In the future, musicians will get a large share of their income from brands sponsoring them. This hypothesis is proving its validity.
Recently we have seen clearer signs that sales of concert tickets, digital music, vinyl and merchandise are doing an increasingly bad job in offsetting the decline in CD sales.
However, in addition to building richer digital music experiences online, what looks most promising as one potential fix is collaboration between musicians and brands.
Since 2003, when the Toyota Scion was first released, it has been backing niche bands that play grindcore and garage-rock in the hopes of drawing young customers. According to the NY Times, the company is now going to start acting like a record label, sponsoring whole campaigns including record releases, music videos and tours, for around 20 bands.
This month, they released music by L.A. producer and D.J. Dâm-Funk, and Singapore grindcore band Wormrot. The company paid all of the recording costs and is giving the music away to fans. Next year, metal group the Melvins are releasing a mini-album through Scion. This benefits the bands, as they retain artistic control of their product and have the money to do things that were previously out of their reach. But it is unclear how much it benefits Scion, which has been hurt by the downturn and competition from other manufacturers. However, building good will and backing the arts is said to be most important to the brand. Jeri Yoshizu, Scion’s manager of sales promotions, said:
My goal is for Scion to stand out as a corporation that gets behind the music community — not the entire music community — and for the brand to represent the feeling that everybody gets something. Scion gets something out of it, the kids get something out of it, the artists get something out of it. It’s not just one way.
I believe that through marketing agencies (not record companies) or the likes, acting like middlemen, the musicians will create a range of different revenue streams by tapping into their enormous abilities to affect and inspire people. These channels musicians have into people’s hearts and minds are a match made in heaven for branding and marketing purposes. This is well exemplified by the band OK Go and its viral video hits online. They have been sponsored by for example the insurance company State Farm, in a case where the record company EMI were the ones fighting evolution by limiting the possibilities of online sharing. Take out: Don’t sell music, use music to sell.