Brands allegedly paid celebs to attend Coachella


California is the celeb-capital of the world and the increasingly popular music festival Coachella, it has been revealed, is being frequented by celebrities being paid to attend the event.

Brands are always looking for ways to get a small piece of the ‘cool’ around music festivals and apparently Coachella has been an opportunity to do so.

Glee’s Lea Michele (pictured above) was reportedly paid $20,000 to turn up at the weekend wearing Lacoste clothing, Gimme Shelter’s Vanessa Hudgens, it is claimed in the US media, accepted $15,000 from McDonald’s and Aaron Paul was allegedly seeking $15,000 and at least two VIP passes to attend the event.

McDonald’s has denied that it paid any appearance fees to anyone to attend Coachella 2014. There has been some outcry of the allegations, given that public admission for Coachella this year is $375.

Even bloggers are getting in on the action with fashion blogger Louise Roe asking for $5,000 and three tickets to attend.

Celebrity Talent International (who manages many of the previously mentioned stars) has been quick to defend the idea of paid appearances at the festival.

They said that paid appearances happen on a regular basis and that product placement is simply another form of advertising that acts as an important revenue stream for their clients.

It is interesting to see the extend that brands go to in order to tie their products into the music industry but at the same time want these tie-ups to seem wholly natural.


PPLPPL, the UK music licensing and royalties body, has announced that it collected record revenues on behalf of British artists for the overseas use of their music during the first quarter of 2014.

Every quarter PPL collects revenues on behalf of artists who are registered to receive royalties from international licensing deals.

This quarter has been the strongest to date with over £13 million collected, a rise of 20% over the last record.

This is partially down to the ease of international digital distribution in the form of platforms such as iTunes.

A recent report from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) stated that rights income has exceeded $1 billion for the first time last year, an increase of more than 19%.

But it is also because PPL has created better systems and links to international Collective Management Organisation’s (CMO’s) to monitor and collect royalties for the use of tracks.

PPL now holds 68 reciprocal agreements with CMO’s in 34 countries. PPL also reports that there has been an 18% rise in the number of its members receiving revenues from international sources.

US royalties are now collected without being subjected to a 30% tax rate due to having Qualified Intermediary (QI) status.

Peter Leathem, CEO at PPL said: “We are actively working collaboratively with our international counterparts to help transform the licensing and distribution process to maximise revenues for all those involved in creating recorded music across the globe.”




In the last 20 years the music industry has seen a steady increase in sales by over-40’s of pop and rock music with less emphasis on the classical genre.

In the late 90’s over 90% of music purchased by people aged 20 – 29 was rock and pop, but this accounted for only 51% of over 60’s.

By 2004 that figure had increased to 72% and is thought to be consistently rising. It gives brands an opportunity to appeal to multiple different consumer age brackets without creating separate advertising campaigns that create mixed messages.

A track that is enjoyed by people aged 20 – 29 may be as equally well regarded by the over 60’s audience now.

For supermarket chains, banks and car manufacturers, which are forced to create advertising campaigns that appeal to a vast audience, this can be very helpful.

Digital distribution, social media and multiple marketing channels for music are creating an older listener who is not stuck in the music of their youth but instead surrounded by opportunities to listen to fresh, new music.

This convergence in music tastes can also be seen in the popularity of older artists like Bruce Springsteen, who is now being listened to by a younger audience as well as his old fans.

“There’s a real opportunity for big brands who have a very wide target audience to use music to align themselves with multiple generations of listeners without making their advertising campaigns alienate any one group of people” said Ruth Simmons, MD at soundlounge.

“As radio is becoming less of a social tastemaker we’re increasingly seeing audiences of all ages tapping into the same channels to listen to music and thus increasingly enjoying similar music, which is great news for advertising agencies and brands.”



A study by scholars from the University of Pittsburgh and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Centre have implicated pop music as a possible cause for adolescent binge drinking.

The national, random study of over 2,500 people aged between fifteen and twenty-three asked participants if they could identify music containing references to certain brands of alcohol and asked them about the amount they drink.

59 percent of those tested said they had drunk an alcoholic drink before, 18% admitted to binging and 37 percent had sustained injury due to intoxication.

