BY: ELLIOT WEISS
Despite the failing business model of the music industry, the industry’s creative output of song continues to live on. In 2013 recorded music continues to be released on a regular basis. Despite the high probability that the cost of a particular music production will most likely not be recouped, recording artists, production companies and distributors continue to put out expensive and mainly unprofitable products. While manufacturing recorded music for sale appears to be a poor business decision, the constant production of it make us question whether or not there is monetary value in music? The continued dedication to release recorded music leaves us to believe that there is value in recorded music beyond the annual sales or the early life span of an album. This value could be seen as a form of branding or goodwill. If we believe that there is inherent value in recorded music based on the wide range of sentiment that it provides to listeners then this branding value or goodwill lives beyond the life cycle of a product. This inherent value appears to be more analogous to the concept of corporate growth than it does to product lifecycle.
Corporate sponsors have identified the value in listener sentiment and the artist growth model by contracting with musical artists in an effort to increase the promotional branding efforts of a corporation.[1. Andrew Hampp, The Branding of EDM: Pepso, Absolut, Trident, Samsung, Others Make DJs Their Spokesmen, Billboard Biz (July, 02, 2012, 3:29 PM), http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/news/branding/1084837/the-branding-of-edm-pepsi-absolut-trident-samsung-others-make-djs.] The promotional partnerships between corporate America and musical artists have directly focused on the high risk high reward stakes of electronic dance music (“EDM”). The value and or listener sentiment in EDM stems from one giant party. If people can identify with music in an effort to relive past memory or help someone identify a particular point or period of their life, then in applying this theory to EDM, people want to look back on a party or a point and time in their life when things were wild. Corporate sponsors have responded to this by offering musicians, predominantly EDM artists, an alternative source of revenue as well as an alternative form of airplay.[2. Id.] EDM musicians have attracted brand interest from companies such as “Adidas (which recently hosted a live music session with Swedish electro duo Dada Life and next week hosts AraabMuzik) and Ralph Lauren (Avicii will be the face of its Denim & Supply fall 2012 campaign), as well as Beats by Dre (a new TV campaign features Nero’s “Promises”) and Sonos (current spokesman: Deadmau5).” [3. Id.]
In response to the level of sponsorship contracts over EDM artists it can be questioned as to whether or not this sponsorship market is exclusive to the faceless artists? Prior to the popular song of EDM, pop songs usually incorporated lyrics or were performed by an artist with an identifiable face in the public eye. When we think of EDM artists, we think of the party as opposed to any lyrics or messages that may grace the song track. Further, the face of the EDM artists is practically insignificant let alone identifiable. It is quite possible that corporate sponsorship appeal lies within the faceless artist. For example, “Absolut’s evolving partnership with Swedish House Mafia continues to establish a new model for EDM branding deals. The most recent extension, an original song, music video and drink project called “Greyhound.” The ability of an instrumental artist such as Swedish House Mafia to create a corporate sponsorship song for Absolut called Greyhound (based on new product Absolut Greyhound) appears to be more readily available for an EDM artist than for a lyrical artist. Theoretically, EDM artists like Swedish House Mafia could transform all their musical songs into a branding song for corporate sponsorship. Whether instrumental music fosters greater corporate appeal than lyrical artists by providing corporate sponsors with a stronger selling platform by way of transforming a faceless artist and song into a corporate brand will eventually be answered as the industry incurs a larger sample size of music sponsorship contracts.