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LOVE & RISK - Music is the sport of the future.

I’m a long term sports fan, I love it. However, like all entertainment properties, there’s an active element of competition as we often compete for the same eyeballs and dollars, albeit from different audiences in most many cases. Some say sport provides a more tangible outcome than music, more ROI? It’s often more physical and therefore healthier, it’s great for team building and developing communication skills. Analysing the merits of both sport and music would take an age and I’d be happy to do it with anyone who chooses but in my opinion music is the more powerful of the two. In an age where people agree that mental and emotional health is essential, we need to understand the benefits of music in society. 

The sports business has done a better job in Asia than music. We’ve had to deal with some tough years and diversify revenue streams but we’re emerging stronger than ever, and it's exciting. In a live context, Singapore has continued its trend towards LIVE entertainment and put together an even bigger music line-up this year or their inaugural Night Racing event. The likes of which will undoubtedly develop more fan engagement ahead of the F1 Grand Prix weekend than the race itself. Also, consider the point that the ROI for brand partners involved will be stronger from the music experience than the race itself. 

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From an audience perspective, it’s important to consider not all sports fans are into music and visa versa, and genres of either can show little correlation. It’s often a sure fire way to lose any sense of credibility when you align the music and sport without properly thinking it through. It goes back to my earlier rant when I talk about not understanding the creative or the culture. It can be very damaging to the brand, rights holder and the artist if things don't align properly. A one size fits all approach doesn’t work. Consider the rugby 7’s in Hong Kong, matching an event synonymous with international rugby fans with music presents some challenges. How do you create a credible and sustainable music platform in the shadow of an event which is so different at its core?

Acts like David Hasselhoff, The Beach Boys and most recently Madness have graced the pitch in recent years to perform for fans within the stadium. This has worked to varying degrees for the in-stadium audience but is a million miles from being credible to a broader music audience, and most would agree it paints a pretty crusty picture. It’s painfully uncool but this isn’t a bad thing, nor is having a South Stand Harlem Shake or Sébastien Chabal dressed in high heels, it’s just not designed for many passionate music fans. So this year announcing Gwen Stefani to play on the Harbour Front is progress, albeit ten years too late. Reportedly low on numbers the event still held some iconic moments, as you’d expect from a Main Stage on the Hong Kong Harbour. We need to understand the importance of developing this component in a credible way going forward, and understanding music may well be a more critical form of fan engagement in the future than the rugby.

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Music content can also be really powerful. HSBC are big on sports partnerships, and they are heavily invested in most of the major sports and some that are lesser known all over the world. It’s good to see more of those sponsorship dollars being spent on music initiatives. My initial reaction after seeing their recent work with Jean Mitchel Jarrewasn’t pretty but after the somewhat contrived film where he talks about how the brand speaks to him about ‘community, environment and technology’ I got into it. The soundtrack is strong, and hopefully, the rest of the partnership will be on point with the brand continuing to see the value in music. I’m also looking forward to seeing how FWD are positioned at Sonar in Hong Kong this weekend. Building on their other festival partnerships the insurance company now partners with the cutting edge music and electronic arts festival. Is this only possible in a financially focused Hong Kong or the dawn of a new age of corporate sponsors upping their game and trying something new?