Cutting through the noise as an artist or a brand can be tough even for the most well-known and respected of each. To combat this artists and brands have been teaming up in increasing numbers to reach new audiences and stand out from the crowd. Executed correctly, partnerships between brands and artists can have huge payoffs for both parties.
For artists, working with a brand can help fans discover their new work, broaden their listener base, and provide much-needed cash injections. Marketers also stand to benefit by working with musicians because of their ability to create buzz, build authentic connections with audiences, and add an element of fun and personality to product or campaign. Although the benefits of a thoughtful partnership are many, some collaborations fall short of expectations or worse, end up doing more harm than good. Make sure to keep these things in mind when evaluating whether a partnership makes sense.
Authenticity is king!
When it comes to working with artists little means more to them or their fans than the connection they share. When thinking about potential artists to work with, optimizing for artists with deep relationships will yield better results than popularity and reach. However more than this, the connection between the brand and the artist needs to look and feel authentic. Fans have been bombarded with ads and sponsored content long enough to know when a brand is a partner, or just writing a big enough check to paste their logo all over an artist’s work. Does your company fit naturally with the identity of an artist and their fan? What value can you add to the fan experience that the artist would not have been able to provide otherwise?
Lukas Nieuwenhuijsen, head of music partnerships for file sharing company WeTransfer describes how taking this approach made a partnership with Prince drive 500,000 direct downloads in only a few days. “At WeTransfer, we became involved in musical partnerships very naturally because musicians use our service to collaborate with other artists during the work process. Nearly 60 percent of our users work in creative industries. That fundamental relationship led artists to use WeTransfer for distribution, as a channel to share content with fans or experiment with visual art forms, which we offer through our full-screen wallpapers.”
Remember music is about culture!
Great brand partners don’t focus on being cool by association or reaching a particular demographic of customers. While always smart to think about these things in advance, and even make them key goals for the partnership, ultimately they are byproducts of a thorough understanding of the artist’s music, personality, and subculture they play a part in. More than anything else successful partnerships respect these dynamics and work to elevate them. When done right the artist will feel valued and respected, and this will radiate out into their fan base.
Artists know better than anyone how to reach their fans. That’s why brands want to work with them in the first place. It may sound like an obvious point, but so many brands don’t spend enough time listening to the artist and providing the tools they need to bring their success to the next level. Red Bull Music Academy is a classic example of how to execute on this. RBMA began 15 years ago and has become a content marketing powerhouse because it took dance music seriously from day one. Now they have regular participants from 6 continents, more than 90 countries, and received more than 4,000 applications in 2012.
With so many brands and artists looking to collaborate, it’s important to take the extra time and effort in setting the right tone for the relationship. Although they can be tricky to navigate, poorly conceived deals are never in either party’s best interest, great relationships can achieve things few other partnerships can and leave lasting impact on bands, brands, and fans.
You Also Might Like: SoStereo's Industry Tips: 5 Things To Know Before Trying To Get Your Music Licensed
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Great Examples of Brand Partnerships
Avicii x Ralph Lauren Denim & Supply - RL integrated the Swedish DJ not only into their ad campaigns but used his music video as a way to showcase their new season. The music had the perfect hint of classic Americana, and Avicii genuinely fit the brand. RL sponsored events and heavily promoted the artist's album before it dropped.
Grey Goose x A-Trak - A classic example of liquor getting it right. Take a cool DJ that rules nightlife, put him in a Grey Goose ad targeted at nightlife and well, there you go. A-Trak get's his game elevated and can charge more money on top of getting paid for the spot. Sometimes it's simply about an artist and brand being a good fit.