My latest report – Music Strategy For Brands: When Brands And Bands Collide – has just been published.  This report is a bit of a departure, looking very specifically at the burgeoning trend of non-music companies using music to help sell their core products and services.  Of course Apple set the trend with the iTunes music store, but nowadays we’re seeing many non-tech brands picking up the baton.

The report contains exclusive executive survey data that shows how brands and consumer product companies are working with music now, and how what they plan to do in 2010.

As the effects of the music industry meltdown bite, record labels and artists alike are turning to brands and product companies for new revenue opportunities.  2009 saw music tapped more heavily than ever before as a tool for differentiating products and brands and this trend will accelerate in 2010: 65% of brands and product companies interviewed by Forrester stated that they will spend more on their digital music strategies in 2010 than they did in 2009.

The overriding thesis of the report is that marketing professionals must subjugate their job titles in favour of their role as media product professionals when working on music strategy.  If they don’t, the resulting poor execution will damage the brand as much as the band, which is exactly what happened with the Vasserettes:

The Vassarettes (when brands, bands – and bras – collide). When Vanity Fair bra brand Vassarette created a girl band performing in bras and carrying the name of the brand they thought they’d hit the brand synergy jackpot.  Perhaps they had, but in terms of creative execution for music strategy, the failure was absolute.  Lacking good songs and appealing more to blokes who should know better rather than resonating a ‘girl power’ message, the band fell flat.  The Vassarettes were a gimmick that became an industry laughing stock.  Making the brand into a band requires content expertise more than it does marketing expertise: what works for a brand doesn’t always work for a band.

Don’t misuse the opportunity

Music represents massive opportunity for brands, but the current momentum easily become a retrograde move if mistakes are made and fans feel alienated by intrusive marketing messages.  If brands are to shake off the ‘suit in the mosh pit dancing like a dad’ image, they must seek to add to the artist-fan relationship and differentiate in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

If you are a brand with a music strategy or intend to implement one, this report provides you with the framework for how to.  It also introduces Forrester’s proprietary methodology the Content Strategy Review for Brands: a quantitative assessment and of a brand’s content strategy and benchmarking against competitors and relevant content destinations. 

Are you brand working with music?  If so I’d love to hear about your experiences and whether you think you’re getting a good return on your investment.