Sunday, October 18, 2009

Taylor Swift Monetizes Her 'Brand'

As published in leading Music marketing agency Frukt's FMI Report , which Mike T contributes to as well as representing Frukt's interests in North America


Bonnaroo Brand Partnerships

As published in leading Music marketing agency Frukt's FMI Report , which Mike T contributes to as well as representing Frukt's interests in North America.


The Brand Band Love In (Part 2)


The Brand Band Love In (Part 1)


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Music Branding Gets All Grown Up
Originally published in Talent Zoo on 14th July 09
By: Mike Tunnicliffe

The last few weeks have been the busiest this year to date for the “brand”-related music space thanks to a number of breakthrough announcements involving brands and entertainment properties partnering in ways that are delivering real commercial benefit and delivering new revenue streams.

Here are some examples:

Universal and George at ASDA. Universal Music announced a tie in with Walmart’s George at ASDA clothing line in the U.K., where lyrics from Universal’s catalogue have been printed on clothing and shoppers who buy the products will be offered free downloads of the songs the lyrics are from. Look out for people walking around with “Born To Be Wild” emblazoned on their chests and blaring from their earpieces, but more importantly, look out for incremental revenues for Universal Music and ASDA.

Pearl Jam’s new partners
. The band announced that it’s releasing its next album without a traditional label involved for the first time in the band’s 18-year history. Instead, a number of commercial partners will be on board, including Target. The retailer will be the exclusive big-box retailer to carry its product, and Pearl Jam has cut a Target TV commercial. (The Eagles had a similar exclusive arrangement with Walmart for its “Long Road Out of Eden” and AC/DC and Guns n’ Roses have recently tied up similar arrangements with Best Buy for their respective album releases.)

Liam Gallagher and Pretty Green.
Oasis front man Gallagher announced the launch of a new clothing line, Pretty Green, available at The site lures fans with free exclusive content, including a movie and behind-the-scenes look at a Gallagher photo shoot. It’s rumored that the next Oasis single will be released free at the Pretty Green site.

Beatles Rock Band game. The long-awaited game from Harmonix / MTV Games and Apple Corps was unveiled in Los Angeles at the recent E3 , electronics and entertainment expo. The Rock Band game will launch this fall to coincide with the digital release of the entire Beatles’ back catalogue. The Beatles are the latest iconic music act to partner with a music gaming franchise to release their own branded game, following in the footsteps of Aerosmith & Metallica who have released games with Guitar Hero and with others from Hendrix and Van Halen rumored to be in development.

Artists partnering with brands and brands using music in their marketing is nothing new, but the neat thing about the ideas above is that they’re clear examples of where consumer brands are becoming business partners and revenue generators for artists (and vice versa) rather than just suppliers of exposure, and ad dollars and this is set to increase further with brands potentially being one of the commercial lifelines for the music and entertainment business.

The financial/commercial approach to the monetization of content and entertainment brands needs to be as innovative as any technological development we’ve seen over the last few years. The real “rock stars” of the business of music are going to be those who can create value and hard revenue from innovation, in whatever forms that takes. It might even be something that executives in the music industry can learn from their more rigorous consumer brand counterparts.

There is also a growing acknowledgement, that artists partnering with brands need to be able to deliver real tangible benefits and that these partnerships need to be based on a higher level of strategic thinking to ensure a good brand fit, relevance and benefit for the brands & the fans/consumers. If we get this right, these types of partnerships could become a longer term – more consistent play for the brands and a revenue generator for the brands and artists, rather than a glorified form of sponsorship or endorsement.

These and other key themes around brands, advertising and music were discussed and vigorously debated at the inaugural Billboard/Adweek 'Music in Advertising' conference which was packed with attendees from the music and brand worlds. This space is very definitely moving towards the top of the brand marketing worlds agendas as advertisers seek out new and different ways of emotionally engaging with consumers (fans) and artists and entertainment properties seek ways to monetize around their ‘brand’ and their content.

It seems that we truly are at the dawn of a new era. Opportunities abound at every corner. Music is more alive than ever, consumers listen to more music in more ways than ever thought possible, artists interact and build connections with fans in new and unique ways, music and other entertainment content can be delivered via multiple platforms for a fraction of the cost of traditional methods, and artists can form business relationships with many different partners—including consumer brands.

The opportunities for brands to partner with music in creative and commercially fruitful ways are endless. The only thing that limits them is our imaginations.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Billboard/AdWeek Music and Advertising Conference

The Power Play: Connecting Brands And Bands 
June 05, 2009 - Branding 

Originally written by By Rachel Barnhard, N.Y.and published in Billboard 

The connection between artists and brands, and the future of this relationship, was the focal point of “The Power of Connecting Brands and Bands” panel at Billboard and Adweek’s Music and Advertising Conference in New York.

Moderator Mike Tunnicliffe of Filament Entertainment/Tuna Music led participants in the discussion and all agreed that differentiation is the driving force behind the use of music in a branding campaign. The artist should go into the relationship with the ability to communicate how his or her music fits the brand and how it can make the brand stand out in the mind of the consumer. "You have to know your story, you have to be succinct and it has to create differentiating value," voiced David Keefe of Siegel & Gale. 

If you are aware of this, you can also ensure that the sponsorship opportunities you pursue do not harm the connection with your fans: "[fans] welcome brands if they're getting something beneficial and worthwhile out of it," Tunnicliffe noted. And maintaining the fan relationship is key. "The reason people want to do things with Rihanna or Madonna is because of who their fans are," said panelist Larry Mills of Getty Images.

