'Lab Day LIVE' Report

Last week I was invited to Ogilvy's music and brands event ‘Lab Day Live’. I outlined the event in my previous post and here I'd like to mention a little about the success of the day and my observations.

Taking place in Ogilvy's Canary Wharf offices in the heart of London's banking and media district, the scene was set in an area symbolic of regeneration and financial strength. Private music festivals are rare in this part of town. 

For most musicians trying to scrape a living from the troubled music business, the invitation to arrive for work at 9.00am to the grand entrance of a Canary Wharf establishment, must have seemed about as far removed from reality as it gets. Of course musicians are used to playing in wildly exotic locations, quite often removed from reality, so this was not about to faze the Lab Day performers.

Subjectively the experience was slightly surreal and possibly what a lucid dream episode of Mad Men might feel like. Imagine 15 bands turning up to play loud sets of music on stages in open plan offices, full of Ogilvy employees, perched merrily if not bemusedly in front of their large Mac monitors.

Add to this hundreds of guests wandering from office to office, audio visual crews and equipment, food, drink, live Internet streaming, a cast of 30 music business exhibitors scattered at various locations, and you get the big picture. This took some planning and from my point of view as a guest it all appeared to run pretty smoothly. Although I hear neighbours Barclays bank complained about the noise.That’s impressive!

No doubt the uniqueness of the experience was carefully factored into Ogilvy's planning. The flair of the team to initiate such an occasion shows serious commitment to their vision of connecting brands with music. As the David Ogilvy quote high on one of the lobby walls states boldly:
"Look for people who aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine"

The Morning Talks
The first half of the day was devoted to a series of talks from a range of music industry figures. The 9th floor conference room with it's lofty views over the East End, carpeted in the agency's signature colour red, soon became full and there was a buzz of anticipation in the air.

Apart from a few of the long-time music biz professionals I had no idea who all these people were. The multitasking couple sitting next to me were constantly thumbing their respective smartphones and many were vocal in their contributions during moments of audience participation. The talks moved swiftly with panels and individual speakers stating their case for why music is important to brands in the digital age. The audience seemed keen to absorb what was on offer and the speakers were received appreciatively.

Here are some of the key issues that were expanded upon with links to further information. I've grouped the 'messages' under general headings and the order in which they are listed flows chronologically to give some sense of timing. A complete list of speakers is available at the Lab Day LIVE website.

For a visual representation of the key points take a look at David Coxon's infographic: Lab Day Live visualized

You can also view an online version of Julian Treasure’s opening address on: The 4 ways sound affects us

Speakers to Brands
  • Marketing agencies are desperate for engagement and the music industry is desperate for revenue (sales have dropped)
  • Generally music is a universal resource
  • There is huge growth in the semi-pro content creation market
  • It’s important to create communities that allow consumers to participate and connect with the brand
  • Advertisers can look to collaborations to drive consumer behaviour
  • Songs can be used as ‘media channels’ to capture consumer engagement
  • Record companies can look to break bands via advertisers
  • A desired shift to “Stepping back from celebrity and into the song”
  • Digital content curation is producing valuable collections that can engage fans
See Rock’s Backpages for an example of how to build engagement through the curation of music journalism articles.

Live Events
  • Brands need to create more ‘experience’ in order for consumers to remember the brand association to particular events and products
  • brands should make innovative use of technology systems for live events (text messaging, geolocation, etc.)
  • Brands can control engagement by creating their own events
See Eskimo Live for more about Experiential Marketing

Content Creation & Marketing Campaigns
  • Brands need to enter the space in a credible way to win the respect of the music audience
  • Create content such as webisodes that feature musicians and musical collaborations
  • Content can be distributed via popular social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube
  • Commitment is required from brands and bands to build momentum
  • Brands can stage on-location events in unique, meaningful, sometimes secret locations
  • Generating brand content creates a ‘hook’ to help book more established artists
  • Brands can make genuine unconditional offers of products to help a band’s career
See Ford - Bands In Transit for an example of a brand music campaign.

Music Industry State of Play
  • UK music industry revenues fell by 4.8 percent to £3.8bn in 2010, down £189m.
  • The music industry needs more supply
  • Festivals are driving live music more than any other venue type (up by 20%), with increasing capacity and ticket prices
  • UK is outperforming USA in music exports by a factor of 3
  • Sync income has grown by 10% since 2008
  • Consumers now spend more money on games than music
  • Albums can be used as a promotional tool to sell games
  • Bands may be developed primarily to promote brands and exist only because of the brand
  • Tourism is a big potential area of revenue (Air flights, package deals, events)
  • Music can be treated as a service and used to sell products
For more on on the state of the music industry see Economic Insight - PRS for Music

Internet Music
  • Last.fm has ‘scrobbled’ 57 billion pieces of musical data
  • Data is the currency and the audience expect their data to come back to them
  • Think about the audience needs
  • Super-fans and artists create an identity together
  • Use crowdsourcing to build engagement
  • Let the fans and bands take control
  • Find an artist/community and see what their metrics reveal, in terms of marketing products
Examples Last.fm, Chill.com and Turntable.fm (US only)

