I’ve got through January and I feel I avoided BIG DATA as much as possible. Now that February has arrived I think I can be allowed one mention of the BIG D. I am no fan of the marketing concept that is BIG D, for me just having loads of data is fairly useless. Data is an ingredient we need to create insight, what I would like to see more of is BIG INSIGHT. So I was very interested to see that GROUP M Entertainment, Sports and Promotion employed GROUP M NEXT to provide GROUP M with some proprietary insight on how people really quite like music, GROUP M, sorry I think I’ve developed a tick.
So the insight has been delivered in the form of a report called The New Music Model for Brands: How Live Events and Digital are Changing the Sound of Things. I’ll summarise it, people like music, they listen to it loads and they like brands when they help them listen to it. OK it’s a lot deeper than than but I think it is better if you read the report itself, its good stuff. If you don’t have the time just yell out “People like music, GROUP M says so” when you are stuck for something to say in a meeting.
This one has been bubbling under for a while, since Vincent Bolloré, head of the Bolloré family, the largest Havas shareholder, became chairman of Vivendi, owners of Universal, it seemed like a logical move for both businesses. Whether this was all worked out over dinner at Chez Bolloré, Havas’ chairman happens to be Yannick Bolloré, son of Vincent, or through some in-depth analysis of the music and brand market and a realisation that it lacked a super power, I will never know but it is probably the biggest commitment to cooperation we have seen so far.
So what is it all about? On the face of it and if you read the various press releases the whole thing is about data, lots and lots of data, I’m not going to say BIG DATA (doh!) as that is so 2014. They have even managed to sneak the word data into the collaboration’s name – THE GLOBAL MUSIC DATA ALLIANCE – which I think should be shortened to GLOMUDA for no real reason. There is loads of talk about combining all the numbers that both sides gather on their audiences and using them to work out better ways of combining music and brand to everyone’s benefit. At this stage then the focus is very much on building some really enormous databases and working out some spectacularly complicated algorithms to make sense of them. This kind of analysis will help prove the case for music and brand relationships of all shapes and sizes and I guess it will not be too long before GLOMUDA (trademark pending) becomes self-aware and Ed Sheeran is being hunted down by a cyborg from the future.
For music and brand geeks the GLOMUDA is an exciting project between two real powerhouses in their industries with the very highest level of executive backing. Where I think the real potential for this relationship will be is in a year or two’s time, once they have enough data to create accurate insight into music and consumer trends. If they take this insight and use it as a starting point for some outstanding and innovative creative work then Universal and Havas could be building a market leading platform. But it is just the starting point, both sides will also need to invest heavily in creative talent as translating insight into inspiration is the true key to success.
In the past partnerships like this have not worked as one side saw it as a bit of fun while the other considered it a way to get someone else to pay the bill. This partnership, however, could change that simply because of its scale, the board level support should ensure that the Havas agencies function collectively rather than competitively when it comes to music projects while Universal has a pretty progressive view of brand relationships. Plus if all else fails Mrs Bolloré can always step in and sort things out.
So to start 2015 we have a biggie and one that we will need to observe throughout the year, if anything so we can see what impact GLOMUDA has on Music Dealers (Havas) and Globe (Universal).
Here are links to the Havas press release and coverage in AdAge:
UPDATE: Well it didn’t take long for someone to ruin my BIG DATA avoiding 2015. This article on mediajobs.com gives a more cash focused reason for why HAVAS + UNIVERSAL = DATA, DATA = CASH.
Is there a brand that has looked at music and not immediately thought “you know what we should do a live session and film it”? On the checklist of options for building music based marketing, the idea of a session or gig is probably the first item that comes up. This is no bad thing, after all gigs are fun and provide so many ways to engage with an audience but as Nokia seems to have realised just doing a “session” is not enough in today’s content rich world. In order to improve matters the mobile brand currently known as Nokia has decided to invest more in the Lumia Live Sessions to create content that consumers will want to watch and share more. I’m not really sure why that requirement wasn’t in the original brief but you live and learn.