This prompted moderator Tunnicliffe to encourage panelists to move the case studies into a more realistic level, with less focus on pure celebrity endorsements. But, if brands are not solely using endorsements for the value of the celebrity of an artist, and if they're willing to take on less developed artists, are brands becoming the new record label? 

Jack Horner, founder of FRUKT suggested that a vacuum has been created in the wake of record labels' slowing growth. "It's no surprise that so many brands are getting involved with talent competitions because [young artists want] an opportunity to get discovered." He continued by outlining new ways brands can play different parts of the record label role in an artist's career. For example, Joe Killian of Momentum Worldwide cited Denny's effort to bring in the late-night high school crowd by offering free food to local bands after their gigs. This used to be a service the labels provided in the form of a per-diem. 

The panelists wrapped up with a discussion of the future of the industry. Mills imagined that we will see more promotions where a brand affiliates with a small group or genre of artists, and cited examples like Heineken, Jagermeister and Converse, which all worked with communities of artists rather than individual endorsements. Still, you cannot depend on advertising to sell your music. As Horner states, "You have to find other places where your music can play and work all of those outlets as creatively as you can," because you cannot control what happens on the cutting room floor.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Branding and Banding of Green

Originally published in Ad Week on 30th April 2009

By Mike Tunnicliffe

Spring is in the air and "green" is high on the agenda for both musicians and major brands -- but not necessarily together. Could greater collaboration be a missed opportunity?

The answer to that would seem to be "yes."

Brands and musicians are plowing their green furrows in increasing numbers. More and more marketers are developing their communications strategies to meet consumer demands for environmentally friendly products. "Eco friendliness" is growing exponentially in sectors including household cleaning, appliances, computing, automotive and food. But musicians only seem to come together with "green" brands outside the mainstream, and in low key or specialist ways.

As Billboard magazine's recent Green Issue reported, there's no slowdown in the number of artists embracing environmental issues. Some fairly mainstream and iconic musicians leading the charge include John Legend, Radiohead, Ludacris, Tommy Lee, Pharrell Williams and Feist, as well as more ecologically focused artists like Jack Johnson, Okkervil and Cake. These performers are among those driving the message home to their fans, leading by example. They're reducing their carbon footprint via biodegradable fuel in tour trucks, designing energy-efficient stage sets, running solar-powered recording studios and banning disposable water bottles at their performance venues.

Musicians are also encouraging fans to learn more and participate in socially responsible and cause-related behaviors. For example, Hanson's Take the Walk, which encourages fans to participate in a mile-long barefoot walk with them at each gig, raises awareness of poverty and AIDS in Africa. It also raises funds to send shoes to underprivileged kids there.

John Legend's Show Me Campaign encourages people to take individual action and, according to Billboard, has been a large part of his 2008 Evolver tour where fans can text in donations during the show and visit Show Me displays.
A number of environmental organizations have been tapping into the emotional engagement artists have with their fans. For example, Rock the Earth, which campaigns for and takes action on many environmental issues, has partnered with a number of high-profile artists including Alanis Morisette, Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crowe, Ozzy Osbourne and Tom Petty.

So with all this star power and influence, why aren't we seeing more partnerships with big marketers?

According to Shawn Kilmurray, executive director of Rock the Earth and a music industry veteran, it's not that brands aren't interested; it's that artists are wary of brands that greenwash -- meaning they talk the green talk to lure in consumers, but don't walk the walk. When the Sierra Club, for instance, endorsed Clorox's eco-friendly cleaning line -- and as result gets a share of the profits -- it suffered a backlash from some longtime supporters who thought the club had sold out. Kilmurray points out that artists are worried about losing credibility if they take dollars from unsuitable brands.

Anthony Ackenhoff, co-founder of global music branding and strategy company Frukt, also notes that while artists have got over the notion of selling out to brands, when it comes to their own beliefs and personal interests they're extra careful. Brands, he says, have to pass the sniff test and be able to stand up to scrutiny. If the artist and his or her fans smell a rat, then the artist -- and the brand -- could be damaged.

The stakes are high for all, but there is clearly an opportunity for brands that are genuine in their green/sustainability claims and performances. As the old saying goes, "He [or she] who dares, wins."

Mike Tunnicliffe is a partner at the Filament Entertainment Group. He can be reached at

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Brand New Music Business

Originally published in AdWeek ; March 18th 2009

By Mike Tunnicliffe


As the financial storm and economic woes blow a chill wind through the stock market, and music stocks in particular take a bashing to end all bashings, is this the end of the music business as we know it?

Quite possibly -- but that's not what we should focus on.

The real issue is that we're at the beginning of a new era. Music is more alive than ever, consumers are listening to more music than ever before, artists are interacting and building bonds with fans across multiple platforms, digital distribution is enabling artists to get their music out to fans for a fraction of the cost of traditional methods, and brands and other alternative marketing partners are being embraced as the new patrons of artists and music. So, yes, it may be the end of the traditional music business as we know it, but for those willing to embrace change it's the start of a brand new paradigm in the entertainment and brand-marketing worlds.

Last year saw the brand-music partnership space explode with never-before-seen collaborations between artists and brands. Highlights from 2008 include:

• The world's largest consumer brands company formed a record label: Procter & Gamble/Def Jam's Tag Records, to help break new urban acts through its advertising.

