Music and marketing have gone hand in hand since the beginnings of both industries. Regardless of the technological innovations and societal change that have advanced and disrupted both businesses, some fundamental truths remain as pertinent today as they did in the last century: Music is more popular than ever, nothing drives messaging as quicky and deeply as a well-chosen song, the connection between artists and fans is unlike any in popular culture, and the brands that build partnerships with those artists can establish invaluable long-lasting relationships with their passionate fanbases.
According to a recent exclusive survey the Harris Poll conducted for Ad Age, 37% of music listeners are more likely to purchase from a brand that partners with a musician that they like. Gen Z and millennial listeners are even more likely to favor brands endorsed by their favorite musicians. “Pluralities said that hearing a favorite song in an ad makes them more likely to shop for that brand (49% versus 41% of older listeners) as would a musician being its spokesperson (46% versus 31%),” Harris Poll CEO Will Johnson writes in an Ad Age opinion article on the survey. “And it’s not just a matter of celebrity: Non-musical star-endorsements would sway only 32% of Gen Zers and millennials.”
Younger music fans are also driving the move away from traditional media, with 56% of Gen Zers and millennials discovering new music on social media versus 40% of older listeners or on streaming platforms (51% versus 38%). A closer look at music fans on some of the fastest-growing social media platforms shows that marketers need to take a more nuanced, cross-platform approach to reaching this audience: Nearly 60% of users of platforms such as Twitch, TikTok and Snapchat are more likely to shop with or use a brand that features a song they like in its advertisements, the survey found.
An agile and channel-agnostic approach to reaching customers where they are—in other words, wherever it is convenient for them—is one of the greatest lessons all industries have learned during the pandemic, and this idea was top of mind when Warner Music Group (WMG) created our new venture.
The value of music—and the artists who create it—for both brands and fans is not in doubt. What’s been missing, up to now, is the right platform to connect artists, brands and fans in a seamless way that benefits all.
Enter WMX, a first-of-its-kind music culture, media and content business within Warner Music Group. As I recently discussed on Ad Age Studio 30 Live, WMX is built on three pillars that set us apart from others in the music and branding space:
- Direct artist access: Warner Music has always championed artists and delivered first-rate services; WMX builds on this by helping artists extend their brands and connect with fans in new ways, while giving the advertising community an opportunity to tap into highly coveted audiences that they can't find anywhere else.
- Owned and operated content with award-winning storytelling: Among our properties are UPROXX, a Gen Z-centric youth culture and music site, Songkick, a concert discovery app that covers the full spectrum of music events, from tours to festivals; HipHopDX, a site for both hip-hop news and discovery; and Cover Nation, a highly engaged audience of cover song artists and fans. In addition, we have an award-winning content studio that has been named Digiday’s Best In House Content/Brand Studio of 2021.
- Massive scale: As part of Warner Music’s global network, WMX reaches over 249 million monthly unique viewers around the world, and nearly 50 billion monthly global views across platforms.
Pulling things together with CONNEX
Brands would not be able to leverage these game-changing assets without the right tools. WMX has created Connex, a new data tool that curates the billions of signals we receive from our audience every day into an easy-to-read dashboard that’s also compliant with all of the most stringent data privacy policies. Connex allows advertisers to tap into and understand where they can best align their brand with artists and fans across the Warner Music portfolio.
We’ve seen this play out with a couple of partners already. For example, General Mills came to us with a challenge of “hacking tween boredom” through a creative, music-focused campaign for Cinnamon Toast Crunch. To do this, we tapped pop-punk band Meet Me at the Altar to create an interactive music video featuring “Cinnamojis.” It was extremely successful for both the artist and the brand, garnering nearly 30 million views.
Fostering the next wave of creativity
As music fans continue to embrace ever more innovative technologies, marketers will have to widen the scope of their campaigns to meet them wherever they are, whether it’s on social media, in esports and gaming, NFTs or whatever comes next.
After just a few weeks since the launch of WMX, we’ve already seen overwhelmingly positive feedback. We’re excited to keep the momentum going, fostering connectivity and creativity – and bringing artists, audiences and advertisers together in powerful ways.