In the past I’ve defined the following general concepts: ‘Strategic Audio Partnerships’; the artists that participate in them ‘Rock Brands’; sponsors who commission such works regardless of a return future endorsement or mention, as following a ‘Medici Model’; and the distribution method ‘Camelback Collateral’, because the music isn’t selling itself, but rather being carried into the home via another sale.
Aspects of all these concepts are increasingly being referred to as Branded Content, and can also be found in '360° deals'. That said, the term 'branded content' as often as not refers to works in which the content itself integrates the brand in some way, for instance as presenting a name brand product as a pivotal plot element of a TV show, or a scripted use by an actor; –and not simply as presented in ads during commercial breaks.
According to the London based Branded Content Marketing Association, "Branded content is ideas that bring entertainment value to brands and that integrate brands into entertainment."
Branded content has been around a long, long time. As media strategist Tessa Weggert reminds us in her article, Advertorial's Kissing Cousin, branded content can also refer to entertaining or informative content produced, controlled and published –and therefore 'framed' or 'contextualized'– by an advertiser. Think of, for instance, the articles you might find in a health and fitness newsletter provided by a pharmaceutical company, or even your local gym or family doctor. The actual content maybe factual and otherwise neutral, but it's been brought to you by a brand, even if that brand is your own family doctor.
360° deals typically describe a relationship whereby a record label will play a larger role in an artist's development in return for a share of profits that includes merchandise, touring and other streams of revenue.
To learn more about 360° deals, read Jeff Leeds excellent New York Times, November 11, 2007 article, The New Deal: Band as Brand.
In contrast, the concepts of Strategic Audio Partnerships and Rock Brands describe Artist relationships with 3rd party sponsors for the purpose of bringing entertainment value to brands but stopping short of a reciprocal integration of those brands back into the artist's entertainment or works. These third party sponsors may or may not be active participants in the production of a collaborative marketing venture with an artist, but the artist (and his or her creative and/or management team) certainly is; and this thereby defines the Artist not simply as musician/s under contract for an endorsement deal, but as an independent marketing consultant/s at the helm of their own brand, regardless of what kind of relationship they might have with a record label.
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Click on any link below to read all the articles in the three-part November 2007 MUSIC AS COLLATERAL series exploring exploring the new paradigms for Music Distribution:
Part 1: Compatible Archetypes
Part 2: Collaborative Marketing Concepts for Musicians
Part 3: The Hottest Brand in the World