Chvrches, Bieber, and Indie Cred

Scottish electronic band Chvrches has been known to flirt with modern day chart-toppers, some of which–on paper–should clash with their signature 80’s synthpop aesthetic. These include the likes of Justin Timberlake, Rnb singer, Janelle Monae, and the even the pop band, HAIM. Recently, Chvrches has taken a bigger risk than ever before in taking a stab at music’s most controversial tween heartthrob turned public urinator turned, well, actually, pretty respectable Rnb-tinged pop vocalist. Some of you might be asking, what do you mean?!?! No, that’s actually the name of Bieber’s newest single, “What do you mean”:

The song features an impressive vocal performance by Bieber juxtaposed against some airtight production. In adapting the tune to 808’s and saw wave samples, intentional or not, Chrvches, a well respected indie act have given Bieber their seal of approval. So, in conclusion what does this mean? Well, on one end this is just a really cool cover that any lover of pop music can listen to over and over again. But looking at the larger picture, Bieber may have just earned himself some legitimate credibility within a community of indie music fans who have previously written the singer off as the music industry’s village idiot. Watch the rendition as well as the band explain their new found love for Bieber below:

Recognizing The Value of Community

Artists in today’s music industry are a brand.

It seems we in the industry are hearing that phrase thrown around on a daily basis. It’s clear this knowledge is becoming increasingly widespread as case studies on Lady Gaga’s success are as trending as she herself. But while brands are worth developing, it is important to understand how they can be effective – only as part of a larger initiative. The most impressive examples of commercial entertainers are not successful because they are a good brand, but rather because they are leaders of a lifestyle and most importantly – of a community. Gaga’s success is attributable to her faultless positioning and unwavering commitment to her ideals of originality, expression, and confidence. But only by embodying these qualities and establishing her brand with authenticity has she become the industry’s most effective example of a leader of a community.



Branding is only a part of the picture. 

Ever since its origins on cattle farms, branding has encompassed anything and everything done to clearly and quickly differentiate one thing from another. In the frozen pizza industry, branding efforts allow us consumers to make decisions based on expectation. In the music industry, however, it’s how we convey the most information about an artist in the shortest amount of time through coordinating every aspect of his or her presence in hopes that we’ll get a listen [and hopefully, a second listen.] Effective branding is imperative in our attempts to stand out amongst endless competition – but is only a part of what needs to be done to flourish as an artist. In order to effectively construct our own strategies or those of the artists with which we work, we have to consider our branding in terms of how it can establish community. As we understand, a brand means nothing without a loyal following and the most effective means of creating a following is to adopt a position that resonates with a group of people. When this group of people is able to rise through social ranks, whether through size or passion, the artist grows as well. To lead these supporters, an artist needs to be as much a member as she is a leader. As such, her ideals are understandable, communal, and inherently authentic. In terms of brand partnerships, which are quickly becoming more and more prevalent to combat dwindling record sales, there are only a handful of thinkers getting it right. More often than not, overt brand sponsorship agreements do not promote idealistic resonance with the increasingly discerning marketplace. We, as those responsible for marketing these values, need to pay attention to the potential effects of brand affiliation before accepting such deals.

Communities & Music

Community must not be considered only an artist-centric phenomenon. If the industry was really based entirely on artist branding efforts, there would be little explanation for the rise and fall of genres such as Electronic Dance Music or Indie Rock, which have far too much depth and complexity to be effectively branded. The surging popularity of both genres have coincided with a growing and developing family of fans. Forums for aspiring producers and illustrious electronic festivals have spread throughout the United States, establishing the required network of support for the EDM genre to creep its way into pop music and the country’s aural lexicon. Similarly, were it not for the a growing awareness of and interest in the quirky lives of hipsters, their lo-fi soundtrack of indie music could not have become a genre of choice for our nation’s youth and the speciality of 2013’s best new artist, fun.

Wait - I'm pretty sure we were making fun of those glasses last year. Why do I now own a pair?

Wait – I’m pretty sure we were making fun of those glasses last year. Why do I now own a pair?

Communities are powerful.

While Lady Gaga commands one of the most extensive and passionate families of little monsters, Justin Bieber’s legion of beliebers just may be the most devoted. Despite one of the most vehement slander campaigns from a horde of naysayers a million strong, Bieber’s fan-base has thrived and grown. The adversity has only served to create a tighter, more exclusive community of fans – one that new members are excited and proud to join.

The passion and support of a community is the driving force of success in our modern music industry. From local artists to the superstars, an artist’s family is a source of inspiration, creativity, sanity, happiness, and, of course, the money to continue creating. Thus, it is not the branding we need to focus on, but how the branding relates to and serves our over-arching efforts to lead a population of friends and fans. If we can succeed at that task, we can survive in the volatility of the music business.


The following video is an example of a recent Adidas campaign that was launched to pay tribute to the GB Olympic team medallists in London 2012. With special dedication to Berklee Tangible Assets’ group members mates. Enjoy it!


