Online Music Strategy Becomes Line Item In Marketers' Budgets

by , May 3, 2012, 11:33 PM
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Creating a music strategy that makes it easier for brands to connect with the trillion-dollar youth market and its cultural values will become the next challenge for marketers.

At Sony Music, Michael Paull, EVP and global digital business for the label, believes the opportunities to connect through music will come from location-based services and multichannel experiences -- similar to the way this demographic combines texting, searching and watching TV.

Those geolocation services will tie landmarks to specific artists, so consumers can learn more about brands and artists. Paull said the connection with consumers became more difficult when the music industry transitioned from physical to digital media. At that point "social expression went away," he said, but social media and technology continues to bring it back.

He pointed to a Jimmy Hendrix "experience" app continuing to generate hundreds of thousands of downloads, allowing fans to share content across Web, mobile devices and television. Some 60% of downloads have been used more than once.

Paull's sentments were shared by some of the nation's top marketers -- Chipotle, Lacoste, Vans, and Interscope Geffen A&M Records -- at the PTTOW! Youth Media Summit, an invite-only annual event focused on the young adult market. The event brought together some of the top brands and talents worldwide to discuss ways to connect with today's youth.

Since music inspires people to share, a Volkswagen campaign, "Driving Track Confessions," that ran in Europe asks: "What do you really listen to when alone in the car?" Through a Web site page integrating Facebook and streaming music service Spotify, users selected their track and confessed to friends, as well as shared and created playlists. The campaign spread online through social sites and newsfeeds, and eventually to MTV.

Jeff Levick, CMO at Spotify, said music has become the social object to the strategy. "Since we launched with Facebook a few months ago, we've driven 1.5 billion impressions to Facebook, meaning a mention in a newsfeed," he said. "The 1.5 billion impressions led to 50 billion impressions around the music across the Facebook community."

Technology continues to make it easier for publishers and brands to build music into Web sites and ads. In April, the Spotify Play Button emerged, providing the ability to stream songs and playlists without making users leave the site. Visitors clicking on the button can hear music if they have the Spotify app running on the desktop in the background. Those not registered will need to download the desktop app.

Rumblefish, although not present at the conference, has partnerships with YouTube, Socialcam, and Animoto to connect emerging artists with brands.

What does it take to build a music strategy? Tim Wildin, head of concept development at Chipotle, said sometimes the strategy requires the brand to mix it up, pointing to the Coldplay song sung by Willie Nelson in a recent commercial.

Getting from a creative idea to a campaign requires brands to understand their audience before the content can drive the experience. Kevin Bailey, president at Vans, said brand advocates help find emerging artists that would work well with the brand. "It's about talking with emerging artists like the Gwen Stefanis and the Green Days early on to find out what's important to them," he said, admitting that it's also listening to online chatter in social sites.

Music has become an important component of Vans' marketing strategy, Bailey said. Execs agreed that brands have personas, and music has become a positive way to reflect it and connect with today's youth and across generations.

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