Part of our series with 12ahead
Spikes Asia
Tips For Brands Working With The Music Industry

Music has become a core part of many major brands’ positioning but it can be a complex industry. Gavin Parry, EVP of Digital and Business development, Sony Music, gave a talk on how to harness creativity in music and brand campaigns at this week’s Spikes Asia event.

1. All brands eventually play in the music space.

The ‘Brand cycle’ is music – comedy – sport and brands move through this continually.

2. Who owns what? 

The music space is very complicated and includes artist, manager, publisher, record label, acquisition agency and tour promoters.  If you are looking for something innovative, you may need to talk to loads of people to get the rights to the artist brand. For example:

Artist – image, access, overall

Publisher – song copyright

Record label – recorded songs

Acquisition agent – depends on deal

Tour promoter – materials

3. Start with target market

It is important to segment consumers and to identify how to acquire new customers as well.  It’s a powerful tool to identify who you want to talk to.

4. Try not to pick the song or artist first

Back track to the segmentation to identify what they are trying to achieve.  The label had 1000s of requests to work with One Direction. They can be too expensive and too in demand.  You also don’t want it to look like the artist is shoehorned into promoting the brand.

Taylor Swift and Cornetto Red is a good example. Unilever originally wanted One Direction but couldn’t get it to work.  Taylor had a new album coming out called Red, so they ran a competition where unsigned bands competed.  The prize was the support Taylor Swift in the APAC tour. #cornettoredtour. It engaged local markets through social media reach with their local artists, not just Taylor.

5. Do the unexpected

The Xperia Sony smartphone and Daft Punk album launch is a good example of this.  Sony wanted to market it in a completely different way, so found smallest towns In Australia in outback (WEE WAA) and plastered it with billboards.  The launch of the Daft Punk album in WEE WAA (population 2000) was launched as part of the WEE WAA county fair.  It was announced it in the WEE WAA paper. And had the biggest LED dance floor ever.  People came from all over the world to attend the launch. We created a mobile network in the fairground so the only way you could have any network in the town was to have a Xperia Sony smartphone.

6. Brands have 2 year plan, the music industry has a 2 year plan. Stay flexible.

Supermarket Coles used ‘down down, prices are down’ and they managed to get Status Quo to do posing pictures with the Coles icon for ‘prices are down’. With this campaign they were way out performing other supermarkets.

7. Brands aren’t that powerful

Brands need to realise that artists are also a brand; they need to get decent bucks.  Don’t think that you as the brand have all the power just because you can offer exposure for the artist.

8. Social Media

What channels, how big, how engaged?  What can I do?  What should you do?  Most brands will want to do too much social media and have artists posting too much about the brand. You need to identify what you should do that seems natural and effective.

9. Non-artist projects

Sometimes your brand won’t be the best to align to just one artist. You can do stuff across the industry. Talent contests or apps, for example the Song Fit app in Australia which is for fun runs.

10. Do it with credibility

You need to be in for the long haul, any brand the jumps in and out of the music industry can damage credibility. A great case study for this is Hennessy Artistry, it was a five-year project and had a range of artists performing together. They have made their own music DNA.

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