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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Coke And Live Nation Have A Drink Together

The Coca-Cola Company and Live Nation, the world's biggest concert promoter, have announced a multi-year strategic sponsorship and marketing alliance that will make it the official soft drink of the promotion company’s venues, and the 36 million music fans that attend shows there. The sponsorship will begin this holiday season when the 12 million members of My Coke Rewards will gain access to bid for Live Nation tickets, artist merchandise and VIP trips to House of Blues shows across the country.

But what lies beneath this deal is something that must be driving the artist's that are tied to Live Nation's crazy since it also gives Coke access to their relationships with their fans.

The problem lies in the concept of unintended co-branding. It's difficult enough for an artist and a consumer brand to partner up in such a way that that it really benefits the artist. Too often it's seen as a sell-out by the artist's fans. Even worse, a co-brand can totally ruin an artist's career if the sponsor's public perception is totally opposed to that of the artist's fans. That's why Live Nation's artists must feel rather uncomfortable about this deal today. Even though Coke's image is somewhat benign, just the fact that the artists don't get a say in the matter is a warning of what can possibly come to pass at a later time.

It's always a big temptation for an artist to co-brand since everyone except the superstars really need the financial support these days (although the superstars seem to be the ones doing it the most), but it's a deal with the devil that usually affects the artists relationship with his fans, and in the new world of Music 3.0, that relationship is far more valuable than anything a sponsor can bring to the table. But having a sponsor foisted upon you whether you want it or not is truly a worst case scenario.

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