Sunday, November 30, 2008

A New Game in Town

More Artist-Brand Extensions Coming Down the Track

No sooner had we written about the innovative deal between EMI Music Publishing and British retailer Sainsbury's Tu brand than the folks that made the deal, Corporate Creative Licensing have announced a partnership with publishing company Primary Wave. You may recall that, earlier this year, Primary Wave -- who's iconic catalog includes the songs of Steven Tyler, Kurt Cobain , Greg Allman and Earth Wind & Fire -- created a cartoon show "J-Stache" based around John Oates' mustache and were also behind the licensing of Kurt Cobain's lyrics to Converse for Kurt Cobain editions of some of their classic sneakers (According to PW, 200,000 + pairs sold so far).

As SFS has been suggesting for a while now, there's money to be made in theme there hills. We strongly believe that using the heritage and brand equity of iconic/heritage artists for creative approaches to licensing and brand partnerships will generate significant new revenue streams in the future. And, as we said last week, some of these ideas are no brainers; to see what we mean, try this party game and list all the relevant brand associations that you can think would fit your favorite lyrics and song titles, no matter how appallingly implausible. Here's our first go:

  • Aerosmith: "Sweet Emotion" Ice Cream
    "Walk this Way" Crocs
  • Britney Spears: "Oops I Did It Again" Paper Towels ... or Diapers
  • Duran Duran: "Hungry Like The Wolf" Dog Food
  • Earth Wind & Fire: "Got To Get You Into My Life" Dating Service
  • Procol Harem: "Knights In White Satin" Sheets
  • Steppenwolf: "Born to Be Wild" Condoms
We are sure that you'll get the hang of this pretty quickly, so if you have any cracking ideas please feel free to post them in the comments section below. SFS is off now to patent our new game "Lyrical Pursuit" ....

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

EMI Helps Usher in T-Shirt Karaoke Fad

Music Publisher Licenses Lyrics to Sainsbury's for Clothing Line

EMI Music Publishing and UK retailer Sainsbury's are collaborating to feature the lyrics to some of the greatest songs ever written on a brand new fashion range. The new collection from the Tu clothing division, which includes products for men, women and children, will feature words from EMI's catalog of more than 1.3 million songs such as "My Girl," "ABC," "(Theme From) The Monkees," "Wild Thing" and "Dancing In The Street."; The Tu range is now carried in 281 of the retail giant's 545 stores across the country.

The agreement marks the latest in a series of initiatives under EMI Music Publishing's Lyric brand, which helped create art posters, greeting cards and board games in the last few years. The deal was brokered by cutting-edge licensing agency Corporate Creative Licensing in conjunction with EMI Music Publishing's Head of Media Licensing Steve Hills and Tu Childrenswear Buying Manager John Carolan. Michael Gottlieb, corporate creative head of licensing, said, "I am thrilled to have helped bring together a leading British retailer with the leading British music publisher. The EMI catalogue contains the world's greatest lyrics, and now Sainsbury's customers will be able to wear inspirational clothing featuring some of the most famous words ever written."

As artists look to replace dwindling revenue streams from recorded music, we are going to see more of these types of innovative and creative deals that take the "brand equity" of the artist and their songs and extend that into new forms of licensing, collaborations with brands and businesses. This particular deal by EMI is such a "no brainer" that I'm surprised it's not being done by every music publisher. Lyric Culture, in West Hollywood, has a similar business plan, but their t-shirts are high-priced, boutique items, not mainstream-consumer-friendly and not widely available at a nationwide retail chain. But that's the great thing about "no brainers" like EMI's deal with Sainsbury's. They only become that way when someone makes them actually happen!

[Press release]

Radiohead: US Music Biz Has One Advantage

UK Musicians Lobby for Ownership of Their Work

Thom Yorke, Radiohead
Photo: WENN

Radiohead and other British artists are banding together for ownership rights.

UK pop and rock stars are taking action to try to gain ownership and control of their work from record labels. Robbie Williams, Radiohead, Kaiser Chiefs and The Verve are among the acts who have signed up to a new pressure group, the Featured Artists' Coalition.

According to a number of reports on the BBC, the group wants artists to keep the rights to the music they create and to have a greater say in how their songs are sold -- and a bigger slice of the takings, naturally. At the moment, record labels normally own the rights to the music their artists make, though the artists often get "charged" back all the recording and marketing costs against their advances. Instead, the body is proposing that artists should own the rights but lease them back to labels, technology companies or anyone else for that matter, for up to 35 years, as happens in the US.

The coalition also wants its members to be consulted more fully on how their music is used, the ways it is sold and who gets the money, particularly in regard the increasing number of deals done by labels and publishers with new digital services. "Record and technology companies are signing agreements to deliver music to fans in new ways," the Featured Artists' Coalition charter says. "Artists are not involved in these negotiations and their interests are likely to be overlooked. Artists should receive fair compensation as part of these new deals."

While labels, management companies and agents are still feeling their way in the brand partnership world -- particularly since a lot of current deals are promotional or exposure-oriented rather than hard-cash generating for them -- these partnerships are becoming an increasing source of revenue for their artists and will no doubt come under the same land grab for revenue streams that artists are now fighting off. Agencies and brands need to be aware of the multiple number of "interested parties" when putting together these types of deals, and this coalition is a potent reminder.

Getty Images Launches Premium Music Platform

Media Clearinghouse Strikes Deals With Majors for Ad, TV Placement

Getty Images' Premium Playlist
Getty Images, one of the largest creators and distributors of visual content and other digital media in the country, has unveiled Premium Playlist, a music collection that makes popular music available for commercial licensing in movies, TV commercials/advertising, broadcast, online and other new media.

The Premium Playlist music collection will be available through, where it will benefit from worldwide distribution in more than 100 countries. Premium Playlist will additionally be promoted through Getty Images' 600-strong global licensing, distribution and rights-clearance professionals. Getty Images' team is already experienced in music licensing, managing the Pump Audio library of more than 100,000 music titles by independent artists.

