SXSW Is Band Central For Brands

Fortune, Friday, March 16, 2012 10:30 AM
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"Oh, the terrible things that I've done," sings April Smith of indie band “April and the Great Picture Show." The music industry, scratching its head since the advent of MP3s, could be singing the same song.

But in recent years, per Brent Grulke, the creative director at SXSW, where Smith performed, big companies have picked up the slack with a larger, more direct role in the music industry. "What really kind of blows my mind is how enormous corporations still place tremendous value in music," he said.  At the event this year, Jay-Z and American Express teamed up to promote a new feature on Twitter for AmEx customers. Pepsi pitched Doritos and other products there via a 56-foot-tall vending machine.

Smith is also forging her own way, financially, without labels. "The best thing for me was all the commercials," said Smith. Recently, her song "Colors" was featured on a Lowe's commercial, which has provided the band with the money to fund a tour this spring.

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