My relationship with music is a pretty active one. I’ve been a club DJ for a little under 9 years (it’s more of an expensive hobby rather than a separate career), so it’s important for me keep up on new (and discovering old) music. Which is how I happen to have come across the Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) back in the early 2000’s.
Red Bull’s creation and support of the RBMA has become a example of the cultural patronage by a brand within youth and creative culture, with the Academy evolving its platform for those who shape our musical future into the social realm.
Here are some notes on how they did it and how you can too:
Offer something more than simply a sponsorship
The Red Bull Music Academy launched with the goal of bringing talented creative musicians from around the globe together in an environment of sharing, learning, and fostering the craft of musicianship. They listen to lectures and participate in workshops, creating and discovering music and new techniques to create sounds.
Red Bull took the long term approach. They created a documented ongoing legacy of innovation and creativity, tied directly to the Red Bull brand; it’s never called the academy, it’s the Red Bull Music Academy.
Work with Influencers to stay (culturally) ahead of the game
The people working behind the scenes at RBMA are music journalists, record label heads, bloggers, and DJs. They are connected to the global music scene, and work to foster and support the goals of sharing great and innovative music.
Red Bull remains in the business of producing beverages, but their support of the RBMA goals solidifies their position as a brand that cares about music culture and the leaders involved in it. As these cultural tastemakers are already embedded in the creative class, much of the nightlife industry, and the youth market as a whole, Red Bull’s support of the RBMA positions itself as a direct patron of this group, and by extension, it’s target.
Connect everything and make it social
The RBMA accepts a limited number of participants each year at its various academy locations, but they have tirelessly documented many of their past lectures and sit-downs, featuring a wide range of artists from ?uestlove, Steve Reich, Dam-funk, Arthur Baker, DJ A-Trak and more. If you can’t participate live at the Academy, you can experience and learn from many of the sessions online.
RBMA’s content creation effort expands to documentaries and special features, and includes a blog, recorded interviews and podcasts of almost all the material generated in and around the Academy. Additionally, the Academy has a related effort called Redbullmusicacademyradio.com that streams recorded concerts, dj sets, and conversations with influential musician. New content, sponsored, and partnered events, featuring Academy alumni and speakers, are constantly posted to Facebook and Twitter, with additional content like original tracks and collaborations posted to audio sharing sites Soundcloud and Mixcloud.
Authenticity = Success
Red Bull’s branded presence is subtle; the trademark red, silver, gold and blue are pretty minimal (save the Academy logo behind the stage/podium at RBMA events).
Musicians and artists trust that the Academy is less of a marketing ploy, and more of an effort by Red Bull to be a cultural benefactor of a growing global music culture.
What brands do you think are authentic cultural patrons and how? Do you think there are ways for companies like Red Bull to improve on their social media integration?