According to Billboard, Craig Peters, VP-multimedia products at Getty Images, said, "We have seen significant growth and success in our Getty Images music product and our Pump Audio collection. Representing premium music content through Premium Playlist is the next step and a natural fit for our business model."

Several music publishers, management companies and record labels, including Cherry Lane Music Publishing, Kobalt Music Group, Koch Records, Lionsgate, Nettwerk, Red Light Management and Warner/Chappell Music, have concluded worldwide, non-exclusive deals with Getty Images. The collection has officially launched with an initial catalog of more than 1,000 songs from such artists as Barenaked Ladies, Smash Mouth, Peter Malick (featuring Norah Jones) and music from Lionsgate properties, including the hit TV shows "Mad Men" and "Weeds," and the movie "3:10 to Yuma," among many others.

Nice move from Getty and another sure sign that music licensing is set to continue to grow at a time when the rest of the music business' revenue appears to be heading south. Now who's going to produce the first brand partnership database that profiles artists, giving brand-relevant information and a one-stop shop for clearing multiple rights? Just off to write the business plan for this ...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Between a Rocawear and a Hard Place

Hip-Hop Icons Hope to Broaden Their Portfolios With New Fashion Lines

Artful Dodger t-shirt

The "Grave" t-shirt from Jay-Z's Artful Dodger line.

Well the brand-music partnership space is certainly back with a vengeance after a long slow summer. I could turn this writing into a full time job if we carry on at the rate the stories are currently hitting the wires.

In time for the fall fashion season, our favorite group of "enter-preneurs" are out and about, showing off their new ranges.

First up to give us a nice twirl is the King of Branding and Business Opportunities, Jay-Z, who showed off his newly revamped Artful Dodger line at a party hosted by GQ magazine at the Chelsea Art Museum. Hova acquired Artful Dodger with partners Iconix for $15 million in cash last November. Both must be hoping that Jay-Z's legendary marketing skills can propel the Artful Dodger brand to the same capital value as his former clothing label Rocawear, which was acquired by Iconix for $204 million in early 2007.

Lupe Fiasco has announced his own new line, a natty range of t-shirt with fashion label Fruition, based on a re-designed Fila logo. This will fit nicely alongside his range of sunglasses and Fallacy Of Rome clothing line. He just needs a shoe range to finish the wardrobe off!

Meanwhile, not to be outdone, Snoop Dog is apparently weaving his Rich and Infamous clothing line and other Snoop products into his reality TV show "Father Hood" and the follow-up to his 2004 movie "Coach Snoop," which, according to, will generate millions of dollars worth of free exposure. Good for you Snoop, I'm glad that these shows are of use to someone.

Finally, Sears has just revealed the new fall ad campaign for the LL Cool J range of clothing featuring the rapper and, by the looks of it, his entire family.

Got to stop writing now whilst I get my kids to model those new Tunnicliffe "Tuna" hoodies that I've been developing this summer ...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's a Brand-New Metallica

Metal Supergroup Embraces New ID and Alternative Marketing Strategies

Redesigned Metallica logo
New Metallica merch

Heavy metal supergroup Metallica, who have had a reputation for heavy-handedness with illegal file sharing, fans posting videos on YouTube and journalists who don't quite play ball, have taken a refreshing new approach to the Metallica brand and marketing strategies around the launch of their much-anticipated ninth studio album, "Death Magnetic."

The album, which sold more than 500,000 copies in its first week (which was a short one due to a Friday release) and hit the No. 1 slot on the British album charts, has been accompanied by several new developments:

First, in good brand-management style, the Metallica ID has been revamped with a new logo, a "signature" typographic style and a brand kit that incorporates logos, imagery and graphics, as well as promotional items including a flag, a coffin-shaped special edition album and a vinyl boxed set. Perhaps more surprising is that the band brought in Cannes-award-winning design firm Turner Duckworth, which traditionally works for consumer brands including Coca-Cola, Palm, Amazon and South African Breweries.

The band has also pushed out quite a few new marketing initiatives. For fan-club members (of which I am now one!), anyone ordering tickets for Metallica's live shows will receive an "e-voucher" they can redeem to have the new CD mailed directly to their home for no charge. They'll also receive more "e-vouchers" to download, again free of charge, a video recording of the live show they are going to see. All of this and more, including the ability to order set lists, ticket stubs and recordings of other live shows, is available from

As any good marketer will tell you, evolving the look and feel of a brand and offering your consumers the chance to interact with it in new and compelling ways helps keep it fresh and increases "brand stickiness" or, in rock n' roll terms, it keeps your fans stuck to your side.

Hip-Hop's Shorthand Branding

How Luxury Brands Learn About Themselves Through Song Lyrics

This week's Billboard celebrates the 50th anniversary of its legendary Hot 100 Chart, so if you want to know who's had the most number 1s, who's spent the most time on the charts, what the all-time top rock song was (you'd be surprised!) and you generally geek out for lists, check it out.

What also caught my eye, following our recent post about Chris Brown being paid by Wrigley's to write their product into his songs, was an article in the same issue that highlighted which brands and products were most frequently name-checked in hip-hop lyrics from 2003 to 2005. The original compiler of the report, Lucian James of Luxury Goods Consultancy Agenda, neatly summarizes why hip-hop and luxury brands fit so well together:

"The thing you notice [about] a lot of the main players that always get mentioned -- Hennessy, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac -- is these brands always crop up because they are the best shorthand for success and material wealth," James says. "It's a poetic way to use language. When you say 'Benz' you're not just mentioning a product, you're connecting to a whole set of values and how you see yourself in just four letters."

... "They (key Hip-Hop artists) were wearing / using them and talking about them. It was the first wave of that and now it's kind of matured. Now it's a lot more structured. Luxury brands have learned more about themselves from their relationship with hip-hop in the past four to five years than in the past 10."
As we commented the other week, the hip-hop community has indeed learnt a lot from their early associations and is streets ahead, both commercially and culturally, in understanding the benefits of branding to their own businesses.

