Music Provides Context for Brands in Culture

by Kendra D. Croft, Copywriter, Kastner & Partners LA

Presented by Corey Richardson, Director Cultural Anthropologist at fluent360 and Nidia Serrano, Lead of Multicultural Sales Marketing at Pandora, a full ballroom took a deep dive into the importance of music and the trends brands can capitalize on to stay relevant in culture. 

Nidia opened by talking about how streaming platforms, like Pandora, have opened the floodgates for music discovery across a variety of genres. And with that access Black listeners have become the “Arbitrators of Cool.” Black & Latino listeners guide the total market in finding emerging artists, thus proving the power of diverse communities influence in crossover for risings artists to reach the total market.

As we understand that music allows people to create cultural relevance and authenticity, we then ask: How do we turn music into money? How do we build authentic partnerships.

To answer these questions Corey starts by giving the foundational understanding that multicultural artists have now learned to harness the power of their own brands. We see this impact in the markets of makeup, sneakers, and watches through artists like Rihanna, Pharrell, & J Balvin.  

Here’s how:

The first step in fusing such beautiful marriage is understanding the key traits that brands and artists share. Brands have an identity, story, and values. Artists have a persona, ethos, and voice. And together they can create purpose, equity, and Real-Time Bidding (RTB).

Key considerations to think about when looking to partner with an artists or musical talent:

  • Artist Appeal: Are they hot? Is there buzz around the artist? And what are people saying about them? In the social media age, many things can spark conversation, but you must make sure it is the right conversation for your brand that connects with your audience.
  • Artist Credibility: Are they credible for you brand or product messaging? Do your research. If it feels forced, don’t do it! You must be aware of the infamous Twitter voices that are lurking to take down brands and people at any opportunity.
  • Meaningful Transfer: Is there an exchange of equity for both your brand and theirs? Keep in mind what your exchange is with the artist. How do you both walk away from an idea with an elevated brand and something that works for both your fans and theirs.
fluent360 shared their three-step approach to concepting creative with music partnerships in mind. Always ask yourself these 3 things: Is it ownable? Is it relevant? Is it contextual?

What not to do:

  • Being cool is not enough. An idea can’t just be “cool.” It needs to be meaningful and insightful. If your idea is riding on clout, followings, or just “it’s cool,” you probably shouldn’t do it.
  • Music is not a strategy. “Just like ketchup is not a meal,” says Corey Richardson. He goes on to say how music is an enhancer not a strategy. “If the plan can’t exist without the music, [then] you don’t have a plan.”
  • Getting a picture with your favorite rapper isn’t worth your job. Just because you have the opportunity to work with an artist doesn’t mean you should.

Music is a powerful tool in the creative brand-building arsenal, but with that power calls for you to be even more mindful of every step in the partnership. Don’t cut corners when connecting to your consumers. High risk, yields high rewards, so do everything you can to achieve those high rewards.


About Kendra Croft
Posted: June 2018