Artistic Enterprises
  • Immersive soundscaping can be used to change crowd behaviour
  • SoundCloud becoming more engaged with artist enterprise
  • Art concepts can be used on products
  • Artists still need support like record labels used to
For more on immersive soundscaping and sound design see Illustrious

Record Labels
  • Music Industry asks brands: Embrace us
  • Music industry has changed beyond all recognition
  • WMG are focused on developing serious artists careers, long term
  • Synchronisation is growing, labels and publishers have put in a lot of energy
  • WMG want to integrate brands into the music industry, looking for partners
  • Music rights difficult to navigate, previous price points were incorrect
  • Creative process can be supplied by labels working directly with agencies at the creative level
Social Music Apps
  • Spotify says you need two things a)The Content (millions of songs) b) Good user experience (i.e. Apple)
  • Brands/music needs to be everywhere in order to be relevant to consumers (portable devices, appliances, cars, etc)
  • You have to be better than piracy, hence freemium model
  • You can only make music social if you have a free tier
  • Pinpoint music for campaigns based on demographics
  • Analyze from top down; Social engagement to personal engagement
  • 3 methods: Crowdsourcing individual reviews, surveying social interactions, identifying and testing top genres
  • Track highest volume of conversation
  • Socialization more important in Germany, hence digital landscape important to understand
  • Electronic music interaction is high in Germany
  • Search engines required to find and license music
  • Use systems to find out what resonates most
See Libspotify for information about Spotify’s API for third party developers, an example of a ubiquitous, freemium, social music application.

Sound Branding
  • Consensual contracts: Brands beware of jumping ship from one creator to another, the music business can track you
  • Minimum cost of copyright infringement £50,000 (cost of license)
  • You need a consistent branding strategy that enables consumer understanding when you bend the rules
  • Understand the context and how music is used in different ways from say, apps to live events
  • The brevity of a sonic signature is crucial e.g. at the top of an ad before people decide to skip
  • Brand and sound ‘fit’ is vital
  • When music ‘fits’, brand propensity to buy goes up by around 25%
  • Music in ads can change people’s purchasing behaviour e.g. from French wine to German Wine
  • It takes about 2 years for the brand sound to be understood by the consumer
  • In 5 years time sound will be recognised as a major part of the marketing investment
For more on ‘sound branding’ see Soundlounge

My Thoughts

Firstly this was a direct plea from the music industry for brands to: "Embrace us" and to "consider us in your marketing plans".

Economically this makes sense in the light of data from a recent PRS for Music press release:
  • Total business-to-business licensing revenues from PRS for Music, PPL and activities such as sync licensing and artist endorsement grew 2.2%
  • Advertising and sponsorship (including live music sponsorship, event creation, artist endorsement, digital, TV and advertising support) grew 4.2% on 2009 to £94m
Clearly B2B and licensing revenues are key growth areas. This includes music in computer games, films and TV.

However with brands creating their own digital content the boundaries between brand, record label and publisher are becoming blurred, effectively a brand could be all three. The same applies to games developers. The music industry recognizes this and is inviting brands to partner with music companies that can offer specialised creative services and resources.

Key to this strategy is metrics. Advertisers need to pinpoint their target audience and measure the market potential. Until now music has always been a last minute add-on for advertisers, frequently decided upon just days before project completion. Now with the development of Internet music apps and digitized services, music companies can provide valuable data that previously was missing. It's now possible to target the right song for the right demographics. This is a potential game changer.  

But still it's a complicated scenario and much work will need to be done to make these 'partnerships' realistic. Lets remember artists, writers, management, record labels, and publishers will all have their views on working with brands.

Essentially the music industry is diversifying as conventional revenue streams are falling. It's interesting to note the mention of other big areas of revenue such as tourism, considering we're at the end of the festival 'season', now expanded from May to October, and festivals show large growth throughout Europe. Again brands figure strongly in live events.  

The Music
 (my life as a lab rat for the day)

My analogy of a lab rat is apt. During the course of the afternoon I found myself scuttling the Ogilvy warren, in pursuit of the next fix to be found on one of the three stages located in different parts of the building.  

Given the circumstances, some of the musicians may have felt apprehensive, however on the day all nine of the acts I saw performed well and appeared to enjoy it. These were showcase performances lasting around 30 minutes each. Some of the bands like Wolf Gang rearranged their sets to accommodate the venue, providing a more 'acoustic' style of performance.

There was a special intimacy between the artists and audience intensified by the working environment. It’s easy to become a fan when you feel a direct connection to music in this way and I can honestly say I enjoyed every performance. It was a great opportunity to discover new music up close and in the flesh.

There are some live audio recordings over at Felt Music on Awdio from acts Digitonal, Kidda, and Wolf Gang. You can also check out the video wall to see what some of the artists had to say about Lab Day. During performances the live stream received 15,000 hits from 86 countries. Live video footage of artists taken from all three stages is available to stream via the Lab Day website (link at top of post).

And Finally 

Shortly after watching the final band of the day Tribes, who were great, it was time to leave. In the lift on my way down to earth I had a few moments to reflect on a quite other-worldly experience. On my way I bumped into some of the guys from Boy Mandeville and Digitonal before saying my farewells and venturing into the drizzly world outside. Ah, another day at the office. Canary Wharf won't feel the same for me, for a while, I think.

My thanks to the Ogilvy team for a special and enlightening day!

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