Photo by Catherine Taylor

Opening with a presentation by MaryLeigh Krasniewicz, executive director at Trendera, the panel Brands And Music: The Real Deal gave an insightful perspective on how brands and bands can benefit from partnerships, as well as the right and wrong ways to do so. As moderator Tyler Barth, VP of business development and entertainment relations at Blue Microphones, stressed, it takes much more than just picking an artist and spending money to have a successful marketing campaign. Brands are becoming more and more integrated into the music industry, including Red Bull, Converse, Nike and Hurley that are giving bands free studio time in return for some kind of partnership with the brand, which Barth said is “genius” and “the future.” Without a strong plan of action, using a band or artist in your marketing campaign will not go as far as it could and can easily become a flop for both the brand and the band.
A specific example illustrating a brand poorly integrating music into its marketing strategy that Barth brought to the discussion was‘s campaign during last year’s All Star Game. The site was in search of an up-and-coming band to be a part of the next commercial, choosing a band called the American Secrets. As Barth noted, opening up the discussion to the panel, the group had less than 500 likes on Facebook, yet it was given a national campaign. It unfortunately did not work out as well as or the band had hoped because there was no other gimmick for fans after the band won the spot.
“Unless they actually activate that whole idea—the idea that you can get the music or you can go see the band somewhere or there’s a digital hub and a digital activation platform that’s driving back to the Free Credit Report story—if not, then they did a nice commercial, with a funny kind of band,” said panelist Victor Siegel, founding partner at MPP(+). “But the value I suspect that they got out of that was pretty limited because I don’t think they got a chance to take the concept and really incubate it at a digital level.”
Steve Bender, founding partner at GreenLight Media And Marketing, chimed in: “Well, I’m not even sure it wasn’t flawed from the get-go. I mean, not that it’s not a cool promotional idea, but the first question you’ve got to ask is, ‘I offer free credit reports—what do I have to do with music?'”
But it’s also important to figure out a way to have a brand and artist’s partnership feel authentic and to keep the conversation going. Panelist Aleesha Smalls-Worthington, senior director of interactive marketing at Iconix Brand Group, which includes brands like Jay-Z’s Rocawear and Artful Dodger), described how using Trey Songz as the face of Rocawear Evolution—Rocawear’s fragrance—was not just a one-time collaboration.
“Instead of just kind of the ‘pay-to-play’ type model, how can you keep your relationship going along with these people?” Smalls-Worthington said. “So, for example, with Rocawear, we have a site called, which is kind of like our online magazine. Because we know the consumer’s not wearing Rocawear from head to toe, we would debut Trey Songz’s video—you know, do things that are unique so that the consumer feels like, ‘Hey, when Rocawear did a creative partnership with Trey Songz…’—it’s authentic.”
So, partnering with a brand doesn’t have to mean a band has sold out. Collaborations are becoming much more creative and organic, adding to the band or artist’s fan base and skyrocketing sales for a brand—a real win-win. With all of the new ways that brands are integrating music into marketing campaigns for all kinds of products, it may be time for bands looking for discovery, and even successful bands, to be on the lookout for the right kind of brand to team up with.