Monday, May 01, 2000

Branded Mixes

A Brand Mix is a playlist (or a selection of playlists) created by one or more music supervisors or DJ/brand strategists commissioned a corporate patron or advertiser.

For instance: Buy a BMW and download fifty songs that you can listen to later –not just any fifty songs, mind you. I'm suggesting you select material that brings to mind that BMW is indeed The Ultimate Driving Machine.

Now rinse and repeat: Good for every product and service available worldwide.

The music on the playlist can be arrived at by any number of ways: It simply might be comprised of a variety of licensed tracks from several artists; or it might feature the works of one artist –your strategic audio partner, so to speak. Or the music might all be original compositions commissioned expressly for a specific Branded Mix project; or some combination of the above.

Ideally, song selections meet the criteria put forth in formal brand analysis.

In effect, a consumer goods brand provides a soundtrack to their consumer's lives. –Whether consumers listen to the mixes driving or washing laundry, the music serves the purpose of sustaining an 'off line' connection between brand and consumer.

As a consequence, a thriving singles market can be expected to flourish. However, also expect the music industry's primary market to change from primarily being Business-to-Consumer, to Business-to-Business.

In case you're getting the wrong idea, I don’t want to see my favorite artists dressed up like NASCAR drivers. Rather, following a Medici Model I am suggesting implementing a process that resembles the way art collector/marketer Charles Saatchi nurtured the school of Young British Artists (Damien Hirsch, Cornelia Parker, Tracy Emin, Sarah Lucas, Chris Ofili, et al) by seeding interest in each artist with not just funding, but with his very association. It worked the other way around, too. Saatchi's currency as a collector increased by virtue of his association with them.

The Young British Art scene delivered us a wonderful cultural loop whereby the collector could demonstrate good taste through his discoveries; and having been chosen by a person with presumably good taste, the artists could claim a measure of brilliance for themselves –even if the art in question was made with poop or comprised of dead sharks in tanks of formaldehyde. The parallels with much modern pop music are indeed astounding.

Packaging music with a sponsor's products or services can make real sense when both band and brand aspire to appeal to the same or overlapping demographics. Brand Mixes work especially well in environments (hotels, retail, etc) if the success of MUZAK can be any indication. The Muzak company may be synonymous with bland music, but that has changed. In any case, taste is not the issue of this entry, PROCESS is. –And the process I'm describing combines a DJ's ears with a brand audit.

Regardless, one hopes any tie-in might also alert potential fans of any given artist's material (by virtue of its selection into the Mix), like an audio beacon – and not unlike radio, come to think of it.

I’m only being partly facetious when I say that were one to distribute The Cure’s Greatest Hits as a redeemable coupon for downloadable music files with every box of Count Chocula, that cereal would become the first breakfast of choice for Goth fans and gender confused teens worldwide.

For other articles in this series:
ROCK BRANDS: Tomorrow's Rock Star Marketing Partners
Branded Mixes
Medici Model Revisited
Artist X Brand X Not Available @ iTunes
Strategic Audio Partnerships
Diplomatic Corps Rock Fest

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