With brand involvement with music rising year-on-year (now at over a £100 million annual investment in the UK) and numerous companies continuing to push forward with innovative new artist partnerships, sponsorships and activations in 2014, the role of a brand in an artist’s career trajectory has now become something of a given as opposed to an exception.
However, the balance is somewhat top heavy, with the glut of activity – quite understandable – weighed towards the artists that attract the biggest audiences. That said, with brands now an accepted part of the music ecosystem, there is an increasing necessity to give back, to fuel the underserved side of the industry and champion the stars of tomorrow.
With record labels hard pressed to invest in anyone who doesn’t come pre-packaged with bucket loads of ‘pre-awareness’ these days, brands that invest in an active support of emerging talent, building a sustainable future for music, have much to gain.
Red Bull – RMBA/Amplifier
Red Bull is something of an industry stalwart having spearheaded the fist true ’Sustainable Music Futures’ program way back in 1998 (way before anyone had laid their hands on an MP3 file) with its global mentoring initiative Red Bull Music Academy, which has become something of a benchmark for brand altruism in music. A newly launched Amplifier program – a mentored kickstarter style venture - last year brought the same values of RBMA to the music startup scene, actively championing and supporting (both financially and with marketing) a new wave of creative talent and innovation at a grassroots level. If you haven’t checked out the brands recent ‘What Difference Does it Make?‘ film about the creative music process, we strongly recommend you do.
ROI: unparalleled integration into the heart of music creation, providing the brand with a unique, respected and credible voice in music as it subtly champions the ‘energy’ that underpins the creative process
Converse – Converse Cons Project
Converse is another brand well versed in the creation of 'Sustainable Music Futures', having saved the iconic 100 club in London from extinction and through its Rubber Tracks studio, which serves up free recording time and marketing assistance to burgeoning acts. More recently it has developed the Converse CONs Project, a series of free workshops for high school and college students in a bid to harness the creative talents of the next generation of young creatives across music, art, style and sport. The programs – held in Brooklyn and LA so far - offer up a mentoring service that pairs participants with established artists, delivering collaborative, free-of-charge and hands-on advice across a variety of musical basics - from making a music video to recording live music.
ROI: sees the brand providing a (Converse sneaker wearing) foot up the music career ladder with practical hands-on assistance and advice, as it reinforces itself as the understated background essential to independent music activity.
Samsung - Launching People
The global technology company recently embarked on Launching People, a mentoring initiative that looks to uncover new talent across the UK in the creative disciplines of food, film, photography and music. In order to do this the brand has enlisted a variety of ambassadors including award-winning actor Idris Elba, photographer Rankin and in a music capacity, singer-songwriter Paloma Faith. "I'm looking for outsiders. I love and relate to outsiders. The thought of finding someone like that excites me,” says Paloma. Entrants are invited to submit a two-minute video pitch with the final four – one for each discipline - receiving mentoring as they work on a collaborative music project and take part in a TV series later this year.
ROI: Samsung’s key driver here is to strike a link between launching products and launching people, with a view to how its devices can unlock creative potential. A smart grass roots counter balance to its top level celebrity alignments (such as the Jay-Z album launch)