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How Bacardi’s Groove turned the music industry on its head

How Bacardi’s Groove turned the music industry on its head

Sharing music isn’t anything new. Since the birth of the internet, users have been sharing music for free – something that has had such an effect on the music industry that artists including Groove Armada and Radiohead are now voluntarily giving up their tracks free of charge and encouraging consumers to share.

As record companies align themselves with the very technology that was once deemed to be their demise, one brand is attempting to redefine the music industry all on its own.

The partnership between Groove Armada and Bacardi dates back to April 2008 when the agency adopted a bold strategy that put the brand at the forefront of music industry innovation.

Natasha Kizzie, head of entertainment at Euro RSCG KLP, the agency that brokered the partnership, says that music is a new frontier for some brands and the most important thing to remember is to develop a bespoke music strategy.”

Last September, Radiohead, the contrarian giants of British rock, released their seventh album on an unsuspecting public with the challenge of paying as little or as much as they chose. In Rainbows was for a limited time available only on the internet and the only compulsory charge was a 45p credit card handling fee.

When dance duo Groove Armada's last record deal expired, they chose to sign up with drinks firm Bacardi rather than stay with a normal label, releasing a seemingly free EP via the website

By creating the world’s first brand and band partnership the site aims to empower music sharing as the future model for music content distribution. Sharing music via this method is legal because the rights owners - the artists, Bacardi B-Live Records and the publisher - are all compensated for the downloads and shared files.

Bacardi’s first brief to media neutral agency KLP was to enhance its stature and boost the profile of the brand’s experiential programme Bacardi B-Live. 

Kizzie says, “Every brand wants to innovate with music, but it can be complicated. It’s important to have set goals and strategy. Music fast-tracks the consumer journey to the brand so its important not to just be seen as the ‘wallpaper’ but to also engage with the consumer along the way.”

The rum brand’s B-Live Share is a new online music application that has been designed to encourage and reward consumers who share music from Groove Armada through their own online communities such as social networking sites.

Sharing music has always gone on. It's giving music away that's the problem, according to Groove Armada. In 2008, some 95 per cent of the music downloaded from the internet, or more than 40 billion files, was illegal, leaving the overall music market down around 7 per cent on 2007.

The duo wanted to come up with a 21st century version of what consumers used to do with cassette tapes and believes that when you give music away for free it’s disposable. When you share it, it’s done with love.

Kizzie believes the partnership turns the music industry on its head and suggests that partnerships such as Bacardi and Groove Armada could be the way forward for brands and bands alike, although see warns that consumers also need to see a genuine connection.

“For the consumer, it has to be about an experience. Music is a social currency and consumers what to see it values as well as be engaged and entertained.”

What music labels have done in the past is distributing a physical product to a network of record shops. However, with the news that Zavvi stores are to close and HMV’s sales are beginning to slow, artists are left wondering how far reaching their music can actually be when sold legitimately.

Partnerships with brands allow bands to take their product to a much wider, global audience in a more compelling, and integrated way.

The deal between Groove Armada and Bacardi allows the artists to be apart of high quality advertising campaigns while still allowing them to have complete creative control over the end product.

Kizzie said the partnership allows Bacardi to support the artists while allowing them to immerse themselves with the music, “Marketers use music as a vehicle to deliver brand messages in a cultured environment.

“Bacardi is really embracing what the market is doing and injecting value back into music. When music is shared from peer to peer via recommendations that represents a certain value. You are sharing something that you believe is good and worth passing on. That represents real value,” enthuses Kizzie.

There are many opportunities for brands to support music. You only have to be in the UK in the summer months to witness the vast variety of music and brand partnerships such as the 02 Wireless Festival or Virgin’s V Festival. However, these brands don’t go beyond the gates of sponsorship and simply use the artists name to promote its involvement at the event by in front of faces – which ultimately, does nothing for the artist.

The Bacardi and Groove Armada partnership moves on from a short-term tactile event to a more long term and meaningful brand communication strategy.

However, the partnership may fall victim to criticisms from marketing cynics. Consumers are less likely to take a genuine interest in something if they believe they are being marketed to.

Brands sponsor everything these days form music festivals to sport to TV programmes and events. The Groove Armada partnership alone secured a reach of 15 million with 21 out of 24 Bacardi markets activating the partnership trough live performances, radio and online content and the sharing mechanic through social media.

Kizzie adds, “If a brand can help the industry then I think that’s a good thing, as long as the brand does not get in the way of the creativity of the artist. The best part about this partnership is that Groove Armada retain complete creative control and the Bacardi is in a supporting role.”

“The partnership has not only created bespoke content and events around both the brand and artist that will continue to live on, but revolutionised the way artists communicate with fans,” Kizzie concludes.

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