Music always had the power to connect with people on a deep and emotional level. As a result, consumer brands have always looked for opportunities to leverage music-inspired experiences to reach, engage and build long lasting bonds with consumers. On the other hand, artists welcomed partnership overtures from consumer brands for reasons traditionally centered around the immediate cash incentive. Such artist and brand partnerships have assumed many different manifestations and evolved quite a bit. Artists endorsing products on television is no longer the pinnacle of brands leveraging the power of music.
Current status quo:
Fast forward to today, technology has made the media accessible to consumer and music brands of all sizes. The consequence of such democratization has not always been a positive one for both brands and music. The music industry has become extremely competitive, a phenomenon that has left artists with no choice, but to search for new ways to earn supplemental or non-traditional revenue. For brands, the media has become cluttered and brand affinity has become a lot more personal for consumers. This forces brands to find ways to create a constant stream of content that is authentic, engaging, and entertaining in order to enhance brand loyalty.
Although partnerships between consumer and music brands is nothing new, the need to make such partnerships more effective and sustainable is necessary now more than ever. Unfortunately, such brand and music partnerships have always been difficult to implement and maintain for reasons aplenty.
1. Non-conducive attitudes:
Some artists today understand that the true value of brand partnerships may not be the immediate cash, but the long-term benefits that can actually help the artist achieve their career goals. Unfortunately, the majority of music industry institutions and artists still consider immediate cash to be the primary and only motivation to create partnerships with consumer brands. On the other hand, some brands like to leverage artists’ influence, but are not very keen on fully collaborating with them for various reasons. These attitudes take away the desire for real collaboration and consequently deprives both the artists and brands the possibility of bigger commercial benefits as a result of the partnership.
2. Lack of infrastructure to foster benchmarking and accountability:
There has always been a lack of value benchmarking when it comes to music and consumer brand partnerships. Without data, it has been difficult for both types of brands to truly quantify the effectiveness of such music partnerships; hence making it impossible to plan and commit resources strategically and continuously.
3. Lack of longevity in artists:
Due to market volatility and extreme competition in the music industry today, most artists are struggling to establish longevity in their careers. As a result, brand partnerships that are built around individual artists usually do not last long. One of the reason for this is that such partnerships are mostly built around sports teams, which have longer ‘shelf life’ compared to artists.
4. Lack of understanding each other’s industry:
There is a great deal of difference in culture, communication and work ethic between music and consumer brands. Consumer brands exist in a world of ROI (return on investment) and the music business model revolves around IP (intellectual property) rights. Misunderstanding how each industry develops their strategy and quantify return on investment, has been a major culprit for under-performing partnerships between consumer and music brands.
The way forward.
It is evident that the impetus that brings artists and consumer brands together are often very different. Whilst opportunities abound for music partnerships, careful planning and an adequate infrastructure to support such relationships and business opportunities is fundamental to attaining more successful partnerships. Without such, misunderstanding and frustration on both sides often leads to an inability for the bigger commercial benefits of fan and consumer integration to be missed.
Providing such a platform was the inspiration behind the The Music Development Agency’s Brand Partnerships program. This program is built around a model that fosters collaboration, sustainability and accountability for partnerships between music and consumer brands.