How Long Will the Labels and Publishers Last?

Posted By Joe Pulizzi on October 01, 2008

I was just re-reading this NYTimes article about marketers underwriting music performers. It's an interesting take on how brands like Nike and P&G are supporting music artists directly.

Here are some of the thoughts that came to mind after reading this:

  1. The days of the intermediary are declining, whether that be with the music labels or publishing. Technology and access have come to a point where companies can now communicate or entertain target consumers directly. For example, a P&G doesn't "have" to advertise in magazines or on television anymore. They can (and do through sites like deliver relevant information directly to consumers. The same thing goes for labels. If the product is Kanye West, why can't Nike leverage that product directly on their behalf (and they have - see the article) without involvement of the label.
  2. Capitalizing on this trend is easier said than done.  In order for it to work and gain traction, the brand must provide quality content without overt selling (this is incredibly difficult for marketers with their sales hats on). To create true engagement, the content must provide something of great value.  That's why P&G's HomeMadeSimple now has over 1 million opt-in users.  Very helpful information without pitching product.  The same goes for underwriting music. You can't hire Kanye and expect him to tattoo a "swoosh" on his forehead and start every sentence with the latest Nike shoe. If it made the content or music better, than that's great, but it almost never does.
  3. The process will be incredibly slow to change. Although the trends are there, most companies won't go in this direction for a while, simply because it's easier to do what's been done for years and not change, even though new ways clearly show more efficiency and opportunity.

With all this, there is an opportunity for leading-edge companies to make an impact by being the publisher, the label, the conversation starter (instead of the follower). In 10 years, everyone will be doing it. Right now, you can choose to lead the way.

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