Companies update marketing tune amid declining CD sales

As slowing CD sales lead the music industry to evolve and change, a number of companies have partnered with musicians as a creative way to gain exposure for both their own products and the artists, many of whom are emerging and looking for ways to break out.

In the news
As slowing CD sales lead the music industry to evolve and change, a number of companies have partnered with musicians as a creative way to gain exposure for both their own products and the artists, many of whom are emerging and looking for ways to break out. A recent New York Times article noted Bacardi as one example.

Bacardi partnered with the group Groove Armada and will help pay for and market its upcoming EP, for which the company will own online distribution rights. Groove Armada will perform at 25 Bacardi events this year and organize other emerging artists to participate in Bacardi's B-Live tour. Bacardi cocktails will be sold at concerts, which aim to be a new customer-outreach platform.

Why does it matter?
Sean-Patrick Hillman, EVP at Corbin & Associates, who worked on the Bacardi-Groove Armada union, said that although it might seem complicated for a PR pro to balance promoting a musician and a brand or product, the outcome can benefit both, even if it requires a bit more effort than a traditional product push.

"We needed to be more strategic and targeted in terms of how we executed the campaign and the program," such as planning exactly what they want to do for each concert, considering factors like audience and media targets, and more, adds Hillman.

The partnerships often try to extend the brand by creating a new experience for the consumer, he adds, so it tends to work best with lifestyle products that have some connection to the musical realm.

"Those kinds of things make sense because you can incorporate them into a show or a specific experiential push," says Hillman.

Five facts:
1. Converse recently released a collaborative track by Pharrell, Julian Casablancas, Santogold, and N.E.R.D, which the sneaker company distributed digitally, free of charge, around the world to celebrate its 100th birthday.

2. AT&T worked with a number of music artists, including Nelly and Colbie Caillat, to produce exclusive musical tracks for the 2008 Olympic athletes.

3. KC Masterpiece and Kingsford Charcoal sponsored Tim McGraw's Live Your Voice concert tour this summer, along with partner Fritos.

4. Jermaine Dupri launched a new record label, Tag Records, with Procter & Gamble. The label aims to find new talent in the hip-hop genre.

5. The L.e.i. clothing brand, which targets juniors and girls, partnered with female country star Taylor Swift for a "back-to-school" print, mobile, and online ad campaign.

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