In 1989, a professor at the School of Music at Ohio State University named David Huron penned a paper entitled “Music in Advertising: An Analytic Paradigm.” In the paper Huron wrote that when it comes to the use of music in advertising and branding “music can serve the overall promotional goals in one or more of several capacities.”
Nowhere in his paper, however, did he write that the music which serves the overall promotional goals needs to come from an established, big name, big label artist.
On the contrary for it is the music itself that serves and meets the goals and needs and in the case of some big name brands, that music comes via independent artists. Brands such as McDonald’s, Coke, and Airbnb are among the many that utilize indie artists.
And the company that helps facilitate the use of indie artists with some of the biggest brands in the world is Music Dealers, who not all that long ago, proudly announced that they had earned over $15 Million for independent artists all over the world.
“The awe inspiring aspect of this achievement is that before Music Dealers many of these artists did not have a foot in the door, let alone a significant source of revenue,” says Eric Sheinkop, CEO of Music Dealers.
The Benefits of Brands & Indie Artists
So why would a big brand, who can theoretically work with any artist, choose to work with an indie artist, one who may not have the same cache as a more well-known artist?
“For a brand like Coca-Cola, exploring independent artists provides a deep well of creative talent, while often providing a more cost effective opportunity to further leverage both the artist and the music beyond a traditional TV spot,” said Joe Belliotti, Head of Global Music Marketing for Coke. “We have found that costs associated with live performances, streaming concerts, PR events, creation of additional digital video content can be lower than those same costs associated with more established talent.
For Deborah Wahl, CMO, McDonald’s, working with indie artists provides a sense of adaptability. “Sometimes there’s more room for flexibility, innovation and co-creation when working with an indie artist,” she told me.
She added that McDonald’s is also very cognizant of the power of their brand, especially as a means to aid others adding that the team at McDonald’s also likes sharing their brand power to help someone else on the way up. “Comes from the entrepreneurial roots working with so many of our owner/operators who often started with nothing but a dream!”
Jonathan Mildenhall, CMO of Airbnb, says indie artists are essential to their brand. “Working with independent musicians is a key element to our creative success. Authenticity is central to our brand’s values, and collaborating with indie artists has helped us put Airbnb’s DNA into every piece of work that we do.”
People Have Higher Demands From Brands Nowadays
That line above comes directly from Sheinkop in speaking about the world brands live in today and the role music plays when it comes to branding.
“Ads need to do more than just advertise a product or service. They need to bring real value to their consumers and music is the strongest way to do it. By using the right track in a commercial, a brand creates a stronger connection with the viewer that lasts beyond the 30 seconds that the ad airs. It extends the role of the brand in their consumers’ lives beyond the product, being a part of daily conversations and becoming a trusted filter for people to discover new music.”
Powerful words indeed and echoed by Wahl and Belliotti.
“Music can play a powerful role is communicating the emotion of the story that we’re trying to tell,” said Wahl, adding that “it’s important to have the unique music voice that helps communicate the personality of our brand” and that “music can be as effective as visuals or copy.”
Belliotti says the role of music in branding is one of emotion. “Music helps to create a deeper emotional connection to marketing,” he said. “Music can amplify a brand message and extend the reach of a marketing campaign into pop culture in ways traditional advertising does not. Music is as important in connecting the meaning of and emotion behind a brand with a consumer as a brand’s logo, visual identity or campaign tagline.”