Mobile phone companies and networks love the world of music partnerships so it is no surprise to see one of them invest more marketing budget into one. This latest investment does highlight the idea that in the past simply signing up to a relationship was seen as sufficient when actually brands need to commit time, money and creativity to make music work for them. We’ll have to wait and see what Nokia and their agencies come up as Microsoft, sorry I mean Nokia look to enhance their music credentials.
You can read a little more about it on Brand Republic.
I’ve never been to SXSW and I’m not going this year. As I have never been to SXSW, I cannot make a judgement on whether it is getting better or worse each year but what I do know is that it is getting bigger. I’m sitting here in London reading and watching what I can of this year’s creative celebrations and trying to work out whether SXSW is starting to outgrow itself. The thing that really got me wondering about this was the confirmation of Lady Gaga as a Keynote speaker. What I’m debating is whether Gaga’s attendance is more a statement about her current situation in music or that SXSW is becoming a festival style music event.
Gaga has had an interesting few months. There have been stories about ARTPOP not doing as well as the label would have liked, Live Nation have had to come out and deny stories that the tour is struggling to make money and of course there was that ridiculous flying dress. Gaga’s approach has always been to grab attention through spectacle rather than her music, which is a bit confusing really when you consider that the music is generally very good. So the announcement that she will be interviewed and then perform at SXSW suggests she wants to engage with a “cool” crowd who should be interested in her creativity and bolster her credibility. Of course if that doesn’t work she can always hit the Doritos stage in an outfit crafted from Hot and Spicy nachos and be splashed across every entertainment blog in the known universe. I guess either way she will do pretty well out of SXSW.
With Gaga having nothing to lose will SXSW suffer from this leap into the mainstream? Gaga is the biggest name to appear on the Doritos stage and a significant leap from the previous headliners which have included Ice Cube and LL Cool J. Which leads you to wonder if a Gaga gig fits at SXSW or does it shift the event too far into being entertainment rather than education and exploration? Is somebody going to refer to SXSW as an edu-tainment event (may the inventor of this term be locked in a room with the Oxford English Dictionary for the rest of their days) in the near future?
Gaga is a big investment by a global consumer brand and an even bigger statement by SXSW. This is a significant leap into mass appeal for an event that has always seen itself as a little maverick and edgy. The true impact of all of this will be felt at SXSW 2015 rather than now. Who will headline in 2015? Who will be the sponsors? Most importantly, will the creative communities in film, music and interactive come or will they consider the event to have lost its identity?
I really hope this is not the start of the end for the SXSW I have heard everyone talk so passionately about for years. I still hope to one day make it over to Austin and I really hope it is not the year that 1 Direction headline sponsored by McDonalds. I guess it would probably be a good idea for some of the SXSW brand team to attend the talks about music and brand partnerships so they can avoid the pitfalls of always focusing on the biggest cheque rather than long term brand guardianship.
You’ve just flown half way across the world for a meeting, jet lag is about to kick in and you can’t decide whether you should eat now or try to get on the local timetable. You know what you need? A gig.
I don’t think that was exactly how the brainstorming session went but that is certainly what is on offer now at Renaissance Hotels following their announcement of a number of music partnerships. First off we have live entertainment mega brand, AEG, who by the sounds of it will be the driving force in this new music adventure. Then sneaking in through the VIP entrance are Universal Music Group and Creative Artists Agency (CAA) to create a team of really big entertainment brands. The purpose of all this is to make Renaissance Hotels the only hotel group offering a “variety of unique activities and platforms”, music ones that is. The plan seems to be a combination of exclusive events for clientele, priority access to AEG events and a bunch of content for the in-room tv channels and various websites. One novel idea is that they are also offering “Meeting Discoveries” which will allow you to follow that six hour management meeting with access to special events.
The reason this partnership has lead me to write is that it is quite a bold move by a hotel chain seeking to gain more corporate business. Traditionally hotels look to sonic branding to create relaxing, comfortable experiences out of alien environments. The traditional use of music is to enhance the physical space with tranquility, cue pan pipes in the toilets and a pianist in reception. So for a brand like Renaissance Hotels to explore the idea of music experimentation is very much away from the norm and it will be interesting to see if the weary business travellers embrace this opportunity to choose a hotel offering live music over one with softer pillows.
