Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Making the right connection when it comes to brands and bands

Vans’ new London venue is potentially another example of brands getting things right when it comes to working with bands

Inside Converse's Rubber Tracks studio in Brooklyn

Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 09:53


There are always interesting exchanges going on in the world of bands and brands. Footwear company Vans recently announced plans to open a 850 capacity music venue in London.

The House of Vans London venue will be housed beneath Waterloo station alongside a gallery, studios, skatepark, café, cinema and bars. It’s an example of a brand actually having a proper think about providing something of direct benefit to the community they want to work with.

There are several noteworthy precedents for these projects. Converse’s Rubber Tracks studio has been offering free recording time to acts in Brooklyn for some time and the company also put together a pop-up studio in Boston last year.

The Red Bull Music Academy has been putting on workshops and lectures for producers, musicians and DJs in various cities since 1998 and has attracted many names who’ve gone onto bigger and better things. In addition, the Academy has also set up nine studios worldwide.

In many ways, all of the above are quite traditional campaigns with the brand logo front and centre. There is no attempt to hide or downplay the brand involvement and all are upfront about what’s going on.

But there is also no attempt to go beyond simply paying money to get involved in a venture. There is no ridiculous call for consumers to “engage” with the brand, no onus on the participants to shout about the brand on social media (as has happened with Guinness campaigns in Ireland) and no bullying tactics by the brand to get their own way (many acts have tales to tell about particularly pernicious behaviour by brands in this regard).

What Vans and others are a simple exchange: association in return for money and goods-in-kind. Everyone wins. Now, that’s a brands and bands story well worth amplifying.