Last week, Brice Bay, CEO of EnVeritas Group, and I participated in the MIDEM in Cannes. Our goal was to understand how brands and the music industry work together. Just like editorial content, we believe that music is a great way for brands to convey positive messages and associate their products with universal emotions.Midem Logo

What struck me the most at MIDEM was the number of brands in attendance. There is no denying that the music industry is morphing as its business model is broken. We attended various conferences about the industry throughout the week, and I have to say that once again I was really impressed with Coca-Cola’s creativity when it comes to making their brand and ideas available to the world through emotions and universal medias. Wendy Clark @wnd, SVP integrated marketing and communication and capabilities, presented with Mark Ronson Coca-Cola’s Olympic anthem that was set to the rhythm of runners’ heartbeats. Brands or no brands, this is just a cool idea and really smart content marketing. You have all the components of a great story here — the sport, the music, a great story to tell, a global event (the Olympics), an on-trend artist and a brand conveying a very positive message. You can check out the interview here @MIDEM.

Powerful emotional messages and a very organized content strategy will help brands drive a lot of attention. Why? Because people like to share cool stories. Examples of brands sponsoring music artists without directing their creativity are increasingly common, and both sides have found a great interest in such initiatives. The artist and the brand are both playing with their credibility in this game and actually taking a big risk. However, when the ingredients are right, it can create a unique flavor that really does not feel like typical advertising. The examples of advertising that you may only remember because of the soundtrack are numerous. For more on this topic, check out “The Songs Behind Your Favorite Commercials” from Mashable.

What is very different now is that the music industry is suffering and is looking for new business models in order to survive. Musicians’ core content is being exchanged for free online and the new music platforms are providing limited revenue to large labels but very small revenue for the artists, who now look for concert and branding opportunities to survive. New ways to distribute music content legally are emerging but the loss in revenue for artists and CD retailers will never return. Is there a way for brands to be involved with music without them completely corrupting its soul? Perhaps. Another interesting example is from Converse. The company built a recording studio in Brooklyn and rents it for free to independent artists with project ideas. They don’t ask for any credit on the final piece and instead just let the artists and press talk about this initiative.

Converse’s studio project is creating loyal fans that will talk about the initiative online, to their friends and in conferences, which lets the brand be associated with genuine actions. Quality content helps brands convey emotions and values and this can be more important than a tagline or a sales pitch. Brands can help artists gain visibility and in return brands gain respectability and new fans when it’s done well.

MIDEM was a very inspiring event and we came back believing that there are great opportunities to associate multilingual editorial content marketing initiatives with global brand campaigns and music artists. Brands may not save the music industry – it needs to be transformed to find a new business model that is fair for the artists – but brands can help play a more important role in artists’ careers going forward.

For more information about MIDEM, I encourage you to look at these links:

Eric Ingrand
Vice President Content Projects Europe

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