It has been known for some time that the record industry is facing a challenging and uncertain future, one in which establishing sustainable and viable revenue models will continue to be increasingly difficult.
At the same time, music’s status as a differentiated passion point continues to make it incredibly attractive to brands - especially when it is becoming harder and harder for brands to gain mindshare among multi-channel, multi-interest consumers.
Of course, brand/music partnerships are nothing new, but they are becoming more strategic and comprehensive.
In the past we might have considered a successful partnership as a brand choosing an unknown song to run on their TVC, which then catapults the band into the charts and makes the ad more memorable.
However, times have most certainly changed.
Brands and artists are taking a more considered approach to finding the right partner for their offering, and both parties are keen to ensure the partnership is credible, mutually beneficial and, perhaps most importantly, creative.
Here we take a look at some of the more interesting and innovative brand/music partnership of recent times…
Bing and Jay-Z
To take on Google at search, Bing needed to do something pretty special - which is exactly what they did when they partnered with Jay-Z on the launch of his autobiography Decoded.
The book was seeded out in the real world, one page at a time in a number of innovative ways and locations, including on the bottom of a swimming pool, on a bronze street plaque, on traditional billboards, painted on subway trains, stitched in designer jackets and even wrapped around a car.
Fans were able to track down the pages using Bing Maps and clues that were left within Bing search, as well as on social media sites Twitter and Facebook.
The average time spent on the campaign site was a whopping 11 minutes and Jay-Z grew his Facebook fans by one million as a result.
The campaign helped the book hit the bestsellers for 19 straight weeks and Bing grew their search queries by 11% in one month.
Converse Rubber Tracks recording studio
On 13 July, Converse opened its very own Brooklyn recording studio, Converse Rubber Tracks, offering artists an opportunity to sign up and record music in the facility for free.
Loved by indie bands and musicians, the shoe brand announced the studio last autumn, and bands were able to apply for studio time via the Converse website until the end of May.
New York and New Jersey artists Aabaraki, Majuscules, G.I.C. & Funk Face, Andre Henry and Super Rocket Car were selected as the first musicians to begin recording this summer and each artist is given at least a day or two of studio time, depending on demands.
The Rubber Tracks initiative goes beyond the initial creation and also gives bands the means to expose their music to a much larger audience through Converse.com and the brand's social media channels.
This means bands have the potential to promote their content to millions of new fans while the brand cements its reputation as a true creative catalyst.
Tuborg and LMFAO
Tuborg are no strangers to music partnerships and have in the past leveraged traditional sponsorship and product placement (perhaps most notably in the Bruno Mars and Travis McCoy video Billionaire) to some effect.
However, for their new UK campaign, and under the banner of its ongoing Liquid Soundtrack positioning, the brand is inviting ‘wannabe’ music video directors to show what they’re capable of, offering them the opportunity to work on a collaborative music video with LA electro hop group LMFAO.
The campaign launched with a TVC spot featuring LMFAO front-man Redfoo encouraging fans to upload a five minute short film to the brand’s Facebook page.
These entries were whittled down to a final ten (through user votes and a judging panel comprised of LMAFO and Tuborg representatives) that then competed in a 24-hour music video challenge, working in tandem with Channel 4 film producers to create a 60 second TV spot to be broadcast on Channel 4.
The winner then went on to direct a £50,000 music video for LMFAO’s song One Day in the US.
While this campaign aims to ensure a good level of buy in and a guaranteed audience for the bands video, it also provides the brand with a credible partnership that fits its target demographic and, perhaps most importantly, positions Tuborg as the conduit between fan and band, that force that brings the two into closer creative proximity.