Music and brands: Staying Culturally Connected

There was a real buzz around BAFTA yesterday morning as people queued to get into OMD UK’s panel on the YouTube stage at Advertising Week Europe:  Music and brands: Staying Culturally Connected.

Joining OMD UK’s Managing Director Dan Clays were three iconic figures from the music industry: Radio 2 DJ and the face of Glastonbury, Jo Whiley, MOBO Awards founder Kanya King MBE and Candice Morrissey, Head of YouTube Music Strategic Partnerships EMEA at Google. The illustrious panel would go on to explore how changes in the music industry are influencing today’s popular culture and where there are new opportunities for brands to get involved.

Talking about culture, Jo Whiley was quick off the mark, stating that people are no longer defined by particular genres. While she considered herself a Goth when she was growing up, she said “today it’s all about making your own playlists.”

Kanya King agreed that people are now increasingly moving between genres which is having a significant impact on today’s pop culture: “The audience of the MOBO Awards has changed a lot…the audience is now sharing, shaping and pushing content.”

Social media is clearly a significant driver behind this change with new platforms enabling people to discover music and share with their peers. As Kanya said: “last year’s MOBO Awards had 1.3 million tweets…we even introduced a social category.”

This technological evolution has decreased the importance of the charts, which are moving from its iconic Sunday slot to Friday nights. As Jo Whiley put it, “the charts aren’t as relevant as they used to be”, however Candice feels that “the charts are still important as a reference point for people.”

Moving onto the opportunities that are now available for brands, Kanya pointed out that the industry provides a unique platform to become a part of people’s culture: “You’re able to communicate such a moving story through music…you can’t do that with other things.” The MOBO founder went on to say that she wouldn’t work with just anyone as “we have a cultural and social responsibility to work with the right brands.”

Jo Whiley pointed out that “now we have this wonderful generation of artists who are so business-minded and focussed.” Brands have the opportunity to go on artists’ journeys with them, with Red Bull singled out as good example. Candice shared that YouTube are trying to experiment with new ways to help artists generate revenues, which will give brands new and exciting opportunities.

With the inspiring session drawing to a close, there was still time for Jo Whiley to reveal that Elton John was the most inspiring person she has met – for Kanya King, it was Stevie Wonder. But for everyone in attendance, all three panellists were truly inspirational and it was an amazing experience to hear them speak so passionately about something media agencies are constantly looking out for – helping brands become ingrained into culture.


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