Pepsi’s Frank Cooper on Midemlab Sponsorship, 2014's Music Strategy, Using Big Data To Sell Soda

Midemlab, the think-tank competition of startup ideas in the digital music space, which takes place as part of the annual Midem music business conference in Cannes, France (Feb 1-4), has announced its list of finalists, thirty in all, across three categories (listed below in-full below). The awards, presented by Pepsi and Vivendi, will be judged by an international jury composed of executives, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.

This year, Pepsi is onboard for the first time as the competition’s presenting sponsor, following a multi-year strategy for the brand that began with the 2010 launch of PepsiCo10 — an incubator program seeking innovative ideas from emerging entrepreneurs and startups. Frank Cooper, chief marketing officer of global consumer engagement for PepsiCo’s global beverages group, has spoken at MIDEM in the past and sees the confab as a “great opportunity for us to connect engagement with these emerging creators and entrepreneurs.” Biz caught up with Cooper to learn more about Pepsi’s plans for MIDEM, what the company is seeking from this year’s nominees and its broader music strategy for 2014.


Billboard: What are some potential alignments you’re hoping to find from this year’s midemlab finalists?
Frank Cooper: We’re looking for anyone who’s developing a platform for analytics, any companies that have a platform for engaging consumers with visuals and sound in new and interesting ways, beyond passively watching a music video. And any companies that can help our brands become smarter and better with connecting with the artist community and fans.
How did you help shape the submission process?
On the front end, we helped entrepreneurs with their pitches. We’re bringing in some of our VPs of brand marketing and senior executives from our ad agency team at TBWA\Chiat\Day, and they’re going to help them with their presentation on the webinars. We found in discussing this with [MIDEM music markets director] Bruno [Crolot] that that was a need for a lot of these entrepreneurs currently unfulfilled. So we worked with MIDEM through Music Ally and Bruno and whittled it down to 30 nominees. We’ll have someone participate on the judging panel in Cannes – I’m not sure if it will be myself yet or someone on my team.
How has Pepsi fostered renewable relationships with the tech and startup community over the years through programs like the Refresh Project and PepsiCo10?
Some aren’t always directly music-related, but we were in with FourSquare at the very, very early stages. We were in on Twitter at the very early stages. But more importantly, we want to be the leaders in terms of trying to establish a music platform on Twitter. We, through PepsiCo10, brought in Tongal, and leveraged them to do great things. And today we’re working with Big Champagne and Next Big Sound on data and analytics, so this is a fast-moving, ongoing effort. If you map the music ecosystem, what should be obvious to everyone is that technology will play an increasingly significant role, not just in the distribution of the content, but it’s gonna play an interesting role in terms of data and analytics. It will also play an important role in creating new types of experiences that bands can have with artists, music and visuals. That’s what exciting, and we think the midemlab can be a critical part of identifying the right players.
In the last year, we’ve seen you become an early sponsor of iTunes Radio, expand Mountain Dew’s Green Label Sound, and make artists like Beyonce and Hunter Hayes the faces of brand Pepsi. Looking ahead to 2014, where will we see Pepsi travel with its music strategy?
We are definitely building a much broader platform to consistently work with emerging artists, and rising global stars to help them gain momentum. You’ll see examples of that kicking off as early as February. You’ll also see us go deeper into the area of predictive analytics – basically using Big Data, and all the sources we have access to, some of which are within our system. We have over 100,000 routes throughout the world, and we touch basically every store format 365 days out of the year from packaging to media. So we have all this data coming back into us, and when you start to turn math against that you can start to anticipate and predict certain kinds of behavior and apply that more effectively to areas of music and entertainment. So if you look at the election and Dan Wagner [CEO of Civis Analytics], who was 27 at the time running the Big Data portion of the Obama campaign, what they were able to do is not simply say, “This household is likely to vote Republican or Democrat,” they could say, “this person who has not voted is likely to vote for this candidate if you do these four or five things.” You can apply that same logic to other areas, so we are very deep into the process of making that a critical part of our marketing.


Music discovery, recommendation & creation
·       Blitzr (France) – Metadata-driven music platform & services
· – Social music discovery platform
·       Indiloop (Canada) – Cloud-based mash up software
·       Jukely (USA) – Matchmaker for concerts and friends
·       Moodsnap (USA) – Image-based music discovery app
·       Music Gateway (UK) – Unique music Industry business platform
·       Muzieo (USA) – Mobile-based music discovery service
·       Nagual Sounds (Germany) – New interactive musical experience
·       Sound Wand (UK) – Musical instrument of the future
·       Soundwave (Ireland) – Your music world

Marketing and social engagement
· by (USA) – Music promotion network
·       FanPicby Huggity (Ireland) – Engaging fans beyond the event
·       Hello Stage (Austria) – Classical music community
·       Lalilala by Appiway (France) – Singing challenges between friends
·       LISNR (USA) – Dynamic Audio Content Delivery Platform
·       Noise Fish (UK) – Online Home of the Music Industry
·       Rushmore (UK) – Platform connecting artists with fans
·       Starlize by Mobile Motion (Germany) – Mobile Music Video Creation
·       Tunespeak (USA) – Musician-to-fan loyalty platform
·       Vidrack (Canada) – Video Camera on Your Website

Direct to consumer sales and Content Monetisation
·       3Plet (Estonia) – Music album as an app
·       10tracks (Russia) – Cloud storage for music collections
·       BandstandMobile (Ireland) – Artist-to-Fan App Development
· (Germany)Making your online content audible
·       Kicktone (Australia)Social Music Discovery
·       Metable (UK)Metadata and Asset Management Platform
·       Pulpix(France)Exclusive showcase online services
·       Screenburn(UK) – Facebook video on demand platform
·       Songspot (France) – Social jukebox app
·       Weezic (France) – Augmented Sheet Music