Future Business Models: When brands go beyond endorsements. Part 1: Hard Rock Records


It is a well known fact that brands hold a strong place in the future of music. With traditional income streams diminishing, artists have already started turning to brands a while ago. Wether it is up and coming independent bands getting support from their local instruments store, or superstars Beyoncé and Jay-Z cashing in on tens of millions of dollars from Pepsi and Samsung, endorsement deals are now an integral part of any professional musician’s plan and are no longer considered selling out.

But in recent years, several brands have gone the extra mile in their offering to artists by building recording studios, festivals or even record labels. In this post we’ll have a look at the case of Hard Rock Records.


The famous restaurant/hotel chain present in 54 countries around the world have launched there their very own label back in 2012 to which they initially signed only one act, Mississippi band Rosco Bandana. The southern rockers were chosen through a nationwide battle of the bands called Hard Rock Rising. Keeping in mind the state of the music industry, you would be excused for calling the Hard Rock Café management that this is the poorest possible choice of diversification of activity and revenue streams.

It starts sounding even more suspicious when you find out that essentially, Hard Rock Records recorded the band’s album, gave them thousands of dollars for music videos, provided them with a van, helped them get booked around the country and didn’t ask for a single penny in return. The band keeps it all! Well here’s the catch: the company sees this music philanthropy as budgeted marketed expense, hoping that they can help the band rise to success while boosting brand awareness and overall build a positive reputation.

Since then, they have signed London-based band The Carnabys along with three other acts and are hoping to scout three new acts each year (in no particular genre) as well as signing the yearly winner of their Hard Rock Rising competition.

Other brands have launched their record labels. And while this ultimate anti-360 deal offering from Hard Rock isn’t necessarily a highway to fame, it is definitely an amazing opportunity for new acts to find budget while keeping artistic control.

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