Music marketing has been impacting culture and consumer behavior since the dawn of recorded music. Today, there are more ways than ever of reaching audiences through music alignments – the key is cutting through the sea of branded content and making real noise with fans.
With that in mind, here are a few of the biggest music marketing trends we’ve seen (so far) in 2023, with takeaway tips on how to get in on the action.
Custom Branded Songs
Largely influenced by TikTok culture, where original audio and self-referential takes on preexisting songs are standard, brands are increasingly putting a new spin on the decades-old concept of a jingle. They’re incorporating older jingles into contemporary remixes, reworking earlier hits to trade on tongue-in-cheek nostalgia (T-Pain is really killing it in this game – but props too to Lisa Loeb), or working with artists to create wholly original tracks.
Pro Tip: Any of these approaches to custom branded audio have the potential to make a brand campaign stand out from the pack and garner press attention. Because it also gives the brand an asset they can leverage in other marketing materials to follow, such an approach empowers a brand to cultivate a cultural sonic identity.
Original Short Form Artist Content + Capsule Artist Ambassadorships
By no means is this trend unique to 2023 — it has been and will remain a music marketing trend for years to come — but it’s no less so this year. You can find custom branded artist alignments in your IG feed just about every day. Fan engagement with these posts varies based on everything from artist following to authenticity of the content itself, but the creative execution and potential reach are blue-sky opportunities.
Pro Tip: Consider the artist’s persona and audience. Brands will sometimes ask for rigid adherence to a script, but this subverts the artist’s own personality and verve — the very things that won them the passionate fan base you want to reach. The artist knows their audience better than you do. Collaboration is key.
“World” Music in the U.S.
According to leading industry research firm Luminate, Latin Music consumption in the U.S. grew over 55% between 2020 and 2022 — the highest YOY growth of any genre. And of course, the term “Latin Music” cannot possibly describe all the regional and artistic subgenres of music that Latin and Hispanic artists create. U.S. consumption of Regional Mexican Music, for instance, jumped 42.1% year to-date through May of this year. This outpaces the growth of country music, dance/electronic, rock and pop; only K-Pop (up 49.4%) has performed better.
Brands are starting to take notice and are building more diverse artist alignments into their strategy as a result, but there’s a lot more room at the table.
Pro Tip: Targeting the U.S. market means reaching a diverse listening audience with global tastes. A thoughtful, inclusive, data-backed set of multi-genre artist alignments is the best way to reach these audiences.
More Strategic Brand Integrations
While brand placement in artist content is nothing new, the rising trend of more thoughtful collaboration between brands and creatives is.
Savvy marketers know that product placement works best when it supports the content narrative. In this Durex brand integration in the video for Sam Smith’s Unholy (below), the placement actually drives the narrative. Durex had another narrative-driven starring moment with Lil Nas X. These authentic integrations happen on-stage at Coachella for example, and brands are allowing themselves to be playful when appropriate.
Pro Tip: The most authentic, memorable integrations happen when there’s clear brand/artist alignment. Lean into the artist’s creative vision and allow yourself to think beyond the parameters in which your brand has traditionally been portrayed.
Whatever content strategy you deploy, the key first step in assessing any artist alignment is of course determining how that artist’s audience mirrors and/or expands your own target consumer set. Traditionally this has been done by looking at the artist’s social audience demographics, engagement and viewership. These metrics remain valid today but they don’t tell the whole story. Today we’re able to go further, analyzing target consumer sets to find artists with overlapping audiences, and artists whose fans are more likely to engage with your brand.
Let’s say you’re launching a new hiking boot marketed to millennials. Music marketing teams working with an evolved data stack should be able to determine not just whether they’re reaching 25-40 year-olds, but also whether those millennials tend to enjoy hiking, the outdoors, camping, road trips, and adventure. Moreover, whether those same audiences also love dogs, BBQs and music festivals. If so, which festivals, and which artists are headlining those festivals this year. With a more complete picture, brands can decide how to scale their approach. For example, opting to partner with artists performing at the festivals the brand’s target will attend or watch.
Pro Tip: Don’t settle for gut-check artist alignments; work with a partner who has the data infrastructure to bring you alignments you can objectively believe in.