HBO, Jay Z and the #SecondScreen opportunity for #PicassoBaby

Jay Z’s not just a rapper and he’s more than a businessman (or a business, man); he’s a cultural force. From Rocawear to marrying Beyonce, from selling a million copies of an album before it’s released to a subliminal shout-out from a Presidential candidate.

We could talk about his Livestreamed concert at SxSW last year, or his fledgling sports agency, but for right now, let’s focus on Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film which will be premiering on HBO tonight at 11pm eastern. Here’s a taste:

As a fan of Jay Z, and an HBO subscriber, I’m certainly planning on tuning in. As a marketer, and Content Advisory Board member to the 2nd Screen Society, I’m intrigued by the possibilities. HBO and Jay Z are both rightly lauded as innovators in their respective fields. This seems like a perfect opportunity for going beyond the traditional and extending the experience to a mobile device or tablet.

Marketing strategist Rob Fields thinks it’s a missed opportunity: “Since it’s only 11 minutes, HBO should make it available on HBO GO for, say, $1.99. Whatever the price is, it would open up the viewing legally to a whole new audience. They’d get the revenue and the consumer data, which is probably more important. It’d be a huge prospect list.”

This sort of content, from an innovative thinker like Jay Z is ripe for something like a 2nd screen experience.  I spoke with several 2nd screen industry innovators to get their take on what they’d like to see, or what they would have recommended:

Jeremy toeman, CEO Dijit media:  “In this era with such rich apps and a huge, excited, engaged, and obviously mobile, fan base, seems like there’s a lot more to offer an audience. From alternate camera angles to making of/extra footage to interactive social experiences, it seems like a great second screen opportunity!”

Aaron Williams, Founder/CEO of SocialSamba“The most exciting part of the whole concept for me was seeing the fans, 

Jay Z at Pace Gallery. Photo via Pace Gallery

Jay Z at Pace Gallery. Photo via Pace Gallery

participating in and recording their experience with the performance.  Think about it this way – it would only take 14 different fans hitting record to rack up a thousand different takes, angles and perspectives for every second of that song.  That’s a pile of content that begs to be mashed up by amateur fans and pro remixers alike.  There’s a kick-ass startup called Switchcam that does exactly this kind of syncing across multiple fan cams to allow everyone to mashup their favorite take on a shared experience (like concerts and weddings).  Jay should give them a call and put all that content to great use.”

Gitamba Saila-Ngita, Chief Innovation Strategist at Deft Collective had a different take:  “If you’d seen the process of creating the video you’d know that Jay Z spent almost 8 hours performing the song as “performance art” to random strangers and celebrities, with some joining in. Somewhere in that process a second screen experience should have been born that would enhance the experience when viewing the content on mobile or tablets. I think adding second screen to this [the HBO presentation] would be purely novel and nothing quite innovative or ground breaking. That said, it could explain why this is being pushed as something you have to watch on our downtime Sunday night.” 

Rob Fields counters, “The second screen experience could be interesting.  Remember that Jay filmed 6 hours, so there’s a lot of footage that could be teed up.  Point at which audiences on laptops, tablets and phones could go deeper.  They should definitely offer bios and video perspectives on the other artists that Jay included.  For example, I’m only broadly familiar with Marina Abramovic, and the broader population may be less so.  Also, do they have footage of Jay talking about why he chose the other artists?  It’d be great to hear his own words on this.  A win for HBO would be to have the 2nd screen experience be incredibly immersive so that you’d stay on the HBO site long after those 9 minutes were up.”

Rather than from purely the content aspect, I look at it from a brand opportunity point of view.  Jay Z’s deal with Samsung, the one that allowed Samsung mobile owners to download the new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, a few days early – the one that got Jay Z a million sales before the album proper even dropped – was criticized for certain privacy related issues. Could providing those consumers with exclusive 2nd screen content to the HBO program have been a nice apology or surprise and delight bonus? Perhaps.  What about Pace Gallery, where Jay Z did his 6-hour performance art piece? Surely a 2nd screen experience highlighting the gallery or the history of performance art would have made sense.

As many above noted, there is a lot of material to work with and perhaps we’ll see it come to life at a future date. In the meantime, we’ll watch tonight and wonder what might have been.