Even after a generation of technology radically remade the landscape of the music industry, music remains where it's always been—at the center of culture.
Against the backdrop of content overload and competition from social video for younger eyeballs, the marketplace is transforming its content and ad strategy to address the rapid growth of streaming TV, and especially the potential of free ad-supported streaming television (aka FAST). One example: During the recent CES conference, Vevo announced a partnership with TikTok to produce a weekly show, "Trending on TikTok," for Vevo's FAST network.
On Jan. 6, LaTrice Burnette, executive VP of Def Jam Recordings and president of 4th & Broadway, and Steve Rifkind, music entrepreneur and founder of Loud Records and SRC Records, joined Dan Peres, president and editor-in-chief of Ad Age, for an exclusive CES fireside chat
Successful artist-brand collaborations
Both Rifkind and Burnette are music industry veterans with long track records of overseeing lucrative collaborations between major brands and artists. At Loud Records, Rifkind discovered the Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep and Three 6 Mafia, and his firm the Steven Rifkind Company helped pioneer street team marketing within the hip-hop community. During his career, he's launched successful marketing campaigns with brands including T-Mobile, Adidas, Nike, Pepsi and Levi’s.
"Videos are still the most important factor for artists who are breaking through," Rifkind said, noting that Vevo has replaced older channels as the primary place fans can watch music videos.
During her time at
"When I started in the music industry, digital was new media," she said. "Then we were coming off of Napster and illegal file sharing. Today we have to look within disruptive models and figure out a way to use them to position our artists and translate it to our existing marketing."
DE&I spurs authenticity
Another major disruption of the past few years—the movement for more diversity, equity and inclusion in society and in the media—is also related to a base of people who have been historically ignored or underrepresented.
Increasing diversity is vital, Burnette said, both as an African American female and because she thinks it's important to know your audience.
"I've always been that person in the room who if I see something that's not on target or on brand, it's my responsibility to step up and say, 'We need to look at this. This is not right. Here's why this may be problematic once it's launched,’ she said. "More of those conversations need to happen, because they can save people so much time, money and heartache."
Authenticity is key to connecting with an artist's fan base when pursuing the right brand partnership deals, Rifkind added, whether it’s Levi’s and Lauryn Hill, Helly-Hansen and Mobb Deep or Nike and the Wu-Tang Clan.
"When you are working with artists and doing brand deals, if it's not authentic, then we shouldn't do it at all,” said Burnette. "The partnership of record executive and rapper DJ Khaled with footwear brand Jordan, for example, is an authentic brand partnership because they listen to him, and he's super involved in every step of the creative process. That's what resonates with his audience."
“It’s about knowing your audience to a T,” Rifkind added. “Back in the day, with the street team, we knew what bus or train they could take to school, what sport they played, what their grade point average was. We knew everything about their lives.”
For Vevo, the next step for capitalizing on the authenticity of partnerships between brands and musical artists and their fans is the move from digital on-demand to more long-form content via its growing FAST network of genre-specific music video channels. With broad distribution on platforms including The Roku Channel and Amazon’s Freevee,
Vevo’s rich content catalog provides brands with the opportunity to reach music fans where they are, as viewers continue to migrate from