• Bacardi partnered with British Dance Act, Groove Armada, to build a global marketing strategy based around music.

• Red Bull and Levi's set up labels and studios to help create and break new music.

• MTV Networks' Rock Band franchise sold more downloads than many digital online stores.

A number of new business models and players also emerged, including promoter Live Nation, which signed a series of mega-global stars away from their traditional labels into new deals that have the concert promoter and artist partnering across multiple revenue streams (known as "360 deals"), of which sponsorships and partnerships with brands will be a key source of revenue. Artists included Madonna, Nickelback, Jay Z, Shakira and U2, which signed a slightly less encompassing "270 deal."

The old notion of "selling out" is long gone. Let's face facts, the music and entertainment industries have something that brands want and vice versa. Put simply: Brands offer artists opportunities for exposure and marketing dollars that simply don't exist anymore in traditional music companies. And brands want to tap into those ever-elusive emotional engagements with consumers (fans) that artists seem to have in buckets.

Fans themselves are endorsing the notion that brands are going to be central to the new music economy and ecosystem. A recent survey by Bauer Media in the U.K. showed that 69 percent of those classified as "most passionate" about music thought that brands being involved with music and artists was a good thing.

Another recent survey, from music-branding company Heartbeats International, polled senior brand marketers and found that seven out of 10 marketers see music becoming an increasing part of their tool set going forward. Usage ranges from enhancing TV commercials and other forms of promotional content, to artists collaborations, music in products and the development of a "brand sound" -- a whole other area with massive growth potential for agencies and "sonic branding" specialists.

As often happens in times of economic downturn, new opportunities arise for those willing to flout convention and look forward rather than backward.

So gazing into my crystal ball, what sort of things might we see happening this year? In broad terms the trend will continue of artists increasingly seeking new business partners and associations away from traditional music companies. More specifically:

• A major artist will almost certainly "sign" with a brand to make their new album and content available exclusively through the brands online- and product-distribution networks. Imagine, for example, something like MyCoke Music. Com partnering with The Foo Fighters. The Foo Fighters' legion of fans would then be interacting and engaging with Coke to get access to their favorite band and the artist will have massive promotional support that's just not available from traditional music companies.

• A new breed of very nimble, rapidly evolving music and entertainment companies will emerge to take advantage of the growing number of digital pipelines and increase in branding and partnerships. A combination of ad agency, content owner, talent agency and technology company, perhaps?

• Some of the new players will emerge as leading aggregators of musical content. As the financial pressure continues to mount on traditional music companies, a number of assets will change hands, fueled by investment money that will be increasingly looking for a home in businesses that can be turned around, if leveraged in new and different ways.

• A major smash hit record will break after partnering with a brand and being featured as the brand's signature tune across multiple platforms. A No. 1 hit single courtesy of Pantene shampoo, perhaps?

Whether these particular predictions come true or not, we'll have to see. But what I can predict with some certainty is that we will see some never before thought possible business models, partnerships and collaborations involving music and brands.

Mike Tunnicliffe is a partner at the Filament Entertainment Group. He can be reached at

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Tunnicliffe On Tour
Posted by Mike Tunnicliffe on Sunday March 1st 2009 at 10.00PM

Well I'm certainly feeling like I'm on a non stop roadshow.

I'm backwards and forwards to LA on a bi weekly basis , as I join my partners in the most exciting venture to hit the music, branding , technology and entertainment scene for some while Filament Entertainment Group. More details will be brought over the coming weeks , but in the meanwhile check out our website .

Speaking engagements are flooding in like crazy :
  • Last week saw me join the panel of experts at the Digital Music Forum East in New York to tackle the pro's & con's of 360 deals
  • Austin Texas beckons on March 18th where I'll be running a session on fans & brands at The Band Bootcamp sessions , which are being produced by Music Supervisor. Com at South X South West
  • On to Santa Monica on May 6th to appear at Digital Hollywood's Music 2.0 panel - Re-Invention of an Industry Music Power Shift: Artist, Label, Technology, Management & more
  • Europe beckons in early June , when I take part in the inaugural Brands in Entertainment conference in Barcelona
Just in case you want a sneak preview of some of the themes that I cover at these conferences check out the video below:

Do Those Rascal Flatts Come in a Size 7?

Mutual Brand Benefits Cited as JCPenney and Band Get Back to 'Their Roots'

Multi-platinum country rock act Rascal Flatts is working with JCPenney for a broad marketing and promotional deal, which includes in-store promotion, tour support, merch and TV ads.

The deal kicks off with the April 7 release of the band's new album "Unstoppable" and, according to, will continue for at least two years, with an option to extend it for more. The deal ties together Rascal Flatts with JCPenney's American Living range of clothes and other household items, which, when launched last year in conjunction with Ralph Lauren, was billed as the biggest merchandising launch in the department store's 105-year history. The original campaign featured a beautiful spot set to Robert Plant and Alison Krauss' "Killing the Blues," which we dubbed one of the year's best ad songs.

This partnership is a continuation of JCPenney's well-executed -- and well-timed -- return to its roots as a retailer serving Middle America with value-priced goods. as SFS pointed out last fall, the appeal of country artists has been growing as the recession has been biting harder, and the country music audience has remained slap-bang in the middle of America, claiming nearly 55% of women and 45% of men.

