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Nontraditional Branding: The Future of the Music Industry?

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The music video has been, and still is, a staple in the entertainment industry. This medium can help make or break a song or artist's career. It is also becoming increasingly harder to satisfy picky audiences and gain views. Some artist's (especially within the same genre) attempt to outdo each other with their theatrics, which could mean a multitude of things. Regardless of this, there is something that is becoming increasingly more common in today's music videos -- and the artist doesn't even have to pull any elaborate "stunts." Brand placement is becoming the norm. This is going beyond an artist simply saying a brand in their song lyrics. It is the actual product appearing in the video. Sometimes it is only for a few seconds, but, in some cases, that is plenty of time to get the viewer interested.

When it comes to this kind of branding method, and a lot more, the go-to guy is Adam Kluger. Kluger is the CEO of The Kluger Agency, a music and brand partnership agency. Kluger began the agency in 2008. Since then, he coined the term "brand-dropping" to describe his form of product-placement. It is an integrated process that requires working with the company, their product, the artist and others. The timing of the product mention (whether verbal or visual) is key for it to be successful.

Kluger has worked with countless artists, from Lady Gaga to Flo Rida (his very first "brand-drop" was in Lady Gaga's "Beautiful, Dirty, Rich" music video). He was recently named one of the "30 under 30" in music by Forbes Magazine. Some of his more recent "brand-dropping" can be seen in Eminem and Skylar Grey's video for "Bicycle," and Christina Aguilera's video for "Your Body," among others. The agency currently represents over 60 brands, and it's growing.

Music videos can become very expensive -- and most are. Originally, much of the budget was footed by other sources, like the record label, but the current music scene is changing this. "It's certainly not in its best days, but also not in its worst," Kluger states. He continues: "While there are disruptors, there are innovators. Individual albums will never sell 10 Million plus copies so easily again. With that being said, new ways will arise for artists and labels to make the same amount of money (If not more) without selling a single copy." So in order to keep costs down, but expectations up, many in the industry turn to people like Kluger for help, and have seen the rewards of using this form of marketing.

So is nontraditional branding the future of the music industry? Most likely. Most in the industry understand (or are beginning to understand) the importance of this form of nontraditional branding. For fans and artists alike, music will always be used as a form of escapism. Still, when it comes to the visual aspect, breaking the bank is becoming less negotiable. Companies like The Kluger Agency are helping to ensure that the music will continue to play, and that the quality of the music video remains on-par (or better) with the viewer's expectations.

Originally I wasn't sure if I was a fan of this trend. Music tends to be a form of escapism for many, and promoting a brand might not be part of that experience. Plus, if not used correctly, a music video might become overly "commercial." However, after thinking about it (and watching a few music videos where this form of branding is apparent) this idea makes sense. In a world where new songs or whole albums seem to "leak" almost every day, and pirating has become the norm, it is agencies like Kluger's that are helping the music industry. Very few artists can truly sell millions of albums, and if used correctly all parties -- including the fans -- would benefit from using "brand-dropping." Plus, haven't we seen this form of nontraditional branding already in almost all other forms of media? Maybe the music video is just catching up.