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Why music could be a marketer's dream, thanks to low sales

Whilst doing our usual daily rounds of the key web titles this morning one particular story caught our eye. And, amazingly, it had nothing to do with the Royal Birth.
OK, so we couldn’t help but read an overwhelming amount of content focused on babies, in some shape or form. From PR and marketing campaigns taking advantage of Kate’s glowing condition (and now status as new mother), to The Guardian’s offer for readers to activate an online ‘Royal Birth News Blocker’, preventing them from encountering the wealth of articles written in the last few days on the subject of stalks, and pittering, pattering, tiny feet, it’s safe to say everyone in the office has been entertained.
Nevertheless, though, none of those stood out as much as The Drum‘s brief report on Coca Cola’s new teen-focused music offering, creatively dubbed Coca Cola Music. That’s thanks, in large, to the fact this is one of several major brand developments in the area of audible performers that has been announced recently, all of which reveal a scenario that has slowly been emerging over the last ten years (or indeed more).
Of course long have the likes of Leeds and Reading Festivals received major sponsorship input from big business- along with scores of other events- but these days it’s far more common for brands to look to music as a sign of their credibility. Budweiser’s latest advertising campaign, Smirnoff’s ‘nightlife exchange’ programme, Nokia’s new Lumia 925… the list could go on, much longer. And this is before we’ve mentioned the Red Bull Music Academy Mobile App, or Apple’s much-feted iTunes Radio.
The latter is perhaps less of a marketing focused concept. Apple stands to make a lot of money directly from its streaming service, what with the promise that it will never have been so easy to tune in and access paid for downloads.Meanwhile, the advertising potential speaks for itself. Yet even the Mac Daddies of desirable tech still want the same thing as all the other brands referenced above- to be perceived as cool by, and successfully target, a specific demographic.
Needless to say, no advertising campaign is guaranteed to do the trick (nor marketing or PR for that matter). As such there’s every chance Budweiser won’t establish itself as the drink of choice amongst the decadent after dark community. Or maybe it will. Similarly, for Red Bull, the launch of an all singing, all dancing mobile service aimed at introducing users to cutting edge artists, built on the back of years worth of free-to-attend events focused on promoting new music, won’t have been cheap, and the profits- if any- will only be evident in the long term.
Coca Cola is taking the whole thing one step further still. Having partnered with Spotify, the new Coca Cola Music website looks to provide a means of distribution for up and coming artists, with licensing agency Music Dealers also on board. So the drinks giant is in effect offering to act as a tool with which unsigned artists can have their work broadcast to some 70million global fans of the brand. In short, none of these endeavours will be cheap, and the potential for failure is clear, yet big bucks are being spent on all of the aforementioned.
These kind of partnerships aren’t really anything new, but the difference is the wholesale change that has taken place in terms of the relationship between the music industry and big business. Major labels and independents alike used to be far more profitable enterprises, the pool from which new artists are selected is only becoming deeper, and more treacherous as technology progresses, and the budgets allocated to traditional methods of promotion grow smaller each year.
This means that from imprints to artists, everyone is in need of support from philanthropists, or perhaps just marketers that appreciate the benefits of being aligned with perceived youth and creative cultures. As such, whereas this kind of affiliation deal was once largely the remit of mega-events and the Prince’s of this world, we can expect to see a more holistic approach to brands involving themselves with music as the demand for inward investment increases. Whether that’s good or bad for what we hear remains to be seen.

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