Participants in the study were also given the titles of popular songs with mentions of alcohol and asked if they liked or owned the tracks being asked if they could recall the various brands of alcohol that were mentioned.

The study found that those who could recall the brands of alcohol mentioned in song lyrics were more than twice as likely to have had an alcoholic drink at least once. They also had a drastically increased chance of regularly binge-drinking.

“Brand references may serve as advertising, even if they are not paid for by the industry,” said James D. Sargent, co-director of the Cancer Control Research Program at Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

“Every year, the average adolescent is exposed to about 3,000 references to alcohol brands while listening to music,” added co-author Brian A. Primack, MD, PhD, “It is important that we understand the impact of these references to alcohol brands in an age group that can be negatively impacted by alcohol consumption.”

“A surprising result of our analysis was that the association between recalling alcohol brands in popular music and alcohol drinking in adolescents was as strong as the influence of parental and peer drinking, and an adolescent’s tendency toward sensation-seeking. This may illustrate the value that this age group places in the perceived opinions and actions of music stars.”

It has caused a political debate about whether the use of alcohol brand names should be ban from commercial music in the future. Another recent study found that teenagers who were familiar with songs that reference Jack Daniels, Tanqueray and Jamesons were far more likely to drink these particular brands.



Only last month we were heaping praise on Prince for the recent promotional stunts he pulled in order to promote his comeback tour around London. Now he’s dropped Universal as his publisher and instead launched his own company.

Dubbed NPG Music Publishing, Prince set the company up simply as a licensing entity to control his own music. Tracks on NPG include Kiss,” “When Doves Cry,” “Little Red Corvette,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” “U Got the Look,” “Purple Rain,” and “Diamonds and Pearls”.

It will be the first time in over 20 years that independent control has been taken of Prince’s catalogue. The move comes after his in-house team recently managed to secure a placement for ‘FALLINLOVE2NITE’ on an episode of New Girl, which aired directly after the Super Bowl in America.

It’s reignited the independently spirited debate of, ‘do you really need a publishing company?’ in an era where the major label is becoming much less essential to artists promotion and revenue.

For an artist with the vast revenue streams that Prince is privy to, taking publishing in house seems like a very smart move, as he regains control over his catalogue but will not lose the quality advertising and television placements that create some huge paycheques for him.

However, from the point of view of an independent artist it may be too easy to see Prince’s new company as a ‘sign of the times’. Without a reputable publishing company backing an artist’s music it is incredibly difficult to gain placements in large-scale advertising campaigns.

It also means that the artist has to take charge of negotiations on fees and may be all too tempted to settle for little or no payment for use of their work.

Why Bob Dylan fell in love with corporate America


In the 60′s, the synchronisation of popular music used in advertising were seen by bands as ‘selling out’ or ‘getting into bed with the man’. But this perception and moral positioning has changed beyond all recognition in recent years as musicians realise both the promotional and financial benefits of advertising partnerships.

Boy Dylan is a man who has always managed to move with the times. His interactive video for ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ has wracked up over 70 million views on the network Interlude, which allows users to choose what happens next as music videos progresses encouraging them not to snowball through content as they may do on YouTube.

A 1990’s Richie Havens’ cover of “The Time They Are A Changin’” helped to advertise a bank and Apple used numerous images of Bob in their ‘Think Different’ campaigns during the late 60’s. Many music fans were disgusted by this.

Dylan’s music spans decades and yet he did not properly couple his music with any brands until 2004, when it really became acceptable for reputable artists to do so.

He once said that if he were going to do any advertising work, he would endorse ‘ladies garments’.

Ironically that is exactly what he did in this 2004 Victoria’s Secret commercial, which flicks between Dylan and a Victoria’s Secret model, backed perfectly by his track Love Sick that ends with the line “I see silhouettes in the window. I’m sick of love, I wish I’d never met you.”

After its release Bob said: “Was I not supposed to do that?” in an interview with Rolling Stone “I wish I had seen it. Maybe I’d have something to say about it. I don’t see that kind of stuff. That’s for other people to see and make up what they will.”

