Justin Timberlake announced a new long-term partnership with MasterCard on Monday that will kick off Sunday, May 5, with an exclusive cardmember concert at New York’s Roseland Ballroom. Tickets for the show will be available through MasterCard’s Priceless New York site. Additional co-created content, events, experiences and consumer engagement opportunities with Timberlake are expected over the next two years.
“I’m thrilled to be a part of a collaboration that offers me the opportunity to connect and engage with fans and bring them closer to the music,” Timberlake said in a statement. “MasterCard is a respected global brand and I look forward to working with them to bring something truly unique to their cardholders.”
The Timberlake deal is part of MasterCard’s Priceless Cities program, which offers cardholders access to customized offers in 15 cities around the world including New York, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Toronto and Buenos Aires. In a March interview with Billboard, MasterCard’s chief marketing officer Alfredo Gangotena spoke of Priceless Cities as an online dating-like service between consumers and their cities. “Think about New York City,” he said from his office at MasterCard’s headquarters in Purchase, New York. “There’s 8 million people and probably 1,000 events every day. You probably know about one of them and ignore 999 of them. I always think of the artists in the 999, and they’re not showing up. So how about MasterCard being a match.com between you and your city, you and the village of New York where you have decided to spend 70 years of your life?”
Credit card and financial services companies have become one of the most aggressively competitive categories in music this year, from American Express and its ongoing Unstaged program to Citi’s long-term partnership with Live Nation and recent support of events like Dave Grohl’s “Sound City” and Lady Antebellum’s Golden album release party in New York May 7. Incidentally, Citi Private Pass is also the official credit card of Timberlake’s Legends of the Summer Tour with Jay-Z, which apparently wasn’t enough of a conflict to prevent MasterCard from teaming up with him.
And there’s plenty of data to explain music fans’ spending power -- in a panel at MIDEM earlier this year, AmEx CMO John Hayes told Billboard’s Bill Werde that 40% of AmEx's 102 million cardmembers spend money on music every year, and that AmEx concert pre-sales and exclusive events help sell 4 million tickets a year. He also knows how those music fans spend their time and money around a show. While Citi’s Jennifer Breithaupt, senior VP of experiential marketing, told Billboard in February that Citi presales encompassed over 5,000 events in 2012 and increased 10% year-over-year in ticket sales.
MasterCard has been aligning itself more closely with music in recent years, from its sponsorship of the Grammys and the Brit Awards in the U.K. to its global sponsorship of Beyonce’s Mrs. Carter World Tour, which kicked off April 15 in Serbia. “We want to provide behind-the-scenes, fabulous moments that you can have backstage,” Gangotena said of the latter partnership. “That’s something that will stick in your mind for a long, long time and that’s what we’re trying to deliver with Beyonce and music.”
Timberlake is no stranger to teaming with brands on the accelerated album launch of his The 20/20 Experience -- already 2013’s top-selling album, with U.S. sales approaching 2 million copies. Earlier this year, he announced partnerships with Bud Light Platinum and Target, in addition to his role as creative director of Myspace, for whom he played a secret show at South By Southwest during 20/20's album release week.
“We created two big TV commercials promoting the album,” Timberlake’s manager Johnny Wright told Billboard in an exclusive Q&A in March. “So in a short period of time we were able to have a great relationship with radio, we were able to stream the album, we were able to have a great relationship with iTunes, we were able to have able to have a relationship with a lot of great TV partners being a part of Justin’s career.”