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In some purest circles, corporate support may be viewed as "selling out." But since its inception, Multimediary has established a track record of creating mutually beneficial programs based on a synergistic harmony between both artist and business. The result is substantial exposure for both artist sponsor, the off-set of re-coupables for the artist, and brand enhancement through experiential branding opportunities that align the artist, the tastemaker, and influencer of peer groups.

This synergistic partnership is the impetus for a new business model in the music industry. Everyone in the industry is aware of what a struggle it can be for an artist to ever see a penny for their efforts after getting a record label deal, and secondly how increasingly difficult it has been for the record labels to stay competitive as well as profitable. These ongoing problems have, however, created amazing opportunities.

Artist and Partner Working In Concert

The first component in creating a "strategic marketing partnership" is finding a corporate partner who is ready, willing, and able to sponsor an artist. For over a decade, Multimediary has been working with a variety of companies in numerous categories ranging from the beverage industry to the auto after market. We have established nearly 2000 contacts with VPs of marketing and brand managers.

Moving advertising and entertainment marketing budgets towards artist partnerships is logical for several reasons. First, consumers rarely make buying decisions based entirely on a print ad, radio, billboard or TV commercial. Buying decisions are emotional and often are influenced by word of mouth, or the endorsement of a tastemaker and influencer of peer groups. These tastemakers and influencers are usually performing artistes, sports figures, and other celebrities. For example, in his hay day, Michael Jackson was able to move many to join the "Pepsi Generation." Remember the one glove thing? How about shaved heads, baggies, men's eyeliner, leg warmers, tribal tattoos, belly rings, low rise pants and midriff tops... the popularity of all of these fads was started by and perpetuated by a tastemaker. This is the value proposition that generates buy-in from corporate partners.

The second component of the strategic marketing partnership is the artist. Above all, the primary concern of the artist is the integrity of their art. Their greatest fear is that aligning with a corporate partner will cause their audience to perceive them as selling-out. As a result, they risk losing their credibility as an artist. Corporate partners also face risks. Mega stars, once they align themselves with a super brand and an "in your face" overt endorsement campaign, may lose their credibility as a tastemaker. In this case, everyone loses.

The million dollar question is, "How can a partnership be built without jeopardizing the integrity, art, and "street cred" of the artist?" The solution is obvious, get to know the artist. Know the artist on a personal level. Find out their likes and dislikes, what companies they admire, what they eat, what they drink, what they wear, what do they do in their spare time, their hobbies, and political views. You can then create a list of interests that you can work from. Compare this list to a list of potential corporate partners that fall into the artist's interests, tastes and sensibilities. Now that you have a "hit" list, you are ready to create a partnership.

He Who Wins, Wins Through Win-Win

You have all of the pieces, now comes the "I'll scratch your back if your scratch mine" part of the equation. This is where the symbiotic rubber meets the road. It is important that both partners establish a set of defined and measurable goals.

The artist and or the label is going to be interested in off-setting re-coupables such as production costs, promotion and advertising, as well as tour support... all of this in addition to increasing unit sales.

The corporate partner will be expecting to build brand equity through alignment with the "tastemaker" artist. They will also be looking for sell-in and pull-through opportunities as well as experiential branding and product sampling options directed toward the target market. Corporate partners need to get a specific SKU or product sold into a retailer or on-premise account (bar/nightclub/restaurant).

Here are a few ideas that could get everybody heading down the right path. Let's say, for example, you have a hair care product as your corporate partner and an artist that targets women 14-24. The artist loves the product and has embraced the partnership. The partner loves the demographic that the artist targets. Here are a few potential scenarios that this situation may create:

1.) A gift with purchase program. A special co-branded CD with a unique mix of 3 or 4 tracks is attached to the partner's packaging. This provides an incentive to consumers to purchase the product. It also gets the artist and their music in front of their target audience. This is referred to a GWP Program or On-Pack Program. Manufactures find these very appealing because it is a gift the consumer can get nowhere else other than by purchasing their product. It is also attractive to the artist because they just moved thousands of CDs through a unique distribution channel.

2.) A purchase with purchase program. This is very similar to the GWP program except the artist's special co-branded CD is available at a discount when the consumer purchases the corporate partner's product. Often times this comes with a point of purchase display featuring the artists' likeness all over it. For instance, a free standing Coca Cola display which states that when you purchase a twelve pack of Coke you can get the specially mixed, available nowhere else, CD Sample for just $4.95.

3.) Touring creates even more opportunities. An artist or label can expect substantial tour support in the form of money and in kind gifts from the corporate partner. When I refer to "in kind" I mean that they will include the artist in the advertising campaign they currently have in place, or they will augment what they already have placed with additional dollars to support the tour. What they are looking for in exchange is in-store appearances from the artist. They will also want the label or artist's street teams to do product sampling during the in-stores and in and around the concert venue. Sometimes they want to do a wrap of a tour bus with their brand. If this is the case, expect to create a VIP section in the arena and plan on an after show meet and greet session at each venue. You will want to give the corporate partner exposure at the venue as well as long as it is permitted. This is something that should go in the rider of a performance contract with the venue or promoter. This is a very reasonable request considering the support that the corporate tour partner is bringing to the table. Having an artist do in-stores moves much more product for both the artist and partner.

Now that you have all of the pieces you are ready to capitalize on the very lucrative world of strategic marketing partnerships. But remember; be very careful who you get in bed with. Both artist and corporate partners must have the same goals as well as a commitment to each other. These types of partnerships really are like marriages. Stay within that which we call the circle of trust... and may the circle go unbroken.

Case studies:
Zero 7 LifeStyles Condoms Tour Integration

Lifestyles Condoms joined in partnership with Zero 7. Zero 7 was voted Spin Magazines "Baby Makin' CD of The Year." Since LifeStyles is in the business of keeping that from happening... it only made sense that Zero 7 go on the road and tout the benefits of safe sex and recommend the use of LifeStyles condoms. Lifestyles was included on all advertising and promotion, and the Zero 7 street teams handed out "Zero 7" LifeStyles Co-branded Condoms. LifeStyles made a generous financial commitment to the tour which off-set an otherwise re-coupable expense, and the band moved more scans due to touring. LifeStyles obviously got the endorsement of the tastemaker and their product in the hands of a well-targeted audience.

Bonnie Raitt's Tour

When we were asked to work on 9 time Grammy Award winning artist Bonnie Raitt's Tour it was an extreme privilege. We were given the opportunity to bring partners into Bonnie Raitt's tour. This partnership came with somewhat unique circumstances since Bonnie had never endorsed a product or company before, nor did she intend to now. The integrity of her art was paramount. But, it was her management's intention to do a "green" tour, which embodied Bonnie Raitt's environmental stance. Each potential partner was screened by her advisors for "greenness." What culminated was a tour where transportation is run on Bio 100 non-polluting bio diesel fuel, green power for the entire tour was supplied by a partner, and the integration of other tour partners who were able to display their products within the venue. Each partner was included in a program which was printed on recycled paper. The PR for each participant is significant considering that tours like this don't happen every day.

Thom King is the President of Multimediary, Inc. an entertainment marketing company specializing in creating strategic marketing partnerships between artists, management, record labels and the consumer products industry. He can be reached at 310.455.9870 or by email at

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