Broadcast & Satellite

The Art Of Marketing Music

4For many listeners, music is far more than just sound, and acts as a strong emotional force. This makes music, and the inextricably linked if sometimes adversarial format of radio a uniquely powerful platform for marketing. Here Fred Jacobs looks at examples of music marketing from the beginning of the year which demonstrate the impact artists, and the radio stations that play them, have on consumers


Guest post by Fred Jacobs of Jacobs Media Strategies

For many people, music is so much more than sound that emanates from speakers and headphones.  Music is a powerful force – something that so many can identify with.

Music defines us.  It's a reflection of who we are and what we stand for.

Radio – for many people – has fostered some of these same emotions in years past, as well as by great stations today that connect with their audiences in unique, close, and meaningful ways.

Since the beginning of time, the partnership between radio and music has been so tightly intertwined, it is sometimes difficult to separate, or determine how where one begins and the other ends.

Despite the royalty squabbles that have punctuated the last several years of icy relationships, the two industries are inextricably tied.

Music holds a special power, and historically, radio has had the ability to not only introduce artists, albums, and songs to consumers, but to also put it in context.  And when a favorite artist comes to town, radio does some of its best work, bringing consumers closer to the music they love.

That's why when I run across clever music marketing techniques, promotions, products, and services, I look for ways to apply them to radio, and how stations can better connect with their audiences.

Since the beginning of the year, I've happened across  remarkable 6-pack of music/marketing examples, all of which underscore the power of favorite artists and the radio stations that play them.

Courtesy: Detroit Red Wings

1. The Detroit Dead Wings – If you live in the Detroit area (including Southern Ontario), you know the story of the Detroit Red Wings, one of the most powerful franchises in all of sports.  The Wings are like the Dallas Cowboys – with fans and followers all over North America.  An “Original 6” NHL team, the Wings symbolize grit, determination, and the Motor City – better known as Hockeytown.

One week from tonight, the Wings will present a “Grateful Dead Celebration Night” at Little Caesars Arena when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning.  There will be tons of themed merch bearing the duel logos of this storied hockey team and this legendary rock band.  A tribute band – “Dead Again” – will also perform.

Ironically, long-time fans of the team may be thinking of a very different Red Wings team when they heard about this promotion.  While the team has attained legendary status, there was a long period from 1967-1982 when they were one of the worst teams in the NHL.

Their nickname during those years?

The Dead Wings.

Keep on truckin'.

2. A Little Bit Chevy Silverado – Speaking of truckin', Chevy has created a new TV ad for their Silverado truck that's a clever play on the old Donny & Marie Osmond song, “A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock n' Roll.”  The spot uses powerful images of people from all backgrounds and walks of life who come together over the music that moves them (in a Chevy Silverado, of course).

They are depicted as hard-working, rugged individuals, whether infantry members, saddling up a horse, or headed to a corporate board meeting.  It's the music that ties them all together, connecting two powerful and classic genres – Rock and Country – to a truck that's very desirous of being associated with both.

3. Classic Rock Potato Chips – What happens when you combine some of your favorite snack food with your music genre of choice?  That's precisely what Lay's Potato Chips is trying to find out in a new campaign called, “Turn Up The Flavor.”

For a limited time, Lay's will make what they're calling “Music inspired potato chip flavors” according to Potato Pro magazine. 

There will be three music-infused flavored chips, fueled by Pop, Hip-Hop, and Classic Rock.  (The story says this last one is actually Rock, but a closer look at the bag (circled far right bottom) reveals these beer and cheese flavored, kettle cooked chips have all the remnants of Woodstock, tie-dye, and lava lamps – yes, we're talking Classic Rock.

Lay's senior director of marketing, Katie Ceclan, explains the connection:

“Like flavor, music has the power to elicit strong emotions such as joy, passion and nostalgia.”

