Music consumption has shifted drastically over the last twelve months. There are now more places than ever for audiences to consume music, from traditional CD purchases through to the variety of streaming platforms. With Spotify recently announcing that it now has over 30 million paid subscribers and Apple Music around 11 million, streaming seems to be leading the way. But what do these shifts in consumption behaviours mean for the brands looking to leverage music audiences?

The challenge for both music labels and brand partners is in understanding how, when and where these audiences are consuming music. Certainly there is opportunity for marketing, but music audiences are not one homogenous group, with research showing that they go through multiple different listening behaviours throughout the day – it’s fundamental for brands to be able to catch the right listener at the right time.

Brand partnerships with music artists and labels are becoming big business as brands are starting to fully understand the value of these kind of integrated campaigns in reaching new and engaged audiences. In the same way that the consumer has become more ad savvy, it’s not just about appearing in front of relevant content, but using the right creative at the right moment and creating native-like executions – whether that’s product placement in music videos or using music artists as brand advocates.

The platforms themselves are realising the potential value in this market through advertising and larger partnerships revenues, with the race to work with brands seeing continued investment and increased competition from the likes of Apple Music, rebrands from Tidal and Deezer and in Spotify raising $1 Billion in debt financing.

It’s predicted that these kind of partnerships and sync deals in the UK could be close to generating ten per cent of turnover among the UK’s three major labels. Investment is being rewarded with industry recognition – music brand partnership categories have been added to a raft of prestigious marketing award ceremonies, including a roster of over twenty categories, at this year’s Cannes Lions. But, fundamentally, when the right artist and brand are matched, campaigns work equally for both: not only in generating sales uplifts, but for building engagement metrics across a brand’s socials footprint, something that has previously been a struggle for some brands.

The future is bright – brands can benefit from the unique influence that artists can offer in channels where those fans might otherwise ignore or block more traditional adverts, and the more they can understand these disparate audiences, the greater the payback will be.