✘ What's happening with brand partnerships?
And: AmplifyLive_001; Music publishing in the age of the songwriter report; DAOS in Music - modular & participatory; curated playlists x co-working; Charli XCX in Roblox; Equitable nightlife industry
Some contrasting news around brand partnerships these last days. On the positive side, there’s the success stories of music brand partnerships. Wizkid’s partnership with Tommy Hilfiger is one such success story. Put together by a variety of partners, Precious Omoregie, head of Brand Partnerships at Sony Music UK, explained to Music Week how:
“brands want to partner with real cultural storytellers and people who have impact, musicians offer that across different genres and different cultures. That's why this whole sphere has opened up even more.”
From this, it seems that musicians are well-positioned to tap into this vast market of brand partnerships. Examples abound, from Doja Cat’s love for Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza leading to her becoming a one-of-a-kind brand ambassador to Charli XCX working with Doritos and Stranger Things to create a virtual concert from 1986.
It’s not just musicians who see success in brand partnerships. Labels are watching this market opening up too. Brand partnership deals with a label doesn’t necessarily require direct access to artists of a label. Universal has launched UMusic, which offers prospective brand partners access to exclusive content as well as data. The key element that UMusic apparently offers is an ability to hypertarget, presumably using the insights gained from listener activity on DSPs.
It seems, then, that brand partnerships are alive and well and continuing a positive growth trend that accelerated during the pandemic. And yet, in the broader creator economy there’s also a worrying trend when it comes to brands investing. One YouTube creator wrote on Twitter how big deals suddenly didn’t happen anymore.
This isn’t necessarily a new thing. Not all creators are professional in the sense that they work with the right paperwork to protect them against situations like this. But the juxtaposition is there. The positive noises from the music x brand deals can also hit the current economic downtrends. It’s important to step into these relationships with a clear idea of what both parties will get from it. Moreover, it should be clear from the start what both parties will provide. Even if that means more creative freedom like Doja Cat and Taco Bell.
Last week, I highlighted that AmplifyLive is working on a new model for earning revenue from a live gig based around DeFi tools. Their first gig will happen on 5 July with Emz. There’s no charge to attend, but you need a wallet (e.g. MetaMask) and some MATIC for gas fees. Claim a ticket here.
This is a beast of a report, and only the first two parts have been released yet. There’s a lot to take in and I’ve highlighted two key elements from each part of the report so far. I suggest you bookmark them!
🧬 Part 1: The Evolution of Music Publishing (Synchtank + report contributors)
“While there are many more ways for publishers and songwriters to make money – be that through licensing their catalogs or even selling them – it does not follow that legacy problems no longer need to be resolved. The ongoing battles over streaming rates, for example, and the wider regulatory challenges here show that fixing the existing models is of equal importance to finding the models of the future.”
“With songwriters’ demands increasing and their expectations shifting, the onus will be on publishers to keep re-inventing the deal. The more new entrants there are here (offering new deal terms and greater flexibility/autonomy), the more the bar is raised. As such, publishers must be able to offer a flexible range of deals and be less headstrong about rights ownership on a long-term basis. They will be expected to offer whole suites of services to support the multitude of paths that songwriters wish to take.”
🔮 Part 2: Future-Proofing Publishing Services (Synchtank + report contributors)
“As technology moves on and as new software and systems come into play – offering to refine existing solutions or provide whole new solutions – the need for interoperability between them all grows exponentially. Having technology systems in place that can integrate with other smart systems and third-party data sources/databases to exchange data and ensure accuracy is paramount in this high-speed and mass-data age.”
“The entire music business is built on the song and the creative vision of the songwriter. Without the song and the songwriter, there are no publishers, there are no record labels, there is no live industry, there are no DSPs, radio is mostly redundant, TikTok is a slim offering, Peloton classes happen in silence. And so on.”
🎹 DAOs and music: ‘More horizontal, more modular and more participatory’ (Stuart Dredge)
Excellent panel which also went into community management a lot, but I think this part stood out for me:
“The conversation moved on to what music DAOs might be capable of, and how they will sit within the traditional music industry. Spallone talked about a gap, currently, between the theory of what’s possible, and the reality of what’s actually being done.”
🗻 The Web3 Dream of an Equitable Nightlife Industry (Nyshka Chandran)
“In a rapidly tumbling and unregulated cryptocurrency market, the financial structure of DAOs raises major concerns. These collectives plan to fund their respective ventures through tokens but still require near-term capital in the form of grants and investors. If crypto-focused venture capitalists bankroll a DAO, how does that align with the platform's community values?”
I’m always keen to explore how music can affect behavioural change in people. Here, Kollekt.fm provides a case study of the role of music in a co-working space.
“Essentially, while your average music consumer might not feel compelled to invest beyond a Spotify subscription or a one-time concert ticket, gamers are constantly making small purchases—a new skin, bonus features—to unlock new experiences and amp up their engagement … Looking at my cheugy, 2000s-hipster default avatar, I could understand why someone would buy virtual swag—you might as well look cute online if you’re spending time there, just as you would want to in real life.”
Kode9, head of the awesome Hyperdub label and author of Sonic Warfare, a book that helped shape my own PhD research, is finally back with new music. It’s glitchy as Charli XCX in Roblox and fun like Charli XCX in The Upside Down. Time to bounce to the first available tracks from the forthcoming record.