This partnership seems to hit the spot not only for JCPenney, but also for Rascal Flatts, whose co-manager Doug Nichols told Billboard, "We feel that JCPenney is a partner that can grow our brand and we fully intend to help them grow their brand." About this time last year, the Rascal Flatts was promoting the new Rubix Cube.

The band wrote a track, "American Living," which will serve as the soundtrack for the first TV commercial and will be available on a special version of the "Unstoppable" CD sold only at JCPenney stores. The net proceeds from the sale of the album will be going to JCPenney Afterschool, which provides children in need with access to after-school programs.

JCPenney will also follow band members Jay DeMarcus, Gary LeVox and Joe Don Rooney on tour as they wear the clothing on-stage, and their TV spot and behind-the-scenes footage will run on two large screens during concerts. Fans will be able to purchase American Living-branded tour merch, and the band's 18 tour buses will be splashed with the brand.

All in all, a deep collaboration that hits the spot on a number of counts: It's a good brand fit between the retailer and the act, the band gets great exposure from the collaboration, JC Penney gets a totally relevant multi-platform integrated endorsement from a band that mirrors its values, and, most importantly, fans/consumers get a stack of added-value content, merchandise and connections.

~ ~ ~
Mike Tunnicliffe is founder of NY based Tuna Music LLC & a partner at LA based Filament Entertainment 

The Boss Raises Red Flag on Ticketmaster

Springsteen Voices Concern About Effect of Mega-Merger on Fans

Having just recently apologized to fans for the "mistake" of allowing his latest greatest hits album to be exclusively released in Wal-Mart, The Boss is back in action on behalf of the fans, this time giving Ticketmaster a good blasting for the way that it handled the recent sale of tickets for his forthcoming tour.

Springsteen and his manager Jon Landau have vented their anger at Ticketmaster for what they refer to as an "abuse of our fans" after the ticket company redirected customers attempting to buy Springsteen concert tickets to the company's secondary ticketing site, TicketsNow. This site, Springsteen says, "specializes in up-selling tickets at above face value". The redirection -- which occurred when other seats remained available at face value -- has once again raised concern over the dual ownership of both primary and secondary outlets.

"Fans are confused and angry, which is the opposite of what we hoped to accomplish," said Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff, who has now issued an open letter of apology to Springsteen and his fans. The company, he says, "will never again link to TicketsNow in a manner that can possibly create any confusion during a high-demand on-sale."

Springsteen and Landau also voiced considerable concern over the potential merger between Ticketmaster and Live Nation, arguing that it would return concert ticketing "to a near monopoly." Similar concerns have been voiced from a number of quarters regarding the ability of Live Nation to allow performers the opportunity to list tickets on the resale system without ever officially listing them in the primary market.

Michael Hershfield, co-founder and CEO of secondary ticketing site Live Stub told SFS that "It is the dirty little secret of the potential merger. This is a substantive issue that regulators and fans should be mindful of."

The gloves are off ... and I think that we can expect a further backlash if the deal goes forward.

~ ~ ~
Mike Tunnicliffe is founder of New York-based Tuna Music, & a partner at Los Angeles-based Filament Entertainment 

A Walmart for Music-Brand Deals

Potential Merger of Live Nation, Ticketmaster Could Be Boon for Marketers

Despite a well-publicized spat when Live Nation decided to take all its ticketing contracts in-house and away from Ticketmaster, the two camps appear to have kissed and made up. According to a story in last night's Wall Street Journal, the two companies are well on their way to merging into one mega "360" entertainment powerhouse.

There were so many interesting developments driven by Live Nation last year that, at one stage, we dubbed SFS "All things Live Nation." The concert promoter led the way with a number of ground-breaking "360 deals" that saw artists such as Madonna, Nickelback, Jay-Z, Shakira and U2 embrace totally new business models that incorporated touring, branding, sponsorships, recordings, publishing and merchandise all under one roof.

Looming rival Ticketmaster followed a similar strategy towards the end of the 2008 when it acquired "mega manager" Irving Azoff's Frontline Management, whose 80-strong executive management team controls the careers and revenue streams of some of the biggest names in the business -- i.e., The Eagles, AC/DC, Guns N' Roses, Christina Aguilera, Avril Lavigne and around 200 other acts -- in order to form Ticketmaster Entertainment with a similar objective of leveraging all artists' 360 revenue streams within the same company.

Aside from the obvious corporate intrigue and the massive personalities and egos of the management teams and their stars, the merger of these live music giants presents a potentially fascinating deal for brands. The combined company would put under one roof the ability to have a direct connection with fans through artists and multiple contact points such as ticketing, concerts and sponsorship activation, recordings and distribution of content, merchandising opportunities, celebrity endorsements and much much more. With the ticketing element now a key part, this partnership could take a whole new turn for brands, which will have access to vast amounts of data that can be mined for marketing purposes. Examples could include the profiles of who's buying tickets for particular acts and the relevance of that audience to the brand, what they feel about certain brands and products and their associations with music, what fans are spending on merchandise and associated products, regional skews and, in time, much more complex data mining that will take the whole accountability and effectiveness of brand partnerships to a new level.

