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Why most modern musicians would rather be a ‘brand hero’ than win a Brit Award

By Tom Primrose, Planner

February 24, 2016 | 5 min read

The Brit Awards offer musicians the chance to become part of history. Brands on the other hand can offer artists something whole lot more progressive. In recent years, brands have become more and more centrally involved with the music industry and in 2012 alone invested over £100 million into it.

DJ Hardwell successfully collaborated with beer brand Miller.

A new attitude has washed over today’s generation of musicians. Gone are the days where it was a sin to ‘sell out’. On the contrary, it’s now desirable to feature on video games, TV shows and adverts. According to research from FRUKT nearly a quarter of managers felt that striking an alignment with a brand was essential when it came to adding value to an artist’s career. Working with a brand can offer artists many opportunities beyond incremental revenue. Enhanced exposure, new ways of distributing content and even the chance to be involved in brand firsts are just some of those benefits. Just ask U2 who collaborated with Apple last year to create the brand’s first virtual reality video.

Brands themselves also stand to gain significantly. Working with an artist allows brands to become part of culture. Music plays a massive part in people’s lives, the word 'music' was Tweeted almost 12 million times in the UK in 2014. It can change your mood, create emotion and help you connect with those around you. Music is universal and it can even define who you are and become intertwined with many of the key moments of your life. So as a brand being part of this makes you more authentic and credible.

Hello world!

Another key advantage for brands is the ability to attract a totally new audience. Global beer brand Miller Genuine Draft turned around their fortunes by targeting Millennials. This was achieved through a brave strategy to align the brand with dance music and DJs such as Sebastian Ingrosso and Hardwell, achieving an increase in Miller’s online community of 1.8 million.

Another benefit is access to the musician’s loyal fans. This could be a broad audience or a very specific audience depending on the artist. One jewel that many brands can gain access to is the artist’s social media following. According to research from FRUKT working with an artist can increase your YouTube video views by 40 per cent and Twitter mentions by 80 per cent.

The creation of content is vital. This is what can establish a brand, tell a story and ultimately create engagement with consumers. To have a solo artist or band featuring will give the content stand out and longevity. The artist will also be able to bring their own creativity to the table which can add flair and help the brand separate itself from the competition in a crowded market, while featured music will create memorability and sonic brand recall. One example of this was when indie rockers The Vaccines provided the soundtrack and starred in Estrella Dam’s Summer TV campaign. The song ‘If You Wanna’ made such an impact that it entered the top 10 in the Spanish charts and led to a number of Spanish gigs and festival appearances for the London based band.

The effect of brand and band team ups is clearly visible, with The Drum and Shazam collaborating to create a weekly chart for UK's most popular music featured in advertising. This alternative chart demonstrates that consumers are switched on to marketing and that music plays an important role in brand communications.

Three steps to heaven

Brands and artists have much to gain through teaming up. For brands to get the most out a music collaboration they must execute these three steps:

  • Make sure it’s the right fit for both parties. For this to happen it’s imperative the brand knows exactly what it’s trying to achieve. This could be anything from gaining a mass reach, to making the brand seem more ‘edgy’. Once this is established potential partnerships can be thought about.
  • Treat the artist as a creative partner. Get them involved early and go on the creative journey with them. Involving the artist in key decisions will help create a strategy and idea that will connect with their fans.
  • Respect the music. The power of music is unquestioned and plays a massive part in people’s lives across the world. The best way to honour that is to invest properly in the band or artist - give them a platform to enhance their career in the most authentic way possible.

Brands that embrace these steps have a chance of creating some of the most exciting campaigns of the future and could genuinely help artists reach uncharted territories.

Tom Primrose is a planner at Southpaw.


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