Music Ally‘s Stuart Dredge is reporting from the MIDEM Images & Brands summit, including a panel session focusing on how top brands are working with the music industry…
Participating in the panel were moderator Daniel Glass from Glassnote Entertainment Group, with (left to right) Philipp Maiburg from Carhartt Music in Germany, Elizabeth Schimel from Nokia, and Emmanuel Seuge from The
Glass asked how the relationship between brands and music has evolved in terms of clearances – how have things changed from four years ago, when the major labels were the gatekeepers who brands had to go to when planning anything music-related.
Seuge, who handles sports and entertainment marketing for Coca-Cola, said that music remains the “number one consumer passion in the world”. He admitted that the music industry is now both dynamic and “fragmented in a good way”, with Coca-Cola talking to labels, publishers, producers and artists themselves.
“For our World Cup campaign that’s coming up, the people we talked to the longest and the most strategic were the artists,” he said. And he also pointed out that Coca-Cola is about far more than just licensing music for ads nowadays. “The way we leverage it is much more dynamic,” he said.
Schimel talked about Nokia’s role as a retailer of music, through its mobile music stores and services, and also as a brand that uses music for its own campaigns. “We’ve also broadened very significantly the stakeholders we work with in the industry,” she said, agreeing that increasingly Nokia is working directly with artists and managers, alongside its existing relationships with labels and publishers.
“With artists, it’s more about just ‘I’m putting you in an ad’,” she said. “But that’s not something you can just do in a contract between you and a label.” However, she said it’s not the case of the labels being replaced – just that there needs to be more collaboration between all the different entities when working on a big branding campaign or promotion.
Carhartt is a clothing brand, but Maiburg heads up its Carhartt Music division. He agreed that in the old days, Carhartt’s relationship with artists extended merely to sponsorship – getting its logo on the posters and artwork around their tours, for example. But now it has a dedicated music section of its website, with interviews and content – and actually promoted its own tour last year with a group of artists.
“The smartest way to approach Carhartt is to really understand the brand and its needs, and to come up with a good idea,” he said. “If somebody comes up and says ‘I have this tour package, and we could do in-store gigs… or we have this photographer who will do a documentary on the tour, and we can have exhibitions in your shops’… that’s understanding the brand.”
Moderator Glass asked how else rightsholders can get music to these brands for their campaigns. Are they sitting around their offices listening to music to decide who to work with? It’s about personal relationships, according to Maiburg. Good managers who
understand the brand, and are persistent and tenacious with their efforts to come up with ideas.
How about Nokia? Schimel said that because Nokia is in the music retailing business itself, it looks at global release schedules, new artists or artists that are breaking big, and then what’s happening in specific local markets. “It’s not about research per se. We
know because we are ingesting all kinds of new content all the time, and talking to the labels and publishers every single day,” she said.
She cited Nokia’s mixture of local and global campaigns, including its relationship with Rihanna – which included a webcast, mobile application and exclusive music content. “We like to work with artists who want to push the edge of mobile technology, and collaborate on that with us,” she said.
And Coca-Cola? Seuge talked about the World Cup campaign again, which will debut later this year. “Choosing the right music was important, especially as it’s happening in South Africa,” he said. “We really wanted to showcase the richness, diversity and
happiness of the African continent, and invite the rest of the world to join us in that celebration.”
So, the company first figured out what its campaign would look like, and then pitched it to labels, music agencies, artists, producers, and managers. “We gave them the same exact brief that we gave our communications agency,” he said. “We gave them
two to three weeks, and received probably 55 songs, which we cut down to 15, and then down to three.”
At this point, the deeper strategic discussions began – Seuge saidCoca-Cola needed to be sure it would be working with the right artist for its campaign. And that artist is? K’Naan, the Somalian-born rapper.
Glass asked the panel about the biggest issues and hurdles they see in closing deals with the music industry. Maiburg said that in most cases, because it has long relationships with its partners, it doesn’t encounter big issues “in most of the cases”.
Schimel acceped that it’s not always easy, but that Nokia puts
great effort into identifying roadblocks early on when working with
rightsholders and artists, to solve them before they risk holding up a campaign.
“We can’t be in a position to be negotiating for weeks or months,” she said. Marketing moves very quickly… If you wanna work with a brand on a campaign and get that integration, everybody has to come to the table pretty quickly and pretty
reasonably. And if you’re not in that place, you’re going to see that brand move on to somebody else.”
Seuge: “The music industry is much more open and
willing to find new creative models in the way we interact with them… but at the same time it’s much more complex. The management of the artists are more smart marketeers than I am! They have a real vision of what they want to do with their artists, and the artists themselves have a point of view. Aligning everyone on a shared view is the challenge.”
He said that his biggest ambition this year was to get “the publishers in particular” to see the value that a marketing campaign can bring – implying that the way they see these campaigns is behind labels and artist managers.
Schimel added that it’s the more entrepreneurial managers and labels who are getting the most value out of working with brands at the moment – “we don’t do traditional sponsorships any more”.
A question from the audience focused on Coca-Cola’s creative agency – how involved were they in the choice of music for the World Cup campaign? Seuge said they were part of the process, but that Coca-Cola led directly the discussion with K’Naan, his management and
The agency will directly run and manage traditional music sync for Coca-Cola’s ads, but that when it’s more dynamic campaigns, Coca-Cola itself will take the lead. Schimel said Nokia takes the same view for anything beyond a pure sync campaign. “Our agency has a seat at the table, but it’s not something they primarily drive. We primarily