In 2006 he was one of the iconic faces of Apple’s iPod, with the singer sat playing guitar on a stool whilst a dancer sways in the almost silhouetted style that the company were obsessed with in their advertising at the time.

This may have been a more obvious brand tie-up for Dylan, firstly because he was helping to push his music to a younger generation but also because Steve Jobs was a life-long fan.

In 2007 Dylan brought his musty brand to the desert where he shot an advert with Cadillac asking “What’s life without the occasional detour?”

Some called it ‘too ironic for words’ that a man who said: “Advertising signs that con you into thinking you’re the one” to be advertising a $75,000 car.

Despite this criticism there quickly followed an advert in which Dylan allowed Pepsi to mix ‘Forever Young’ with the vocal styling’s of Will.I.Am under the strap line “every generation refreshes the world.”

By this point even the greatest naysayers of the 60’s were beginning to understand the necessary financial benefits to brand partnerships and how older music can be reinvented for a new generation of music listeners.

Just a matter of months ago Dylan featured in a series of Chrysler adverts during the Super Bowl (viewed by 111 million people) that focused around encouraging people to buy American cars.

“You can’t import the heart and soul of every man and woman working on the line,” he said in the two-minute monologue.  At the same time he had also allowed the use of his 1966 single “I Want You” to be used by Chobani Yoghurt in a separate advert. Both saw a jump in sales on iTunes.

There will always be sceptical (generally older) fans that neglect the idea of their idols partnering with brands, but in an age where music royalties are being squeezed, piracy is prominent and tracks are digital, music licensing is the last place that artists like Bob Dylan can earn true revenue outside of touring.

Mobile piracy overtakes online torrenting



For the first time it has been revealed this week that using mobile devises to pirate music has become more popular than traditional means of copyright infringement such as torrents and cyber lockers. A new study by market research organisation NPD found that people are increasingly pirating music using applications on their smartphones.

The report did however suggest that piracy services administered via applications gives the impression of legitimacy and many people may not know that they are breaching copyright. Some of these applications feature advertising from brands, which has provoked the Police IP Crime Unit to create a database of websites that infringe copyright for advertisers to refer to

Advertising Week neglects sound branding



It’s nearly 30 years since BBH’s now very famous us of ‘Heard It Through The Grapevine’ was synched to a Levi’s commercial. Today, in addition to brand tie-ins, brands around the world are now spending literally hundreds of millions of dollars on buying, licensing or commissioning music for their advertising and marketing to sell their products.

This of course is down to the drive for creating exciting content across so many interfaces below ATL. In a recent study Millward Brown found that consumers consider 42% of their whole commercial experience is sound and 58% sight. Sir John Hegarty has always maintained that it is higher.

Put into those terms it seemed a shame that during AdWeek Europe, held in London last week, just a handful of lectures and seminars featured any music-related content, let alone dedicated sessions to sound branding, music licensing and brand partnerships.

We did however find a glimmer of hope from Spotify who held a discussion called “I’m with the brand”, discussing how brand partnerships can both benefit and destroy artists. Chris Maples VP of Europe for Spotify said that whilst he was behind brands partnering with bands, these relationships needed to be authentic, or as he put it ”You can’t have brand ‘X’ badgering band ‘Y’”.

David Everitt from BBC 6 Music was on the discussion panel and agreed saying: “Brands can help fund artists’ existences and because of that they are more open to stuff. Brands will actively seek out people they like. The more formats, the more platforms, the better.”

Karmarama’s Executive Chairman Jon Wilkins made reference to a recent appearance by Lady Gaga on the Doritos stage at SXSW in which she had someone vomit coloured milk on her (see our report on this rather disgusting subject:

“I loosely get how it ties in with the brand, but when someone goes and pukes coloured milk onstage, when you’re marketing foodstuffs, I’m not 100% sure how that works. It’s down to empathy and the proximity of the relationship.”

The argument is no longer whether artists should tie-up with brands, as it is a fantastic revenue stream in a dwindling industry, the question is now how brands can create authenticity in these relationships. Pick the wrong artist to partner with and an audience will see through the advert and become disengaged with the brand. So how do you select the correct artist to partner with?

