There was an increase of almost 17% in brand spending on digital within the music industry last year, compared to 2011.

Brands including Coca Cola, O2, Blackberry and Volkswagen spent a record breaking £100m in total on music in 2012, a 6% rise on 2011. This is according to the latest research from PRS for Music, the copyright collection society.

The area that’s seen the biggest increase, with a 33% rise in spending, is artist endorsement.

This may come as a surprise to some, depending on where your ideologies lie in terms of artistic integrity, however with increasingly evaporating record sales, artists who once comfortably filled out stadiums night after night are now turning to brand sponsorship to maintain the lifestyles they’ve become accustomed to.

For instance Jay Z recently made a deal with Samsung to release his latest album exclusively via its mobile devices.

The next up and coming trend in terms of spending however is digital. Digital is showing an increased rise in spending, far more than live music sponsorship (-5.6%), TV (+1%) and advertising support (+9.5%). 

How are brands spending their money on digital in the music industry? Here are some recent examples:

American Express

‘Unstaged’ was an original series in partnership with VEVO and YouTube, that saw five concerts live-streamed during 2011 that allowed complete interaction with viewers around the globe.

American Express gathered an impressive collection of bands – Arcade Fire, The Roots, The National – along with some brilliant directors, including Terry Gilliam and Spike Lee, to create these fully immersive concerts.

Viewers could choose their own view of the concert, tweet the bands directly, vote for the encore songs and engage with other users.


The Blackberry sponsored Channel 4 show Live and Lost saw rising UK artists, like Rizzle Kicks and Example, dumped in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but a Blackberry handset and their fans’ texts and social media interactions to guide them towards a secret gig location.

This is Example. Possibly lost, but more likely waiting for a runner to bring him a bacon sandwich.

The series ran for a couple of seasons and did provide a rare opportunity to see quite sweet-natured interaction between artists and fans, even if it felt slightly staged at times.


TalkTalk, the ubiquitous sponsor of The X-Factor for five years running, continues to build an online relationship with the show.

This year, TalkTalk unveiled TV Time:

This is an app available for iOS and Android, that offers various games and opportunities to win tickets to The X-Factor live shows and other prizes.


The hotel brand launched a competition called Play & Stay last year, which gave a platform for up and coming unsigned musicians.

Bands can submit a video or demo to Aloft, then the winner gets to write and record a track with a major label band in a specially constructed studio in London.

The digital spin comes from fans being able to interact with the winning band all the way through the songwriting and recording process via social media channels.

Aloft roped in self-proclaimed ‘the biggest band in the world briefly’ We are Scientists to oversee proceedings.

Here’s the promotional video that proves the band are becoming more and more of a comedy duo as the years march on.


Avon Voices was an online talent search for female vocalists to celebrate 125 years of the company.

The competition received 6,000 online video submissions last year, accumulating over 2.5m votes. It certainly pays to offer the general public an opportunity to pit themselves against each other in vocal battle. It will be the final lingering legacy of Simon Cowell.

I’ll leave you with the Lithuanian winner of 2011’s competition, E. Anusaukaitė, and her stirring rendition of ‘I Will Always Love You’.

Check out the PRS for Music report, UK Brand Spend in Music, for more details.