Plain White T's Encourage You to Try on Some Blue Jeans

Platinum Sellers Link With Aeropostale Clothing Store

Pop-punk act Plain White T's, who scored a big hit with their iconic song "Hey there Delilah," are teaming up with Aeropostale for an integrated marketing effort centered around the band's new album, "Big Bad World."

During the campaign, Aeropostale will be promoting the CD with window displays, bag stuffers and in-store signage at over 850 stores across the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada. When customers purchase the album in-store or online, they'll receive (while supplies last, of course) a free, exclusive Plain White T's T-shirt, and Aeropostale will promote the deal through e-mail blasts and online banner ads on social-networking sites such as MySpace.

Before the album launch Sept. 23, Aeropostale is offering fans a free, exclusive Plain White T's song download, "Love at 10th Sight." Beginning today and ending on the album release, customers who try on a pair of jeans at any retail location will receive this track for free at

Nice tie-in, although it makes me wonder why the Plain White T's don't have their own "signature" plain white T-shirt. Seems like a no-brainer.

Musicians Hop Onto Election Cycle

Democratic Convention Has the Stars, McCain Gets Grief

John McCain
Photo: AP

John McCain wants to be your first dancing president.

With election fever raging, the nation's musicians are showing their colors. Obama heads the race as far as star endorsements go, with the recent Democratic convention featuring a kickoff concert at Denver's Red Rocks Amphitheatre with performances from Sheryl Crow, Dave Matthews (with long-time cohort and activist Tim Reynolds) and Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles.

There were several "off-convention" performances by acts such as Rage Against the Machine and many smaller acoustic performances from Death Cab for Cutie and others. As one might expect, there was also plenty of schmoozing from the stars, which, according to the NY Times, included Kanye West and other "multiplatinum rappers, indie-rock scenesters, D.J.'s and Jennifer Lopez arriving by the van- and private planeload to perform, rally or schmooze with the political elite."

The final day of the convention saw performances by Jennifer Hudson -- who opened proceedings with the national anthem -- and, who recreated the viral video hit "Yes We Can" live onstage with a full gospel choir. The night was topped off by Stevie Wonder, who performed two songs, including "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours."

Chris Daughtry, the "American Idol" rock singer, played both the Democratic and the Republican conventions with his band, taking a strictly nonpartisan stance. McCain must have been glad that at least one major star wasn't giving him a hard time; the Republican presidential nominee has received a deluge of complaints from artists who have not been happy about the use of their music in his rallies and public appearances, including Chuck Berry, Jackson Browne, Van Halen and, most recently, classic rock outfit Heart. The band has issued a cease-and-desist letter to McCain's camp over the use of the 1977 hit "Barracuda," which was used as running mate Sarah Palin's theme song at the Republican convention last week.

There's probably a lesson or two to learn from Obama on how to effectively bridge the gap between politics and pop culture. The Illinois senator has been embracing music from the get-go with the Barack Obama Music Alliance, and he's brought artists along for the ride by involving them in his events.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Hip-Hip-Hop You Don't Stop

Rappers Earn Top Dollar as True 360 Businesses Evolve

50 Cent
Photo: AP
The perception that linking with brands was "selling out" has long vanished from the hip hop-world, and entertainers now have morphed into "enter-preneurs" that create new brands, businesses and revenues streams from the base of their core entertainment brand.

While Jay-Z has had significant press from his $150 million Live Nation deal, 50 cent has been accumulating his own pool of hip-hop cash. According to a recent Forbes hip-hop package, Fiddy has raked in over $150 million in the last 12 months, with at least $100 million of it coming from his stake in Glacéau, the parent company of Vitamin Water, which was sold to to Coca-Cola. He also has the G-Unit clothing line and record label, films, videogames and a stack of platinum albums, but perhaps most intriguing is a rumored partnership with South African mining billionaire Patrice Motsepe, who has been in discussions with 50 about a JV that will create 50-branded platinum for the necks and fingers of the bling crowd.

Whatever one thinks about the real value of these properties, the fact of the matter is that these types of 360 degree business models are ones that play to the strengths of the artist-brand and deliver products, services and content that is bang-on what the target audience wants. Whilst many traditional labels are talking a good 360 game, none have really managed to move beyond record sales, concert tickets and merchandising as a way of generating more revenue.

To quote from Paul Resnikoff's recent "Parting Shot" in Digital Music News, "the moneymaking possibilities are only limited by the creativity of the entrepreneurs involved."

Acting Like a Virgin Is a Good Idea

Mobile Operator Puts an Increasing Focus on Music Events

Virgin Mobile USA announced it's sponsoring a free Bon Jovi concert designed to celebrate the Philadelphia Soul's Arena Bowl XXII win earlier this month. Jon Bon Jovi just happens to be the majority owner of the team, and this is what we like to call "synergy."

Along with the sponsorship, Virgin Mobile USA and the Philadelphia Soul are finalizing a new partnership that will run through 2009.

This is the latest in a run of music- and entertainment-based initiatives that the mobile-phone operator has been pursuing as part of its strategy to increase customer uptake and loyalty in North America.

Virgin has pursued a similar strategy in the U.K. and Australia, where it has had a series of highly successful V Festivals that have become a staple of the live summer music scene in both countries. Here in North America, Virgin's association with live music is reaching a similar status, with shows featuring high-profile acts such as The Who and Red Hot Chili Peppers in Vancouver last year and this week's show in Baltimore, which is set to feature the Foo Fighters, Wilco, Jack Johnson, Bob Dylan and Kanye West, among others.

As SFS has commented before, mobile platforms are increasingly becoming a life raft for the music industry and a platform that demands increasing focus and attention. A report from eMarketer predicts worldwide mobile-music revenue will grow from last year's figure of $2.4 billion to $13 billion by 2012. According to a report in Billboard, $8 billion of this will come from ringtone and ringback sales and $5 billion will be generated from full-track downloads, with ad-supported programs likely to grow from $42 million today to $1.5 billion by 2012.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Musicians Throw Down Their Songs for Peace

Annie Lennox, Bryan Adams to Perform at Peace One Day Show

The global peace organization Peace One Day has announced a star-studded concert celebrating Peace Day 2008 that will feature Natasha Bedingfield and Grammy-award-winning singers Annie Lennox and Bryan Adams. At the event, which will be held Sept. 9 at the Nokia Theatre Times Square, the musicians will perform acoustic sets interspersed with video messages of peace from celebrities and artists such as Jude Law and Lenny Kravitz, plus there will be additional performances and speeches from yet-to-be-announced luminaries.

