Just like DJing, 90% of the work is in the preparation. And in this case, that means strategy.
Both brands and electronic dance music artists have to be extremely careful when forming a partnership. They both have values, attitudes and esthetics that they need to stay true to, in order to not alienate their core consumer/fan base.
Fans of electronic dance music are incredibly passionate about, and loyal to their favorite artists. Over time, fans have watched and supported these artists as they’ve developed into the main stage festival stars they are today. Fans have emotionally connected with the music, and their favorite DJ’s songs have been the soundtrack to some of the most memorable experiences in their lives.
These artists have introduced their fans to a community of like-minded individuals. And this, of course, is an extremely attractive and fertile land for brands to impose. It is also a special guarded place for many, that must always be respected.
The Relationship Between Dance & Brands
With the rise of EDM over the last few years and mass media’s increased interest, it has become a new playground for Millennial-thirsty brands; especially in America. But with this, marketers, promoters and artists have to be very careful as to not breach this trust and authenticity; in protection of all parties sitting at the table.
Today, we are used- even immune, to seeing the likes of Jennifer Aniston endorsing a product before her red carpet premiere. However, we’re not accustomed to seeing our favorite DJs, who we’ve watched grow up with the rise of EDM, endorse a product before headlining their show.
For the first time, we are seeing DJs hit superstar status, and big brands are jumping at the chance for artists to endorse their products. But as marketers and artists, we have to remember that this attractive, loyal audience is extremely sensitive and wary to the production and dollars dollars entering the market.
A poorly thought out partnership (looking at you M&Ms and Zedd) can be detrimental to both the artist and the brand. At the same time, a well thought out partnership can greatly elevate and amplify each other.
A great example of this is from a couple of years ago, when General Electric partnered the with up-and-coming tech-house artist Matthew Dear. Dear teamed up with GE Acoustic Engineer Andrew Gordon, and recorded thousands of sounds that came from various GE machines. Dear then went into the studio, and created ‘Drop Science’ a beautiful song made entirely with GE sounds.
Throughout the video that accompanied the song, you see Dear’s innate thirst for creativity and innovation. GE gave him the playground and tools necessary to play with, and assisted in providing his fans with new content. Dear on the other hand, helped legitimize GE’s reputation with his younger fan base as being a reliable, powerful brand that provides value, instead of spam.
As electronic music continues to gain popularity, brands and advertisers will be increasingly interested in tapping into the space, for great reason. With this momentum, it’s no doubt that artists are hungry for those brand dollars, resources and promotions. While it is understandable, we must approach this in a strategic, authentic and creative way. The main goal must be to enhance the fan’s experience and their relationship with the artist while delivering high-quality content that they wouldn’t have otherwise received. If it doesn’t, everyone will lose.
It’s all about the fans
In order to form a partnership that benefits the artist, the brand and their fans, we must first determine if the priorities and goals of both parties involved align. If they do, we must take an in-depth look at the target demographic and their media behaviors. We have to analyze both when and how they want to see this branded content.
Just because we’re Millennials on Snapchat, “like” Insomniac on Facebook and repost a ton of trance festival sets on Soundcloud does not mean we’ll go to Dreamstate. And even if we do, we’ll probably be hyper sensitive to the brands we see there.
The same goes for brands. Just because Ultra is cool, doesn’t mean you should go to Ultra. Are the DJs that you like playing somewhere else- maybe somewhere with a smaller, more engaged audience that won’t eat up such a big piece of your budget?
This means that in order to attract and retain the fan’s attention, not annoy them and depreciate their experience you must do your homework, both working with data points and your educated instinct. It is not until we look at those data points and industry insights that we will know when and how to talk to these individuals we’d like to target, where we should be, what experiences they’d benefit from and what type of content they’d like to see.
Only then should the creative start to take place. Although it will cost more time, money and resources it will be much more rewarding to create targeted content and experiences which will undoubtedly out-perform and provide value to the fans.