Pop music has been part and parcel with advertising for almost as long as pop music has existed.
Whether it’s Apple launching Jet into the mainstream with an ad featuring “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” or Chrysler using Eminem’s mega-hit “Lose Yourself” to tout its Detroit bonafides, brands are always looking for cool artists to align themselves with, and artists are always looking to get paid.
Now, the music advertising tech startup F# (pronounced F-Sharp, like the music note) is introducing a new product to make it easier than ever to bring together artist and brand on the web.
Starting next week, F# will offer an advertising product that will allow marketers to create their own branded radio stations and place them in banner ads on web sites and social media networks like Facebook.
The company will also help companies partner with artists and labels to release playlists of new music sponsored by a brand.
“The AdPlayer is turning the music model around,” F# co-founder and CEO Dan Merritts said. “Instead of being a branded destination that you have out there, whether its Songza, Pandora, or Spotify, what we’re bringing to market is the ability to take music out to any advertisers or publisher out there in a 300 by 250 unit.”
Merritts founded F# in 2012 with COO Pete Jimison after the pair had worked together on projects in Silicon Valley. With Spotify still in its infancy, they decided that there was a need for high-quality branded music experiences on the internet.
Together, they built F# into Spotify’s preferred ad vendor, using a proprietary data engine to track worldwide listening trends and help brands create more than 500 music-based experiences for customers ranging from Gillette to BMW.
For instance, F# did a campaign for the 80s-based CW television show The Carrie Diaries where it combined its own information about user trends with song metadata from partners like Rovi and Moodagent to make a Spotify app that analysed user playlists of modern music and predicted what kind of music they’d have liked during the 1980s.
Though Merritts declined to disclose revenues, he said the company had 50 employees and was profitable despite not taking any institutional funding.
“What we’ve built over that time period is a lot of knowledge around what consumers love to engage with, what brands want to be a part of, and what social music services need to do to help monetise their experiences through branded experiences,” Merritts said.
Now, F# will help marketers create branded radio stations like the ones that are popular on Pandora and bring those stations to consumers in ad units listeners can then share with their friends or pop out from their browsers while they do other things.
What’s crucial about F#’s radio players is that they are programmed to be compliant with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s rules regulating internet radio, eliminating the difficulties brands might otherwise encounter when trying to acquire and pay for music licenses.
Mike McGuire, an analyst at the IT advisory company Gartner, said that F#’s new products could also be of use to artists and their record labels by providing them with valuable data about which songs are being skipped or played by users in various parts of the country.
If an artist is particularly popular in a given area, McGuire said, it could prompt the artist to schedule more tour dates there.
“I think you’re going to see brands get creative in how they interact with people,” McGuire said. “If it can drive incremental revenue back to the artist without making them feel their integrity has been sullied, then it’s a win-win.”
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