The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

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By Imogen Watson, Senior reporter

March 27, 2020 | 4 min read

When life feels jolly rotten, music is something people haven’t forgotten. On the power of music in creating connections, a key discussion at The Drum’s Digital Transformation Festival was how brands are getting involved with music in this digital age.

With the Drum’s associate editor, Sonoo Singh, was Mumford and Sons' musician and chief exec of Venue Group Ben Lovett. In late 2016, Lovett opened a grassroots venue called Omeara before opening Lafayette, a live venue at Kings Cross. Joining them were Andrew Dougan, head of experiential and global business partners Geometry, and James Kirkham, chief business officer at Defected Records.

“Music has proven to be the single greatest connector between people for as long as we've been a species,” said Lovett. “It’s amazing that we continue to find ways to innovate around that out of a pure want to communicate with one another.”

Where brands come to play in all that, Dougan said that while 10/15 years ago, it would have been seen as a “necessary evil” but times have now “changed dramatically, where people no longer just tolerate their involvement but actually expect it.”

He explained that brands can actually bring a lot of value to it, as “they have mass audiences, interesting platforms, and the innovation they can bring to it.”

In 2017, a study by AEG and Momentum Worldwide found that 83% of millennials leave with a greater trust for brands that support a live music experience.

One such brand tapping into the live music experience is Doc Martens, which has been collaborating with emerging artists, creators and collectors on a series of experiences and activations. “It’s win-win for brands as they’re giving platforms and exposure and supporting something that fundamentally is very close to people, it's a core passion point of people," Dougan continued.

“Music is the ultimate common denominator, is has an ability to connect is far and wide,” said Kirkham. “At Defected, we have this disco philosophy which means complete accessibility and inclusivity.”

Given a considerable part of Defected Records business comes from events – both club nights and festivals – it has been greatly hit by the coronavirus, which is forcing people to stay indoors. At this point it has cancelled all its events up until May, but the way coronavirus is looking, its events for the rest of the year are not secure.

Adamant that the party must go on, last Friday (20 March) the team at Defected Records hosted a virtual music festival, where house lovers could tune into the live show from Ministry of Sound.

“With the coronavirus suddenly erupting, this need for and music to be a beacon of positivity, to elicit good feeling and positivity and smiles on people's faces is really important,” explained Kirkham on the idea. “So we came up with the virtual festival which can be streamed live to people's screens in lounges and laptops, and iPads and mobiles.”

The owner of two live music venues in London, Mumford & Sons’ Lovett has been thinking up new ways of bringing an audience in virtually.

“It was in our intention to transform Lafayette into a home of beaming out the content,” Lovett divulged. “We put a lot of infrastructure into the venue, as we were building it, to make it a part of a new era of venues that can has the capacity to do what now is an immediate need.”

He said that similarly to Defected Records, the team is looking at ways to try and help artists continue to connect with their audiences. “Were on it, but we haven't quite managed to get our ducks in a row,” he admitted.

You can watch the full session here on The Drum's dedicated Digital Transformation Festival microsite.

Additionally, access the playlist we've compiled to help inspire you and entertain you in this time of isolation and uncertainty.

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