Should brands collaborate more with music artists?

Tie-ups between brands and musicians can benefit both parties, but they must tread carefully, Gurjit Degun writes.

Rita Ora promoting 100 years of the Coca-Cola contour bottle and Ellie Goulding’s ongoing relationship with Nike are just two recent collaborations between music artists and major brands.

These tie-ups bring benefits to both sides. The artist endorsing a brand no doubt receives a hefty sum.

In 2012, brands including Coca-Cola, O2, BlackBerry and Volkswagen spent more than £100 million on musicians, according to PRS for Music, which collects the licence fees on behalf of songwriters, composers and publishers.

And there are clear advantages for brands. Havas is one group that has seen the potential. Earlier this year, it partnered with Universal Music Group to build a global music data alliance. It aims to provide new revenue opportunities for UMG artists and labels by "creating powerful marketing and advertising opportunities for brands".

Havas led a session at Advertising Week Europe last month that showed music’s potential to be at the core of brand communications.

"For us, music is a major part of communication because music inspires positive emotion, it ignites fashion but it can also help brands create meaningful stories that generate experiences, content and social engagements,"

Lucien Boyer, the president and global chief executive of Havas Sports & Entertainment, said at the event.

Jerry Perkins, the chief executive of Mixmag, believes music should be "the main touchpoint for brands seeking credible engagement with millennials". He says: "While deals of mere commercial convenience will likely backfire, the co-creation of content with carefully selected artists has produced astonishing results for brands in terms of reach and engagement."

Yet tie-ups are not without risk. Clean Bandit’s turn in a recent Microsoft ad promoting Cortana, the digital assistant on Windows Phones, has been labelled "awful" and "tripe" by Twitter users.

But if brands and bands can get the balance right, there is much potential. According to PwC, the total sponsorship market in sports and entertainment is worth $43 billion (£28.9 billion), and the music industry accounts for 10 per cent of this.

YES Rupert Vereker, chief executive, Sonic Media Group

"Brands need bands to reach fans. By investing in artists, the brand will enter the holy grail of being an integral part of the music discovery process, creating content that builds long-term differentiating value for the brand."

YES Gennaro Castaldo, director of comms, British Phonographic Institute

"Music artists bring with them valuable social followings and they represent one of the principal gateways into mainstream media coverage, which means they effectively come with a ready-made marketing platform for brands."

YES Colin Gottlieb, chief executive, EMEA, Omnicom Media Group

"What’s required is detailed analytics, careful planning and structured creative development. Otherwise, what starts off as a neat idea becomes an unsupported project covered in treacle that clients reject and artists think is naff." 

YES Paul Frampton, chief executive, Havas Media

"Labels have a rich understanding of their fan bases. This data-driven insight offers the opportunity to pinpoint the right collaboration between the right brand and band so it’s relevant and can be a sustainable, long-term tie-up."