LONDON: The sometimes strained relationship between music and brands is changing for the better as the two sides collaborate more closely over the creation of content and experiences, according to a leading industry figure.

In a blogpost for the IAB, Nikhil Shah, co-founder of internet radio company Mixcloud, highlighted the findings of a recent London conference that explored the interaction of brands, music and content.

One notable contribution came from Matt Black, one half of electronic dance duo Coldcut and founder of the Ninja Tune label. He described his attitude towards brands shifting from one of "us and them" to one that was much more open to "co-operative, enjoyable relationships" with brands.

Elsewhere, Nihal, a DJ on UK pop music station Radio One, noted that music was much less tribal than 20 years ago, with people more open to music in different genres and in different languages. He argued that brands could better invest in new talent rather than simply giving more money to well-established existing artists.

Nihal also contrasted the effectiveness of MasterCard's Priceless campaign taking consumers to a Beyoncé performance – "a genuine experience" – with the crassness of an attempt by fellow pop star Rihanna to promote fashion retailer River Island at a London concert. He described the latter effort as "insecure marketing".

As to what makes a great music-focused brand campaign, research from Audiencenet, the market research agency, indicated that creating engaging content and providing unique experiences were the most important factors for marketers, far ahead of considerations such as supporting artists or even aligning the brand with talent.

Engagement and reach were both vital aspects of such a campaign, while experiential and digital content were the most important channels.

Red Bull, Converse and Burberry were cited as standout brands that had succeeded in creating unique and engaging digital content.

Media partners and Facebook were the preferred digital platforms, ahead of YouTube and Twitter and a brand's own website.

A major problem for marketers, however, was how to measure the return on investment of a music-focused brand campaign. Fully 87% of the Audiencenet survey said they found this exercise difficult or very difficult.

Data sourced from IAB, Mixcloud; additional content by Warc staff