MUSIC AS A CONSUMER-
ENGAGEMENT TOOL IN THE SOCIAL
“Music has been ranked
as the media that most
people would least like
to live without (before TV
* Source: Soundslikebranding.com
“A study conducted by professors Dr.
Adrian North and Dr. David Hargreaves
reports that brands with music that fits
their brand identity are 96 percent more
likely to be recalled than those with non-
fitting music or no music at all.”*
* Source: Soundslikebranding.com
So how does your brand
use music to connect
with consumers online?
First, a look at a few different
approaches to the music-
branding equation in the past….
Green Label Sounds is a boutique digital record label
underwritten by the Mountain Dew soft drink brand that
curates one-off singles and videos by underground
alternative rock, electronic and hip hop artists that would
appeal to a tastemaker, hipster audience.
• GLS is overseen by the music-
focused marketing agency
Cornerstone Promotions meaning
their A&R acumen is excellent and
their blogger and music tastemaker
influence and outreach is huge.
• Cornerstone’s too-school-for-
school aesthetic might not be an
exact fit for the edgy but still
mainstream Mountain Dew brand.
• Releasing only a series of one–off
singles limits the possibility for
ongoing consumer engagement.
Set up in conjunction with the Universal Music Group major
label, Island Def Jam records and headed by veteran producer
and industry executive, Jermaine Dupri, the goal of Tag
Records is to break new artists by leveraging the media buying
power of the TAG brand to bypass the traditional artist
development points of entry of radio and television.
• Affiliation with a major label, lends it
some credibility within the ‘traditional’
• Has only released one artist, Q Da
Kid to date.
• Functioning as a sub-label means
they are subject whims and internal
politics of the Universal Music Group.
• TAG has not fully-integrated the label
into their marketing and lost chances
to leverage co-branding opportunities
like the Signature Body Spray
endorsed by Def Jam artist, Ludacris.
Diesel:U:Music started 10 years ago by the Diesel clothing brand as an
awards show to celebrate unsigned music talent, it has evolved into a
global support network of musicians, producers, record labels,
journalists and radio stations with tours that tap into that network.
• Excellent taste in music which aligns
with the Diesel brand.
• Good job of integrating online and
offline marketing efforts tied to their
• Strong job of creating experiential
events around music
• Limited takeaway (music) to engage
fans further beyond their in-store music
events or the online branded radio
• Under-utilising Social Media (<2000
fans on either Facebook or twitter)
Launched initially as a new ‘hybrid model ‘for music
distribution, part-blog/part-record label that would release
music paid for by sponsoring and advertising brands like
Nikon, Virgin Mobile and Puma who were all early sponsors.
• Has smartly partnered with key
independent and boutique taste-making
labels for content.
• Brand association opportunities for
spmsors and advertisers seems limited.
Its really more about the RCRD LBL
• Because of that (?), sponsors seems to
have abandoned the platform.
• Credibility within and support from the
fellow blogging community seems mixed.
Major Label is a singles record label owned entirely by the Australian clothing
company, General Pants Co. aimed at discovering unsigned acts. The label artist
creativity, doesn't own their copyright and pays out to the acts 100% of royalties
generated from the online sales of the singles.
A&R, marketing and PR is crowd-sourced by the entire General Pants Co. staff.
Each month three acts will be chosen and their single released through Major
Label. The singles will be available for streaming right here and available to
purchase through selected online retailers.
• Reasonably low-cost, low-key way
to get into the music-branding game.
• High-level of brand simpatico
between the clothing and record
• Not very ‘social’. Hard to share or
download music and site somewhat
difficult to navigate
• Essentially set up a digital record
label to ‘sell’ music, not enhance the
brand beyond the site.
What can we learn from Mountain Dew, Diesel,
TAG, RCRDLBL and the Australian General
Pants Co.’s efforts in this space?
Is there another way to approach this
• Don’t try to replicate the record company model, it’s not working for them and they’re the
• You don’t need to partner with big name, ‘music-industry ‘ types either to enter the music
branding game – there are plenty of other music content creators who have engaged and have
ongoing relationships with ‘your’ consumers already.
• In the itunes, digital music era, the traditional music album may be dead but one-off singles
limit the possibility for consumer engagement – create engagement opportunities around other
content propositions: EPs, mixtapes, multi-artist compilations, short films, concerts, parties etc.
• Fans are open to discovering new, underground or developing talent if its presented to them
• Crowd-sourcing and leveraging existing music discovery channels is possible for brands if
working with the right partners.
• Consumers like free music - don’t try to get in the music – selling game (see the first bullet-
point above again).
