Can Rodney Jerkins’ Artists & Brands Break Artists Via Music In Commercials?
Rodney Jerkins and Artists & Brands recently got a nice writeup in the LA Times about their belief that they can help break artists by connecting them with brands for commercial work. The hope is that a song written for a commercial might take on a life of its own and help one of their up-and-coming artists build on that success. However, when one looks at their activities on the web, it seems like Artists & Brands' focus is on the brands much more than the artists
Twister Commercial with Vocals by Nikki Lynette
Artists & Brands, founded in Chicago in 2009 by Rodney Jerkins, Ira Antelis and Daryl Jones, appears to be doing a solid job connecting artists and brands in the process of creating or participating in marketing campaigns for those brands. However, Gerrick D. Kennedy, writing for the LA Times, focuses on the idea that involving up-and-coming artists in making music for commercials might be a pathway to success:
"Upstarts gain visibility by debuting original tunes — a coffee ad featuring hand dancers and newbie R&B singer Dejion went viral last year — and McDonald's no longer has to pay the big bucks for superstar talent."
I'm guessing Kennedy means the commercial featuring Cleary & Harding, who are apparently well known, doing hand dances to a catchy tune about "caramel and mocha" by an unidentified singer. Unfortunately, Dejion, who is not listed as a current artist with Artists & Brands, seems to have a very limited web presence with the first result for his name being a MySpace page that hasn't been logged into since December 2010. This couldn't be him could it? It looks like that artist's brand hasn't done so well.
But given that Artists & Brands is not a management company, obviously Dejion needed to do some lifting on his own and that doesn't seem to have happened online. As Kennedy points out:
"Jerkins and his team make it clear they aren't looking for jingles; they're in search of hits. The hope is one of these songs will take off like Somali-Canadian artist K'naan's single "Wavin' Flag," which was Coca-Cola's anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and became a Top 20 hit in more than a dozen countries."
Given that K'naan was an already established artist putting in a lot of work to support "Wavin' Flag," maybe this aspect of Artists & Brands' vision fits a current artist with which they're working, Nikki Lynette.
Lynette is a "rapper, singer, producer, songwriter, visual artist, and on-air personality from Chicago" who has a strong web presence and has already licensed music to MTV that appears on "Jersey Shore" and "The Real World."
She's already getting her work out there and if something she does blows up while working with Artists & Brands, like the vocals for the Twister commercial shown above, Lynette has her own infrastructure developed to capitalize on that break. And the song for the commercial definitely sounds like a song that would stand on its own.
Nevertheless, even though Artists & Brands aren't a management company, I find it a bad sign that what is basically a marketing firm doesn't seem very involved with social media. Their YouTube channel is underdeveloped and their Twitter account is in the early stages. Neither focus much on the artists and, though their Facebook account is in better shape, they didn't crosspost the Twitter video there after posting it on YouTube.
I have to admit, I like the idea of breaking artists via commercial music. But the reality seems to be that Artists & Brands are working for the brands and if a song breaks out, it's the artist and the rest of their team that will be making it something more than a novelty item.
Hypebot Features Writer Clyde Smith maintains his freelance writing hub at Flux Research and blogs at All World Dance and This Business of Blogging. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.