West indian culture

Culture must lead content to create memorable musical movement

Music has been an integral part of culture since time immemorial – so much so that some of the most notable cultural moments are defined by music, for example the Bhakti movement in medieval India or the Harlem Renaissance in the 20th century.

Recently, sports anthems such as Coca Cola’s Wavin’ Flag (for the 2010 FIFA World Cup) or Uber’s Way-O (for the 2019 ICC World Cup) come to mind:

Coca-Cola in particular has since persisted in the branded music space through constant enrichment and investment. They have created one of the biggest music and brand initiatives that exists in the form of Coke Studio – a concert-like branding platform.

So, investing in music/music content has phenomenal returns, especially from a cultural perspective. Music as a medium forges a deeper connection with listeners and consumers.

Some well-established approaches to music branding and partnerships are musical anthems, talent search shows, sponsorship of a music program title, creating your own brand platform, and more. Let’s take a look at some recent initiatives first:

Ladakh International Music Festival – Jawa and Yezdi Motocycles

In a bid to consolidate their position in the region as well as with the Indian Army, Jawa-Yezdi Motorcycles recently participated in the Ladakh International Music Festival organized by the Indian Army. Ladakh is a destination associated with bicycle travel, so brand visibility in the region makes sense. An old and familiar brand joining an initiative to encourage local musicians and celebrate local culture is also meaningful.

The brand approach here represents one of the easiest ways to align with musical initiatives. Participating in a music production as a partner or title sponsor usually works well for young or small brands as it’s a great opportunity to increase their visibility. It also works well for an older brand like Jawa-Yezdi trying to resurrect itself.

But well-known and established brands have little to gain by gaining visibility, so they must offer a much more global approach:

Sleep Sounds by Duroflex

Duroflex adds to its category that is to say sleep with this collection of lullabies. They complement their product well and create great content at the same time. Duroflex lullabies recorded and performed in an ambient-lit studio give a concert feel. Additionally, original compositions sung by prominent singers are added to the brand’s content library. Initiatives like these are also a great added value for consumers.

Folk Songs for a Swasth India by Dettol

Dettol promotes the importance of hygiene with folk songs from The Rais Khan Project. Dettol’s folk songs that convey the message of cleanliness are also premium branded content. Rajasthani folk music has become both popular and familiar in recent years thanks to the collaborative musical productions of Amit Trivedi. Dettol takes a familiar but not overused genre and uses it effectively. Even though the lyrics are all in local languages, the song titles are in English, thus broadening the listener base.

Then there are talent search shows or shows that explore a specific genre of music:

NEXA music by Maruti Suzuki and Qyuki

NEXA Music is passionate musicians who want to make their mark by singing original compositions in English. After a first selection, the candidates are supervised by AR Rahman and Clinton Cerejo. The show recently moved to season 2 with a good following on its youtube channel for season 1.

MG Taal by MG Motor India

MG Taal is another musical offering from an automotive brand. Like Nexa, MG Motors also targets a specific community and genre of music. The production is exclusively intended for independent musicians. Like Coke Studio, the process of creating a song complete with inspirations and behind-the-scenes footage is also part of MG Taal.

Productions such as NEXA music and MG Taal not only bring content to consumers, but also support budding artists and genres. Thus, they also score high on consumer goodwill.

Recently, Calvin Klein’s haircare brand, Meera, took inspiration from Coke Studio’s book and came up with:

Meera Music

Meera, a herbal shampoo reinforces her belief in the “goodness of tradition” with this musical series that reinterprets Carnatic musical compositions from centuries ago. The brand has developed its own platform that seeks to experiment and add a touch of the contemporary to classical Carnatic music. It’s kind of an analogy with the brand itself trying to keep the tradition of hair care alive with its herbal preparation in modern times.

Towards a strategic symphony

With a myriad of formats and approaches available in the brand x music space, it becomes difficult to determine which route to take. Some factors can be decisive while thinking about the same. The first and most obvious is of course its budget. This directly impacts the production in terms of artists, editing, platform, etc. But that doesn’t mean you can’t participate effectively with a small budget. A brand can, like Jawa-Yezdi, associate itself with a big production like LIMF which always encourages local artists and original as well as folkloric compositions.

Then, his level of involvement in the music is crucial. While a brand anthem may represent superficial involvement, a production where talent is coached to original compositions may represent higher involvement. The medium of music is innovated and experienced.

Finally, there is the global culture. What musical movement or culture should a brand belong to? It depends. We can advance an existing musical genre, like Dettol. This means capitalizing on what is already spreading. A different strategy may still be to identify gaps – for example, a brand may choose to encourage original English music in India if it is not a booming region. Come to think of it, Coke Studio may have arisen from a gap like that – a fusion of several genres of traditional, folk, Sufi, pop and rock music that all existed before in closed and separate categories.

Almost no brand and almost no initiative works without music, even a short video is only complete when it has background music. Thus, involvement in music is almost taken for granted. To specifically use music as a brand affinity strategy, brands need to create content that is more rooted in culture and less in category. Culture must take the lead for content to create memorable musical movement.

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