Other panelists concurred, including the former CEO of Saatchi international, Jim O'Mahoney; Best Buy's senior entertainment officer, Gary Arnold; and Nokia's head of music, Steven Stewart. All agreed that the business has finally come of age, and if one needs further proof, he or she merely needs to turn on the nightly news. Consumer-brand tie-ins with artists continue to make high-profile media stories, most recently Groove Armada's recent deal with Bacaradi, which made a splash across the news in the UK.
O'Mahoney, who is leaving Saatchi to set up a business in the brand-music space, said, "There's no getting away from it. We are at the dawn of a new era, and its staring us right in the face."
This echoed a similar theme from the keynote panel, which featured luminaries such as promoter Harvey Goldsmith and managers of acts like Avril Lavigne, Missy Elliot and Kiss, who all commented on the growing importance of brand partnerships for the artists and events that they managed. While welcoming brands' involvement, the panelists were somewhat scathing about the traditional record labels' ability to "get with the program" and act in a collaborative manner.
This sentiment was summed up by a rather forthright comment from Goldsmith, who suggested that artists may soon opt to go it alone with support from brands instead of labels. "Why are the record labels today still so fucking difficult and slow?" he told the panel audience. "The opportunity is to get with the program, otherwise the artists will just take advantage of what is fast becoming payback time."