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One may wonder why music properties such as Coke Studio, Bacardi NH7 Weekender, Red Bull's Gully Fest, Nesco's Paddy Fields or Johnnie Walker's Mahindra Blues Festival have become a testament to brands using music as a prime tool to promote themselves. Recently, Maruti Suzuki also jumped on the music bandwagon with Nexa Music. explores what music has to offer to brands on critical parameters like reach, engagement and brand affinity. And how careful brands should be while undertaking the musical route, which has become one of the most powerful mediums for them.

Shameer Tandon

“We aren't confident of any other genre to pull eyeballs as much music segment does. Using music as a content strategy for brands is an opportunity to have a more creative, engaging and long-term partnership with its consumer or end user,” said Shamir Tandon, Composer, JetSynthesys’ Music Boutique.

Sanjay Vakharia

Sanjay Vakharia, CEO, Spykar, said, “Music as a form of marketing offers brands a meaningful way to connect with its audience, especially when they are young. The choice of music also says a lot about the brand itself.”

How brands can benefit by using music in content strategies?

One very big advantage of using music in their content marketing strategy is that it helps brands to stand out in the plethora of content available at the consumers' disposal. Kumar Deb Sinha, Executive Vice-President, The StoryLab, said music is a great platform to grab attention and stands out amid the clutter in an age where products have become commodities with little or no differentiation and with attention level of the human at its lowest.

Sinha said a particular genre of music helps brands reach out to a specific set of target audience. He said, “It has the advantage of connecting with micro-communities and specific audience base with the language and genre of music, which is most diverse in a country like India.”

In today’s age of personalisation, brands leave no stone unturned to come close to the consumers and music comes as a great advantage for them to get emotionally involved with their TG.

Rajeev Raja

Rajeev Raja, Founder, BrandMusiq believes music is the currency of emotion. “In this digital, transactional age, it can play a significant role in raising the emotional equity (EQ) of a brand, thus enhancing its connection with consumers. Every category of brands can benefit in some way from a robust music strategy.”

Since the audience today can be connected with music round the clock on their personal mobile devices, it has led to the rise of new digital platforms distributing music on personal devices as well as access to music across every genre. This has created newer opportunities for brands to engage in these formats and platforms. Brands have started associating with niche segments to connect with micro-communities with a loyal fan base.

The rising trend of brands integrating music in content in India

Over the years, there has been a rise in music properties as its digital content in terms of music videos and IPs (intellectual properties) such as Coke Studio, Royal Stag Unplugged or King's Mix Tape or reality shows like Indian Idol.

Qyuki Digital Media, which has earlier been associated with projects like ‘The Dharavi Project’ with PepsiCo and ‘SunoDekho Kaho’ with UnErase, has also launched Nexa Music, a branded music platform to create a new space for Indie English music along with Maruti Suzuki Nexa.

RS Kalsi

RS Kalsi, Senior Executive Director, Marketing and Sales, Maruti Suzuki, said, “To create an exciting new world of mobility, music platforms connect with people beyond borders and barriers.”

Not just adding extra fun and making content more engaging, brands are also betting on this trend to break the stereotypes while attacking the stigma attached to people’s mindset.

Collaborating with Girliyapa, Whisper launched a music video ‘Tu Bas Naach’. Craftsvilla in its last campaign #JudgeMeNot did multiple music videos in both Hindi and English to celebrate modern women. HDFC along with Jonitha Gandhi and Arjun Kanungo did ‘Sar Utha Kar Jiyo’, a music video for its campaign #YoungAndResponsible, to target millennials. Spykar, keeping in mind the brand’s philosophy ‘Young and Restless’, did a music video with rap artist Brodha V and gave its content a push.

“Brands are beginning to understand better the upside of music marketing and lasting music associations that help them build brand awareness, authenticity and recall, which means the trend is only set to grow,” says Tandon.

Music lasts longer than any other form of content

In music, the decay rate differs from video and other forms of content. While videos garner maximum interest and viewership within the first 24-72 hours, music has a far longer shelf life. Hence, while launching music, brands should plan for both awareness and sustenance.

“There should be a mixed bag of promotions on digital and activation of the traditional promotional mediums to get the eyeballs,” said Tandon.

Sinha feels that influencers can play a much larger role with music promotion since they have a far higher and credible reach among their followers, and once shared by them organically it will drive far higher engagement at reasonable to lower promotion cost.

He further said, “One should use influencers of a specific genre of music strategically and aggressively while promoting music, using them sensibly with their authentic voice rather than using them as a reach vehicle with generic messaging.”

Things to remember while undertaking the musical route

All content must be relevant to a brand and its ethos. In the same way, one can't have a herbal, wellness brand adopting hard rock music. Therefore, understanding the brand, what it represents and what it desires to communicate with the campaign is the fundamental brief before one dives into making music. Once there is a clear idea of the keywords that need to be a part of the communication, the lyrics come into play.

“There is always the fear of getting lost amid the volume of music getting created every day in India. Brands should be clear about the space they want to associate within music, and how can they innovate and drive value for a listener in that space,” says Sinha.

The process of creating content in music includes getting the concept in order, followed by having the right cast to emote it and eventually shooting it. When it comes to integrating or recreating music in content, one of the biggest challenges is licensing. Brands also face copyright issues when it comes to music integration.

Kiran D'cruz

“Everyone in the market of music wants to create and own the piece of content and put their mark on it. Hence licensing was, is and will always be a challenge, but we have come a long way. However, now, we have been able to advocate the power of music sync with big production houses, agency and brands. So in that way, we have grown two-fold,” said Kiran D’cruz, Head of Brand Partnerships and Music Licensing, Sony Music.

With digital being so fragmented, it is also about how to market this content and where and who to market this content. Apart from this, the brands should have a long-term strategy with music and not use this as a one-time association. A one-time association might help in the immediate future. But there will be minimal impact on brand engagement and brand loyalty. Loyalty and advocacy need time and sustained effort.

Music gives targeted reach

Music as a genre has been there for ages along with brands. The digital revolution has given brands immense scope to explore content online and break the clutter with extraordinary narratives.

Rather than creating multiple films for TV and digital, the brands are able to aggregate audience, create community and build artist association on the digital platform and at the same time have a rub-off effect on TV as they used the shorter format of the same film.

D’cruz believes music partnership is a two-way street as it not only introduces music fans to a new brand but also helps brand fans to tap into new music.

Certain category brands try to reach out to a particular TG via the music that connects best with the age group they would like to target. Other factors like the pricing, utility, reach of the product or service also matter and become a key factor in determining the kind of music.

“All TGs relate to music, but perhaps the 15-25 age groups are much more passionate about it. The older set has moved to a more evolved relationship with music,” says Raja.