popularity of a hit show like 'Shake It Up' to help raise awareness of the individual artists involved in this year's competition. While at the same time, we can use this popular Disney Channel program to remind our target audience that - if they want to engage deeper with this year's 'N.B.T.' contestants - these viewers should then head over to RadioDisney.com. Which is where we allow them to send messages or submit questions directly to their favorite performers," Edwards continued. "Meanwhile, we're using both the Disney Channel and Radio Disney to talk up the next stops on the 'N.B.T.' tour. In short, we're using every possible cross-promotional angle that we can in order to build excitement, get the word out about for this music talent showcase."

Shealeigh reacts as Radio Disney on-air personality Jake Whetter and Pop sensation
Cody Simpson reveal that this 13-year-old singer / songwriter beat out Zack Montana
to become the winner of Season Four of Radio Disney's "N.B.T." competition. Photo
by Rick Rowell. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

And as each week of the competition went by, Kelly and her team steadily built the excitement for Season Four of "N.B.T." by continually leveraging new content across the multiple national broadcast & online platforms that Disney has available. Which then gave kids, tweens and families numerous opportunities to look, listen and vote for their favorite contestants.

And all this effort finally paid off last week at the "N.B.T." Finale Concert (which was held at the Americana at Brand in Glendale, CA). Where - in front of a crowd made up of hundreds of screaming tweens -- pop sensation Cody Simpson and Radio Disney on-air personality Jake Whetter revealed that Shealeigh was the "Next BIG Thing." Disney Channel viewers & Radio Disney listeners had voted this 13-year-old singer / songwriter from Chicago to be the winner of this music talent showcase. Which really seemed to please Ms. Edwards no end.

"Shealeigh truly is the whole package. Her strength as a songwriter is matched with her power as a vocalist, and when she performs she creates as strong of a connection to the audience as we've seen from some of Radio Disney's most popular artists," Kelly said. And Shealeigh wasted no time when it came to continuing to strengthen that connection with Disney Channel viewers & Radio Disney listeners. This past Friday, she joined Ernie-D in-studio for a Radio Disney's Take Over. That same evening, Shealeigh was spotlighted in a feature that aired during a new episode of "A.N.T. Farm" on the Disney Channel. And on Saturday night, this 13-year-old took to the stage in Celebration, FL. Where Shealeigh then opened for Kicking Daisies (i.e. the group that won last year's "N.B.T." competition) at the final stop of the Season Four "Next BIG Thing" promotional tour.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Then - following her appearance in this Radio Disney Holiday Concert - Shealeigh gets a wee bit of a Christmas break before she goes back to work recording a new single for the Disney Music Group. Then "What Can I Say" (i.e. the song that this 13-year-old singer / songwriter performed throughout this year's "N.B.T.") will be featured in "Radio Rebel." Which is a Disney Channel Original starring Debby Ryan of "Jessie" fame that will air on this cable channel sometime in early 2012.

So as you can see, the crew at Radio Disney and Disney Channel don't miss a trick when it comes to cross-promotion. They work every possible angle when it comes to getting national broadcast and online exposure for the young recording artists who take part in the Mouse's annual music talent showcase. And clearly the competition has noticed the Disney advantage. Otherwise how do you explain what happened last week after Rachel Crow got voted off "X Factor."

This 13-year-old vocal powerhouse reportedly didn't turn to Fox or FreemantleMedia for help when it came to mapping out her future as a performer. According to media reports, Rachel is allegedly now reaching out to Disney. With the hope that - by taking advantage of all of the national broadcast and online exposure opportunities that Shealeigh just enjoyed in Season Four of "N.B.T." - Crow could also grow into a pretty "BIG Thing" on the Disney Channel and/or with the Radio Disney audience.



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  • I'm not sure why you find the need to use curse words in a blog post, let alone one catered to teens and tweens. I didn't think I had to worry about letting my 9-year old daughter read a blog post about her favorite show. Looks like I was wrong about that.

  • I don't think she connected with the audience at all

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