Soapbox: Converse’s Geoff Cottrill "How Brands Can Help the Music Industry (Really)"
Years ago, I found myself having a conversation with a legendary music producer and record industry executive. During the conversation, he pulled out Rolling Stone magazine and started to flip through the pages. On one page, there’s a story on Eminem, and on another, there’s Bono and, a few pages later, Gwen Stefani.
In between one of the stories, there was an ad for the global brand I was working for. He says to me, “See this? You’re in between my stuff. People buy this magazine because of these artists and you are in between them. You’ve got to get in it. ” It’s a conversation that has helped guide my career ever since.
Earlier this year, I attended a conference where some of the world’s biggest brands were seated alongside music and digital start-ups in a conversation where we were all trying to figure out how we can do our part to support creativity. While the world’s economy continues to fluctuate, we’ve always known that in the toughest of economic times that creativity is always what brings us out of it. It’s creativity in music, business and thinking that always saves us. Just look around, there is music playing everywhere. Those of us with the means must bring it to light.
Access to studio time, mentoring, marketing support and a platform—these are areas where emerging artists need support and this is where we can help. At Converse, we make footwear and apparel, we’re not a label and we’re not interested in becoming one.
Instead, we’ve found that if we can be useful and bring value to our core consumers who are artists, then we can find meaningful ways to connect with them and contribute to the culture.
This summer marks the one-year anniversary of the opening of Converse Rubber Tracks, a state-of-the-art recording studio in Brooklyn, N.Y., where musicians can register for studio time and record for free. Converse Rubber Tracks helps new artists overcome one of the biggest hurdles in their career: affording studio time.
The project gives emerging artists of all genres the opportunity to record original music that they will own and use to launch their careers. Music, mind you, that is recorded in a high-quality studio alongside a team of experienced engineers without cost to the artist. In this first year, we’ve had more than 300 artists record at the studio.
In June, we launched a bi-monthly, free concert series held at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg, headlined by established artists and featuring opening slots for Converse Rubber Tracks recording artists—handpicked by the headliner.
These efforts are our way to give back to the community, which has given so much to us, and to help foster a new generation of musicians. Most important, we want to give artists opportunities and allow them to unleash their creative spirit.
With the music business evolving daily, less money is going into developing new talent and studio time. If brands begin to shift their thinking, lose the idea of what’s in it for them and begin to value community and expression of their core audience, then a halo effect will form around the brand.
Musicians and creative people are our core audience, and we need to do everything possible to foster this community. We want to be useful to the community and never take advantage of it or overstep our place. It may sound cheesy for a sneaker company, but we want to bring cultures together and celebrate music. In other words, we want to be in it, without getting in the way.
The traditional advertising/sponsorship model of a brand has had very little to do with music, community or fans. Traditionally, brand “X” has sponsored artist “Y” (or paid an artist handsomely for an appearance or commercial) in the hope that the artist’s credibility would make their brand seem cooler. That model feels antiquated in the era of social media, where consumers can see right through any marketing campaign.
In today’s world, it’s more important than ever to try to be useful when you can. In the end, Converse saw a need in the marketplace to help emerging artists by giving them a top quality recording experience. We ask for nothing in return and as a result we have built strong, on-going relationships with a lot of new voices. That’s good business.
Geoff Cottrill is the chief marketing officer for Converse. For more information on Converse Rubber Tracks, please visit www.converse.com/rubbertracks.
Beth Hart shares the opening track from her latest album, Bang Bang Boom Boom, live at Relix.
Jamie Lidell sets up in the Relix boiler room and delivers a tune from his 2005 album Multiply
Duane Trucks is happy to announce his new project, King Lincoln. Watch them perform “Coffee” live and acoustic at Relix’s Online-Video Coordinator’s loft in Williamsburg.
Here’s another song from Crystal Bowersox’s new record All That For This, live at Relix.
WYATT share a song in the famed Relix boiler room.
Goodnight, Texas share a song from their latest studio album, A Long Life of Living, live at Relix.
Warren Haynes performs a solo, acoustic version of “Railroad Boy” and explains how he adapted the traditional Celtic song for Gov’t Mule, backstage at the Hangout Music Festival.
Australia’s Alpine recently made their NYC debut at the Relix office with this song from their new album A is for Alpine.
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
Dame shares a song from her new EP Preventions of Heartbreak.
- Daft Punk: Random Access Memories
- Visions of Bonnaroo Thursday (ALO, Jack Johnson, Polyphonic Spree, Allen Stone…)
- Deer Tick Share "The Rock"
- Win a pair of passes to The NINES Festival
- Robert Hunter Will Return to the Stage for Eight Shows
- Mumford & Sons’ Ted Dwane Shares Photo, Update
- Jack Johnson: Bonnaroo Song, Mumford Cover, "Mudfootball" with Preservation Hall Jazz Band
- The Making of Pretty Lights’ A Color Map of the Sun
- Interlocken Confirms Daily Lineups, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Punch Brothers, Keller & The Keels and More Added
- Mumford and Sons Cancel Bonnaroo Show, Summer Tour
- Ed Helms: Bonnaroo, Banjos and a Bit of Phish
- Robert Hunter Will Return to the Stage for Eight Shows
- Tedeschi Trucks Band Share New Song
- Warren Haynes to Play Jerry Garcia’s Wolf on Symphony Tour
- Patty Griffin in Boston
- Jack Is Back: Jack Johnson Talks Bonnaroo, ALO and New Album
- Doctor’s Orders: So what should we call the Super Ball IX Newspaper?
- John Kadlecik Posts Statement on Bob Weir’s Collapse
- "I Wanne Be In moe.": The Latest Volunteers
- Bob Weir Escorted Off Stage During Furthur Show
- Vote for Your Favorite "I Wanne Be In moe." Contestant
- Furthur Cancels BottleRock Show as Bob Weir Is Out Of Commision
- Doctor’s Orders: What’s Your Favorite Furthur Song? (Win Copy of Relix Signed by Phil and Bobby)
- On The Verge Poll