Future Business Models: When brands go beyond endorsements. Part 2: Red Bull Records Act I

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When it comes to brands embracing music as a full part of their activity, it doesn’t get more serious than Red Bull. For over 15 years, the energy drink giant has been hosting music events and workshops, starting with Red Bull Music Academy and the Red Bull Music Labs. The company is no stranger to diversifying their investments in entertainment and lifestyle assets as they own several football teams, a Formula 1 team, stadiums, a mobile network and more! Therefore, it was a quite natural evolution for the brand to launch their own record label in 2007.

Red Bull Records was put together with several experience industry players including Greg Hammer, ex director of A&R at Universal Music and David Burrier, former vice president of marketing at Atlantic Records. But unlike other activities conducted by Red Bull, the brand and the label’s name itself are keeping a low profile and leaving all the spotlight for the artists. Or as Hammer put it: “The first rule of Red Bull Records is you don’t talk about Red Bull Records.”

The label started when Red Bull built a studio in Santa Monica and allowed small indie bands to record for free. Since then it expanded with Red Bulls records singing a roster of exciting acts including Twin Atlantic, Beartooth and Awolnation, who’s debut album on the label sold over 500’000 copies in the US and featured the platinum selling single Sail.

With a team of experienced A&R’s, Red Bull Records is probably the only brand label with such successful releases. The imprint is all about their artists and puts a strong emphasis on their development as Hammer explains: “we are in the business of building careers. It’s really about the artists. We purposely avoid blatant branding because it takes away from the music. We want our artists to be judged by their art, not by their label.”

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