As we've said before, the key for the newly combined entity would be for it to understand the brands' requirements, speak the brands' language and understand how the partnerships can help the brands as well as the artists. While I don't doubt that Live Nation/Ticketmaster will want to directly control as much of the interaction with brands as possible, there is a great opportunity here to partner with agencies and specialist entertainment companies who work with brands day in and day out and can help navigate and translate for both Live Nation/Ticketmaster as well as the brands themselves. If Live Nation/Ticketmaster gets these relationships and partnerships right, it could give more traditionally music-related media channels such as MTV, VH1 and Fuse a good run for their money. The new entity would also be a preferred one-stop-shop that's an awful lot better to deal with than going through traditional labels as the entry points to artists.

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Mike Tunnicliffe is founder of NY based Tuna Music LLC & a partner at LA based Filament Entertainment

What You Missed at Midem This Year

Cannes Music Confab Features Announcements From Bacardi, Coke, CoverGirl

This year, as in years past, Midem, the music business' annual shindig at Cannes -- which kicks off the annual Cannes-hosted events, including, of course, the ad industry's Cannes Lions -- featured a lot of talk, panel discussions and announcements about the growing involvement of brands with music. Here's the big ones.


More details emerged about Coke's partnership with Warner Music Group, which, as Ad Age hinted at last week, culminated in a branded song featuring Patrick Stump from Fallout Boy, Travis McCoy from Gym Class Heroes, Brendon Urie from Panic At the Disco, Cee-Lo Green (of Gnarls Barkley) and Janelle Monae. The track was unveiled at the conference by Umut Ozaydini, Coca-Cola's global marketing manager, sports and entertainment marketing.

The track "Open Happiness" will be released digitally in March via Atlantic, and, in addition to its appearance in TV spots in over 100 countries, the performers will be printed on billions of cans across the globe. For the release, Atlantic records and Coke will split the proceeds of sales of the single, with Coke using a proportion of their share for their "Live Positively" campaign, according to a source familiar with the deal. Coke, which commissioned the song, will also retain ownership of the publishing rights, which, if the single takes off, could prove valuable.

All in all, a well-thought-out idea that brings together social, commercial and branding initiatives. The star power involved will surely generate interest from teenage fans, but, like any piece of music, it'll still come down to the quality of the end-product.

Bacardi and Groove Armada

Bacardi and British dance band Groove Armada, which last year tied up a groundbreaking partnership, announced a new online collaboration under which the band will release a new EP via Bacardi's B Live global music site. Fans who register on the site will get the first MP3 for free and will be encouraged to share the track via a Facebook application, e-mail or a widget available for other social networks. Once they share the track with twenty friends, they will be sent the second track for free.

According to coverage in Billboard, the sharing process is automated and the original user increases his or her share-count among a network of friends, up to three generations. So one friend could pass it on to several people, and those people could each pass it on to several more, with the original users share tally constantly increasing. As the process continues, the original user will get access to more tracks: track three becomes available after 200 shares of track one, and when that reaches 2,000, track four will be unlocked. The more first-generation friends, the quicker that total will be reached.

SFS applauds this initiative as it is the first time that a brand and artist have so actively tried to harness the power of social networking to release free music, and it will be a real test of whether true fans of the act are prepared to play under the brand's rules in order to access the music. And it certainly makes an interesting divergence from the now increasingly prosaic "free download."


For the second year running, Grey Worldwide's senior VP-director of music, Josh Rabinowitz, has announced that client P&G is inviting delegates attending Midem to submit tracks for use in a in a new CoverGirl campaign. Last year Mr. Rabinowitz gathered tracks in a similar way for a Pantene campaign in summer 2008 that featured the song "Shine," co-written by Rosi Golan and Human, a New York-based music house. This year, CoverGirl is, according to the submission criteria, looking for a song that is "positive, emotional and encourages women to step it up -- take a chance -- be their own COVERGIRL."

SFS will be happy if it means that we don't have to listen to "Umbrella" by Rihanna, which has been the sound of the CoverGirl song for the past year. Time for change indeed.

~ ~ ~
Mike Tunnicliffe is founder of NY based Tuna Music LLC & a partner of LA based Filament Entertainment 

HMV Gets a Taste for the Floodlights

British Retailer Diversifies Beyond Recorded Music, Becomes Live Brand

Within days of learning about the death warrant out for Virgin's Times Square megastore -- described by the New York Times as "another step towards extinction for the sales of recorded music" -- it was heartening to see an innovative move from British based retailer HMV to find revenue outside of compact discs last week.

The books-to-CD retailer is expanding into the £1B live music market after agreeing to a joint venture with AIM-listed listed Mama Group that will give HMV a stake in some of the UK's best-known music venues, including the Hammersmith Apollo, the Edinburgh Picture House and Birmingham Institute.

The tie-up means the retailer will profit from ticket and merchandise sales across all 12 venues, which, in total, attract over 2 million concert goers each year.

The deal also hands HMV branding rights for the Hammersmith venue, which will be renamed the HMV Apollo. Hammersmith is one of the most iconic London rock venues, having played host to almost every big name star on the way up as well as on the way down. Up until now, it's historically been associated with beer brands; it was previously the Carling Apollo, and some years ago, when I was a regular visitor, it was the Labbatt's Apollo.

Of the deal, HMV CEO Simon Fox told the UK's Music Week: "Music is very much part of our DNA, and by extending the HMV brand into the growing live music and entertainment market, our customers will be able as never before to access and experience music in all of its forms via HMV."

This is an innovative move that sees a retailer diversify in a hugely relevant way while also grabbing naming rights / branding opportunities at the same time. As we've pointed out recently, live sponsorship can reap big rewards in the UK.

