Midem’s Visionary Monday kicked off this morning with a panel covering partnerships between artists and brands. The gist: these deals are more tightly-integrated than ever, but with caution on both sides that they must be authentic partnerships, not pure cash-grabs.
“You’ve seen sponsorships evolve probably the most that they ever have over the last five years. Now brands want to be fully integrated with artists,” said Marcie Allen, of branding consultancy MAC Presents. “That is a huge change. It’s definitely forced marketers and artists to make sure the partnerships are more authentic.”
New metrics are being used to judge the success of these campaigns too: witness the “185m social impressions” for a tie-up between Green Day, Nokia and AT&T for the dual US launch of the Nokia Music app and Green Day’s ‘Uno’ album last year.
Rapper and producer Theophilus London had plenty to say about how he works with brands, from whiskey-makers to shoe companies. One partnership with Cole Haan saw him go way beyond the initial pitch of fronting an ad campaign.
Instead of that, London told the company he wanted to design a shoe, oversee the art direction and music for its ad campaign, plan the launch party and even write a new song in his shoe’s honour.
“I was the first one to put an electric-blue sole on a shoe!” he said, with his hands-on approach provoking some celebratory fist-pumping from session moderator Ralph Simon. But London had his sights set on even more ambitious partnerships when asked for his dream branding deal.
“It would want to capitalise me on a tastemaker level, where I’m designing the inside and outside or a Fiat, or designing the interior of a Lamborghini, and in some way my music is installed in the car, and when you get in the car you can feel like me,” he said.
Second up was Silicon Valley blogger and tech evangelist Robert Scoble, with a whistle-stop presentation covering “Music in the Age of Context“, outlining some of the startups, apps and tech that have got him excited.
Context was the theme: wearable gadgets, augmented reality, more sensors in more devices, and continued explosive growth in social networking and location data. In short, technology will be tracking everyone a lot more.
“This world is gonna let us see our customers in very sharp detail, and let us know who our customers are,” said Scoble. “Imagine if a performer was able to see you in real-time, and be able to see who else you like, and adjust their performance for you in real-time…”
Scoble said music companies must prepare for this uber-connected world by making their plans to use this technology. And if they’re scared about the privacy implications of all this tracking? He was uncompromising in his response: “I say get over it and lead, because it will happen anyways, and your competitor is going to use this stuff.”
This morning also saw the announcement of the winners of this year’s Midemlab startups competition, with three category awards plus a special Coup de Coeur award chosen by the French minister for SMEs, innovation and digital economy (winner interviews here).
Elsewhere in the Palais, independent labels were roaring their rage at the recently-relaunched Myspace, due to its decision to not renew its licensing deal with independent rights agency Merlin – despite many indie acts’ songs being available on the new site.
In a measured yet quietly furious press conference, AIM and WIN chairman Alison Wenham savaged Myspace’s decision.
“I am sick and tired of seeing services that come to market, do deals with majors because they have to, then come to independent labels and expect that we will expect secondary treatment, or promotional benefit… This has to come to an end, and it has to come to an end here and now.”
Wenham also claimed that major labels own a 40% stake in Myspace, and are turning a blind eye to its treatment of indie labels, despite suing rival service Grooveshark for its similarly-unlicensed distribution of their own music.
“We would expect a service that is selling itself on the discovery and promotion of new musical talent would understand the value of the music that independent labels release,” added Mills in a statement released to journalists.
“We would also expect that a service that is jointly owned by the major labels would respect our rights rather than hide behind the DMCA in exactly the same manner as pirates and companies like Grooveshark.”
Proof that Midem is still home for some traditional feather-ruffling debate, as well as the discussion of digital innovation and new business models.
MusicAlly‘s Stuart Dredge is liveblogging for midemblog this year. Check back later for his wrap of Visionary Monday’s afternoon.
Watch the Visionary Monday livestream – and full sessions post-event – on our YouTube channel.