A similarly high-profile event will take place in the U.K. at London's Royal Albert Hall on World Peace Day, Sept. 21, which is now officially designated by every member state of the United Nations as an annual day of global cease-fire and nonviolence. Last year on this date, Peace One Day's campaigning helped to create a 24-hour cease-fire in Afghanistan that resulted in 1.4 million Afghan children being vaccinated against polio.

Although this blogger isn't directly involved in planning these concerts, he did help book an unannounced British band for the U.K. show and managed to speak with Peace One Day's founder, Jeremy Gilley, in the process. Gilley told Songs for Soap he's looking to take awareness of the cause to another level in 2009 with charity concerts planned for Paris and Mumbai, and he's put out a call to get more corporate support to keep the momentum going. "We are very interested in working with consumer brands and corporations to keep raising the awareness of Peace Day, which will help save lives and create a movement of global unity," Gilley said.

The two events, which will be broadcast globally this fall, have been made possible by the support of some major brand sponsors, including Ben & Jerry's, which launched a new flavored ice cream called Imagine Whirled Peace earlier this year and will be backing the roll-out of a world peace education program to every school in North America. Puma will continue its "One Day One Goal" program launched last year, which encourages people all over the world to celebrate Peace Day through a shared passion for sports. Longtime supporters Coca-Cola, Ecover, British Airways and British financial firm Execution will also back the movement this year.

Nelly and Kylie Offer Packaged Pheromones

Welcome to Sex Week on SFS

Photo: Anthony Cutajar

Sean John could certainly have picked a Fatter Joe for its underwear campaign.

Howabout we make this sex week on SFS? Wonderful. Here's a couple recent items about how rapper Nelly and petite pop star Kylie Minogue are using their scientifically enhanced god-given gifts to move product.

Minogue is launching a new perfume called Sexy Darling with beauty company Coty. The fragrance, which launched in the U.K. today, has been created for the "modern, sexy, self-confident woman," and the pop princess herself says in the release, "I firmly believe that sexiness is all to do with your state of mind. Some people radiate an inner sense of self-esteem and beauty that's irresistible."

Yes, well quite! A sentiment that we often feel at SFS.

Meanwhile, back on these shores, Nelly will be modeling the Sean John underwear and loungewear line, which will include briefs, boxer-briefs, boxers, undershirts, pajamas and robes, among other unmentionables. According to a post on Celebrity Brands, Sean "Diddy" Combs said, "Nelly is the quintessential definition of the Sean John man, he has the attitude, the swagger and most of all, the physique that our customers can both aspire and relate to. And let's be honest, all of the ladies out there are going to be thanking us for this campaign. The images are so strong; they speak for themselves."

Just be thankful that, for these two products, SFS won't be filming any product-testing experiments. Could get ugly.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Surprise! Your Favorite Summer Jam Is Really About Chewing Gum

Wrigley's 'Seeds' Chris Brown Track for Later Jingle Campaign

Chris Brown
Photo illustration: Charlie Moran
A story in yesterday's Wall Street Journal went behind the scenes on a story first featured in Billboard a couple of weeks back about rapper Ne-Yo, R&B performer Chris Brown and country singer Julianne Hough (a professional contestant on "Dancing With the Stars"), who have all reworked classic Wrigley's jingles for a new campaign. Ne-Yo will rap about Big Red with a reworked "Kiss a little longer" jingle, and Hough has recorded a "twangy" version of Juicy Fruit's "The taste is gonna move ya," but Brown's contribution almost works in reverse.

Last year, after reportedly writing the new Doublemint jingle in 30 minutes, Brown and producer Polow Da Don expanded it to a full-length song and "seeded" it as a single called "Forever," well before the campaign was announced. It was included in his 2007 album "Exclusive," which was re-released last month, and the song shot to the top of the Billboard 100. Only now has Wrigley come out and revealed the intent and funding of the track, whose subtle references to the classic Doublemint jingle ("double your pleasure / double your fun") will be emphasized in an upcoming TV spot.

The deal was put together by Interpublic's Translation Advertising, who commented, "By the time the new jingle came out, it was already seeded properly within popular culture."

While hip-hop artists have plugged into virtually every high-end brand from Cartier to Versace in their song lyrics, this is the first time (to our knowledge) that a branded song like this has been delivered to the public in such a covert fashion. It was well-executed, but we don't necessarily see this as the start of a big new trend. Luckily for Wrigley, the song is a hit, but a feeling of deception may leave a bad taste in some consumers' mouths.

Full disclosure: SFS would have picked t.A.T.u. and dressed them up as the Doublemint twins.

Here's the full song:

Will Live Nation Get a Nickelback From Their New Signee?

Concert Promoter Adds Another Big Act to Its 360 Roster

The Live Nation 360 train continues full-steam ahead with the tour promotion company now finalizing a major deal with Canadian rockers Nickelback. This latest move, which comes less than a week after the company announced a 360 deal with Latin superstar Shakira, is, according to various media reports, a three-album, three-tour deal encompassing multiple revenue streams, including merchandising, live, album, endorsement, secondary ticketing and DVD sales. It's said to be worth between $50 and $70 million.

The post-grunge band, fronted by Chad Kroeger, has sold over 26 million albums and still has two albums left to release through its current label, Warner Music's Road Runner Records, before it can record any albums for Live Nation.

UPDATE: Wall Street doesn't like Shakira, but does like Nickelback. Draw your own conclusions about the dubious musical tastes of stock traders.

