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The New Found Partnership Between Indie Musicians, Variety Shows and Brand Sponsors Indie musicians are gaining popularity and they are learning to take advantage of it.

admin 2020-12-21 Collect

Fifteen years ago, when TV networks were still the mainstream media with absolute influence. Super Girl debuted singers like Chris Lee, Bibi Zhou, Jane Zhang, among others, and many of them remain popular until this day. And the show itself was so popular that when it broadcasted, the whole country went back home to watch.

And then TV music competition variety show entered into a low period. And then shows like I am a Singer and The Voice of China became hot topics again, drawing public attention to singing technics and high notes.

Nowadays, the main battlefield of media consumption is constantly changing, and the distribution channels of variety shows have also transitioned from TV networks to online streaming platforms. Music variety shows focusing on niche and original music emerged, like The Rap of China, The Big Band, Rave Now and Chuang. The success of these genre/submarket focused music variety shows made them very popular among brand sponsors and advertisers. And show producers started digging more into niche music genres.

For celebrities and musicians, variety shows is one of the few areas that still very active during the pandemic and economic downturn of this year. So, what are some trends in  the music variety show market in recent years? How can the producers, brands, music companies and musicians take advantage of these trends? What value does popular music variety show bring to musicians and brands?


Strawberry Man Goes Outdoors

In the era of the internet, more and more internet variety show emerged, giving more and more indie musicians a platform to showcase their talent. And a new generation of viewers with diverse taste pushes the industry to explore niche genres, further popularizing them.

A great example of this trend is the success of rock band music variety shows in recent years. Many Modern Sky bands became well-known by the public through these shows. Therefore, The Better Life, Modern Sky, Youku and Damai jointly produced a new variety show Strawberry Man.

As “the first outdoor music variety show in China,” Strawberry Man will be filmed outdoors at music festival venues to best replicate the atmosphere. The winner of the show will be able to participate in one of the most popular music festivals in China, Strawberry Music Festival.  After areas like hip pop, rock and EDM all had their variety show, the popular category among young people, live music would be worth exploring.

Ge Wei, the founder of The Better Life, said, “Music variety shows cannot be separated from the people in it. We hope to introduce more up-and-coming musicians to the public.”

Ge Wei, founder and CEO of The Better Life

For brand sponsors, this program not only has the backing of Strawberry Music Festival, which has accumulated a 6 million fanbase over the years but also a variety of audience both online, offline, indoors and outdoors. The flexibility of this program might breed some fun, integrated marketing solutions for the brand sponsors.


How do brands optimize marketing with musicians as brand ambassadors?

After participating in The Big Band 2, WUTIAOREN received a lot of attention from companies such as Sprite, Tmall, Didi, Ping An and OnePlus.

For the musician, choosing which brands to work with not only requires a good judgment on the musician’s own image and as well as a good understanding of the brands. WUTIAOREN fits the concept of job search app BOSS, because they were eliminated and revived multiple times in the show, representing good luck and the spirit of perseverance in pursuing your dream.


Hu Wei, VP of Modern Sky

Nowadays, variety shows have attracted the attention of more and more brand sponsors, but many traditional companies look at popularity first when they advertise in variety shows.

Qiu Shuang, the head of public relations at BOSS, said that many companies blindly picks S-level variety shows to advertise on, which greatly reduces the efficiency of their budgets. Brands should have a good understanding of variety shows, the personalities of the musicians on the shows and their core audience before they invest in advertisement to get the most out of it.

In working with WUTIAOREN, BOSS hopes to appeal to Gen Z, to lead them onto a good career path, and to inspire their creativity. Qiu Shuang believes that WUTIAOREN is not only a creative brand, but they are also very smart, and these qualities are what young people want when they first start their career.


Qiu Shuang, the Head of PR at BOSS

“You can find a better job,” WUTIAOREN’s famous line from the show also represents good luck for everyone.

In addition to advertising, BOSS also produced a series of merchandise in collaboration with WUTIAOREN, including “good luck” binder, “good luck” mahjong case and “many many” phone case.


WUTIAOREN/BOSS merchandise


How do musicians maximize the value of their endorsement?

Since brands are more interested in marketing to specific demographics using indie musicians’ endorsement, musicians that have traditionally focused more on their music started to pay more attention to managing their image and their commercial value as well.

Musician Mu Ma is one of the earliest indie musicians to work with brands. He has been collaborating with clothing lines, consumer produces and fashion magazines since 2007.

5Indie musician Mu Ma 

After the broadcast of The Big Band 2, Mu Ma’s rock band Muma received a lot of endorsement deals such as JD.com, ROG and MG5.

These marketing campaigns greatly increased Muma’s public exposure. Mu Ma’s memorable eyeliner makeup look on the show and his personality is also made him a fashion icon.

Although brands only cares about the musicians’ fanbase and their cultural influence, not their music, the musicians themselves loves to incoporate their music in the marketing campaigns.

At the same time, brands are also increasingly respectful of the musicians’ personality and ideas.

As one of the most popular form of entertainment, variety show undeniably contributes a lot to the music industry. They help old songs stay relevant, push new talents into the market, show different sides of musicians to their fans and popularize niche musical genres.

For indie musicians with very strong personal attributes, they can find more audience through the variety shows. And brands can target potential consumers more easily through indie musicians’ endorsement and music variety shows. 

In Mu Ma’s words, “It is a natural process and a very comfortable win-win situation.”

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