Why would a major brand like Microsoft decide to partner with a music startup like ReverbNation to give away songs from a thousand mostly unknown bands, as was announced yesterday? "It lends itself to the idea of the internet connecting people across borders as well as celebrity," wrote Group Marketing Manager Marty Collins on the Windows Social Media Team blog. "I love the idea of spotlighting new, upcoming artists and together combining our social networks to promote each other. Two networks is by multiply more powerful than one."
The ReverbNation program places ads next to the artwork that is displayed on media player or portable device when a song plays. The ad revenue is then split with the artists and the songs are downloaded via MySpace.
Its' easy to dismiss such efforts as exploitative or damaging to an artist's image. But just as consumers readily accept ads next to their free online copy of the New York Times, why should fans be bothered by an ad next to the artwork on their iPod.
Handled with care, tapping into the artist-fan relationship could become a powerful tool for marketers and another needed source of revenue for artists and labels.
Video from Microsoft: