Part of our offering at Genuine involves an on-going programme of networking and thought-leadership events that encourage brand and music stakeholders to work more constructively together. The most recent of these was entitled ‘Looking for Clues’, held recently at the much re-vamped (and rather wonderful) House of St Barnabus on Soho Square on 26/11/13 (in the room where Charles Dickens most likes to read, write and relax). Genuine Looking For Clues

Guests were selected from influential stake-holders from both the brand and music worlds, though as our sessions are conducted under Chatham House Rules, we’re careful not to attribute quotes to individuals, or give any specific company affiliations. However our guests included senior marketing directors from brands and agencies, key players in the label and publishing worlds, as well as managers of platinum-selling artists. The outcomes of this session inspired our Brands and Bands: ‘The State Of The Nation” 2013.

‘Looking For Clues’ Event Summary: The premise was that, in a fast-changing media-landscape, many people claim to hold the keys to the future, whereas, in reality, we’re all constantly seeking clues as to which trends will actually prevail. Specifically we wanted to highlight music’s unique potential as a communication channel, using recent stats to show that not only have live music events been proven to be ‘king’ in terms of getting people to recommend brands, but music-based A/V has also been shown to make advertising messages more memorable. We were also keen to point out that, in a recessional music revenue climate, brand activations can also offer potentially exciting opportunities for artists to launch or further their careers, in an ever-changing, new media landscape.
However, our insights from this meeting highlighted the fact that much current practice in the world of brand and music partnerships, while fullfilling certain, core brand and agency requirements, often means that campaigns fall significantly short of their collaborative potential.
Most case studies discussed (by both brand and music stakeholders) spoke of poor communication and an overal Genuine Collaboration lack of knowledge of the processes involved.  Most tellingly, and perhaps as a result of this, it was observed that there currently appears to be a distinct lack of ‘Halo’ campaigns in the world of brands and bands.
On a positive note for brands, it became clear that money was NOT the only thing that artist managers are looking for, with some impressive case studies of artists receiving substantial media exposure and valuable peer-group affiliations from brand collaborations.
However, music rights owners expressed concern that brands are increasingly booking artists to play live at events, while often avoiding any (related) commercial music licensing, apparently due to a lack of perceived ROI (return on investment) from music licensing. Furthermore, the incidence of music “pass-offs” (sound-alike versions of famous songs) being used for TV commercials was observed to be ‘escalating rapidly’.
There was a overal consensus that TV adverts were continuing to prove more impactful than the ‘deeper’ brands and bands collaborations Genuine John Lewis Hare And Bearthat ‘Looking For Clues’ was designed to focus on. This was somewhat surprising, given the last 2 years of pretty consistant press dedicated to the potential of brand-music collaborations, the number of agencies who claim to ‘get’ music, and the substantial investment that the major labels (Universal, Warner and Sony) have been making in their specialist brand departments.
What’s going on? 
The biggest trend in the marketing industry today is the requirement for brand ‘storytelling‘, a process that inevitably involves the creation of unique, branded, audio-visual ‘content’. Interestingly this content doesn’t have to relate directly to the brand’s business, as long as it’s engaging, shareable and be something “you know your audience will care about”. It seems reasonable to assume that this offers HUGE potential for creative music usage and artist affiliations going forward.  Especially given the ever-increasing use of mobiles and tablets to access the web, resulting in predictions that 2/3’s of the world’s data will be audio-visual by 2017 and that the global market for video will increase by 26% in 2013 alone.
However, our ‘Looking For Clues’ session indicated that there’s a continuing knowledge gap between the brand and music sectors.
Genuine CollaborationsIt seems that the vast majority of brands (and, more importantly their agencies) just don’t seem to understand the music eco-system well enough to navigate it to maximum effectiveness, while the numerous interested parties in the music industry are too often only interested in their individual shares of ‘the pie’ – creating a very confusing landscape for on-lookers.
Such dynamics obviously make project management of brand-music activations very complex, especially with multiple agency/stakeholder involvement, where it’s nigh on impossible to maintain an overview of every contributor’s interests and objectives.
This brings to mind a comment made by the manager of a global superstar in one of our previous sessions, when he said that he refuses to agree to any brand partnerships unless he and one appointed brand or agency contact run the campaign together.
Genuine: Thriving in the space between, brands, people and music

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