Jakomi Mathews caught up with Craig Davis, Co-Chairman and Chief Creative Officer at PublicisMojo Australia, last week attending the Melbourne installment of global digital marketing conference Ad:Tech. For all you music sync and publishing company personnel this is a very in-depth treat which provides deep insight into how agencies view working with music artists.
How do brands measure advocacy?
There is some pretty established theory around measuring advocacy, which was minted in 2003 by Bain and Company by Fred Reichheld, who was the father of net promoter scores. He argued that there is really only one question you need to ask which is predictive of growth and that is, ‘would you recommend this brand or product, or in this case maybe band or song, to a friend?’ And the strength of your response is what is important. So, say you’re a muso and you ask your mates to put in a good word, of course they are all going to say sure…the Bain methodology was about giving people a one to ten scale and they would only count a nine or a ten as a net promoter. A seven or an eight was neutral and anything that was six or less was considered negative and so characterized you as a detractor.
This question is extremely relevant to the music space where files are shared all over the place and the fans are happily transferring these files around with a level of endorsement that you would have to assume is pretty high. Back to brands and that endorsement is a worthwhile measure for them as well. In fact it is too high for many brands to feel comfortable with because many brands do not tend to generate that kind of passion, they’re more comfortable with satisfaction.
For example, if you’re making toilet paper it’s hard to get too many people that excited, yet there are plenty of other categories where people are very passionate and have very strong views and feelings about the brands that they are into.
Is there a methodology that could also work for labels and artists?
I don’t think the methodology changes. I think it is fundamentally the same. There is a huge value in people’s friends. If someone you know passes you something in the video space you are likely to watch that video three times longer than if you stumbled across it yourself. The power of referral or recommendation or personal endorsement is immense. So I believe the basic measures are the same whether you are a band or brand. If you are a band you are a brand.
What do brands bring to music in terms of creative branding campaigns?
I think that has changed. If you go back ten or twenty years ago the answer to that would have been money – artists that had a certain kind of profile or reputation attracted brands that would pay handsomely to use their music, to use their IP. Those relationships have changed as brands have started to recognize that they bring something to the party too. Sometimes they bring a certain amount of kudos and credibility; sometimes they also bring an audience. They almost certainly bring media exposure and so that has a value to. The Ultramods just recorded their album on an iPad2 using Garage Band, that’s their claim to fame. Increasingly, everyone has to work for everything and so touring and merchandise is a completely legitimate way to make money.
But writing big cheques does not seem to be happening much these days. Fundamentally what brands give is exposure. You get an audience and you get exposure courtesy of the brand. That has a value and how you then commercialise it is over to an artist and the artist/label side of the business.
The challenges faced by the music industry are some of the same challenges now facing television and film. Whilst I think music has enormously high value to a person, being enormously high value and being expensive are two different things. I believe it is the same kind of breakdown at work between brands and labels. Music has great value but so too does being on a media schedule, providing muscle that a brand brings, so let’s negotiate from a different starting point. It then becomes a more collaborative exercise.
For example and I’m not saying that this is wide spread or necessarily the future, but we made a series of films recently. One of them involved an undiscovered musician from the streets of Philadelphia who plays music, percussion with pens. He is amazing! That content has run around the web quite a lot and been written about a lot and now Channel 4 in the UK have said they want to run it and they’re quite prepared to pay for it as content. Most of that payment will go back to the artist. He had never even had a professional recording session until this whole project kicked off.
I believe there are different ways around things to make it work for both sides. But definitely major brands that have spent a lot of money historically on using music properties, they’re just not doing it the same way any more.
What are the wider opportunities for brands to utilise music/artists/live concerts to deliver acquisition, advocacy and prevent churn? What are the benefits for the artists concerned?
Music is immensely powerful so are there ways of syncing up the interests of an artist and the interests of a brand? Yes there are. One of the most interesting examples I have seen recently was Arcade Fire’s collaboration with Google Labs and Radical Media. I think that was genius. It was really an idea to drive two things simultaneously; one was Arcade Fire as a band and brand and their music. But it was also used to get people to download Google Chrome. It was a fantastic success.
Last time I checked there had been over three million downloads of Chrome that people had to have to enjoy the full experience of the interactive and the personalized video. A great example of a collaboration between a between a film making company Radical Media, a bunch of engineers over at Google Labs and a band who are making music.
What is your opinion on advertising funded services in terms of – will they work by delivering viable incomes for services themselves, labels and artists (essentially what I’m getting at here is their really enough digital advertising/marketing campaigns to support all the streaming music services out their like, Spotify, MOG, We7.com, muzu.tv etc)?