According to the promoter, Nickelback's last North American and Australian tour in 2006-07 made more than $67 million. The band will join a growing superstar roster at Live Nation that, in addition to Shakira, also includes Madonna, Jay-Z and an extended relationship with U2.

As we've reported before, Live Nation has been pursuing an aggressive strategy of signing major artists to these types of deals, which has led to some discord among the senior ranks of the company. Chairman Michael Cohl resigned recently after disagreements with CEO Michael Rapino, who wanted to slow the pace of new signings.

If this is a slower pace, I can't wait to see what Live Nation will do when they decide to speed things up.

Live Nation Seeks to Reassure

With Shakira 360 Deal

Latin Pop Star Signs 10-Year Contract Estimated at $70-100 Million

According to The New York Post and the LA Times, Live Nation has signed a $70 million to $100 million "360" deal with Latin superstar Shakira. Once the deal begins, Live Nation will receive revenue from her concerts, recordings, merchandising, digital and other aspects of her career for 10 years.

The concert promoter has been pursuing an aggressive strategy of signing major artists to these types of deals, whereby the company receives a stake in all of an artist's revenue streams. Last year, LN signed a reported $120 million deal with Madonna, a reported $150 million deal with Jay-Z, and, this year, it completed a major deal with U2.

This latest signing comes on the heels of Live Nation Chairman Michael Cohl's resignation last week after an apparent dispute with CEO Michael Rapino over the speed and aggressiveness of pursuing these 360 deals. Cohl was a proponent of upping the intensity of the signings, with the Rolling Stones rumored to be his latest goal.

According to the New York Post, Live Nation and Shakira have been in talks for about 10 months, but sources said that after last week's negative press from the resignation, Rapino wanted to quickly finalize the deal in order to reassure employees the he was committed to the 360 strategy of the Artist Nation division.

Shakira still owes SonyBMG's Epic Records another English-language studio album, expected next spring, as well as a greatest-hits compilation. This means Shakira likely won't deliver her first album to Live Nation until late 2009 or early 2010, at the earliest. Prior contract commitments mean Madonna and Jay-Z are not expected to release Live Nation albums until then, either.

Pantene Lets Its Hair Down, Picks Unknown Singer-Songwriter for Spot

P&G Brand Releases Digital Single of 'Shine' Concurrent With Commercial

This week, Procter & Gamble's Pantene shampoo released two commercials created by Grey Advertising that featured original music sourced from a user-generated contest held earlier this year at the MIDEM conference in Cannes.

The competition, which was overseen by Grey's director of music, Josh Rabinowitz, stipulated the following entry criteria for the winning song: "a main-line, loved-by-all sound; makes women feel strong and empowered; immediately branded but never a jingle; works as an instrumental in varying lengths and formats; creatively interprets the brand message of 'shine' and 'let the best of you shine through.'"

Both spots are set to use the winner, the original song "Shine," co-written by Rosi Golan and Human, a New York-based music house. Those parties will receive a majority of the income from the song, although, according to Billboard, P&G will retain the publishing and master recording rights. Golan said, "Artists like me who work hard and make very little money, one of the few ways to make money is through touring and iTunes." The song will be sold on Apple's digital music store beginning the same day the spot airs.

While this is being billed as a successful example of "user generated" content for marketing purposes, it's really a better example of an unsigned artist who was used to create a track with both a "cool" factor and the production values of a hit song. Among advertisers, these twin factors are becoming more important.

Apparel Brands Cozy Up to Artists

Three Deals Announced in Recent Weeks

First up, rapper Nas has announced a one-year partnership with Fila whereby the apparel company will offer financial support for his upcoming tour as well as the print and TV campaign for his new album, out July 15. In return, he will wear Fila products and co-create an apparel line that draws from fashions of the late '80s.

At the same time, Soulja Boy has signed a multi-year sneaker and apparel contract with Yums Shoes, which is fast becoming a major force in urban streetwear. There will apparently be an exclusive Soulja Boy-designed range, and the rapper will appear in both television and print advertising for the line as well as five webisodes that will run across the Yums and Soulja Boy websites. Soulja Boy will also be teaming up with graffiti artist and designer Tex to promote his own signature Yums "Block Star" sneakers as well as an apparel line.

Finally, although there aren't very many details yet, Kanye West told Women's Wear Daily that he's working on a men's shoe line with Louis Vuitton. While attending an LV show in Paris recently, he also told the Guardian: "I'm here for Louis. I grew up with the Louis look, you know. I just love the style." He's also expected to unveil his own women's clothing line, independently, this fall. If Carlton Banks in drag is your thing, stay tuned ...

Thanks for the tip, Sasha!

John Oates' Mustache to the Rescue

Hairy Superhero Carries Back Catalog Into the Future

No sooner had we written about the need for artists' back catalogs to be marketed in more creative ways -- via tailored ideas and exploitation strategies -- than Primary Wave Music Publishing announced "J-Stache," a cartoon about John Oates' mustache.

According to Billboard, the formerly mustachioed half of Hall & Oates could appear in a new cartoon series that portrays him as a modern-day family man who finds himself enticed back to the rock-star life by his superhero facial hair.

The series has a twofold objective: to help portray Oates in a new modern-day light while reminding people of the great songs from his back catalog. As Oates says in Billboard: "Just as I'm represented as the John Oates of today, the mustache is the John Oates of yesterday. The focus of the music will be on the back catalog, but it's an open-ended situation."

"J-Stache" is the brainchild of Primary Wave Senior Creative Director Evan Duby, who commented: "I thought to myself that this guy could be a pop icon on a completely different level. I wanted to be part of bringing John Oates to a younger generation." Primary Wave -- which is quickly building a very cool collection of heritage-based music, including the songs of Steven Tyler, Kurt Cobain and Greg Allman -- is currently shopping the Oates concept to the networks.

Music Supervisors Get to Sit at the Adult Table

Ad Festival Season Demonstrates Prominence of Music, Sonic Branding

The advertising festival season -- in full swing for the past two months -- has seen an ever-increasing focus on music, says Josh Rabinowitz of Grey Group.

