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With The Brand

By Josh Rabinowitz.

  1. If you’re a recording artist and you think you can make it financially without exposure via other media like TV, film, advertising or video games, you are almost certainly wrong.
  2. If you think associating your music with a brand will secure your future, you’re definitely wrong.
  3. If news stories about branding and music make you think, “My God, I can’t believe they’re doing that,” it’s time to get a clue.
  4. If you want to make a living as a music producer, programmer, engineer or studio musician, consider working for a music house rather than a music label.
  5. If you think maintaining the top spot on the Billboard 200 for more than a week would be helped greatly by a branding campaign, you’re a pretty diligent student of those charts.
  6. If you thought a Seattle-based coffee chain and a Bentonville, AK big-box retailer were going to save the music industry, you appear to have miscalculated.
  7. If someone offers you an opportunity to license your song for a national TV advertising campaign and you’re thinking of accepting less than $10,000, think about it some more.
  8. If that national TV advertising campaign happens to be for an Apple product, stop thinking and give the company your song for free.
  9. If you think no one cares what a brand “sounds” like, consider all the downloads that Yael Naim (Apple MacBook Air TV ad), Feist (Apple iPod Nano) and Sara Bareilles (Rhapsody) have sold of their branded tracks.
  10. If you have $100,000 to promote a record and you decide to hire a consultant who’s in with the brand crowd, you get an A+ for efficiency.
  11. If you think brands are making money from music by assuming some of the traditional roles of a record label, some people will think you’re crazy, even though you really aren’t.
  12. If you’re a marketer or a lawyer who wants to get into the music business, and your sole music-related talent is knowing how to hit the “play” button on your iPod, partnering with an actual musical talent is not an option – it’s a must.
  13. If you think Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Pearl Jam will ever sign on to a corporate branding campaign, make yourself comfortable, because you’ll have to wait a long, long time before that ever happens.
  14. If you think the No. 1 track on the Billboard Hot 100 might one day be an original song created specifically for an ad, owned by a brand and released on that brand’s own “label” (in partnership with an ad agency), you’ll have a much shorter wait to see that happen.
  15. If you think you have a song that’s perfect for a brand, don’t pitch your idea to a creative director. Instead, convince the creative director it was his idea all along to use your song.
  16. If you’re a famous artist with your own distinctive, proprietary brand and you enter negotiations with an established commercial brand, make sure you have final approval on all campaigns, because you never know how things will turn out.
  17. If a lot of the music in TV advertising sounds too much like Coldplay, Danny Elfman and “Bitter Sweet Symphony” by the Verve, you’re not tripping.
  18. If you’re planning to showcase your newest release and the available venues are a local club, a recording studio or a private event, consider opting for an ad agency instead.
  19. If all you think about is monetizable music instead of mesmerizing music, you’ll likely think yourself into a stupor or worse.
  20. If you think Fishbone and the Clash are two of the greatest rock bands of all time, you’ve got impeccable taste.

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About the author: Josh Rabinowitz is senior VP / director of music at Grey Group. Published May 2010 in Billboard Magazine. Used with permission

  1. If you think no one cares what a brand “sounds” like, consider all the downloads that Yael Naim (Apple MacBook Air TV ad), Feist (Apple iPod Nano) and Sara Bareilles (Rhapsody) have sold of their branded tracks.