Music + Brands: The Credibility Question

The Credibility Question. If you are at all dialed in to the music + brand partnership space, you no doubt hear and read about it often, whether in blog posts, blog comments or even in the New York Times. Reporters and bloggers cannot let any commentary about a brand’s foray into music slide without a ‘Yeah, but will it be credible?’, said in a variety of ways, depending on whether you are reading SOHH.com or DisenchantedOldMarketingSnob.com. At this point, we totally expect that. We have heard it from the outset, but always laughed it off. Here is the rationale.

I am convinced that any brand diving head first into millions of dollars worth of investment in the music space (ACME-led or not) would expect credibility to be a given. Brand managers – whether sitting at a label managing the release of the new Nas album or at BILLION dollar consumer packaged good brand – understand the underlying need to be credible, if anything at all. So why would either turn off the credibility filter when they join marketing forces? This is why Converse hires Pharrell. Or why Nike and Absolut hire Kanye. And why P&G forged a partnership with Island Def Jam and Jermaine Dupri. All of these parties are so inherently credible when they do what they do, the credibility conversation rarely comes up at all.

Do you think someone went to Pharrell and said “Hey Pharrell. Make a hot song for Converse. Oh, and uh, make sure it’s credible.”

The biggest irony in The Credibility Question is the fact that the consumers are seemingly the ones questioning credibility the least. These music/brand relationships typically serve to add value to their lives and by all indications, brands are delivering for consumers. The TAG Records Myspace profile received just under 1 million views in 2 months. Multiple artists have created original music for the brand – unsolicited. Aspiring artists have dedicated huge portions of there Myspace profiles to TAG Records, and have loudly expressed their dedication to the brand, simply because the brand is listening to them like no other brand/record label has before.

Converse is giving away a free Pharrell song. It happens to be a great song, and now has a great video. Pharrell grabbed a couple of friends, produced a killer track and groundbreaking video, and it would have never seen the light of day without Converse. Yeah, but is it credible? Stupid question.

The first few seconds seem to be all it takes for a consumer to sniff something out, and if any of these deals were suspect, they would have fell flat right out of the gates. Let the music speak for itself. I firmly believe… “If a 40+ year-old, balding, blogger thinks our youth-focused programs aren’t cool, we are probably doing something right!”

And the biggest question of all… what do the skeptical reporters and bloggers consider credible these days anyways? Apple Bottom jeans? Boots with the fur?

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American Brandstand: TAG & ACME Featured in New York Times

This is actually the third NY Times piece that has covered TAG Records – which must be a sign that we are on to something to special. This particular article happens to highlight the fact that TAG is just one of a number of brands that are currently jumping into the music space in interesting ways. All of these programs (Bacardi, Red Bull, TAG, and Converse) are getting major buzz upon announcement, but the real test will be how any of them move the sales needle. Now we all watch, unless you are actually part of one of the campaigns – and the work is really just beginning!

Indeed, brands are getting deeper and deeper into the music business, but they are not exactly forcing themselves in. Savvy labels and artists are embracing the right types of branded programs, and if you were around 5-10 years ago, it simply wasn’t the case.

โ€œWhen I started in this business 10 years ago, it was hard to get an artist to stand in front of a sign with a logo on it,โ€ said David Caruso, the co-founder of Acme, the agency that negotiated the deal between Island Def Jam and Tag.

Now artists are actually calling brands. Seems crazy, but I like to think they are getting smart ๐Ÿ™‚

Read the entire article here.