When Pepsi or Delta put on the summer music festival in your town, marketers often swoon over more than the lead singers. Marketers love to connect their brands with emotive experiences, and music is one of the most personal and passionate interests for many audiences. It’s also highly targetable. Music is just as individual as the legions of fans, allowing marketers to participate in fun, engaging and community-building experiences for specific segments of people.
Until recently, most music sponsorships were out of the grasp of anyone but big brands with big budgets. The Emerging Artists Network (EAN), a project of TopRight founder Dave Sutton and musician Peter Stroud, is changing all that. “Think of EAN as a sort of eHarmony for matching brands with bands,” Dave said recently in this Midtown Business Radio podcast. “Even local businesses can now become a patron of local bands with the mutual purpose of creating exciting experiences for a shared group of fans and customers.”
EAN is a platform to connect emerging artists with brands, and specifically companies who are looking to use music as part of their marketing strategy, Dave said. A “big data” play, EAN analyzes online, social and third party data to help bands understand how effective they are at touring and connecting with their audiences through social media and other digital forums. “We literally score each band in terms of reach and audience engagement, and that lets us match them with brands who share the same values,” Dave said. This is very satisfying matchmaking, as it lets bands negotiate from a position of strength and competitive benchmark, and it gives brands rich and detailed insights into the types of audience relationships they may want to support.
EAN co-founder Peter Stroud is an accomplished musician, touring with Sheryl Crow and leading his own band, Big Hat. As the music industry turned on its head in the past ten years, like many successful artists he’s had to become very creative in order to make a living from his music. “Since the margins are so different now in the music business, the artist has to be much more involved in the marketing and fan engagement. Labels do not have development budgets and bands don’t even get paid a lot of money for a million downloads of their music,” he said in the podcast.
Touring is the place where artists need to be to generate revenue, Peter said. The EAN platform takes that audience development and impact into account, and helps businesses connect with bands who have high scores among people who are likely customers.
“Music is such a connector,” Dave said. “And being a patron doesn’t require a big budget. It can be anything from local venue performances to merchandise to creating music for advertisements and how the brand message or in-store experience is communicated.
“The opportunity is only limited by the creativity of the brand and the willingness of the artists to be included,” he said.
The artist has to feel there is no integrity compromised, Peter added, and at the same time, there has to be a shared set of values. “The brand has to trust the artist to respect the relationship and not cause problems with wild posts on social media,” Dave said. “Finding the brands requires more of a human touch, while finding and scoring the bands is more of an automated algorithm.”
The full podcast features Dave and Peter, the co-founders of Emerging Artist Network, as well as Nick Niespodziani, lead singer and co-founder of the popular Atlanta-based Yacht Rock Revue, and Sonny Del Grosso, founder of Ignited Entertainment Group and former manager for the Zac Brown Band in their early days. Nick and Sonny shared some great experiences of how their businesses evolved from a similar creative approach during a time of great dysfunction and change in the music industry.
Just like successful artists, smart marketers must be creative and open to new ideas when determining the kinds of customer experiences that break through and make a difference in market awareness and share. Keeping your business in the #TopRight corner always demands this essential blend of practical strategy and creative genius. Are you ready to use music as part of your audience development and brand strategy? It may be more accessible than you thought.