Jack Horner and Giles Fitzgerald from FRUKT on the future of the music industry and consumer branding
The concept of a consumer brand harnessing the emotive power of music to boost sales and affect consumer perception is not a new phenomenon. When food manufacturer General Mills used a male quartet to sing what is arguably the world’s first brand jingle, for its ‘Have You tried Wheaties?’ breakfast cereal ad in 1926, brands and music entered into a pact that is still going strong over 80 years later. However, for a long period of time brands had little control over their involvement with music, often acting on the periphery of the music business. They simply borrowed, using the music industry as a giant lending library — the odd TV commercial here, the occasional endorsement there. The ads sounded great and the artists made their cameo appearance — but that was where it ended. At least that was how it played out, until recently.
The last decade has seen the well-established music industry change almost beyond recognition, as a sweeping digital revolution has torn away the very fabric of what it means to make and sell music. However, don’t be fooled by stories of falling CD sales, dismal balance books and the ongoing digital piracy laments of record labels and high profile artists. The demand for music has actually never been higher. Free of the shackles of dependence on the old regime, music has found a new lease of life in the digital realm with an unprecedented demand for music across a variety of platforms. The live sector too is at an all time high, with sales up 12.5% globally in 2008 to $21.6 billion (IFPI). Ultimately CD sales, the populist chart and one-dimensional music TV are no longer the ruling force, as both music fans — and even the artists themselves — seek to harness music’s newfound capabilities outside of traditional boundaries. The resulting expanded consumer choice has opened up a wealth of new possibilities for wider and deeper brand involvement in the music sector.
Music fans are crying out for someone to take music to innovative, exciting and immersive new places. Music fans no longer want to be passive listeners; they are now active participants in music’s future. Music is something they want to create, share, and mould. This is where the opportunity lies for brands. Whether it’s bringing fans closer to the artists they love at bespoke live events or developing innovative new digital platforms, brands now have a powerful voice in the music business.
Here are four guiding principles worth considering when embarking on a music marketing campaign:
Relying only on the live music experience is not enough for digital kids who crave content. Brands can provide content experiences too — which have a greater chance of spreading throughout the socially connected globe.
For example, Sprite embarked on the ‘Green Eyed World’ campaign earlier this year, which created integrated social video content based on an upcoming female musician’s route to stardom. The embeddable YouTube content invited consumers to share her journey of discovery.
The music industry increasingly needs brand investment and support. Brands must find ways to create mutually beneficial activities with partners.
Samsung recently teamed up with the Bebo social network on both the ‘Samsung Bebo Nights’ series of live music events, and a new online TV show entitled Beat. Both activations served up compelling content for Bebo’s users, whilst also netting a key touch point with the service’s core youth demographic for the brand.
Stand-alone 'big bang' sponsorships are becoming irrelevant in today's multichannel environment. It's essential that the marketing platforms created by brands result in ongoing dialogue with and between consumers. Brands such as Red Bull and its Red Bull Music Academy, and Diesel and its Diesel U:Music platform are two examples of brands that recognise music fans’ desire to share opinions, recollections and recommendations.
Music is ultimately about fans and their relationship with artists and each other. Brands should identify ways to add value to these communities and they will welcome their presence.
Topman CRTL is a recent platform, which has focused on bringing artists, musicians and the brand into closer contact. The CTRL live music venture from the fashion retailer invites bands to curate their own music events - featuring their own personal selection of acts - with the brand facilitating a bespoke music experience for fans.
By Jack Horner, Co-founder and Creative Director, FRUKT and Giles Fitzgerald, Editor, FRUKT: Brands and Music Manifesto 2010
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