In a recent Billboard piece [sub. required], the prominent music supervisor highlights the importance of music at all the leading awards shows, ranging from The Clios to the Cannes Lions and all the shows in between, such as the AICP, the One Show, the Bessies, the 2008 AICE Awards Show, the Fab Awards and the ADDY Awards. In his column, Rabinowitz says these shows not only give awards to music-led creative, but they are also popular places for advertisers to discover new sounds.

This theme was echoed in USA Today, which last week reported from the Cannes Lions with a feature titled "Jingles out, cool songs in," which highlighted the importance of advertising to music publishers, labels and songwriters alike, and how music business executives were in attendance at the festival looking to drum up more business. The report went on to say: "Advertisers' appetite for hit music in ads, or songs composed to sound like hits, has largely sent the old hard-sell jingles, with campy music and product lyrics, the way of vinyl LPs."

This is leading to much higher levels of sophistication in the music selection process, with clients increasingly seeking to develop "sonic branding" guidelines that take on the same importance as brand identity and developing music strategies that drive how they leverage music in all forms of communication.

Beatles to Join Licensing Gold Rush?

Financial Times: Fab Four-Themed Video Game in the Works

Guitar Hero
A report in the Financial Times suggests that representatives from (the Beatles') Apple Corps are in talks with both Activision and MTV Games, the companies behind the highly successful "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band" games, respectively.

Whilst the notion of a Beatles video game is interesting in its own right, the report also suggests that this could be the precursor to a broader licensing of The Fab Four's back catalog for more commercial opportunities. Martin Bandier, chief executive of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which controls more than 200 Beatles copyrights, told the FT: "To my view, it's only a matter of time before we see Beatles songs that are the original recordings in motion pictures, in television work, and yes, maybe even one day in a commercial."

SFS thinks that this is exciting news and further adds to the notion that we've been pushing in recent posts and on conference platforms, that music-brand partnerships are going to develop into a major part of the fabric of the music business going forward. Our post on Led Zeppelin/"Stairway" earlier this week pointed out that not only does a broader approach to licensing tap into rich and growing revenue streams but also gives some of the "oldies" an opportunity to introduce their music to a younger audience.

It's great to see music licensing grow, but the licensing of songs is almost always a reactive business. There must be dozens of songs from our heritage artists that are not "sweated" as hard as they could be, and they could benefit from their own tailored marketing plans to help attract more interest from brands.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

'Music 2.0 Manager' Sets Off Into the Wild Unknown

Music Tank and Terry McBride Create 'Brand Roadmap' for New Act

British music business development network MusicTank and Terry McBride -- "music business 2.0" manager of Avril Lavigne, Barenaked Ladies and CEO of Nettwerk Music Group -- are kicking off a unique, year-long project that will generate from scratch a mold-breaking 360-degree road map for an up-and-coming British act.

The initiative follows McBride's recent MusicTank report that showed how management and labels need to alter their mind-sets in order to cater to the behavior of the millennial generation -- generally defined as those born in the early 1980s who demand content to be available across multiple platforms simultaneously.

In the report, McBride endorses two key concepts that resonate with SFS:
  • Constant experimentation is the key to success. This is a common theme for McBride, who has achieved a high degree of success for his acts by developing "unconventional" but thoughtful marketing approaches.

  • Creating an artist "branding road map" that develops a true appreciation of the "artist as a brand" and sets out a clear inventory of the artist's assets -- fans, music and non-music content -- and all the multiple on- and offline platforms for reaching listeners. Once this is established, the idea is to identify suitable content platforms or "highways," which are then weighted according to their importance.
This is pretty much what we've been advocating for some time now on this blog: treat artists as brands and apply the same level of discipline to marketing artists as brands do to their own marketing.

Jumpin' Jack Cash?

Could the Rolling Stones Be the Newest Horse in Live Nation's Stable?

Mick Jagger
Photo: AP

Another exile on Main Street?

In the world of alternative music-business models, Live Nation has blazed a trail in recent months, landing "360 deals" with major acts, including Madonna, Jay-Z and an almost-360 deal (excluding recordings) with U2.

The latest rumor hitting the street is that the Rolling Stones are considering leaving EMI after 31 years and throwing their lot in with Live Nation with a "360 deal" that would incorporate the back catalog (which reportedly earns EMI about $6 million annually), touring income, merchandise and brand partnerships. A report in the British Sunday paper The Observer stated that the band was "just weeks away" from announcing a deal that could also see Universal records getting in on the act by licensing new versions of the catalog from Live Nation.

The Stones camp has denied the story, but, given the band's long-standing and extremely close relationship with Live Nation chairman Michael Cohl (who has produced all of the band's recent tours), it seems highly likely that this will be a done deal shortly.

The only potential spanner in the works is a reported unease amongst Live Nation's senior executives about its 360 strategy and whether the company has been signing up mega-acts too quickly. As we've said before, Live Nation is really going to have to learn to speak the language of brands and manage brand-related businesses if they are really going to get their money's worth out of these deals.

Steve Madden Would Like You to Try on His Headphones

Footwear and Accessory Brand Launches Music Platform

Fashion brand Steve Madden is launching a music platform that will be featured in-store and online, according to a report [sub. required] in today's Billboard.

The platform will apparently be launched under the moniker "Steve Madden Music" and will highlight a different recording artist every other month. The first artist to sign up for this deal is current chart sensation Katy Perry, whose latest single "I Kissed a Girl" raced up the Billboard Hot 100 after selling 173,000 digital downloads this week. Next is upcoming R&B-rap crossover artist artist Little Jackie.

The Billboard report quotes Steve Madden himself as saying, "[The labels are] after the same girl that we're after. Even the mind-set of trying to make a hit shoe or a hit record is the same. People always want to know what's cool. I figured if [Sean "Diddy" Combs] and Russell [Simmons] could get into my business, then I could go into theirs."

The platform will apparently have extensive in-store components, with live performances from the artists at flagship Steve Madden stores, artists' videos appearing on-screen and at point-of-sale within the 70 nationwide stores as well as a significant online presence through a soon-to-be-launched Steve Madden Music website.