I think that is a really good question. I don’t have a crystal ball, nor am I a media analyst. But what I would say is this: There are only three ways to get content; you have brands fund it for you, so that’s the ad funded model, or you pay a subscription, or you basically nick it, which in the music space is much more the rule than the exception.
The future for content generally has got a lot to do with being ad-funded. Not necessarily the kind of arrangements we see at the moment, which involves display advertising wrapped around content/editorial. But essentially ways for brands to provide valuable content to an audience, that is relevant to that audience and is relevant to the brand and then find ways to lubricate that arrangement with sharing technologies.
There is plenty of inventory out there on the web, which is pretty hard to shift because it just does not have enough traffic around it. You’ve got to get pretty big numbers to build a worthwhile business. Most publishers, doesn’t matter if they are in the music space or any other space, really scratch around to make that work. I know people in the travel industry for example who have very high ranking travel sites in this market, strongly performing sites who would be lucky to make $100,000 to $150,000 dollars in advertising revenue out of them. By the time you’ve got a couple of people running it for you, your not much better than break even.
I believe there is high value inventory that can be monetized but of course you need traffic. The answer is you have to have content that is credible enough to have the right level of traffic. If you have enough traffic there you can monetise it, otherwise you have to be more inventive.
What is your favorite brand campaign that really worked primarily because of the music?
It would be easy to lean on old examples where I would say a lot of the Levi’s work back in the 80’s. I think more recently that we have seen in this market… Nike’s world cup ad, which was brilliant and worked on many levels. Not the least of which was to resuscitate Hocus Pocus, which I hadn’t honestly heard in since the 70’s when I had it on vinyl. After much urging Cat Stevens finally agreed to licence Father and Son to New Zealand Telecom. It was so powerful, it worked perfectly with the idea, which was very, very simple, and I’ve seen grown men at very serious business conferences fall apart weeping.
John Lewis in the UK last year got Billy Joel, the TAC in Victoria finally got REM to agree to licence “Everybody Hurts”. They had to track the band down when some of them were in Victoria. They are good examples of a band/artist getting together with a brand and it works wonderfully. Just about all advertising involves music. It’s the rare examples where the music really is half the story or even more. There is a really good JC Penny spot from the Superbowl a couple of years ago that featured a then completely unknown Australian artist called Melanie Horsenal. One of her songs was synced on that advertisement and then became quite a big hit.
Going further is there and opportunity for more agencies setting up record labels as with HAVAS and their ‘The-Hours’ label? What are the key benefits in such a set-up for?
a). Brands/agencies and;
Yes I guess that there are some advantages in that it is a really simple interface for music recording and publishing, and relatively unknown and unsigned artists who are trying to make a living. They are perhaps hoping they may be able to leverage that into making a proper living. It creates another kind of interface between the talent and the money. For the agency it becomes an exciting project to run. Maybe they unearth some music that they would not otherwise come across.
The form/manner in which you believe music/artist brand relationships will or should take in the future?
There are lots of answers to that question. I don’t know about should, I think there will be different forms where increasingly there will be direct contact between artists and brands, because the world is getting flatter thanks to technology. I can find pretty much anyone in the world on LinkedIn if I want to. I don’t need to know people in order to track them down and meet them. Having said that I think there is still a role for expertise and brokerage. There will be boutique companies (well there are those companies already), that include artist management who are there to represent artists’ catalogues to brands because these people are very brand literate in a way that a record company is not – for example Filament in LA.
There are also other opportunities if the artist is big enough. For example Will. I. Am is now the creative director at Intel. He is there because he is a very talented musician, but Intel would say he is just a great innovator. So there is a role for an artist inside a corporate structure – that seems like a new type of arrangement.
So maybe there are all kinds of opportunities and that is what make sit exiting now as a lot of the conventions or rules of engagement do not necessarily hold any more.
What is the music service you like most (i.e. that you use for your own personal use)? Same goes for music device?
I use my three kids as the first resource. Their recommendations carry huge credibility for me, they’re the most reliable and critical source of new music. Because they are just at that age where they spend lots of time in that zone and I don’t. I still rely on friends quite a lot. These are very analogue answers, but honestly I believe they are tremendously powerful and then I have next-door neighbours who are musicians and are a very good source as well.
The point is, person to person recommendations have always been the most powerful. Musicovery and Pandora is a good service. Wearehunted.com is a very interesting proposition. I like that, I think it kind of subverts some of the conventions in the music industry. What are people really talking about and why shouldn’t the charts be recomposed on that basis?
Music format quality has degraded over the years and I still like listening to music through decent speakers and a decent amp. The problem is that the source is almost always an iPod, which is a bit limiting as it is just MP3 files. Every now and again when I go to a music studio or live performance I’m reminded what music is meant to sound like.