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Brands and Bands: Three Best Practices in the Evolving Music Industry

Ari Avishay, Director of Entertainment, Lyft

Unless you’ve successfully avoided advertising for the past 75 years, you know that brands use music in their ads. Although the avoidance of commercials is becoming a commonly practiced behavior, there have been some instances where brands have successfully leveraged music to impact culture and deliver brand messages. (Think The Beatles’ “Revolution” and Nike, or Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” and Cadillac.)

As the music industry has remained in a constant state of evolution for the past decade, the disruption caused by this evolution has impacted musical artists, labels, managers, agents and distributors.  This disruption has been positive to some, and quite the opposite to others, but those that have been able to anticipate changes and pivot accordingly have found ways to benefit.

The opportunity to benefit from the changes also exists for brands that are able to anticipate change, understand nuances and be innovative in their approach in music.

Here are three best practices that illustrate how a brand has leveraged opportunities created by the evolving state of the music industry.

1. Understand the Music Business Model

Musicians historically made the majority of their income from selling the music they recorded. Music sales and distribution has of course changed, leading to the current business model where artists make a majority of their money from touring.

Understanding this nuance, Chipotle coupled these insights with their goal of communicating the importance of responsibly and locally sourced food, to create The Cultivate Festival. This free, family-friendly festival is a cross section of live music performances and celebrity chefs conducting demos on stages in front of thousands of families, music fans and food aficionados.  By providing bands with live performance opportunities and exposure to new audiences, Chipotle was able to attract the likes of Twenty One Pilots, Walk the Moon and Portugal. The Man, among others, and increase the awareness of their brand values.

2. Provide Unique Co-Promotion

Historically, artists would release new music in the form of albums about once every two years, planning their recording, promoting and touring schedules on a 24 month calendar. As the music distribution model has changed, so has this 24 month music release cadence. One of the many reactions to this change is the need for an artist to have a constant pulse of cultural relevance, whether through new music, live performances, or other promotional activities.

One of the many ways that Lyft leverages music within our brand strategy is by providing artists the opportunity for unique promotional moments within culture. Whether helping Cardi B celebrate her rise to the top of the charts, building Moon Taxi a secret pop-up up show during the 2017 eclipse or producing the Undercover Lyft content series starring the likes of Demi Lovato and DJ Khaled, Lyft has supported artists’ promotional needs while elevating the brand within culture. 

3. Build Around Artist Insights

A music executive shared an insight with the legendary guitar maker, Fender: The difference between a touring band and a local band, he said, was a van! With that in mind, Fender initiated the “Accelerator Tour” where 10 emerging bands each got a 15-passenger touring van along with Fender guitars, basses, gear and marketing support. Now that the bands could tour, their presence in the industry grew, and the amount of support these bands paid back to Fender on stage and via social media far exceed any contractual obligations the brand had with the artists. 

Understand the Risk

Keep in mind that, with these examples, a brand is executing beyond the transactional space of licensed music and traditional sponsorships. Know that there is risk involved.

If you want to maximize potential, and you have the stomach for innovation, then leverage these insights to create marketing initiatives that help build an emotional relationship with your consumers through the power of music.

Ari Avishay is the Director of Entertainment at Lyft, where he develops initatives to build Lyft’s brand through film, television, music, and sports. Prior to Lyft, Ari was an executive at CAA where he led the entertainment marketing strategy for various leading global brands including Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chipotle, and Diageo, while holding a seat on Chevrolet’s Global Music Advisory Council. Prior to CAA, Ari worked at Davie-Brown Entertainment on behalf of brands such as Wells Fargo, Pepsi-Co, and Fox Sports. Ari began his career as a marketing executive within the UCLA Athletic Department, after graduating from Indiana University with a degree in Marketing. 

You can see Ari speak at CES 2018’s Madison Avenue meets the Recording Studio at 10:15 AM, January 11 at Tech South, ARIA, Level 1, Pinyon Ballroom.