Retailers are increasingly getting in on the brand-music act with a number of high-profile promotions in the retail environment, including Urban Outfitters, American Eagle and Tommy Hilfiger, which is in its third year of staging "The Hilfiger Sessions," and in April launched In the non-fashion sector, Whole Foods recently launched its own Artist Discovery Series.

[ (sub. required)]

WPP, Universal Put More Resources Into Brand-Music Partnerships

BrandAmp Goes Down Under

BrandAmp, the 50/50 European joint venture between Universal Music Group and WPP, is expanding internationally with the launch of an office in Sydney, Australia.

BrandAmp was established in London in September 2006 to develop music and brand partnerships between Universal Music Group's artists and WPP's client brands, and it signaled the start of music and brands being taken seriously at the agency and music label corporate levels. At the time of the launch, WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell said, "In a world of media fragmentation, music remains a powerful medium. We see an increasing desire for brands to partner with bands. BrandAmp will allow us to facilitate and manage those partnerships more successfully."

The brand-music and music licensing marketplace is booming across the world and is particularly strong in Autralia, according to a report in Billboard, which broke the story:
" The band-and-brand sector in Australia is experiencing rapid growth. Sean Pickwell, managing director of Sydney-based Waterfront Entertainment Marketing, estimates the sector grew 60% last year and will achieve a similar growth in 2009. He puts its annual revenue at A$12 million to A$15 million ($11.3 million to $14.17 million)."
This concurs with SFS's report from March, which put the global music licensing marketplace at around $3 billion per year and growing rapidly.

SFS predicts that other agency holding companies are eying up this space, but we also think that they'd better move quickly, as a number of start-up ventures that sit between artists and client brands are looking to break out as independent entities.

Come for Natasha Bedingfield, Stay for the Continental Breakfast

W Hotels, MasterCard and Sony BMG Form New Music Partnership

According to a number of reports, Starwood Hotel division W Hotels Worldwide, along with MasterCard Worldwide and Sony BMG Music's Commercial Music Group, are launching W WonderLust Live, an exclusive concert platform featuring established and emerging artists. Guests and local consumers with MasterCard credit cards can book a "W WonderLust Live Package," which will include two tickets to the concert, an exclusive W Hotels/Sony BMG all-access VIP gift bag, drinks, a 3 p.m. checkout and a "Fabulous Suite."

The live performances -- hosted by A-list producer Bryan Michael Cox -- will also be broadcast on W's dedicated video channel, accessible only in W Hotels. Two concerts have taken place already; the inaugural one featuring Natasha Bedingfield, took place at W New York-Union Square on May 19. The second performance was held yesterday at W Los Angeles-Westwood with Irish singer-songwriter Paddy Casey.

Live Nation Studios -- the media company's live recording arm -- has signed on to record select performances and stream them at Some of the music will also be made available on a W Hotels CD, "WonderLust, The Worldwide Tour" produced by Sony BMG.

Previously, Starwood had a similar deal with the label to curate in-house mixes for all of its brands, and a compilation of electro-pop tunes picked for the W Hotels called "Warmth of Cool, Interlude" was released for retail.

Seether Rides Along With Chopper Like Any Other Sponsor

Motorcycle Reality Show Integrates Post-Grunge Outfit as a Featured Brand

The producers of the CMT show "Chopper Challenge" have gone outside their traditional brand sponsors and have, for the first time in a TV show, featured the post–grunge band Seether as just another integrated brand on the show.

In addition to having its image and logo appear on the episode's custom bike, the band gained further exposure by having its members appear in the episode talking about bikes and having its songs "Fake It," "Rise Above This" and "Remedy" played during the show. The "Chopper Challenge" website includes a link to Seether's website, and the finished Seether bike will be donated to a charity of the band's choosing.

The deal put was together by leading entertainment marketing firm GMR, Seether's manager, Stu Sobel of The Firm, and the show's producers, V Entertainment.

From a "behind the scenes" report in Billboard: "V Entertainment Group pays CMT an undisclosed fee to air the show and then sells the advertising that appears during each episode. That advertising is sometimes tied to the brands featured in the show, though in this instance Seether ads were not part of the agreement."

As we commented in last week's post, more and more artists will be taking center stage in a number of broader entertainment-based properties, and this area can only be headed for growth. But the Seether promotion does raise a couple of interesting hypothetical questions:

  • When are we going to see the first artist-funded show, where costs are offset by sponsors/advertisers? SFS can see quite a few artists building financial equity in shows that are derived from their own brand equity.

  • Where are the record labels in all of this? Surely exploiting their artists through TV shows that they have equity in has to be a no-brainer, right?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Material Girl Brings Home More Goodies From 'Hard Candy'
More Licensing Revenues Flow to Madonna

Posted originally by Mike Tunnicliffe in Ad Age Songs For Soap on 06.06.08 @ 11:45 AM

Madonna has gotten a lot of mileage
out of 'Hard Candy.'

Following a slew of recently announced licensing deals, Warner Music International has tied up a multicountry deal with Sony Ericsson whereby, according to a report in Billboard, Madonna's latest album, "Hard Candy," is to be pre-loaded or carried alongside Sony Ericsson handsets across 27 countries. This past April, Samsung pre-loaded content from the album in its devices for the French market, and the success of the roll-out seems to have peaked Sony Ericsson's interest in engineering a similar deal for themselves.

This latest agreement comes on the back of a huge launch campaign for the album in conjunction with Unilever's Sunsilk, which engendered the first ever co-coordinated global launch of a brand campaign with an album launch for a mega-star artist of Madonna's stature.

The release of "Hard Candy" has benefited from a string of international, multimedia initiatives, including wireless operators Verizon Wireless and European-based Vodafone, who teamed up to simulcast a Madonna performance live to mobile phones on their networks. A remix of the single "4 Minutes" has also been made available exclusively via Verizon Wireless in the U.S. and internationally through Vodafone. Overseas, Madonna also signed an exclusive deal with Fuji TV in Japan to license "Miles Away," the expected second single from the album, as the theme for the new drama series "Change."

