These days no-one blinks an eye if a Grizzly Bear song is featured in a car ad or if Daft Punk pop up alongside other pop culture heavyweights in a commercial for a popular sports brand, the ad itself, managing to cobble together all of these stars into a George Lucas-approved Star Wars concept.
iTunes’ advert spots from five years ago helped launch the career of Feist and others into the mainstream. Corporate patrons have tangible benefits and many more musicians and artists are increasingly comfortable with corporations and brands funding their creativity. Most collaborations are accepted by fans. The exception to the rule, are venerated rock stars whose fanbases can’t marry the blatant commercialism with supposed legendary punk spirit – see Iggy Pop flouncing around for a car insurance company or John Lydon advertising butter.
Despite the uncomfortable relationship between art and commerce, there has been some great examples recently of engaging online campaigns that straddle both successfully. Here are four:
1) The Creators Project – thecreatorsproject.com
A collaboration between Intel and cool bible Vice, The Creators Project kicked off in NYC last month, calling itself “a completely new kind of arts and culture channel for a completely new kind of world.” Basically, this allows the organisers to get in the coolest bands around (M.I.A, Sleigh Bells, The Rapture, Die Antwoord), revered film directors (hello Spike Jonze), art installations and more. Cram them into large warehouse spaces and you’ve got a hot event taking place in London, Seoul, Sao Paolo over the coming months. Even if you can’t make any of the events, the website has tons of original content to peruse and is genuine in engaging the art side of your brain.
2) Three Artists, One Song – converse.com/music
The sneaker company Converse got three disparate artists together in 2008 to make a original song. Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, Pharrell Williams and Santigold all collaborated on a superb track – My Drive Thru which was given aways as a free download on the website. The concept is back for 2010 with rapper Kid Cudi, Vampire Weekend’s Rostam and Best Coast collaborating on All Summer.
3) 8 Songs, 8 Weeks – adultswim.com/promos/201005_kia/
Cult cable TV network Adult Swim released eight singles in eight successive weeks – all quality, from artists steeped in blog buzz like Cults, Washed Out, Black Lips, Holy Ghost! and Madvillain.
4) Dr. Martens is 50 – 50.drmartens.com
Another shoe brand already closely aligned with youth culture, Dr. Martens has asked ten artists like Noisettes, BRMC, The Raveonettes, Dam Funk and The Duke Spirit to cover a cult classic song. An original video is made with a notable video director and the song is given away as for free.