I’ve been talking about this for a long long time. There have been movements over the years toward this; Bacardi and Groove Armada was one that was very deep in that their record was released by Bacardi, much different than writing a song for bacardi. We’ve seen that with Lenny Kravitz and Absolut; and many of the others in this article. The big agencies all have music departments and yes they produce music for commercials, original recordings, licensing – but if brands and agencies really want to get into this business it will take much more than just a 20mm TV campaign for an artist to succeed. Are these new entities ready to brand the artist in addition to the brand? Ready to put them on the road, go into the studio for more than a 30 second TV spot? Create publicity for the artist? Book them on Kimmel?Take meetings with Clear Channel? Have a product manager to hire a confab of independents to perform these services?
No matter what your “label” looks like or what it’s name is…your marketing partner when you are an artist needs to perform many other services other than getting a song out there. It will be interesting to see if this idea takes hold – for the most part every artist has a staff behind them that not everyone recognizes continues working on the project after release; unlike at an agency where a spot is aired and it’s onto the next – yes Media Buying continues onward; maybe some experiential campaigns to support the program – but it is very different than committing to someone’s career.
McDonald’s, Pepsi, Coca-Cola Troll for Up-and-Coming Artists
Marketers Change Music Model of Going After Established Talent, Saving Money, Giving Halo of Discovery to Brands
The fast-food chain is the launch sponsor for Artists & Brands, a music-media agency that aligns up-and-coming artists with campaigns that suit their style, a far cry from the marketer’s earlier practices of shelling out big bucks for jingles on spec. In the new model, artists get exposure, while marketers save on fees and get cool points for introducing people to new music.
“In the prehistoric days, like when I started in advertising, you used to say ‘I wish I could have’ — name a big-time band — and then you’d negotiate a lot of money to get them,” said Marlena Peleo-Lazar, chief creative officer, McDonalds’s USA. “But so much has changed with the music industry, technology and the internet, you certainly still can go and get Sting if you’re so inclined — and have a blank check.”
“If you can find new talent instead of renting existing talent, there will be an association with the product, and that’s what I think McDonald’s is trying to get at,” said Ira Antelis, co-CEO of Artists & Brands. He cited “Grey’s Anatomy” and the band the Fray as an example of a lasting association, as well as Old Navy, which featured Ingrid Michaelson’s song “The Way I Am” in a sweater commercial.
At Artists & Brands, Mr. Antelis is partnering with Rodney Jerkins, a legendary music producer, and Daryl Jones, a top music attorney.
McDonald’s isn’t alone. Frank Cooper, chief consumer-engagement officer at PepsiCo Americas Beverages, pointed to Green Label Sound, a platform for independent artists that quietly promotes Mtn Dew, as an example of how brands will shape the music industry.
“You’ll see through Green Label Sound the rethinking of ownership of music, a rethinking of how to monetize it, how to build the brand of an artist,” he said. “And I think you’ll see where it’s coming from artists, managers, record labels and alternative methods of funding — and brands will play an incredibly critical part in that.”
Eric Sheinkop, president of Chicago-based Music Dealers, a business-to-business music-licensing noted a sharp increase in demand in the last two years, as his staff has grown to 30 people from three. Music Dealers opened a New York office last month, and has a London location opening in September.
Music Dealers works with clients such as Maxwell House, Corona and GMC to find the perfect song for campaigns. The company works from a database with thousands of songs by independent artists that have been prescreened and approved, often turning requests around in a day. Artists working on spec once took weeks or even months.
Mr. Sheinkop, who quit the music management business two years ago to focus on licensing, said one benefit of working with up-and-comers is that “artists are going to be so proud to be attached that they’ll push it for you,” he said.
But don’t count the labels out yet. Coca-Cola made a big splash with little-known artist K’naan last month. K’naan’s song “Wavin’ Flag,” with the lyrics rewritten for marketability, is the centerpiece of its global World Cup campaign. Released last month, it’s already No. 1 in China, Mexico and Germany. Coke signed K’naan to make appearances on some stops of its World Cup tour, leading up to the tournament. He’ll also be making appearances in South Africa.
But K’naan was already signed to Universal when Coke linked up with him. Joe Belliotti, director-global entertainment marketing at the Coca-Cola Co. stressed that the label has been a big asset in organizing every facet of the campaign and tour. “The music industry is going through an evolution, but there’s still really a necessity for record companies,” Mr. Belliotti said. “It might look like their role is changing,” he said, but “it’s got to be a collaborative process, really leveraging the power of each.”
Coke owns a portion of the “Wavin’ Flag” royalties, and all proceeds will be donated to provide water for schools in Africa.
Some marketers see potential to monetize these endeavors. While underscoring that it’s not Pepsi’s primary mission, Mr. Cooper said: “There’s absolutely an opportunity for us to generate revenue around some of the content and experiences we’re creating in entertainment.”