There may be a time in the future when the Apple brand is deemed an incompatible venue for one or more artists to distribute their works. It may happen, for instance, that a performer receives underwriting from Microsoft, or another Apple competitor. Apple, is not after all, retail agnostic. How long will Sony want to keep sending their consumers to their biggest competitor for music playback devices?
There’s absolutely no reason or need to send music fans to any specific online store, such as iTunes, whose own branded experience may fall outside any given artist's own brand mandate. Companies that underwrite artists should make downloads available on their own websites. Additionally –and in direct contrast to record label offerings– creative works resulting from corporate underwriting might even be offered without copy protection. Why? Because unlike traditional entertainment units, brands will want as many consumers as possible to share in their brand event/experience.
Assume an artist who receives sponsorship of some sort is satisfied with his or her compensation/funding. It follows that adequately financed, original works of art and music will have a chance of spreading virally as never before. And because the material is underwritten and not work-for-hire, the artist retains the option and opportunity to further profit from the material assuming his or her underwriters are duly credited (ex. 'This recording was made possible as a result of a grant from The Famous Soda Pop Co. Foundation For the Arts').
Underwriters might also negotiate such things as branded tags, keywords and icons so that the material can be located and viewed in iTunes (and other similarly formatted sites or applications) by BAND name and BRAND name. Why not? Doesn’t every movie begin with the producing studio's Logo? I’m not suggesting pre-roll audio commercial announcements be placed before a song or musical composition –although a .25 (quarter second) to 3.0 (three second) fanfare before a multi-song (or music+video) experience may not be too unreasonable for consumers to accept. However, I am advising that Song Info appear in any and all consumer databases fully credited:
‘Artist X’ – ‘Title X’ – courtesy of Brand X
For other articles in this series:
ROCK BRANDS: Tomorrow's Rock Star Marketing Partners
Medici Model Revisited
Artist X Brand X Not Available @ iTunes
Strategic Audio Partnerships
Diplomatic Corps Rock Fest