3Described as a “flavor meets music” experience, Lay's is actually tying in these special edition chips into free downloads and other themed prizes from recording artist Bebe Rexha (left),who Lay's says is  celebrating her “Best New Artist” Grammy nomination, as well as being named Variety's 2018 Songwriter of the Year.

Here's the (Classic) Rock inspiration for these chips:

“Lay's Kettle Cooked Classic Beer Cheese is a bold, exciting flavor that matches the incredible feeling you get listening to Rock Music as the lead singer's vocals lead into the first riff of the power chords and you anxiously await the band to take it to the next level.”

The campaign is an interesting mashup of comfort food and music. And it illustrates why so many consumer products lust after the images we associate with rock stars, music, and radio.

These special edition chips are in stores now.

Turn it up and pass the dip.

24. I come from the land of ice and snow – For the winter sports enthusiast in your house, the gift that keeps on giving is the Led Zeppelin snow board.

Apparently inspired by Zeppelin's classic “Misty Mountain Hop,” this snow board – which retails for $750 from Burton – is pretty badass.

It clearly makes a wintry statement about the type of rocker you really are.  Burton says the board is “fast and hard charging,” and shaped like the band's first album.

What must Jimmy Page be thinking?

15. Pray to the gods of rock n' roll – As you're careening down the slopes on your Misty Mountain Hop snowboard, it might be wise to light a prayer candle – just in case.

And the great news is that for under $13, you can now pray to the rock god of your choice.  The folks at the Eternal Flame are gearing these spiritual candles to true fans obviously.

Even George Michael gets into the act, largely because of his “Faith.”  The Eternal Flame features dead rock stars, but observant fans will note that Tom Petty apparently didn't make the cut.

Many agree that Petty wasn't the least bit religious, but had very firm feelings about the hypocrisy of those claiming to be.  And I'm not sure you can find a more inspirational song than “I Won't Back Down.”

6. The vinyl album – eternally in its entirety – So, if all else fails while you're at the hockey game, driving your pickup through rough terrain, or snowboarding like a daredevil – and your prayer candle just isn't up to snuff – there's always how you'll be remembered in the afterlife.

I remember a number of years ago that a certain broadcast executive went into the rock n' roll casket business.  These were beautifully handcrafted coffins, featuring your favorite band.

These days, there are less expensive alternatives to interment.  Cremation has grown in popularity, along with displaying a loved one's ashes.  And so I know what you're probably thinking – rock n' roll urns.

But no.  A UK-based company called AndVinyly takes your ashes, and compresses them into…a vinyl record.

It ain't cheep – about $4,000 for a limited edition 30 copies of your memorial record album.  But you only die once, right?

But here's the hitch….

Apparently, you cannot use copyrighted music for your tribute vinyl record, eliminating the clever use of songs like “Funeral For A Friend,” “Free Bird,” “Knockin' On Heaven's Door,” “Candle In The Wind,” or “Goodbye To You.”

But maybe those are the laws in Great Britain, and might not apply here in the States.  Still, I'd recommend contacting radio's favroitee lawyer, David Oxenford, before moving forward on this pressing project.

The first 1:20 of this video gives you a great preview of what AndVinyly is all about:

For more information, contact the aptly named

And don't forget:  Play the B-side.


While it was fun to review this 6-pack of amazing music marketing ideas, these corporate tie-ins send a loud and clear message to radio stations big and small.

Music – and radio – are very much a part of the fabric of who people are.  Not just a collection of songs that test well that we categorize and play in strategic rotations.

Music fans – and that's pretty much most of us – love to experience their favorite bands in different, clever, unique, and original ways.  And that's what all these promotional ideas have in common.

They connect the lifestyle of the music to products and services that provide identity and even conversation pieces.

Radio stations would be smart to reflect that same ethos with their fans.

The music – and radio – truly matters.

Fred Jacobs founded Jacobs Media in 1983, and quickly became known for the creation of the Classic Rock radio format. 

Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.

In 2008, jacapps was launched – a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,200 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created – a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.

Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.

Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018.

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