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Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues

Virtually all music – soul, country, rock n’ roll, hip-hop, and jazz – has been influenced by the blues.  But awareness and sales of the music genre were slipping until the launch of Martin Scorsese’s The Blues, a multimedia project raising awareness of blues and its contribution to American culture. The project’s transmedia elements crescendoed around the PBS premiere of a week-long stunt of documentary films directed by Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Wim Wenders, Marc Levin, Charles Burnett,  Richard Pearce, and Mike Figgis. Launching simultaneously were a comprehensive companion website, a 13-part radio series on PRI radio, a companion book published by HarperCollins, film DVDs and 25+ music CDs by Hip-O Records/Universal Music Enterprises and Columbia/Legacy, a concert film directed by Antoine Fuqua, and a traveling museum exhibit,“Sweet Home Chicago” in multiple U.S. cities, and music and history lesson plans for high school teachers and students.

Amplifying it all was a year-long educational and marketing campaign about the blues as the roots of all music. The centerpiece was “The Blues On the Road,” a schedule of 120+ film, music, and heritage events - from the Venice, Sundance, Cannes film festivals to the New Orleans, Chicago, and Monterey jazz festivals. Benefit concerts at Radio City Music Hall and Kennedy Center event supported the Congressional declaration of the “Year of the Blues.” Publicity kicked off with editorial board meetings and online forums at the NYT, LA Times, and WaPost and an NABJ’s convention event. The ad campaign included national print and online publications, NPR, and TV and radio  in five markets. The project conducted content-driven cross promotions with American Airlines, House of Blues, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers. VW heightened its sponsorship with a national TV spot, coverage on, and an “On the Road'' presence.      


Some 2.5 million people watched the docu-series, and the radio series was the most widely carried in PRI history. The lesson plans reached 50K+ educators and 1+ million students. The Blues’ juggernaut marketing effort garnered 1.7 billion positive publicity media impressions and reached 113 million people via web and viral marketing, 2+ million people through the "On the Road" tour, and 3.5+ million airline passengers with the in-flight promotion. Billboard reported overall blues CD sales went up 500% the month of the launch and that of all CDs sold, 80% were The Blues-branded. The project won two Grammys, and national awards for the TV series, the radio series, and the marketing campaign.


"...Popular interest in roots music [has] grown in recent years, especially after the PBS series produced by Martin Scorsese, The Blues." The New York Times (3/21/04)

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