Why musicians should be more open to working with brands

Justin Kline of influencer marketer Markerly makes the case for why and how musicians and other creators should work with brands to amplify their reach.

By Justin Kline, Co-Founder of Markerly

It’s brutal out here for music artists trying to make a name for themselves on social media. Since TikTok’s rise to fame over a year and a half ago, the platform has exploded with growth opportunities for artists like never before, opening the door for a whole new generation of musicians and influencers.

Artists like Bella Poarch and Dixie D’Amellio have risen to prominence through viral videos, and later released music that performed quite well on the Billboard charts. Other artists like Olivia Rodrigo, have released music to catapult their legacy into the music industry. In May, Rodrigo released her debut album “Sour”, after her first single “Driver’s License” shattered Spotify streaming records, thanks to its viral success on TikTok in December of 2020. With her album, “Sour,” Rodrigo made an obvious partnership with Sour Patch Kids for a collaborative, limited-edition release of the sour gummy candies to pair well with her album. 

Rodrigo’s success might leave other artists wondering how they can hop on the TikTok train to fame. How do you get brands to collaborate with you, and still have time to focus on your music?

Here are a few tips all artists can practice to further their music careers and partner with brands to boost their image on social media:

Know what you want from partnerships before walking into them 

Large artists in the industry partner with brands all the time. In Fall of 2020, hip-hop artist Travis Scott collaborated with McDonald’s for the “Travis Scott” meal. TikTokers began recording themselves ordering the meal at drive-thrus, and soon, the trend went viral on the platform. Overall, the collaboration reportedly earned Scott $20 Million. While not all artists will land massive deals with major brands like McDonald’s or Sour Patch Kids, there are many benefits to working with brands. 

Before signing contracts, it’s important to identify what exactly you’re seeking to gain from this partnership. Ask yourself questions like what brands are you looking to work with? How can you incorporate your own personal touch to content so it remains authentic? If you’re planning on creating original music for partnerships then write songs that are funny or appealing, while maintaining a sense of class and taste. Think about what style of music would be most appealing to the brand? If you don’t hear back right away, continue to make great music, and reach out to brands with updates. 

You’re allowed to be picky with your partnerships 

Just because a brand approaches you regarding a partnership doesn’t mean you need to immediately accept it. Take the time to carefully vet brands, and decide if their values align with your beliefs and goals. Since all brands are different, address each opportunity as it comes. In meetings with brands, make sure that both your goals and the brand’s are addressed. Realize what brands want, whether it be compensation through company “perks” or monetary payment. Once you have all the facts, you then can make a decision. When first starting out with brand partnerships, it’s important to remember it’s all a learning process. Don’t be afraid to self-advocate and negotiate. Ignore opportunities if they aren’t worth your time.

Kurt Cobain of Nirvana used to fear being a “corporate puppet” in the 90’s, but times have changed. With music influencers and creators having more control over their creative voice on social media, the mindset has shifted. Social media platforms can feel theatrical at times, so when considering partnerships with brands, it’s best practice to be upfront about your intentions. Put time and effort into your content, and don’t lose sight of what is important to you. Brand partnerships should be fun, creative ways for tapping into new audiences to discover your music. 

Justin Kline is Co-founder of Markerly, an influencer marketing technology partner and agency working with some of the largest consumer brands and advertising agencies in the world.

Share on: