“Let’s zero in on the best of the best,” said Live Nation president of Alliances Russell Wallach about securing sponsorships for one of his newest, biggest clients, U2.
“Let’s understand the artist, let’s understand the universe of potential companies to work with,” he added, kicking off the Brand on the Run panel on the closing day (Nov. 14) of the Billboard Touring Conference. “That’s the approach that makes the most sense. Both parties have to get a lot of value out of it.”
It was a sentiment echoed across the board, which included MAC Presents president Marcie Allen, SVP of entertainment marketing at Citi Jennifer Breithaupt, Cornerstone owner Jon Cohen, Lori Feldman, SVP of brand partnerships and music licensing at Warner Bros. Records, and Fishbowl Spirits partner Sloane Scott.
Whether executing a fan-interactive partnership between Nokia and Green Day, teaming up Michael Buble and Delta to promote the airline’s relocation to Seattle (a program the panelists said launches today -- Nov. 15), or recruiting up-and-coming artist Andra Day for Bud Light Lime’s 2013 “Switch on the Summer” campaign, the speakers agreed that artist and brand partnerships only work if all are game.
“We want to know that they feel confident that [the brands] represent their music, their art,” said Cohen. “Most importantly, we want to know that we’re going to give back to their fans,” such as Citi’s rewards program for Rolling Stones VIP concertgoers.
“Game” was also the operative word with regard to sports and sponsorship, which moderator Andrew Hampp pointed out is a $18 billion dollar industry to music’s $1.5 billion. Russell responded that where sports have broadcast television and lucrative TV contracts, music has integrative content streams (and their monetization possibilities) like YouTube and Twitter. Plus, added Breithaupt, “Music is the universal language. It unlocks possibilities.”
Not even Kanye West’s feelings about branding and sponsorships could get in the way. “When artists are controversial, brands get scared,” said Cohen, who enjoyed working with West for the 25th anniversary of Nike Air Force 1. “Yes, there’s an unpredictability; but he’s geniusly creative. He really understands the world of brands. We wanted to push the envelope.”