As brands and artists try to crack the code on striking a successful, exciting deal, the symbiotic nature of creative partnerships encourages executives and management teams to ask the right question. What does it mean to build an authentic brand partnership with an artist?
For one, the artist has to be a true believer of the product. If it’s not something that he or she can vouch for, then how will any of the fans latch onto it as well? An audience will smell B.S. from miles away.
At the same time, brands need to let the artist speak about their products in his or her own voice. Nowadays, the Internet allows a company to place its message and proposition across all digital territories to connect with consumers in a way that builds demand and loyalty. In the thick of hundreds of options and noise hurdling at young consumers right and left, that message has to be focused and sure of itself. Many brands thus understand the value of approaching a public figure that already speaks in the voice they imagine for themselves. By way of a person of influence, they get to an audience who may not otherwise think twice about what they have to offer.
Consider Black Box artist Cody Lovaas. Cody’s life is split between his music and the outdoors. When he’s not songwriting and playing his guitar, he is running towards the waves with a surfboard under his arm. The music and the ocean are the only environments where he can simply let go and feel unstripped of his identity, his creativity, and his values.
Cody was first introduced to Hurley through his godfather after a conversation about some of his favorite surfers. He was already sporting their apparel from a young age, and he always admired the impact Hurley has on surf culture and the SoCal scene. Needless to say, Cody was excited when his godfather brought up the opportunity for him to meet the team behind Hurley. He brought his guitar with him to their office. With nothing to lose, he played the creative team a song; what followed was an offer for Cody to record some songs in Hurley’s recording studio. Eventually, the experience led into a run-in with founder Bob Hurley, which blossomed into a friendship. Soon after the release of Cody’s first single “Lie,” the two of them hung out again, this time with “Punker” Pat Towersey on Hurley’s marketing team. The rest is almost history; through morning surf sessions and casual hangouts, Cody and the faces behind Hurley found an undeniable chemistry.
Cody and Hurley brainstormed how they could work together ahead of his second single “Bodies.” Cody would bring them a new perspective to retain younger consumers, and Hurley would introduce him to a new audience who is threaded together by a passion for the water. For both parties, it made sense to come up with an idea that centered around a love for music in surf culture. They wanted their partnership to celebrate the influence that guitar-driven pop, like Cody Lovaas’ songs, has on the SoCal vibe.
The resulting idea was an official release party for “Bodies,” hosted at Hurley’s space. Cody saw an opportunity to do something unprecedented by taking the company’s unused recording studio to throw a private concert for the Hurley team, media, and fans. The show was supported by Hurley on their socials with a livestream, as well as custom posters that were screen printed in-house. For the fans who physically were not able to stand in the crowd that evening, they were able to tune in to Hurley’s livestream with thousands of the brand’s own followers. By the end of the release party, both Cody and Hurley walked away with exposure to new audiences and a stronger relationship. The two of them continue to work together on live event ideas. Most recently, Hurley invited Cody to perform for their Waves for Water charity event at Winston House in Venice, CA.
After watching Cody develop into a carefree songwriter whose influences are deeply rooted in his love of surf, we knew Hurley would be his perfect fit. It’s that authenticity, not the paycheck, that compels an artist to speak openly and positively about a brand. Best of all, a partnership is attainable to any musician, big or small, as long as both identities share the same values and purpose. To impact today’s culture consumers, ensure that positive symbiotic relationships exist: smart brand partnerships won’t ask the artist, the brand, or the fan to make compromises.
Watch the video for Cody Lovaas’ “Bodies” below.