Well, according to the panel, firstly the music has to fit the feel of the visuals in an advertising campaign, but outside of this, brands must find artists who align with their target audience. For instance Lily Allen may have seemed an odd choice for the 2013 John Lewis Christmas advert. For many years she was seen as a party girl, stumbling around London drunk and swearing at paparazzi.

But as she has grown up so too have her listeners, she is a mother now, so too are a huge portion of John Lewis’ customers. So brands must find artists that fit both musically and personally with their target market. The discussion finished with Chris Maples citing a piece of research that found that whilst 78% of brand managers felt that music should be a key part of their campaigns, they spent less than 5% of their budgets on it.

This session seemed rather ironic given the lack of music-based sessions at Advertising Week this year and Spotify’s own contentious relationship with the music industry regarding revenue streams. After a week, the bigger questions like ‘do brands actually know and understand beyond an artists target market how music is actually emoting with their own customer relations?’ were overlooked.

For an industry that starts with consumer research and quantifiable insights, it is strange that an element which contributes almost 50% to the creative output is still being left to intuition, visceral response or worse the music industry’s own commercial agenda.

‘Russian Facebook’ accused of piracy by major labels


vKontakte (VK) is often called the ‘Russian version of Facebook’ and is being sued by several major record labels for deliberately facilitating piracy on its network. Sony Music Russia, Universal Music Russia & Warner Music UK claim that the network allows tens of millions of users to stream tracks for free on the site.

VK is currently the most-used form of social media in the country with over 88 million Russian users and 143 million global users. It is claimed that VK has never paid any royalty fees to labels or artists for use of recordings on their network and also sells advertising that is reported to have netted them $172 million of revenue in 2012 alone.

Worldwide industry watchdog the IFPI said in a statement: “For the music industry to grow and prosper, it needs digital partners that are licensed, that respect copyright and which pay artists and producers for their work and investment. VK’s music service, unlike others in Russia, is an unlicensed file-sharing service that is designed for copyright infringement on a large scale.”

“We have repeatedly highlighted this problem over a long period of time. We have encouraged VK to cease its infringements and negotiate with record companies to become a licensed service. To date the company has taken no meaningful steps to tackle the problem, so today legal proceedings are being commenced.”

How to establish an ROI on advertising music spend



Controlling the cost of any creative advertising project can be tricky and even harder is gauging the return on investment (ROI) of such projects.

As much as creative vision is important when it comes to creating brand sounds, the question of calculating an adequate return on investment for their music spend remains a mystery for most brands beyond the actual fees paid.

The situation today in most editing suites when considering music is often established by time and money. Music is invariably chosen 2-3 days before play -out, The decision making process to choose between a track that costs £500,000 more than a track which costs £50,000 can be based on the on visceral feelings of the creative team, who felt it was a better fit to the visual

The truth is music costs money and brands are increasingly asking the following questions: 1) how do I know that this track is going to work 2) ‘how can you possibly quantify the emotional difference that using one piece of music had on a viewer over another?’and 3) what evidence-based results  can you show me that will persuade me that the higher fees are actually an investment not a cost.

At soundlounge we believe that these are important questions that deserve answers. Over the last couple of years we have been working with brands to test the difference that key tracks had on a specific target market based on the emotional response, brand fit and message take out.

soundlounge MD Ruth Simmons said that “if you are putting together a commercial that targets 14 – 16 year old girls, it seems more reasonable to test their judgement on a how the music is working  for the brand, rather than simply leave it to a group of older people who are estimating how they will respond.”

“The magic starts when we then correlate these responses to the potential fees, it means that brands can have frameworks to judge whether a track is worth the additional money based on its performance. Then we start to explore ROI”

This research is carried out at the time of editing rather than wait to carry out in post production testing after an advertising campaign may have been  running for six months.

If the audience responds negatively  after this amount of time, not only has the damage been done but potentially a huge amount of money has been wasted on  buying media time. The ramifications of purchasing  an expensive track, or worse, false economies made to buying music cheaply to manage an over-stretched budget, now are seriously visible with a profound affect on the brands ROI.