• Don’t try to create content. Partner with existing content
creators, indie labels, bloggers and production companies
who are already creating consistent content and developing
the audience and following for it.
• Every content creator is not equal, partner with one whose
music matches your product’s brand values and aesthetic.
• Don’t try to find an audience for your branded music content
from scratch – partner with content creators who are already
talking to your target audience.
• Done right, this is a turn-key solution for your music
branding efforts: save manpower, resources, time and money
by not having to staff up on extra content creation and digital
• Create new branding opportunities: websites, videos, multi-
media embeddable widgets, shows & events and access to a
built-in community of other bloggers, tastemakers , sites and
consumers already invested in your content partner’s value
How you and your music brand partner will
ABOUT IAN STEAMAN
Ian Steaman is a marketing executive with over 15
years experience in social media, brand marketing
and product management in the music industry.
Most recently as Director of Marketing for Sony
music’s Jive Records, he was responsible for the
marketing of all three Gold-selling albums by T-
Pain including the #1 Billboard pop album, Epiphany
as well as the #1 R&B album by Raheem DeVaughn.
All told, projects he was involved with sold close to
20 million digital, mobile and physical units.
Ian is also deeply immersed in the social media
world running the acclaimed music & culture blog,
DIFFERENT KITCHEN which has over 2 million hits
and has been quoted by or linked to by Slate
magazine, the CBC, The Guardian newspaper in the
UK, New York Magazine and VH1.com.
He has been published in Billboard magazine and
been interviewed on ABC, Fox News and by The New
York Times, New York Daily News and New York
Ian has a BA degree in Economics with Honors from
Harvard University. He was born in England and has
also lived in Toronto, Canada.
Social media success for
projects Ian has managed….
The Pack (www.myspace.com/thepack)
Lil Mama (www.youtube.com/user/LilMamaVideos)
Bay Area Teen Rap group THE PACK exploded onto the music scene using MySpace in 2006 with their
self-produced mixtape track, “Vans.”
Their ode to the skate shoe few hip hop fans were wearing at the time became a regional radio hit and
cultural phenomenon, eventually ending up as the #5 song in Rolling Stone’s year-end issue, opening
up an entirely new market to the Vans brand.
THE PACK – By The Numbers:
Friends: over 172,000
Plays: over 14 million
Visits: over 14 million
Views: over 2 million
In under five years the ‘Rappa
Ternt Sanga,’ T-Pain has gone
from unknown to superstar
with three album releases and
over 15 million units sold.
His synergistic but natural
incorporation of brands he
uses in his personal life into
the lyrics of his songs led to
partnerships with vodka brand,
Nuvo, his own signature
sunglass for Oakley. He also
has a record-breaking iphone
app called I Am T-Pain which
sold over 300,000 units in its
first week alone.
T-PAIN – By The Numbers:
Over 50 million views
“LIL MAMA, is currently the best example in terms of artist
management, where a team is comprehensively harnessing existing
social media tools to SUCCESSFULLY speak the language of a new
artist’s audience….” - Daniela Capistrano *
* Source: danielacapistrano.wordpress.com
Lil Mama’s debut single, “Lip Gloss”
became a viral smash on YouTube &
MySpace and a Top 10 sales hit leading to a
cross-marketing partnership with L’Oreal
and eventually a hosting gig for Mama on
the hit MTV reality show, America’s Best
LIL MAMA - By The Numbers:
Over 50 million views
Bronx, NY rapper, Mickey Factz is
not a household name yet but within
the digital underground, a world that
takes its cues for what’s hot and
what’s next from blogs, twitter and
other social media channels, he is
one of the most talked-about new
First championed on DIFFERENT
KITCHEN, the blog of Ian Steaman,
Factz built his reputation with a year-
long weekly song campaign and a
series of acclaimed, much-download
mixtape albums to the point where
he is able to tour without even
having put out a ‘proper’ album or
signing a record label deal and is
now the face of Honda Motors’
Rhymes & Reasons online
“To be honest, we’re joining in [on following
Mickey Factz] a bit late, but you can play catch-
up at Ian’s Kitchen if you like.” -- The FADER
Elements of the Mickey Factz x Honda ‘Rhymes & Reasons’ campaign:
Music x Brands x Social Media = an organic
• Engage your customers
• Develop and maintain a relationship with
• Connect your brand to something that is
important to your customers
• Build your brand presence on social media
platforms in a natural way.
• Communicate your brand values without
the hard sell of ‘traditional’ advertising.
Questions or for more details…
E – email@example.com
T – 416.286.0679