This is the first talk with a international guest so we are switching to english this time. Let me introduce my dear old colleague Jack Milligan. At Spotify he worked on many international brand partnerships and creative campaigns with some of the biggest brands in the world. He left Spotify for another exciting gig as Business Director - EMEA at MediaCom Beyond Advertising but he still have a soft spot for Sweden, Stockholm (and Riche). I hope you enjoy our little chat about music and branding and some anecdotes from another music superfan!
Jack Milligan how the hell are you? Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do for a living?
I’m very well thanks. I do miss our evenings in Riche however. I live in London and work for Mediacom Beyond Advertising. My role is to help our brands make better content.
To me artists are the original storytellers. Everyone knows that music has the power to connect with people on a deep and emotional level. Still, I think music goes overlooked by many marketers. Do you agree? How can we avoid making music an afterthought in the creative process?
Music is always a challenge for brands due to the complexities around artist outreach and rights. It is much more complex that sport for example and requires several stakeholders to agree on things. I think artists are much more open to working with brands and most are very good at it. For brands it is really about finding music and artists that have a good, natural fit with the brand and their story. Music fans can spot an incongruous partnership very quickly, and with social media, tell other about it very quickly too. Look at data, be realistic and allow the artists creative freedom.
From your view - what role can music play for a brand and which are the most obvious benefits from a branding perspective?
Music and artists can help the fans of those artists become fans of the brand. Done in an authentic way it can have a lasting effect on a brand and its equity, get it wrong and it can have negative effects. Music partnerships have a multitude of benefits, but it is important for the brand to not just dive in to the biggest artist of the moment, think about what the brand is trying to achieve and work back that way. Is it to build and own an audience, advertise to an audience or create a shared audience? What media partners can a brand work with such as Vice or Spotify to help find artists and also bring an already engaged music audience with them.
At Dist Sthlm we help a bunch of festivals to develop and setup partnerships with brands.
What’s your view on festivals as a platform for brand experiences? How should brands approach the festival audience?
Festivals for me is a strange one. On the one hand they are a perfect opportunity for brands to get much closer to their audience and you know that most if not all the people there are music fans. But there are lots of brands so a lot of clutter, most people are wasted the whole weekend and I just wonder what the brand recall of sponsors is. Being a useful brand at a festival is always good, like helping people charge their phone, pay for something with contactless or getting rehydrated. But I think the content that’s created from the festival and distributed across owned and paid channels is key in getting the eyeballs you need.
What expectations do you have on the music year of 2018?
I don’t really have much. I see the battle for streaming continuing with Spotify & Apple pulling away from everyone else. I see more legends passing, and I hope to see guitar music coming back in a good way. I’d also like to see some free festival tickets coming my way!
What’s your top live music experience ever?
Well, my bragging gig is Nirvana at Reading in ’93 I think it was. But the Foo Fighters acoustic gig at Victoria Apollo was good, and Metallica at the O2 a couple of weeks ago was pretty special too as was Radiohead at Glastonbury. Off to see Royal Blood tonight at Ally Pally which I’m expecting to be good too.
Jack, it’s been a true pleasure talking to you and very exciting to get your international perspective! :)
Let’s wrap this up with some final remarks from us at Dist Sthlm:
We agree with Jacks thoughts around festivals. When we meet with potential festival partners and sponsors we always stress that they should think hard about what they can bring to the festival experience. There’s definitely room for many more brands to get involved in supporting the fans of music and culture in Sweden (compared to more mature markets like US, UK etc).
We can help make sure that brands invest their marketing $'s in a meaningful way. More meaningful for the festival. More meaningful for the fans who are your consumers. And ultimately, more meaningful for your brand. Put the fans first, not last.
Finally, a classic performance from Jacks bragging gig. Nirvana at Reading 1992 (not 1993) :D