SFS can only say "Wow, very impressive!" as these deals all appear to give dollars to Madonna but also deliver some significant value for the fans and brands involved. It certainly also sets some fertile ground for Live Nation to sow their Madonna seeds when Madonna joins the books as the first of their superstar signings later this year. Kudos to Warners though for a fine farewell effort.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

50 Cent and MTV Do a Trump
Rapper and Music Channel Team Up for Hip-Hop 'Apprentice'-Style Reality Show

Originally posted by Mike Tunnicliffe in Advertising Age 'Songs For Soap' on 05.30.08 @ 02:54 PM

Just a week after his purported $300 million deal with MySpace hit the rumor mill, 50 Cent and Viacom-owned MTV have announced a partnership that, according to a report in Variety, will feature the rapper hosting a new kind of hip-hop "Apprentice"-style show. The premise? Sixteen contestants will live together and compete in challenges that relate to being street-savvy, business smart and, no doubt, showing the same kind of deal-making prowess that is a common theme in the entrepreneurial urban music scene.

Each week's episode will end with 50 Cent narrowing his search down by firing two of the contestants, so look out for that new catch phrase "You fired, bro."

MTV also announced a clutch of other new music-based reality shows: "Buzzin'," a humorous reality series that will chart the rise of music artist Shwayze and Cisco Adler; "Busted," a half-hour show that chronicles kids that break the law; and a docu-series that follows T.I.'s community service and march toward jail, which will hew to a similar formula to sibling channel VH1's "Countdown to Lockdown," which charted a similar run-up to a jail sentence for top female rapper Lil' Kim.

Finally, Diddy's "Making the Band" is being revamped and will now be called "Making the Rock Band" as Diddy "steps out of his comfort zone."

It's interesting to see this crossover of styles and formats as artists continue to take centerstage in broader-based entertainment properties, where a music career is essentially a star's "cost of admission." As we keep saying at SFS, there's a big opportunity for brands to integrate into music reality and entertainment based shows, though with three of the five shows featuring hosts or participants with criminal records, it does make you wonder if, for marketers, there are slightly safer and more mainstream-alternative TV vehicles to get involved with.
Songs For Soap on the Soapbox Again
Panel at Clio 2008 Outlines the Future of Brand-Music Partnerships

Originally posted by Mike Tunnicliffe in Advertising Age 'Songs For Soap' on 05.20.08 @ 11:37 AM

Tunnicliffe & Simon : Clios Keynote 2008

Following my participation in the Musexpo panel in L.A. three weeks ago, yours truly has been at it again, this time addressing a packed audience last Friday at Clio 2008 in Miami. This time, I joined someone who knows a thing or two about the creative side of music and brands: Joel Simon, the award-winning founder and creative force behind JSM Music. He's arguably the biggest producer of commercial production music in North America and the current go-to producer for big name stars performing in commercials.

Our joint 45-minute panel, "How the Ad Industry Became the Saviors of the Music Industry", tracked the evolution of brand–music partnerships and showed examples from the three stages of evolution that we'd identified:
  1. Brand-music "associations" -- music appearing in commercials
  2. Brand-music "integrations" -- i.e. Madonna and Sunsilk, Mary J. Blige and Chevy
  3. Brand-music "business partnerships" -- i.e. Groove-Armada-Bacardi and P&G-Def-Jam, which allow brands to potentially profit through becoming business partners with artists and labels.
We went "behind the scenes" on some deals and also pointed out that, while the opportunities for profit, innovation and breakthroughs were increasing exponentially, the deals were becoming much more complex from a licensing and rights point of view, and clients and agencies needed guidance in this space.

We had such a positive reaction that Joel and I have decided to make the presentation available -- complete with examples and behind-the-scenes information -- to any agencies or clients that wish to learn more about the latest happenings, challenges and solutions in brand-music partnerships. Contact me if you fancy your own private show ... erm so to speak ....
Will MySpace Put $300M in 50 Cent's Pocket?
Major Labels Under Pressure to Compete in Brand-Music Partnership Space

Posted by Mike Tunnicliffe in Advertising Age Songs For Soap on 05.19.08 @ 01:56 PM

50 Cent: 'Loads o' Money'

According to widespread media reports, MySpace is in advanced talks sign 50 Cent to a $300 million multiyear, 360 deal that would give Rupert Murdoch's company control over Curtis James Jackson III's tours, books and film projects as well as future albums.

However, rumors of the deal have been denied by 50 himself as well as his management and a G-Unit "associate" that spoke with Vibe magazine, but it's not clear whether the reports may be wrong, inaccurate or just awkward while negotiations are still taking place.

50 Cent would be the first A-list artist that MySpace has enticed aboard its fledgling MySpace Records, and the deal, if completed, will dwarf those made by Live Nation with Madonna for a reported $120 million and Jay-Z for $150 million. 50 Cent is currently signed to Interscope Records, which has been with the rapper since the early days of his career, but his deal, which includes his own Interscope-backed label, G-Unit records, is due to expire soon.

Forbes hasn't issued its 2008 Celebrity 100 list yet, but in last year's ranking, 50 Cent received an estimated $33 million through his various ventures. With the sale of his stake in VitaminWater for an estimated $100 million, his ranking this year should put him at the top near Oprah Winfrey, who was first last year with an estimated income of $260 million.

Increasingly, labels are left holding only the back catalogs as their superstars flee for other ventures, but that's not where the real money appears to be these days. While CD sales continue to decline, artist income is increasingly coming from broader enterprises. To quote leading-edge artist manager Terry McBride (who's in charge of the Barenaked Ladies and Avril Lavigne) at the Musexpo keynote: "We are now in the business of building entertainment brands, the music is simply the glue that holds it together"

At a time when major labels are reporting poor earnings and shedding staff, it looks like they are really going to have to invest in talent in order to compete with the deep-pocketed new entrants to the markets.