Abstract: Over the last decade, the music industry has adapted its promotional strategy to take advantage of the fluid, contemporary, platform-based transmedia landscape. For researchers of contemporary culture, the multiplicity of promotional activities creates substantial methodological challenges. In this article, we present and discuss such methodological approaches using two studies of contemporary promotional music campaigns as illustrative cases. Inspired by digital and innovative methods and guided by the Association of Internet Researchers’ (AoIR’s) ethical guidelines, we developed two data collection strategies—reversed engineering and live capturing—and applied two analytical approaches—visual mapping and time-based layering. The first case study traced already staged music marketing campaigns across multiple online media platforms, and the second followed an online promotional campaign in real time for six months. Based on these case studies, we first argue for the importance of grounded manual capturing and coding in data collection, especially when working around data access limitations imposed by platforms. Second, we propose reversed engineering and live capturing as methods of capturing fragmented data, in contemporary promotional campaigns. Third, we suggest the visual mapping and time-based layering of data, enabling researchers to oscillate between qualitative and quantitative data. Finally, we argue that researchers must pool their experiences and resources regarding how to transcend platform limitations and question a lack of transparency while respecting ethical norms and guidelines. With these arguments, we assert the researcher’s necessary role in understanding and explaining the complex and hybrid contemporary promotional landscape and provide tools and strategies for further research.
Keywords: digital methods; engagement; ethics; innovative methods; music industry; promotional culture; transmedia marketing