On a recent panel at The Great Escape, we examined some best practice examples of artist-brand partnerships, hoping to distill some key insights for the audience of artists, managers and rights owners.

The subjective term “fit” is often cited in these debates. But what contributes to a good fit? What’s the Holy Grail where both brand and artist achieve a positive outcome? What are the desired attributes of successful partnerships? Let’s look at this through three keywords.


Definition: 1. Capable of being believed; plausible. 2. Worthy of confidence; reliable.

In this context, we spoke about “permission” for a brand to be in the music space. Both the artist’s and brand’s audience need to believe the partnership is genuine and not solely driven by money.



A relevant case study is Ford’s “Bands In Transit” activation (cf. above, with Citizens!), in which artists give impromptu performances from the back of a van. Clearly, all bands need transport for touring, and the classic Ford Transit has been the van of choice for many generations of musicians.

The campaign itself, developed and activated by Love Live, was not targeted specifically at tradesmen or fleet buyers but rather designed to “drive brand favourability using earned & owned media channels with younger, style-conscious consumers”. The ROI stats demonstrate significant engagement.



Definition: 1. not false or copied; genuine; real: 2. having the origin supported by unquestionable evidence; authenticated; verified

Here, we look at brands which musicians use in their daily lives – brands with an authentic connection. There are many relevant examples in fashion (covering clothing, footwear, accessories, eyewear) but we particularly liked the following:

Ray Ban – Black Cab Sessions


Musicians & sunglasses go together like cheese & pickle. Ray Ban sunglasses have a long heritage in music, and yet again are the shades-de-jour with a new generation of artists. So the brand asking hip bands like Summer Camp (above) to play in the back of a cab worked a treat.

Outside the UK, we also had praise for Converse’s Rubber Tracks studio initiative in Brooklyn, NY.

All artists need recording facilities, and by making that available to artists for free, Converse is positioned as an enabler, making a significant investment in premises & hardware.

Within the UK, Converse has sponsored London’s iconic 100 Club with gigs like this one by The Vaccines, reportedly saving the venue from closure as a result.


Definition: 1. Long life; great duration of life. 2. Long duration or continuance.

Some brands adopt short-term strategies in music partnerships, possibly linked to a product cycle or fiscal year. In many cases, these campaigns fail to engage consumers (as credibility and authenticity may be questionable). In contrast, those brands who go the distance, and commit to a multi-year platform, build credibility and authencity and hence a far stronger return on investment (“ROI”).

A favourite platform of mine is Hennessy Artistry, which has been running since 2006. Under the “Art of Blending” banner, Hennessy has invested in multi-artist live events across multiple markets – blending the work of acts from the different sub-sets of Urban, Rap, R&B and Hip Hop.



Artists involved – notably in this excellent (but unembeddable) film – include The Roots, Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Q-Tip and De La Soul. In many cases, the artists are already fans and consumers of Hennessy and hence embrace the brand ambassador role. This relationship is deepened by the brand taking artists, such as The Roots, to the home of Hennessy in Cognac, France to learn about the product’s heritage and create their own unique blend.

The on-going support for artists attracts new acts to the brand and creates a virtuous circle which further strengthens the Artistry programme.

There will of course be many other examples, but hopefully there are some useful take-outs here for those interested in artist / brand partnerships.




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Richard Kirstein is founding partner of Resilient Music LLP - follow @ResilientMusic on Twitter - a leading authority on music+brands, and a regular Midem speaker.

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