Every Brand Needs A Music Strategy (part 1)

Savvy brands today recognize the need to engage consumers where they live their lives and passions. Here’s a quick overview of why music matters in that mix:

Even before we learned to speak, we communicated through what we now call music. Musicality is baked into the human psyche and influences how we tell and retain stories. Everybody loves music yet we all have our own unique complex taste profile, We’ve all seen it happen, when done right, music partnerships cause substantial brand impact.

100’s of millions of engaged, passionate, active consumers interact with music every day.

Since I started typing this post, this massive wind of engagement with music has increased. More consumers have easy access than ever before and this continues to accelerate.

Consumer brands globally have finally recognized the necessity of a thoughtful culture and content strategy. Why? Culture + content begets community and social advocacy that ultimately drives commerce. While most brands no longer need to be sold on this idea, most brands still are not as good as culture creators at creating compelling, remarkable content that reaches relevant and large scale audience.

the fact is, music (and culture) content engagement numbers blow away normal brand content engagement metrics

It is time to get smart about how you do it. Relevance matters and Reach matters. Aligning yourself with consumer culture, especially music, is one of the best paths to achieving big audience. With authenticity and relevance, your conversions can go thru the roof.

When I worked at the biggest record label on the planet, the biggest part of my responsibilities were forging new revenue generating business relationships with tech, social, brand, and agency partners. We had to find ways to simplify the conversation and to inspire partners to transact with us. We needed to earn trust, execute, and provide wins for our partners.

All sizzle. no steak is no way to create long term sustainable business partnerships.

The music business developed a reputation for overselling on hype & buzz while under delivering on execution and performance metrics. It’s hard for brands to know where to start, who controls what, and how to get business done. The music industry has many different rights holders and various constituents controlling portions of an overall plan. The business side is complicated.

Music (industry) is complicated and therefore it’s hard to explain.

Dealing with artists and creatives can also be complicated. Creators are humans and uniquely individual. Some are simple to work with, others challenging. They each have their own desires and passions and each have a unique story for how they arrived at their current level of stardom. All have their own tolerance for risk and desires for reward. Some artists and managers think strategically while some just want the big tactical check. And oh yea, creative humans iterate and change their mind. That is part of what makes them great.

In most cases starting with the artist team is your best first point of contact.

The artist management teams have a full picture of the entire career profile and strategy. They tend to have greenlight authority (or at least have quick access to the artist). They have influence over and relationships with the artist’s other business partners: the label, the publisher, the booking agent, the tour promoter. etc. The center of power today is the artist / creator themselves and their empowered management representatives. Artists power comes from their earned connection and bond with audience. I used to call this “audience equity”

there is a need for speed

Pop culture moves at the speed of light. Music creatives and industry peeps are leaders in a few categories. Speed to market is certainly one of them. The window from creation to going live can be a few short minutes instead of months/qtrs/years. In order to take advantage of pop culture memes, you must be prepared to create and deploy fast. Preset as much as you can. You can be precious about the strategy framework, but get ready to deploy like lightning, execute fast, and not overthink it.

everybody wants better data driven insights & performance metrics.

By everybody I mean every thoughtful business person or party in the deal. Historically the industry has been wild wild west. Shoot from the hip. Instinct. BUZZ. “Trust us, we know this audience” Fire, Aim, Ready. A positive evolution has occurred and with more progress needed. There’s nothing retro cool about a lack of fact driven insights.

Data driven insights for planning, real time campaign performance, plus post campaign performance metrics are expected and required. The music biz side should get better at supporting their pitches. The good news is there are new platforms and solutions that help make this happen. The sell side knows they must have data to support their pitch and win more deals, the buy side may not do deals with out it.

you may need a sherpa

If you are a brand, agency, tech company in search of partnerships within the culture space there are a number of quality firms that specialize in matching brand with culture. My firm, Crossfade Partners is a boutique consultancy focused on where culture meets tech meets brand. We can certainly help, yet if we’re not the right fit, we’re happy to make a referral to another. We’d rather see you win in this space than not engage.

culture meets tech meets brand.

The right partnerships today incorporate the very best of all things experiential. live + digital experiences matter. The perfect storms happen at the nexus of where culture meets tech meets brand.

Next up

Your fans & consumers are far more than demography. They are unique people with unique passions and interests. How do we balance reaching audience at scale while still honoring the individual? Is relevance really the new reach ? Part 2 will focus on that interest graph and a company or two that will help you.

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