Nov 18, 2009 at 04:57 PM
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Social Media & Sponsorship Save AAR "A Shit Ton of Money"

With the heightened emphasis around touring and sponsorship, music talent and their managers must embrace technology whether whether they want to or not. Not only do fans want access to talent, but sponsors, an increasingly important revenue stream for many bands, demand it.

Becky Carman of the OkGazzette profiles how one prominent band a bit reluctantly embraced social media and then turned it into a lucrative sponsorship deal, in the process measuring a delicate balance of fan access and necessary funding.

She writes 'If one wants to know the whereabouts and happenings of any Reject — save for drummer Gaylor, who keeps a relatively low profile — mere seconds on the Internet will yield iPhone self-portraits, descriptions of last night’s debauchery and snapshots of funny signs spotted on tour." For an act whose early days involved handing out fliers at hole-in-the-wall venues, the transition to networking mavens has been measurable.'

Every manager across both sports and entertainment is trying to balance the idea of the "mystique" that traditionally has made celebrities into celebrities, with the fans' social media-fueled demand for instant access to their favorite icons. Carman writes:

“It’s daunting, because (fans) want responses in all of those mediums,” Kennerty said. “It’s a very different time, even than when we first got popular. The only interaction then was at shows, and now, there are hundreds of ways. It totally tears down the mystique of being a big band. It’s a double-edged sword. I grew up worshiping bands whose mystique made them cool. There’s a part of me that’s a little bummed that’s gone.”

However, he recognizes the benefits of having a fan base willing to cling to all of their e-words.

The solution came in the form of a prominent relationship with mobile phone company, LG (see video below). Carman explains:

Somewhat unabashedly, AAR is backed by corporate dollars. It’s less auxiliary, perhaps, than it is an unfortunate necessity of surviving the major-label game. This was duly illustrated with the release of the music video “I Wanna,” the third single from 2008’s “When the World Comes Down,” which found the band at a raucous party where everyone happens to carry, very prominently, a particular brand of cell phone.

“The video for ‘I Wanna’ was an idea the director, Paul Hunter, had. It was a really cool idea and very ambitious for everyone involved. It didn’t turn out exactly the way we intended, but the whole idea of using phones and stuff was there before any sponsors came in,” Kennerty said. “In this day and age, videos continue to cost more, and records continue to sell less. The idea obviously warranted trying to find some kind of sponsorship, and it turned out that doing that kind of took away the effect. It also saved us a shit-ton of money, so we had to ask ourselves what the trade-off was.”