Canadian Music Week, branding panel #1.
Canadian Music Week, branding panel #2.
As badly as this industry wants consumer brands to champion and develop artists, the reality is that brands are limited benefactors at best. And, an outright enemy at worst. Because first and foremost, brands care about reaching their targeted demographic and effectively selling to that demographic, not supporting an artist’s career.
So if an artist offers a connection to that consumer, and can make a campaign effective, then brands are in. But brands typically show up after the cake is baked, and they’re not in the business of developing careers. Even if they accidentally help to start one.
And what about the growing trend of using early-stage indie music? That’s tapping into a scene and staying edgy, not developing a career. Which means the best an artist can hope for from a brand is a giant kickstart, not a long-term development partner.
Which also means the interests of recording labels – major or indie – were actually far better aligned with artists than almost any brand today.
Because even though they cheated, lied, and obfuscated their way through nearly ever artist contract, labels had an interest in selling stuff and licensing content over the long term. Which means there was a possibility that artist relationship went beyond the first album,even if that first album was a stiff.
Perhaps it’s better to treat brands for the animal they are, not the one the music industry wants them to be. A dog will lick its paws, but also lick something else — it’s all part of being a dog, it’s the what the animal is.
Which goes a long way towards explaining stuff like this:
So why would someone like Chevrolet take a risk on such an artist-unfriendly platform, especially given the deep hatred Grooveshark excites among rightsholders? The answer goes back to the demographic: Grooveshark has lots of young males that are more likely to buy their cars. And these young males aren’t dialed into the debates between artists and Grooveshark, and frankly, they probably don’t care to be.
It’s the same calculus that surrounds ad-supported piracy (see panel #2). Because infringing sites like mp3skull.com have a certain, identifiable user group, one highly attractive to certain brands. And unless David Lowery is able to create enough negative publicity that threatens to tarnish those brands, we’re going to see a lot more pirate advertising ahead. The interests just aren’t properly aligned.
Written while listening to araabMUZIK’s latest, For Professional Use Only.