‘Brands have to add to the experience for my viewers’ says SB.TV’s Jamal Edwards

Brand partnerships with recording artists must be meaningful and avoid gimmickry to succeed according to leading lights of the UK music industry.

Speaking on the ADARA Stage in the Newsroom at Advertising Week Europe on a panel entitled ‘Are Brands the Saviours of the Music Industry, or Just a Quick Fix?’ Jamal Edwards, CEO of SB.TV said:“When I work with brands it has to add to the experience for SB.TV viewers. Brands allow me to access bigger locations, better cameras. I do it if I can make it a part of my audience’s lifestyle. I’m up for it if it’s done in the right way.”

Discussing the value brands can derive from partnering with hot British talent, Jamal Edwards, who was attending Buckingham Palace to accept an MBE said: “Up and coming artists don’t have the same ROI for brand partnerships as an artist like Ellie Golding. However a big campaign showcasing 12 fresh artists over a few weeks is a lot more of a building process. When I did the Puma thing it was viewed as a success. I know what’s right and wrong for me personally.”

Also speaking on the panel was Bob Workman, VP of Brand Partnerships at Warner Music. He touched on how brand partnerships increasingly provide an invaluable revenue stream for the music industry, which has been severely affected by digital disruption in recent years.

Bob Workman said: “Brand partnerships definitely add to the bottom line for artists, but the degree to which it adds to the bottom line can really vary. A touch of celebrity helps brands get cut through with audiences they want to reach. We don’t work with brands and artists in all cases, but we always bring it to the table.”

Analysing the process behind paring brands with bands, Bob Workman said: “Gut feel on what fits is important, but pretty much every decision we make is underpinned by data these days. Rights are not overly complicated, but we’re trying to make it easier. As an industry, we’re a lot better at making brand partnerships work than we were a few years ago.”

Chairing the panel, Mike Mathieson CEO of specialist entertainment marketing business Harmonic said: “The music industry has undergone radical transformation as consumption models have shifted through the decline of physical and digital sales and the rise of streamed and subscription models. This has left the industry underfunded to reach consumers in traditional ways and created a growing market place for brand involvement.”

Harmonic created Advertising Week Europe Microsoft wrap party headliners Rudimental’s ‘gig in the sky’ for Virgin Atlantic and worked with a number of high profile artists and brands. In recent times they have brought together Mark Ronson and Coca Cola, Rihanna and River Island, Kylie and Evian and Jay Z and 50 Cent with Reebok. They also helped create the One Direction fragrance.

Mike Mathieson said: “Brands are percolating every element of the music industry to create greater saliency, credibility and reach. In 2014 the music industry passed the £100m mark of brand investment in music. Couple that with the shrinking budgets for music marketing, Artists can no longer rely on chart positions alone to propel fame and are having to diversify, particularly when it comes to brand partnerships.

“Artists command enormous fan bases across their social profiles, they are media channels in their own right.”

Asked about how SB.TV viewers felt about music industry brand partnerships, Jamal Edwards said: “As you get the media hyping product placement in the music industry, fans are now like ‘Oh my God, how much did you get paid to have that champagne in the video!’ But it’s nothing new – wanting to be seen as successful has always been a part of Hip Hop culture. Beats by Dre and what not showed the next evolution for the music industry. I can see the comments and know if it’s successful or not successful. If people don’t call it as too blatant, it’s a winning formula!”

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