Summit 2015, Austin TX
Monday & Tuesday, March 23-24, 2015

Session 2: Monday 11:30 IPO Room
Moderator: Kristél Pfeil Kemmerer

Tammy Donham
Assistant Professor, Recording Industry Department
Middle Tennessee State University

Artist Branding in the New Music Landscape: The Importance of Teaching Students How to Access this Non-Traditional Revenue Stream

With the rapid changes in the music marketplace branding has become more important than ever for not only record company marketing teams, but for managers and artists alike. A strong brand increases an artist’s value to the media, to fans, and to brand partners. An artist’s name may be leveraged to generate sources of revenue from licensing deals, endorsements, and even non-music business ventures where the artist has ownership in the company. Today’s music industry professional needs to be equipped with sufficient branding and positioning expertise outside of the traditional music space to bring greater awareness and increased opportunities for their represented artists. Not only crucial for established artists, developing a strong brand is important to artists and acts at every level including local artists who are attempting to grow their audience and mid-sized acts that are on the cusp of breaking out. This paper provides an overview of branding basics, the history of branding, brand architecture and key terminology, as well as best practices on developing and building an artist identity, and linking brands to build equity. It also addresses the need to update student learning outcomes in topics such as branding and partnership-based marketing that will promote problem solving, critical thinking and presentation skills. Exposing the students to the importance of branding and its ability to change the trajectory of an artist’s career is vital to every student that graduates from a music business program today.

George Howard
Associate Professor
Berklee College of Music

Customer as Teacher: The Importance of Building Brand Equity By Providing Customers with Teaching Tools and Moments

We are all familiar with the traditional idea that word of mouth is king, and that brands/bands should aspire to shift the burden of promotion from themselves to their customers/fans by encouraging evangelism. Yet, this oft-repeated mantra rings hollow in the absence of an action-orientated strategy. Brands/bands are left “knowing” that word of mouth marketing is essential to success, and yet not having any idea how to actively engage their constituents. We as educators know better than most how the impulse to teach transcends beyond commerce, and enters into the realm of spiritual, ethical, and/or just. We additionally, know the power and authority that is proscribed to teachers. Brands who recognize and foster this power of creating teachers/teaching amongst their constituents catalyze their customers, and thus results in a material impact with respect to brand/band building.

This paper will examine the ways in which certain bands/brands provide their constituents – in particular, their key early adopters/tastemakers – with a unique set of skills/tools/knowledge that act as heuristics; enabling and empowering these customers/fans, and providing them with what I refer to as a “specialized cognitive surplus.” That is, these specialized people carry with them knowledge related to a product/service/band that leaves them with an information imbalance – they are teachers. As they relate to post-dictive movies (The Sixth Sense, The Usual Suspects), health movements (diets, yoga), religions, humans who not only feel that they possess an information surplus, but also feel they can improve their friends’ lives by sharing this information are not to be deterred. As Socrates says, “Man by nature is a social animals,” and humans with knowledge related to subject matter that provides in them a sense of well-being are like an over-heated tea kettle: actively seeking a release in order to release the pressure.

The presentation will examine companies/artists that/who not only recognize the power of this concept, but also actively seek to create teachers amongst their constituents. The presentation will provide examples of how companies/business structures — such as: MLMs (whose very nature relates to creating layers of teachers); technology companies who create teachers by providing information only to a select few key influencers (for example, the rollout of the iPod, or Reddit/Wikipedia, generally); artists who develop ritualized and arcane elements within their artwork or lyrics, and leave it to their fans to decipher/disseminate (The Grateful Dead, Coheed and Cambria, Rush, et al.) — do not only create evangelists, but, rather, are create teachers.