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In this guest post, MIDEM regular Panos Panay, founder & CEO of Sonicbids, a matchmaking site for bands, event organisers and licensors, explains why big brands are keen to hook up with indie bands…

I’ve talked a lot over the past year on my blog about the role consumer brands are playing with respect to the discovery of new music.

It’s not new for marketing VPs to collaborate with major pop stars (Madonna, Sting, U2) to launch a new soft drink, car model or an iPod, of course, but what is new is the way and the rate that large consumer brands are tapping into the power of independent music to help them promote.

Over the past year, we’ve been approached here at Sonicbids by a slew of brands eager to find fresh ways to reach their target audience — an audience that to a large degree has grown immune to marketing messages coming from TV sets, airwaves and broadsheets.

Indie music (and we have more than 220,000 independent bands on Sonicbids) is attractive to marketers for a number of reasons:

  • The Audience. People who listen to indie music are young, passionate, early adopters of trends and, more importantly, influencers in their own right.

  • The Message. Every brand craves one thing: authenticity. And what’s more authentic than homegrown, unadulterated, uncompromising music that’s not been watered down by corporate interests?
  • The Carrier. Young independent artists are easy to work with. They are entrepreneurial, they know how to market using all kinds of social media, and they are eager collaborators (after all, the enemy of music is not piracy: it’s obscurity)
  • The Costs. It’s not a secret that the cost of supporting even 770 young independent bands is much cheaper (and less risky) than the cost of supporting just one major pop star. More importantly, it’s more effective.

Speaking of supporting 770 bands, that’s exactly what American clothing retailer Gap did back in august when it worked with us to create an event at nearly 770 Gap stores around North America, that featured 770 independent bands performing in its retail stores at the exact same time.

What did Gap get for all its trouble? Amazing viral exposure through social networks (just think about getting nearly 800 hyper-motivated, influential people blogging and twittering about you for more than a week), increased store traffic, captive consumers and critically, engaged and happy employees (Gap store managers chose all the music using our online platform to listen to all music, read bios, etc.). Not to mention, brand sheen than money can’t really buy.

And how about the bands? They got promotion and support that only a seasoned and adept marketer like a consumer brand can give them.

To learn more about the Gap campaign, don’t miss the MIDEM 2010 ‘Born to play’ case study, Monday, January 25, 12.00 (Esterel).


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