Watch virtually any music video today and it feels like you’re watching a mini commercial for a brand, locale or cause. After all, it’s no secret that labels and artists are always seeking underwriters to subsidize the cost of expensive videos.
And while typically the task of finding sponsorships falls on the label or management, an increasingly visible number of video directors and media companies are functioning as a sort of one-stop shop that not only produces high-quality clips and other content but also finds brands and funding for that content.
“We work with a lot of major artists and we bring them to the table. We locate an advertiser that is interested in that artist and we basically create content that integrates that artist,” says Ben De Jesus, chief creative officer for NGL Media, which specializes in the production and distribution of video content that targets Latinos online. Last year, for example, NGL paired Ford with tropical duo Chino & Nacho, who are signed to Universal Music Latino. As part of the deal, NGL produced a video for the pair’s “Bebe Bonita,” featuring Jay Sean, and also produced and distributed a Web series featuring the duo.
The end result is a win-win. Although each deal is different, at the very least the artist gets a video at no cost, the media company gets paid by the brand, and the brand gets exposure before a specific audience.
Typically, brands have been interested in big-name acts. AT&T, for example, has long partnered with multiple major Latin artists, including Juan Luis Guerra and Ricky Martin. “We’d shoot the spot for the brand and then used part of the budget to do the video,” says film and video director Simon Brand, who helped assemble AT&T deals for Guerra and Luis Fonsi.
Because Brand directs music videos but also produces commercials, he has connections in both worlds and connecting the dots came naturally. If he’s already been hired to produce a TV spot, for example, it’s easy to go the extra step and propose an artist whose music is in step with the product at hand.
But not everyone is interested in big names.
Film director Jessy Terrero, for example, is known for his big-budget videos for Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez. But last year, Terrero also launched a YouTube channel financed by Google called Unodostres that aims to be the destination for Latin urban music. Terrero’s challenge is to drive traffic and subscriptions by generating great content. “It’s almost like product placement, but instead of putting an alcohol brand in there I’m putting content from my channel,” he says.
Because Terrero’s big-name clients have label obligations, his exclusive content comes mostly from newer acts, or artists who are willing to negotiate different deals. If an artist is signed to a major, for example, Terrero may produce a video that can live on Vevo or the artist’s website and a second clip for Unodostres.