Friday, June 19, 2009

Bands and Brands

Recently, I've been reading Songs for Soap, a blog fron Advertising Age. Two recent posts caught my attention, both of which I believe have the same (in one case, tacit) message. The first post is by a marketer and gives a glimpse into what marketing people think of the music industry:

People can sift through a site like HypeMachine and read, engage, and comment on their favorite and possibly-favorite artists, all while listening to their entire album (plus remixes). How often do those links to Amazon and iTunes go un-clicked? The enormous ocean of music, sorting through what you do like, don't like, and may-very-well-like-but-haven't-heard-yet is a Herculean task. Once a user finds something they like, they can search for it on a site like Qloud or GrooveShark and stream it instantly. Repeatedly.

Indeed, the current process of discovering music has replaced the need to acquire music. Certainly, there are those remote corners of your life, like camping or swimming, where the internet determinstic argument falls down, but even those areas of our lives are being constantly opened up by new devices and infrastructures. The car has already fallen under the constant "just give it time" umbrella.

Music is sort of like a municipality, like water from a faucet: free, of acceptable quality. If you want a more savory experience, there is always the bottled variety. In fact, this paradigm shift is already behind us.

Given this ocean of music, the second post suggests where a musician's focus should be in terms of getting involved/included in marketing and advertising:

...they consistently ask the same question during or after these panels: "How do I get you and your brand clients and agency clients to choose my song or my band for your next major ad campaign?"

The answer is complicated, but the short answer is this: There is no music-branding silver bullet that will skyrocket a developing artist to stardom and riches. Take your time and focus on your own career and we will find you. It's often not the answer these artists want to hear, but it's the truth.

Coca-Cola, Nike and Gap are not going to place your song in a national TV spot or your artist on their billboards or the print ads they are buying in Vanity Fair unless the brand or its agency understands your brand as an artist.

There, I said it. As an artist, you must become a brand unto yourself. It's only then that a major marketer will desire this transference of values. The values that you as an artist embody and express to your fans and your community must be clear to a brand and must match their own values. The brand will then be much more likely to desire your music and a relationship with you as an artist in order to express its values.

The central message (as I see it) is "get better, hone your craft, discover yourself as an artist."

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