The Music Industry Meets the Ad Industry

Jay Z recently released his 13th solo album. Outside of music this shouldn’t be much news except for one difference. Jay Z partnered with Sprint to exclusively release his album to Sprint and Tidal customers. Tidal is Jay Z’s music streaming service purchased in 2015. This partnership should come as no surprise considering the fact that Sprint recently invested $200 million for 33% of Tidal.


We are starting to see this partnership between musicians and brands more than ever. Recently, the music industry and their artists – and more importantly their fans – seem ready to accept this marriage of brands and music. Fans can be very protective of their artist and the concept of “selling out” was a huge concern for most artists, making them reluctant to accept offers from brands to work together. “Selling out” is a term given to artists when they compromise their integrity for money. With the decline of physical sales for albums, fans are more understanding of artists partnering with brands to offset this problem.

So how can brands and artists work together? Last year, Jay Z’s DJ/Producer Young Guru was hired by an agency called The Marketing Arm as their chief music strategist – a position not only new to the agency but new to the industry. The problem he will be tasked with solving has been around for a long time.  Brands have tried to find ways to use music as a way to promote themselves since the birth of modern advertising. We’ve seen everything from catchy jingles to endorsements. The fusion of the two makes sense: everyone loves music and, thus, everyone loves your brand.

Examples of Successful Partnerships

Morton Salt & Chevrolet

OK Go is a popular, award winning rock band who is no stranger to producing fun and creative ideas. A few years ago they broke away from their major record label to follow a smaller, more independent path. To replace their big record label cash flow, OK Go sought to partner with brands to produce engaging digital content. They have been quite successful with this new business model, working with companies like Chevy, Google, and recently Morton Salt. Last year they released a viral music video that was sponsored by Morton Salt for their single One Moment.

Morton Salt – One Moment 

Chevrolet – Needing/Getting



One of Sweetgreen’s core values is about making an impact – especially within the music scene. Early on, Sweetgreen teamed up with Kendrick Lamar to create a new salad and promote his appearance as a headliner at Sweetlife, a music festival that Sweetgreen produces annually. Along with the introduction of the salad, Sweetgreen sold t-shirts with the phrase “beets don’t kale my vibe,” which was a play off a popular song by Kendrick Lamar.

can’t find these on the #nyfw runway – tag a friend before 10a ET tomorrow for your chance to win a ‘beets don’t kale my vibe’ tee!

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Jack Daniel’s

Jack Daniel’s considers themselves to be the drink for musicians and their fans. The Jack Daniel’s brand has positioned itself to be a tastemaker in the music world, producing everything from concerts and tours (like their 5-month music series “Amplify Your Life”) to art shows (like their “Art Beats + Lyrics” traveling art showcase). They even create mini documentaries showcasing artists behind the music (see below). 

Key Takeaways for Brands

When a brand invests in musicians they are investing in the culture of music. By doing so they are adding to their story and enforcing their values. We are in a time where customers not only support brands because of their product or service but also because of the brand’s values and story.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are areas to explore such as licensing, endorsement, product placement, celebrity product lines, and commercials starring artists.  

For brands out there, there are four significant takeaways:

The best partnerships deliver an experience.

The campaign should feel authentic.

Do not try to deceive fans about the partnership.

Take a risk and let the artist be creative.