Thirteen years after launching and serving as a funding and promotional platform for dozens of artists, Scion A/V, the record label underwritten by Toyota’s Scion marque, announced yesterday via Twitter that it was “signing off.” The tweet then went on to encourage fans to follow Toyota’s Twitter account, without providing more details as to whether the carmaker would continue any of its music initiatives. The move comes on the heels of an earlier announcement that Toyota would shutter the Scion marque and rebrand certain models for the 2017 model year.
Since 2003, Scion A/V worked with over 1,500 artists in a variety of genres, and sponsored the Scion Rock Fest and Scion Garage Fest. Scion also produced an online radio station that streamed three hour music blocks in a 24-hour loop on the company’s website, with seventeen channels total. Among the more notable acts to work with Scion are A$AP Rocky, Chromeo, Danny Brown, and the Black Lips.
Scion A/V played a pivotal role in the launch of DJ Steve Aoki’s career, providing the funding for one of his first tours. In addition to music ventures, Scion A/V also several films and web series, including a garage rock documentary.
While the projects were often critically praised, and artists liked the fact that Scion was willing to underwrite projects without asking for ownership of the creative content, it is unclear how much Scion A/V moved the needle when it came to consumer behavior. Scion sold 170,000 cars in 2006, but by 2010 that number had dropped below 50,000 and continued to decline year on year. While Toyota’s average buyer is in his or her fifties, Scion buyers were usually much younger, and the marque was battered by both the recession in the late '00s and then the broader millennial trend away from private car ownership.
And while Scion A/V stood out at first as an example of a brand deeply integrating with music beyond the usual sponsorships, as the decade wore on, more companies jumped into the same space, launching labels and radio channels. Brands like Converse, Mountain Dew, and Red Bull all have similar initiatives to release music and video content, and other brands have leapt further ahead, paying for VR experiences and helping artists connect with other new technologies.
Reqeusts for comment to Scion were not returned at press time.