[Music Week]

~ ~ ~
Mike Tunnicliffe is founder of NY based Tuna Music LLC, a partner of LA based Filament Entertainment Marketing.

Rock Games Singing Sad Songs, Waltzes

Profit Warnings and a Slowdown Without Much Signs of Letting Up

Note: The lede for this post has been altered slightly to provide better context for the story.

While the rest of the video game industry seems to be prospering despite the tough economy, two rock-branded game franchises that once promised to broaden the market have unexpectedly fallen behind their competition. Is the tour winding down for "Rock Band" and "Guitar Hero" ?

Electronic Arts, the video game publisher behind the "Rock Band" franchise, has issued its second profit warning within as many months, and, according to numerous reports over the last few days, including one from the BBC, a number of holiday season titles -- including the second installment of the "Rock Band" series -- have seen disappointing sales figures since their releases. The company also said it had been hit by the growing market share of Nintendo's Wii console, which experienced unexpected growth in November and features a bevy of successful first-party software titles. That said, even Nintendo's music game offering, "Wii Music," has thus far been an unexpected failure.

Over at Activision, the company behind "Guitar Hero," analysts are starting to predict a slowdown in revenues, with Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter telling Wired that we can expect to see an overall Activision revenue drop of 14 percent. Jesse Divnich of Electronic Entertainment Design and Research issued a research note on Monday that stated "Guitar Hero" should expect unit sales to decline by at least half, series-over-series for November. In October, this figure was at 60 percent.

However, the same report also acknowledged that, although sales are going to be down, games like "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band" will not be disappearing "anytime soon." Thanks goodness for that as I'd hate to see those Hedi Klum commercials disappearing off our screens!

~ ~ ~
Mike Tunnicliffe is a partner in LA based Filament Entertainment

Madonna Gets Racy With Louis Vuitton

Newly Single Star Is Latest Face of Luxury Brand

LV Madonna ad

LV Madonna ad

Busy star Madonna, who's thrown together a divorce, moved to New York, released a new album, participated in a global tie-in with Sunsilk, signed an enormous "360" deal with Live Nation and is in the middle of a sellout world tour, has now taken on another high-profile job as the new face of Louis Vuitton's spring/summer fashion campaign. She reportedly earned $10 million for the campaign.

According to the press release, Marc Jacobs, designer of the 2009 ready-to-wear collection, "knew exactly who he wanted to embody the spirit of the season." Dressed in little else besides mesh stockings and high stilettos and sitting in a smoky, old-fashioned Parisian bar with the latest Vuitton "it" bags, Madonna is intended to embody Jacobs' "vision of the quintessential Parisienne." He says, "I wanted the campaign to be very bold, very sensual and very atmospheric. To carry this off, we needed the ultimate performer -- and for me, that is Madonna."

Louis Vuitton has been using a range of iconic stars in its advertising this year, with former James Bond Sean Connery currently gracing the front page of its website. Figures as varied as Catherine Deneuve and Mikhail Gorbachev have all posed for the "Core Values" campaign, shot by celebrated -- and, as of late, controversial -- photographer Annie Liebovitz. The campaign also features images of Francis Ford Coppola with his daughter Sofia, Andre Agassi with wife Steffi Graf and, as we've covered before, Keith Richards.

The Madonna campaign has been shot by her longtime creative collaborator Steven Meisel, and it's the first time the influential fashion photographer has shot a campaign for LV. Whoever is behind the lens, SFS is just pleased that this provocative series of ads featuring an iconic rock/pop star is a little easier on the eye than Keith Richards!

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Mike Tunnicliffe is a partner in LA based Filament Entertainment

Mixing Business, Pleasure and Brands

MSG Chairman, Cablevision CEO Shows Passion for Synergistic Riffing

A great example of how passion for music and the business of music and entertainment can fit together so well has just popped into the SFS mailbox courtesy of Ticketmaster, with an offer for customers to download a free new album by JD and The Straight Shot.

"Right on Time" features guest performances by "two of the greatest musicians to ever touch a six-string": Joe Walsh of the Eagles and pedal steel guitar virtuoso Robert Randolph, known for leading his own Family Band and collaborating with icons such as Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Dave Matthews and others.

Not content with offering the free album, the band is also offering, via their website, a nice brand partnership in the shape of a contest for a "no purchase required" Gibson guitar signed by Joe Walsh and the leader of the band, JD himself, James Dolan.

Whilst not trumpeted anywhere in the promotion of the album or band, Mr. Dolan is in fact chairman of Madison Square Garden Entertainment and president-CEO of MSG's corporate parent, Cablevision Systems Corp. MSG's many entities include some of the most iconic rock venues in the world, and although Mr. Dolan no doubt has connections with some of the greatest rock acts in the world through his venues, he is definitely delivering this project on some serious musical merit of his own -- and an undoubted passion to just play some goddamn great music.

From the band's site:
"I'm just like thousands of guys who picked up a guitar when they were 15, except that I never put it down," he says. "Music is one of my earliest passions and has always been a part of my life. I think you can grow up without growing old," Dolan says. "We still enjoy timeless blues and classic rock, but our new material has a certain energy and vitality to it that can connect to music lovers of all ages. Maybe I'll even inspire some 15-year-old kid to pick up a guitar."
Never mind the 15-year-olds, this 47-year-old has dusted down his 1972 Gibson Les Paul Custom one more time ... so keep your eyes peeled for an appearance at some of those holiday parties!

