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Rum and Coke find new mixers: digital music

Beverage giants Coca-Cola and Bacardi--regular glass-mates at bars around the globe--have launched separate marketing campaigns that use digital music to connect with consumers.

Coca-Cola has created the entertainment Web site Stageside.tv, from which fans can download exclusive videos from select acts using peer-to-peer file-sharing networks. The first artist featured on the site is Island Def Jam's Ne-Yo, whose label debut, "In My Own Words," entered The Billboard 200 at No. 1 six weeks ago.

Bacardi, meanwhile, has unveiled plans for a worldwide Internet radio station called Bacardi B Live Radio that will be available online and via mobile phones. The station will primarily stream dance music--with exclusive mixes provided by popular DJs--and live streams from Bacardi-sponsored concerts and events.

These are two more examples of brands using music to carry their marketing messages over digital channels. The music industry is jumping at the chance to participate as the sponsoring brands not only bankroll the creation of new services that more widely distribute music and expose artists, but also pay labels licensing fees to access content.

Bacardi, for instance, is spending as much as $40 million to fund the online and mobile radio station, paying standard Internet radio licensing fees. Coca-Cola is paying Ne-Yo's label, publishers and the artist himself for the right to exclusively film a 15-minute "day in the life" mini-documentary interspersed with two minutes of music.

The video is available not only as a free download from Stageside, but also has been distributed throughout chat rooms, social networking sites and has even appeared on Youtube.com.

Jeff Straughn, Island Def Jam's vice president of strategic marketing, said the partnership allows the music industry to utilize the marketing power of free P2P networks--and realize a revenue stream while doing so.

"We see this as the first step in the direction of embracing P2P networks," he said. "It's given us tremendous viral exposure we wouldn't have gotten through traditional means."

Coca-Cola also hopes to piggyback on this exposure by featuring its logo in each video. Each clip will be replaced after 90 days, and only one artist will be featured at a time. Coca-Cola and marketing firm the Jun Group already are negotiating with labels for the next artist. Reichgut said Coca-Cola is looking for acts it feels match the "upbeat and positive" message conveyed via its new "Coke Side of Life" marketing effort.

Marketing experts like Reichgut expect to see more such partnerships in the future.

"The bar for advertising gets higher as consumers get more control over what they see and hear," he said. "It's not enough just to wrap an ad around something. So you're seeing companies looking for ways to deliver something of value and connect with the consumer in ways that are really meaningful."

Rum and Coke find new mixers: digital music - Monday, April 17, 2006 -

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