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    SXSW Panel: Brands as the New Labels

    In one of the most relevant and interesting panels at this year’s SXSW conference, representatives from Coca-Cola, BlackBerry, pioneering creative agency Cornerstone, advertising agency McCann Erickson, and Songs Music Publishing discussed how and why brands have become the new record labels.
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    Whether it be through massive global campaigns (e.g. Coca-Cola breaking the artist K’naan into +100 markets), interactive live events (e.g. BlackBerry’s concerts with Black Eyed Peas and U2, where the fans have been able to chat live through mobile devices to the artists on stage), TV advertisements that have broken numerous young bands (Songs Music Publishing), or the initiative to start long-term (e.g. Cornerstone’s Green Label Sound sponsored by Mountain Dew) or short-term record labels (e.g. McCann Erickson’s spin-off label from a campaign with Holiday Inn), the music industry, its artists and its fans, has developed in a way during the recent years so that brands can step in to help break and launch artists in a number of ways.

    This is no secret for most people working in music or marketing, but with more and more brands trying to get involved in the music scene, and more artist looking to launch major deals with brands, the speakers listed a few important points in order to make a collaboration successful.

    Key points:

    • Fans have become used to, respect and even appreciate the collaboration between brands and artists, and expect brands to deliver them music and music discovery
    • Brands can function similarly to a record label in many ways, by breaking artists into campaigns, commercials or more complex platforms and projects
    • The content created through brand related events have a longer tail and can live forever online, often leading to high traffic numbers even far past the event is over (e.g. for Coca-Cola on YouTube, traffic related to the music of their World Cup Campaigns surpassed the traffic of videos of the advertisements themselves, 80 mill. vs. 8 mill.)

    Building up to the World Cup in 2010, Coca-Cola took K’naan to 83 gigs around the world, to countries like Mexico, Thailand, China, among others where it’s very difficult to introduce a new artist into new audiences. In the end, he topped the charts in more than 18 countries…

    …However, I don’t think that brands are the savers of the music industry, they aren’t silver bullets. But, they offer a very effective way to enhance the marketing needs you have for your artist. The industry understood that 15 years ago, how efficient it was just to add a song to a commercial. The winds are changing on both sides and people understand the need to collaborate. The fact that 75% of people try to avoid commercials and 80% of people engage in music daily is a sign of that match.“, said Umut Ozaydinli, global music marketing manager of the Coca-Cola Company, during the panel discussion.

    To listen to the whole panel, visit SXSW’s live recording here.

    By: Eric Welles Nyström, member of the Heartbeats Movement and our guy at this year’s SXSW

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