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Mike Tunnicliffe is a partner in LA based Filament Entertainment Group

The 'Prince of Darkness' Resurfaces to Sell

Ozzy Osbourne's Eccentricities Highlighted in Spots for Samsung, Blizzard

Ozzy Osbourne hits the screens in two separate endorsements this month.

The first one, for the Samsung Propel phone, has the mumbling rock star trying to order coffee, take a cab and visit his therapist. Unfortunately no one can understand poor Ozzy's mumblings, not even the barista at the coffee house, so he texts him his order for "black coffee" using the Propel. Later, a taxi driver can't understand Ozzy, so he texts the cabby his destination, and finally Ozzy performs the same routine with his therapist, who naturally finds this quite disturbing.

The campaign is taken online with a neat "Ozzy said what?" section of the Samsung site that invites customers to translate what Ozzy's saying and type it in on the new QWERTY keyboard.

Ozzy also appears as "The Original Prince of Darkness" to promote Blizzard Entertainment's "Warcraft" game, where the character Arthas is poised to steal his crown. In the nationally televised spot, Ozzy is seen mumbling that he has been "the prince of darkness since 1979" (though we can only digest this dialogue through the subtitles) and finally yells at the camera "What's your **@!! Game?"

These are two amusing pieces of communication that fit perfectly with the mumbling, shaking star, though as music/brand marketing agency Frukt points out, with Ozzy's shaky hands, the likelihood of any text message being clearer than his words is slim!

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Mike Tunnicliffe is a partner in Los Angeles based Filament Entertainment Group

Adidas Kicks It Old-School for 60th Birthday

Stars Come Out for Classic 1980s Hip-Hop House Party

England and LA Galaxy soccer star David Beckham has joined a diverse group of other stars including Katy Perry, Estelle and Missy Elliott for a new Adidas commercial that's essentially a 60-second house party snapshot. Soundtracked to Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons' 1967 hit "Beggin" remixed by DJ Pilooski, the ad also features hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, rappers Method Man, Redman and Darryl "DMC" McDaniels and The Ting Tings.

The commercial, which hit the screens on November 25, is the kick-off spot for Adidas' "60 Years Of Soles and Stripes" anniversary, which the company says is its largest global campaign. Montreal-based agency Sid Lee, which created and produced it, was named the global advertising agency for Adidas Originals at the start of 2008 after working on various communication and retail projects for the brand over the last few years.

The creative will come to life in a complete through-the-line offering including two television spots, cinema, digital, retail, activation events and a print campaign shot by RJ Shaughnessy. Adidas is also teaming up with a number of other "cool" brands, including Italian scooter manufacturer Vespa, which is also featured in the commercial.

Nice commercial and idea, though the mind boggles as to what the production budget must have been for this star-studded extravaganza.

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Mike Tunnicliffe is a partner in Los Angeles based Filament Entertainment Group

Sony and Bloomingdale's Make Healing Waves

Holiday Auction With High-Profile Artists Benefits Musicians on Call

Whilst we've had misgivings about the relevance of some of the recent fashion and music collaborations, Bloomingdale's has put together a neat tie-in with Sony in aid of the charity Musicians On Call, which brings live and recorded music to the bedsides of patients in health-care facilities and promotes the use of music to complement the healing process for them, their families and caregivers.

As part of this tie-in, Bloomingdale's has just unveiled "Ultimate Experiences," a series of once-in-a-lifetime auction packages with award-winning Sony musicians. These prizes are featured in Bloomingdale's holiday catalog and will be auctioned off online at from Dec. 1 to 11. The winners can paint with Tony Bennett during a one-hour personal lesson at his private Manhattan studio or invite three friends to a private brunch and performance with Grammy-award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Another lucky four can then set sail aboard the party ship "Mayercraft Carrier 2" with another Grammy Award winner, John Mayer, for a party, performance and a personally signed guitar. Celine Dion goes a stage further and lays on a personal meet-and-greet for a winner and six close friends after they attend the grand finale of her world tour. As the bidding begins at $25,000, we can expect to see some significant money raised through this initiative.

In support of Musicians On Call, Bloomingdale's has created a number of other music-related promotions, including a donation of $50,000 from the sales of its annual Little Brown Bear by Gund.

This Bloomingdale's/Sony partnership has already enabled Musicians On Call to create 40 custom, co-branded CD Pharmacy facilities in cities across the country where Bloomingdale's has retail stores. A CD Pharmacy consists of at least 200 CDs handpicked to reflect the demographics of each facility, which, at no fee, the organization provides for hospitals -- along with CD players -- for patient use. Musicians on Call currently has 240 CD Pharmacies throughout the United States and in Dublin, Ireland.

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Mike Tunnicliffe is a partner in Filament Entertainment Group

Anatomy of a Song Promotion

The Fray Strike Far-Reaching Deal With ABC

Within a week of The Fray's song "How to Save a Life" appearing in "Grey's Anatomy," sales of the single shot up 283%, according to Nielsen Soundscan. Subsequent sales eventually hit over 2.5 million downloads as ABC and channels in other countries used the soundtrack in trailers for the show.

