No, NASCAR Won't Work For Every Tom, Dick and Harry Nilsson

Forrester Analyst Gets It Mostly Right

By Published on .

From CNet:
In a final note, McQuivey suggests that music artists, who have historically looked down their noses at advertising, had better change. He says the industry should rip a page out of NASCAR's playbook.

"Artists who used to pretend that their platinum album success was really about their 'art' will no longer have that luxurious pretense because labels won't sign them unless they agree to a barrage of sponsorship opportunities," McQuivey wrote. "There will eventually come a day when Chips Ahoy will contend with the Keebler Elves over who can be the official cookie of the Taylor Swift world tour."
We here at SFS tend to yawn when we see the words "The End Of The Music Industry As We Know It," and so we probably wouldn't have spent much time reading Forrester's recent report, but this last section, as reported by CNet, is rankling a few. And for good reason.

We don't have the cash to look at the thing ourselves, but what analyst James McQuivey seems to be suggesting for most of his report makes sense: help fans find music, don't rely on ads, get used to digital downloads. But pushing bands into licensing/sponsorship deals from the get-go with consumer goods? We're not so sure that's the right tack.

If, as McQuivey suggests, the career, not the recordings of the artists is most important -- and we agree -- then bands are really going to have to make every decision with the long-term interests of their musical brand at heart. Chips Ahoy may not be a very attractive partner for many artists, but look what Missy Elliott did with Doritos last year. It was innovative, fun and didn't diminish her status an iota. Mass-market goods have to work hard to make themselves attractive for musicians, and a campaign has to make sense for that artist.

Besides the reality that tacking a band's logo onto a NASCAR vehicle isn't going to get much visibility, a partnership with the brand will only work with some bands. Of course, I'm thinking country artists, whose fans tend to align with NASCAR's like a new set of Goodyear radials. I'm sure there are plenty of artists outside the genre that could work just as well, but every Foo Fighter needs to ask himself this: does the spirit of what I do align at all with what a company produces, and what kind of fans am I trying to cultivate? For all but the most widely accessible acts, this is going to be a delicate game.

Telling every Rihanna that she has to work with Cover Girl when she signs her contract is unfeasible and foolish. For one thing, it's not in anyone's interest to align with a marketer before evaluating specifically what your role is going to be and what the campaign is going to do for your musical brand. For another, bands know their brand better than anyone else managing them, and the best partnerships are the ones where musicians are deeply involved in the concept and execution.
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