In my opinion, Adidas seems to be more oriented to music than Nike does, the German company is indeed using music as a strategic branding tool in order to reach and engage with its audience. We could argue that Nike is already a well-established brand and perhaps does not need to do much effort in terms of looking for new consumers, but Adidas appear to be better connected with today’s society. Likewise, it has successfully adopted a kind of suburban and authentic image that is well appreciated by the public.

Artist partnership and event sponsorship:

On March 2011, Adidas launched its “All in” campaign. The pop icon Katy Perry and DJ Baby G were chosen new Adidas ambassadors. With such associations the brand aimed to target young music lovers as well as active women.

Here is the link:

Other artists appeared in a new spot launched in July 2012, under Adidas Originals label. Nicki Minaj, Big Sean, 2NE1 and Kids these days, together with the eccentric designer Jeremy Scott featured in such spot.

Here is the link:

Have a look at the new Christmas campaign in which Snoop Dogg remakes the classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge. Again another example of artist and brand partnership.


And finally, check this out, Steve Aoki is also “all in”!


After watching such videos, I think it is quite obvious that Adidas is really making an important effort to integrate music into its brand personality and thus trying to be perceived as one of the coolest sports brands.

Furthermore, the company was also an official sponsor of Sonar 2012 edition.


NEO – How to target teen consumers:

A recent partnership with Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez has been a good strategy to launch NEO, the new Adidas’ label.

NEO is a new brand, new in concept and new in spirit that wants to be a referent within young consumers. From a brand marketing perspective Justin and Selena are a perfect global style icons, and due to their deep connections with fans via social media platforms they could attract valuable potential consumers.

Both Justin and Selena are also designing some NEO products and the young brand has become the new official sponsor of the Canadian singer’s Believe World Tour 2012/2013.

Activation events and direct to fan initiatives:

Additionally, since the brand knows how important is to create a total and unique experience, is now offering a bunch of new possibilities to their followers:

First of all, consumers had the opportunity to win tickets to an exclusive event that was held in London’s Scala nightclub on the 2nd of May, 2011.

Together with MTV the company was also recruiting people considered passionate about music to become an Adidas’ reporter.

And finally, surfers could also were given the opportunity to hang out with one of their favorite British artists, spending a day in the studio with Plan B, attending a secret gig with the Enemy, DJing with Caspa or getting Example round to their place.

There is no doubt that Adidas rocks!


Monica Manubens

Countdown Top 9 Hip Hop Entrepreneurs of 2012: #1 DR. DRE

The purpose of this blog is to inform the class of America’s “Top 9 Hip Hop Entrepreneurs of 2012” and the various business ventures in different industries that contributed to their individual successes.

Countdown Top 9 Hip Hop Entrepreneurs of 2012: #1 DR. DRE

Name: Andre Romelle Young

Stage Name(s): Dr. Dre

Age: 47

Forbes Hip Hop’s Top Earners List: #1 of 9

How Much??? $110 Million

Yes! If you haven’t guessed it already, topping Diddy (last year’s Forbe’s “Cash Kings” chart leader), Jay-Z and Kayne this year, the most successful hip hop entrepreneur of 2012 is Dr. Dre!

What’s really surprising is that compared to the other entrepreneurs who have multiple streams to increase their revenue, Dr. Dre really only had one this year, a source that generated more than double, almost triple, the amount of Diddy’s earnings (#2 on the list)! Now THAT’S impressive if you ask me!

Beats by Dr. Dre

In July 2008, Dr. Dre released his brand of headphones, Beats by Dre, which was made by Monster. Their marketing and PR team did an excellent job advertising and promoting their different headphone products. From sports athletes to artists to brands, Beats by Dre made sure that these influential figures in the society were rocking the company’s personally customized headphones – turning the brand into a must-get fashion accessory.

 Here are some examples of different celebrities rocking Dre headphones:

  1. Great Britian’s 2012 Olympic team customized Beats headphones – Cullen Jones Source:
  2. Lebron James.
  3. Lil Wayne with his own line of Beats by Dre Source:
  4. Mr. Beiber got into the action also! Source:
  5. Katie Holmes even!                                                   Source:

Hewlett Packard also saw this as a huge opportunity and decided to partner with Dr. Dre to make a new laptop called HP ENVY 15 Beats limited edition this year, which includes Beats Audio inside the laptop and a Beats by Dre headphone on the side. The commercial’s actually pretty hilarious:

It’s evident that Beats by Dre is more than just a headphone; it’s a brand that plays a huge role influencing all parts of the entertainment industry. Thus, recognizing this potential, a Taiwanese electronics company HTC paid $300 million for a 51 percent stake in Dr Dre’s headphones operation last year. Link:

Giving Dr. Dre an enormous payday…pocketing more than $110 million dollars.

And you wonder why the most anticipated album of the decade “Detox” hasn’t been released yet… He was busy making $110 million!!!

Congratulations to Dr. Dre for his successful venture and coming in at #1 most successful and influential hip hop entrepreneur of 2012.

Please tune in again to my final blog, as I give my final thoughts of the entire wrap up the entire journey.

By: Aaron Kim (Duke)

Extra source:

*Sources are provided within the post.