The interesting thing here is not the output of the partnership but who is leading it, if Renaissance Hotels make this work it will be fun to see how the competition reacts. Maybe you’ll see Holiday Inns offering a spare TV in every room so you can live like a rockstar and throw one out of the window.
If you want to know more about this partnership you can read all the details here on twst.com (The Wall Street Transcript).
UPDATE: I couldn’t sleep last night as I kept having flashbacks of Universal Music Group doing something hotel-ly recently. Well maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration but this morning I flicked back through my old posts and guess what they have, but with Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. While not exactly the same kind of partnership there are definitely a few similarities such as live events in hotels. The key difference is the audience, Fairmont seem to be targeting people on holiday while Renaissance are after the business market.
In the same way there are supposedly only meant to be 7 story plots there are probably only a limited number of basic music and brand partnerships, the key to making them feel unique is in the implementation and that comes down to how well the brand and the music work together. After all you will never stop music from jumping into bed with somebody else.
Once upon a time there was this really famous singer called Bob Dylan and everyone thought he’d never let a brand use his music or his face for advertising. Then along came a plucky ad exec with a great big cheque and Bob said “Sure”. The End.
In the old days when record labels actually meant something there was this group of hallowed artists who you would never even think of approaching with a sync opportunity. But times have changed and with most of these artists now collecting their pensions the chance to make a few extra pennies through licensing is one they are happy to discuss.
This weekend, in case you didn’t know, is the Super Bowl and with advertisers clambering over each other to blow more cash than each other it looks like the battle of the music and brand partnerships will be between Bruno Mars and Bob Dylan. While Mars has the half-time show and a Hyundai sync, Dylan is serving up a car ad of his own and some yoghurt.
Over the years Dylan has actually done quite a few sync deals but this Sunday’s marketing showcase will be a serious payday. The first ad is a simple sync with Chobani yoghurt using his 1966 track “I Want You“. It is a paint-it-by-numbers sync, ad narrative involves a scary bear wanting a yoghurt, track talks about wanting something, you get the idea.
The other Dylan moment on Sunday may come in the form of an appearance in the latest Chrysler ad, so far there have been lots of “no comments” emerging from the relevant press offices, but Billboard seem to think its happening.
So who will win the battle of the bands? Well I guess at this point I should dish out the cliché of “the world of music will win”. HUT HUT!
P.S. Since we’re talking about Dylan it makes sense to have another look at this little beauty “Like A Rolling Stone”.
Some of you, in the UK at least, may have heard the news that the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is going to take a long hard look at some Miley Cyrus videos and maybe think about introducing age classifications for music videos. Beware, the Daily Mail love this idea which normally means it is some reactionary rubbish that we should all ignore. However, I think brands should take a good look at this and see how they can become involved.
The impact of such classifications would probably be negligible on the consumption of music videos as the majority are now watched on YouTube which will not be required to take any action as the BBFC has no jurisdiction over online channels. However, the impact for brands will be more significant. Brands are increasingly involved in promotional videos through music partnerships and product placement with their gratuitous appearance often requiring a major contribution to the production costs. Therefore brands will need to start paying more attention to the content of such videos as regardless of how they are consumed they will come with an official age classification. Brands may well have to exercise greater editorial control over their music partners’ videos to ensure that they do not contain images or references that would be considered inappropriate for their consumers and this could in turn lead to “beige-ification” of music videos.
Or maybe not. You see brands can now cast themselves as guardians of their consumers minds or protectors of their music partners’ creativity. They can extend their role as curators and whoever they decide to side with they will be able to enhance their relationship with their consumers. The key to all of this is in the planning. Brands will need to ensure that they choose the right artists for their values and audience, they build true partnerships and if all else fails their contracting will allow them to walk away without causing a backlash.
So is the involvement of the BBFC welcome? I’m not sure but I do know that with the UK government trying to gain public support and the BBFC’s big survey showing consumers want more regulation of music videos it is probably a good idea for brands to think about it now rather than later. Censorship is back on the agenda in the week we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Mike Read’s ridiculous on-air censorship of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax on Radio 1, nothing changes.
The moral of the story is that if brands want to get involved in music they really need a music agency. This is after all the year of the music agency.