Media: Double Standards - Why bands can't look down on brands any more

Creating commercial partnerships between brands and bands isn't as easy as it might look. Two musos share some of the secrets of their successes.

MATT JAGGER - MANAGING DIRECTOR, NAKED VENTURES

- What's the key to matching the right brand with the right band?

They both have to be open-minded and enthusiastic about being involved with each other. Music has to be a core channel of the brand. Above and beyond that, they have to share common brand values and audience demograhics. For McDonald's and McFly, they fit each other in that they project a wholesome image and share an audience of young teenagers and families.

- Briefly describe some of your most exciting deals.

We were very pleased to put together a young contemporary and very successful pop band together with the world's biggest food retailer and a national newspaper with a circulation of three million. By putting a recording artist directly in a relationship with a consumer brand and a media network with such a massive reach and thus bypassing the traditional major record company system we have been involved with something innovative in this space.

- Are advertisers the future of the music industry?

Not in isolation but as the old record industry model breaks down, then they can play an increasingly important role in facilitating the production and distribution of music by getting involved directly with artists. I think what makes this an exciting time for the music industry is that artists now have more choice in terms of who they can go to to help them do what they do best, which is to play and record music.

- What are the main benefits for artists and brands?

For artists, new routes to market and ways of financing their output without having to sign away copyright. For brands a way of integrating music into every aspect of their offering and actually being the provider to the customer of something they want and value.

- What's the biggest pitfall for brands?

For every person who likes band X, nine people probably hate them!

- Can you tell us about any projects in the pipeline?

Hopefully close some more deals with brands and media networks for the artists we represent in this area, such as Placebo, Katie Melua and Madness, among others.

- What advertisers are artists most keen to be aligned with and why?

The technology and communications brands are probably the most neutral in terms of fit. It is difficult to be accused of "selling out" when working with such crucial and coveted items!

- Who are your current favourite bands?

Deadmau5, Martin Roth and Mark Mendez.

JACK HORNER - CREATIVE DIRECTOR, JOINT MANAGING DIRECTOR, FRUKT

- What's the key to matching the right brand with the right band?

It's got to be an equitable partnership for both parties. Getting the right fit between band and brand by matching consumer groups, and fully understanding the objectives of both brand and artist, is key. Traditionally, brands were seen as "customers" of the music business; this is finally changing as labels and artists become more flexible with their approach to their businesses.

- Briefly describe some of your most exciting deals.

We did a deal for Nokia with David Bowie where he was engaged as a blogger on a music discovery platform. It wasn't positioned as an endorsement, he wasn't waving a phone about on an ad, he was a user and a commentator. It suited him as he had a useful and relevant role and it was far more authentic for Nokia. On a more tactical level, we have recruited and managed close to 100 artists for Nokia's Royal Artist Club mobile blogging platform, with Dirty Pretty Things and The Futureheads added recently.

- Are advertisers the future of the music industry?

Advertisers are the past, present and future of our industry. Commercial radio and social networking are fuelled by advertising, while ad-supported music downloads are emerging. However, as physical music sales become a less-dependable source of income, artists are reconsidering where their revenue will come from in the future. Advertisers have an opportunity to play a greater role in music for sure.

- What are the main benefits for artists and brands?

For artists, it enables them to work with new distribution channels, offset marketing costs, reach new audiences and to fund new ways of performing live. For brands, it can be about both tactical objectives (endorsing a product at launch, sales promotion/premiums etc.) or on a strategic level creating longer-term brand experiences and platforms.

- What's the biggest pitfall for brands?

As brands are usually structured in silos, focused on traditional disciplines such as sponsorship, advertising or sales promotion, music is contained by these. We believe that the potential is for music to be part of a big creative idea, which is amplified by flowing through multiple channels. Brands should seek to create a clear perspective in music and it's vital that they really understand their consumers' music lives.

- Can you tell us about any projects in the pipeline?

We have some exciting projects at the planning stage for a range of brands, from a leading soft-drink brand to a high-street fashion retailer - all of which are confidential. But all of our clients right now are very expansive with their vision for how music can work for them.

- What advertisers are artists most keen to be aligned with and why?

An increasing number of artists are working in non-traditional ways with brands, which gives them the opportunity to have more control. In extreme cases, even retaining all their rights (which was never possible with a label) and getting marketing and distribution support from brand partners. So, as long as the brand is appropriate to the artists, brand or audience, anything goes.

- Who are your current favourite bands?

I am feeling rather electronic right now; MGMT, Battles, Black Kids, Neon Neon and Cut Copy are getting heavy iPod rotation. I will be at the front for Bootsy Collins at Wireless. You, obviously, can't beat the funk.

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