Summer is here, and outdoor music tours festivals, concerts, and events are sprouting like sunflowers. Some have car companies as sponsors or as participants, with their vehicles on the ground at shows. The focus is small cars and flexible vehicles that give younger people the kinds of personalization they want to be able to do a lot of stuff.
Kia is returning as the “Official Vehicle of the Vans Warped Tour” to tout its Soul and Forte5 cars. For the tour, hitting 40 U.S. cities, Kia keeps title sponsorship of the two main stages, dubbed the Kia Soul Stage and the Electric Stage, and will have an experiential space at tour stops. The "Kia Soul Lounge" will bring in bands for autograph sessions, host acoustic performances, and run interactive games. There is also a photo booth where people who take "selfies" can get their photo on kia.com/VansWarpedTour.
Automakers are also experimenting with turning sponsorship of the music circuit into Web content, and streaming that content into their cars' infotainment head units in some cases. Honda’s just announced “Honda Stage” is the best, most comprehensive example. Nissan is also putting music into its cars -- literally -- with a summer campaign tied to an ad push for Sentra that has a music focus. The ad shows Millennials driving around in the car, grooving to music, and getting other drivers in other cars into it. The new music program, #OffTheStage, involves artists performing their songs in the back seats of assorted Nissan models. As part of that, Nissan is doing a music partnership with iTunes Radio stream those bands' music through Nissan's infotainment system.
Chevrolet, which has been involved with music for years, announced at SXSW this year that it is putting Beats into its cars. Beats (the new streaming music platform, which is being acquired by Apple) will be Chevy's curated music service via an app at the Chevrolet AppShop. Chrysler's Ram division is sponsoring the "Downtown Hoedown" at Comerica Park in Detroit.
Parenthetically, the first in-car radio was in 1930, and FM came into cars in the ’50's. How about on-demand? That started a little before Spotify and Pandora, and even before CDs, Cassettes, and even the mercifully brief 8-track age. Yes -- for a brief moment there was the in-car turntable: Chrysler, circa 1955, had a 45-rpm player onboard. That didn't last long. Worked great as long as you didn't drive.