It was bound to happen sooner or later. With the music industry becoming more and more digitized and record labels reluctant to sign artists who aren't already a proven commodity on YouTube, it was only a matter of time before an aspiring rock star trusted his fate to a digital ad agency.
Such is the case with AM, an indie solo artist from Los Angeles who has struck a unique collaborative deal with Razorfish.
AM already has a record label (Filter) and a management team. But Razorfish will be filling many of the roles traditionally handled by a record label, as well as a few that only a digital ad agency would think of.
AM will be appearing at Razorfish's 10th annual client summit on October 13, an opportunity to showcase his music for marketers such as Coca-Cola and Mountain Dew, who have a history of signing young acts to promotional deals. "He's giving us a live experience, and in turn he gets access to executive-level decision makers," said David Deal, VP of marketing for Razorfish.
On the digital front, Razorfish is helping AM crowdsource the design of a poster to promote the vinyl version of his album, Future Sons and Daughters. Razorfish is providing the platform and promotion for the contest, and one of its design executives, Andrew Crow, will help judge the entries.
The agency is also streaming AM's music to its 2,000 employees around the world through a StickyBits download. "This is a chance for us to play around with StickyBits," said Deal, "and the employees can listen for themselves and decide if they want to become brand ambassadors."
Lastly, Razorfish is helping AM manage his social media presence.
Precisely how or what AM is paying Razorfish for its services is unclear. "We decided to keep the details of how we're compensating each other private," said Deal. But Razorfish clearly views the relationship as mutually beneficial - a chance for AM to get some exposure and a chance for the agency to dabble in music promotion and associate itself with an up-and-coming artist.
"We're trying to find a different way to build our brand with clients and job prospects by living what we espouse," said Deal.
Follow Douglas Quenqua on Twitter at @DQuenqua.
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Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT