Page last updated at 08:18 GMT, Saturday, 26 April 2008 09:18 UK

Bands turn to brands in new deals

By Alex Stanger
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

From global superstars to up-and-coming bands, more musicians are turning to TV adverts and sponsorship deals to get maximum profit and exposure.

Madonna
Madonna is known for keeping up with new trends - in music and business

Madonna is not called the material girl for nothing.

Last year's highest earning musician, according to Forbes magazine, has already made millions from her latest album Hard Candy - before it is even released.

That is because it has already proved a tasty proposition for advertisers.

Madonna has added to her fortune by signing lucrative deals with three major companies ahead of Hard Candy's release.

Vodafone customers have had a chance to listen to seven tracks from the album already. US TV viewers have been hearing a version of the number one single 4 Minutes on an advert for shampoo since February.

And Miles Away (the album's expected second single) is already a drama's theme tune on Japanese television.

According to Claire Beale, editor of advertising trade magazine Campaign, it is a great move.

Ben's Brother
Ben's Brother got their big break when their music was used on a TV ad

"Madonna's been really shrewd with this deal," she says. "She's managed to piggyback a massive global ad spend. The brand is spending millions of pounds reaching consumers and her music is there with it."

And Ms Beale believes Madonna, famous for keeping ahead of the trends, is breaking new ground in advertising.

"The difference here is that Madonna is herself a big brand so it's quite rare to find someone of her stature breaking one of their new tracks on a commercial soundtrack.

"And that's part of the buzz about it, because we are all talking about it, so market value is enhanced dramatically."

Of course, not every artist has Madonna's track record - but getting onto a TV advert can pay off for musicians trying to break into the charts.

It's the best thing you can possibly have - as long as the ad is not too cheesy
Jamie Hartman
Ben's Brother

British band Ben's Brother ended up finding success in the States when their song Stuttering (Kiss Me Again) became the soundtrack to a chewing gum ad.

Singer songwriter Jamie Hartman says: "It was one of those songs that randomly got chosen to be up for this commercial ahead of a track by Muse.

"It ended up being a huge track for us. People heard the song on the ad, went to find us on the net and suddenly they found us on a MySpace page and things went a bit nuts.

"Going from 200 hits a day on MySpace, we went to 10,000 a day in the space of a week."

The track has now been included on the band's debut album Beta Male Fairytales, which their record company has decided to re-release following this newfound success.

Hartman says: "The great thing about advertising is it reaches million and millions of people and these big companies spend tens of millions of pounds, which usually the record companies don't necessarily want to spend themselves.

Groove Armada
Bacardi will use Groove Armada tracks in their ad campaigns

"It works both ways really. It's the best thing you can possibly have, as long as the ad is not too cheesy, which luckily this one wasn't."

Perhaps the ultimate union between a brand and band is dance act Groove Armada's new deal.

After leaving record company Sony BMG, Groove Armada's Andy Cato and Tom Findlay signed an all encompassing deal with Bacardi rum.

The DJ duo are being paid an unspecified wage and the drinksmaker funds their new material.

In return, Bacardi will be allowed to use Groove Armada's latest tracks in their advertising campaigns - but will not retain the copyright, which remains with the dance act.

It is the kind of deal that new company Harvest Entertainment has been set up to broker.

You no longer have to sign with a major record label to be successful and earn revenues
Ric Salmon
Harvest Entertainment

With more than 50 years of experience in the record industry, its directors are looking at new ways to bring music to the masses through partnerships between brands and bands.

Managing director Ric Salmon explains: "When artists get to the end of their deals, they now have a choice and it's as simple as that.

"Because of that, we are living in an incredible most revolutionary time, the music industry has ever seen. Artists have now got a choice, and there a now three or four routes an artist can take."

His business partner Matt Jagger agrees: "You no longer have to sign with a major record label to be successful and earn revenues.

"And this is one of the new routes to market that an artist can take. Some are going down a venture capital route, some artists are signing with a live agency.

"This is pairing an artist with a like minded consumer brand who they can work with as a route to market."

The company is currently finding brand partnership deals for Madness, Placebo and McFly. Any suggestion that bands are selling out to big business are quickly quashed by Mr Salmon.

"A good example is the Prince and Mail on Sunday deal," he says. "A phenomenal way of three million people getting his album for free.

"I don't think as a consumer he was selling out. It seized an incredible consumer opportunity, to get three million albums on the coffee table."

Mr Jagger adds: "And [it] was a great deal for the artist because his previous album had sold 100,000."

Watch Alex Stanger's TV report on musicians' lucrative deals on BBC News 24's new entertainment news programme E24. It is shown on BBC News 24 at 1045 GMT and 1745 GMT on Saturdays, and at 1745 GMT and 2145 GMT on Sundays.


SEE ALSO
Review: Madonna's Hard Candy
08 Apr 08 |  Entertainment
Madonna signs radical record deal
16 Oct 07 |  Entertainment
Have Radiohead marked music's future?
10 Oct 07 |  Entertainment
Newspaper gives away Prince CDs
15 Jul 07 |  Entertainment

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