This year at A3C, the Swisher Sweets Artist Project was part of a panel discussing how brands have been instrumental in breaking emerging artists into the mainstream, as well as and how artists and brands can work together to support each other.
The group was made up of SVP of Marketing and Sales John Miller, Swisher International; Bijan Kazami, lifestyle marketing manager, Boost Mobile; Dan Resnick, marketing talent manager, Complex; and James Cuthbert, creator of the #ObeyYourThirst campaign. The panel was moderated by Ian Davis, a creative marketing consultant for artists and brands.
The panelists set the tone of the current state of the music industry and how brands can become a part of breaking artists into the mainstream and the benefits of doing so.
“Artists are no longer waiting for spins on radio,” said Resnick. “It’s platforms like Complex and Fader that are now helping break artists.”
Brands can be that channel as well, and help get artists noticed by leveraging their marketing and distribution channels.
To leverage the national and sometimes international recognition and marketing programs of these brands, artists should know how to approach the brand they want to work with and have ideas on ways to collaborate long-term.
Social follow numbers, though important, aren’t the first thing brands consider when looking for new artists to integrate into their marketing program. Just because an artist has a huge following and is well-known, doesn’t mean they are a good fit for the brand.
Cuthbert noted that it’s more important for an artist or a manager to do their homework and know about the brand and its marketing programs before approaching. They should have innovative ideas ready on how they can integrate and support the product beyond new album releases or tours.
Brands want to give consumers something to buy and something to buy into, emotional connection that consumers need for brand loyalty, says Cuthbert. But it must make sense for the brand. Brands also need to figure out where they fit in a particular genre and then they need to learn about that genre.
And all agreed that brands want more than a one-off transaction relationship. They want to build with artists. And that is something artists should come to the table with when they first approach a brand.
“The critical thing for an artist to learn is how to continue the conversation with the brand supporting you,” said Miller. “Come to the table and add value.”
Kazami goes so far as to hang out with artists on their home turf and with their friends before making a decision. “Either you are an asset or liability to the brand,” says Kazami. Brands won’t associate with questionable reputations that might look bad on them. And the brand manager doesn’t want to be blamed for associating their brand with a crisis.
But most importantly, Miller noted, the artist needs to show some affinity for the product, use it and be a genuine fan. That is how a true relationships begin.
The Swisher Sweets Artist Project collaborated with the A3C Festival and Conference, Oct. 5-9, in Atlanta. Programs include This is My Year stages at TenATL, educational programming and hosting the main stage’s backstage for artists, in addition to providing opportunities for consumers on the festival grounds to experience Swisher product promotions.