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Bands and Brands: What Marketers Need To Know About Music Partnerships

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Brand partnership may be daunting, and overwhelming. Putting your music and yourself out there in partnership could be scary. It’s actually extremely common among artists, giving them a chance to have their face apart of popular products. It’s a simple way for a win-win situation, giving both parties a chance to put themselves out there. Read below WeTransfer’s branding tips!

Understand that music is about culture.

A good music tie-up should be more than a way to be cool by association or to reach a certain segment of the buying public. The best partnerships are informed by a deep understanding of the music, the artist, and the culture of that artist or genre. This goes much deeper than a fan demographic. The music itself should be honored. When I worked on big-brand music partnerships, I found that many marketers miss this point.

But those who understand different music subcultures can be more successful, primarily because that point of view truly informs an authentic relationship with the artist and an understanding of the fans.When done right, you’re not only creating a relationship with the artist but also with the audience around him/her.

Start small, listen to the scenes and their needs, build added value and offer the tools and knowledge that fans normally wouldn’t have had.

Take Red Bull. The Red Bull Music Academy started 15 years ago as a way to extend its content marketing, but what the brand did so well was to take the dance music subculture seriously. Today, RBMA is a returning experience for artists and music fans alike, and an important platform that has had a real influence on the music landscape.

Give artists a platform.

Big fees aside, this is usually the chief reason artists want to work with brands anyway. For up-and-coming artists, or those who are pushing at the boundaries of their genres, gaining reach or experience is a strong draw. The collaboration is strongest when brands can offer artists something they don’t already have or wouldn’t otherwise access. In some cases it’s a proper studio and a bigger audience.

For example, Converse’s Rubber Tracks, based in Brooklyn, selects up-and-coming bands for free studio time in one of their professional grade studios, and books them for their Rubber Tracks events. In 2015, the platform took the program global, giving artists access to renowned studios like Abbey Road Studios in London and Sunset Studios in Los Angeles – a rare opportunity for all but the biggest music stars. Since taking its program global in 2015, Converse has received more than 9,000 applications from artists around the world, and has given 900 of them recording privileges since starting the program in 2011. That’s a tangible contribution to rising artists. 

Keep it real.

When creating a brand partnership, it’s best to think about credibility rather than popularity and reach. Fans can smell a fake a mile away. It’s just not enough to throw a big fee at artists and plaster your brand all over the place at a concert. Fans can tell when there’s no real relationship – think of some of the ridiculous hashtags you see on some artist social feeds.

Can the brand play a natural role within the artist’s subculture? Does make sense for the artist or fans, or ideally, for both? 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.

When it comes to being a natural fit, Sprint has also been a standout here. The brand premiered a Spanish-language commercial during the Latin Grammys, and also re-hired Latino pop star Prince Royce to help develop new music. Both moves had strong, real links for viewers: Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, who starred in the commercial, is a Bolivian-born native Spanish speaker, and Prince Royce – back when he was still known as Geoffrey Royce Rojas, growing up in the Bronx – worked at Sprint in his very first job. He even credits the Sprint job with being able to pay for studio time, which led to his first record deal.”

Marketing & branding is all around you. You’ll see it everywhere you go, so why not add your face to it?

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