This appearance, along with other notable acts and songs such as Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars," marked the coming of age of shows like "Grey's Anatomy," "The OC," "Gossip Girl" and others as one of the highest-profile methods for bands to gain exposure. Now The Fray are back with ABC in a partnership that pushes the boundaries of these tie-ins to new levels. From a report in Billboard:
In a commercial break from the tense elevator confrontations of the Nov. 20 episode of "Grey's Anatomy," a one-minute promo with scenes from the upcoming season of ABC's "Lost" will premiere the Fray's new single, "You Found Me," as well as parts of the music video. Viewers will be directed to, where they can find a three-minute version of the clip as well as a link to iTunes; there they can buy the single, which will be released to radio the next day.

The partnership between ABC and the Fray -- leader Isaac Slade, guitarists Joe King and David Welsh and drummer Ben Wysocki -- also includes an agreement for the band to appear on the American Music Awards, "Good Morning America" and the outdoor concert series on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" ABC will use "You Found Me" as the promo song for this season of "Lost," and discussions are under way to use the band's music on sister channel ESPN during the height of football season.
As we've commented in recent weeks, nothing's going to be impossible in the growing tie-ins between artist and brands, in this case a media brand.

[Video via Idolator]

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Mike Tunnicliffe is a partner in LA based Filament Entertainment Group

Does Every Brand Have a Sound?

SFS Blogger Returns Home With Overview From Experts on the West Coast

NARIP confab: (From l.) Three Ring Projects CEO Jeff Rabhan, Coca-Cola's Global Music Marketing Manager Umut Özaydinli, NARIP President Tess Taylor, Bluestone Partners CEO in Residence Martin Pazzani and Wright Crear Management's Jared Rosenberg
After a globe-trotting couple of weeks, the full SFS team is finally back together in New York. I've just returned from NARIP's "Bands, Brands & Beyond Expo" in Los Angeles, where I presented at the keynote. The National Association of Recording Industry Professionals confab was a well-attended and well-designed event with a large contingent of industry leaders and an impressive line of speakers, some of whose comments I've noted below:

Tena Clark, chief creative officer for DMI Music & Media Solutions, started out the day with a clear view on music branding. "At the heart of every brand is a unique sound," she said. "You've got to work very hard to discover what it is or should be. It's what we call the soundDNA, something that can build emotional connections with the brand. SoundDNA is the answer to the question 'What is the sound of your brand?'"

This idea of "sound branding" was also echoed by Martin Pazzani, CEO-in-residence at Bluestone Capital and former CEO of Elias Arts, who said, "A growing number of marketers are beginning to see the benefits of using audio, the sense of hearing, at a much higher level than ever before. They use music and sound as an integrated, planned, strategic communication tool rather than a lowly production afterthought. These marketers are creating the new discipline of audio brand identity and realizing a new area of competitive advantage."

The issue of branding for artists was another clear theme echoed by many of the panelists, including Umut Özaydinli, global music marketing manager, worldwide sports and entertainment marketing for Coca-Cola, who had this piece of advice for artists: "Everyone must become his own brand manager."

Finally, your very own SFS argued that "artists need to think of themselves as brands; what they stand for, what their values are and what message they want to give," if they are to succeed in partnering with consumer brands.

Anyhow, back to some real work now!

SFS Spreads Good Word on Music-Branding

SFS Spreads Good Word on Music-Branding

Mike Tunnicliffe (second from l.) and fellow panelists at MUSEXPO Europe.
The good looking half of SFS has been busy trotting the globe this fall as a speaker and panelist at a number of music industry events. After a quick warm-up gig at The Swedish Music conference during the CMJ Music Marathon two weeks ago -- with other panelists like Josh Rabinowitz, head of music at Grey, Calle Sjoenell, creative director at BBH and Ed Razzano from global licensing platform Ricall -- the tour swept into London last week for the inaugural MUSEXPO Europe. Yours truly co-moderated a panel called "One step beyond: extending the brand," which explored the growing influence of brands on the breaking of and continued success for new and established artists.

The panelists, which included Martin Morales, head of Disney's recorded music assets for Europe; leading showbiz attorney Doug Mark; Richard Kirstein from BBH's Leap Music in London; and Alicen Schneider and Marianne Goode, music supremos for NBC and Lifetime Television, respectively. We engaged in a lively debate about around a number of key topics, including whether brands would increasingly be looking to take an equity stake in the artists that they break/support -- as we've seen this year with P&G's Tag Records, JV with Def Jam and Bacardi's "signing" of top British dance act Groove Armada.

The overwhelming view from the panel was that "nothing's impossible," and that any number of previously un-thought-of arrangements between brands and artists would arrive over the coming year. Brands are increasingly looking to own some of the intellectual property that they help create, said Richard Kirstein, CEO of Leap Music: "It's no longer taboo from either the artists or brands perspective to want to be in some sort of partnership together; each can help the other out."

Anyhow, the SFS rock n' roll tour hits Los Angeles next week for NARIP's (National Association of Recording Industry Professionals) "Bands Brands & Beyond Expo," where I'll be delivering a keynote titled "Evolving Deals In Licensing & Branding: A Behind-the-Scenes Look" as well as mixing it up with the likes of Umut Özaydinli, global music marketing manager, Coca-Cola, Martin Pazzani, CEO-in-residence, Bluestone Partners, Jared Rosenbergand, Janet Jackson's co-manager, and a stack of others leading figures in the brand-music space. Hope to see some of you there!

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Mike Tunnicliffe is a partner in Filament Entertainment Group