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Creative Gilles Peterson Cannes Lions

DJ Gilles Peterson on how artists can work with brands

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By Ronan Shields, Digital Editor

July 4, 2016 | 4 min read

As he prepares to raise the curtain on this year’s WorldWide Festival in Sete, France, today (4 July) DJ and record label owner Gilles Peterson is preparing to use the relationship to further his radio WorldWide FM radio station with studios in Europe and the USA.

Gilles Peterson and Steve Angello

Steve Angello (pictured left) and Gilles Peterson (pictured right)

Work with WeTransfer and WorldWide FM

Peterson was recently announced as the creative director of online file-sharing site WeTransfer, and spoke recently on a panel session at this year’s Cannes Lions Festival about how artists can collaborate with brands on areas of mutual interest, especially in an era when the fundamentals of the music business have changed.

“I’ve just set up a brand new radio station called WorldWide FM, and I’ve been able to work with them [WeTransfer] as a partner, that will be launching in September with studios in Europe, and a studio in Los Angeles.

“I needed a partner, and I spoke to them about it, and they were very interested in working with me on that, and that led to me getting involved in other projects,” he said, adding that it was a “long-lasting relationship".

Tie-up with Havana Club

The collaboration with WeTransfer is not the first Peterson has undertaken with high profile brands, having struck a relationship with rum brand Havana Club several years back, which has helped further his role as a “curator” of world music.

“Havana Club has a relationship with the Cuban government, and they wanted someone to promote Cuban culture by going there to unearth a lot of the things that were going on, and hear a younger voice,” he explained.

This relationship began several years ago, and has involved the UK-based star promoting local artists through a series of recordings as well as club nights featuring such music around the world in prestigious venues such as London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts, etc.

The activity has spawned several records, produced new stars that have gone on to sign with major record labels such as Universal in the US, and also documentaries about lesser known (or misunderstood) forms of Cuban music, such as Rhumba. “With Cuba opening up, we’re the only record label with any archive material with a musical legacy for the last seven-or-ten years,” he said.

“The point is that Havana Club, had a long term vision, they didn’t just say: ‘okay, we’ve got £1m, and let’s just throw a party, then given them a load of rum to get them drunk’. They really tried to develop the music and the art,” he added.

Peterson went on to stress the importance of finding the right brand partner in any such tie-up. He added: “It’s the kiss of death if you work with a brand that just doesn’t get you… To find the right brand that get what you want, and are open to your crazy ideas, then that’s the solution… In the music industry records aren’t selling like they used to, and you need new ways to do these ambitious projects.

“Nowadays, the record labels aren’t there [they don’t have the money to take as many risks as they used to] but the brands are there. And if you use the brand correctly you can have exactly the same results that you did in the glory days,” he said.

Speaking on the same Cannes Lions panel, fellow DJ and record label owner Steve Angello, spoke about his earlier tie-ups with brands including Absolut, Google and Volvo on projects where their interests where aligned, although he did hasten to add that maintaining artistic credibility was crucial to a successful tie-up.

“A brand deal has to mean something to me. Fans can tell if you don’t mean something,” he commented.

Creative Gilles Peterson Cannes Lions

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