The Hot Seat: Jason Fielding, The Sound Campaign

Published in The Music Network


What originally brought you to Australia?

Australia always appealed to me. I spent a year here back in 2000, when I helped set up a sponsorship department for a global conferencing company. I moved here permanently in 2004 (Fielding co-founded The Sound Campaign in 2007 with Sasha Morello). I originally moved from Manchester to London when I was 18. I’ve been involved in the live music scene since I was 19 years old. Two weeks ago, I became an Aussie citizen.

What opportunities do you see here?

Music marketing has really come of age. Where it was once seen as a nice thing to have by a lot of brands, it’s now a very serious part of the marketing space. Young people aren’t engaging with 30-second TV commercials. Spending a million bucks making a TV commercial won’t give you that return on investment these days. You can get your message out in ways which aren’t particularly overt, and that’s a much more cost- effective way to reach an audience. Australia is a vibrant market. I don’t think we could be doing 10 years ago what we are doing now. The appetite for doing music marketing wasn’t quite there, but the market has really shifted. Brands now recognise that music is a strong platform to reach younger consumers, and we’re seeing some world class campaigns here. On a macro level, the Australian economy is faring better than others around the world. And musically, Australia punches above its weight.

What exactly does the Sound Campaign do?

We do three things. We work with consumer brands to create and deliver entertainment campaigns.

We also work in commercial rights representation, where we – for want of a better description – sell sponsorship. We see it as creative partnerships between brands and entertainment owners. The third area is content creation. It’s the area of our business that has really accelerated in the last 12 months. In February, Bree Knight joined us as Head of Branded Content. And three weeks ago, Rachel Moor (former Video Hits executive producer) joined us as Head of Entertainment Content. We’re moving to Surry Hills, on Foveaux and Crown, because we outgrew the space we were in.

One of the most high-profile branding campaigns in recent years was a deal done out of the U.K. where Groove Armada recorded and toured for Bacardi. That deal is history. But will we see more like it?

It was a big step for both parties, but it apparently didn’t work particularly well for either. There have been a few plays by brands – including Levis and General Pants – who have created campaigns where they were acting as record companies, either A&Ring or actually producing and releasing product. It’s an interesting space for a brand to get into, but your DNA needs to be an A&R company or record company to really do that properly over the long term.

Does your company have plans for its own sync department, or publishing division? Or a label perhaps?

Not a publishing division. We’re not in that space where we’re working for artists. But we’re currently doing a lot of syncs, perhaps five a week, primarily for TVCs. We’re producing a couple of interstitials — clips we make that run on networks that have more content than TVCs. A lot of the work we do is filming the concerts our clients put on, in particular the Debit MasterCard series and the JD Set for Jack Daniels. The sync space is one we’re informally in. It’s definitely an area we might grow into and do more of in the future.

There’s got to be a fine line between getting it right, and seriously wrong. The line is, if you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. With every campaign, with any client we work with, we don’t start with any preconceived idea of what they should do. We ask them what their objectives are, what they’re trying to achieve. We look at what their brand is, what their DNA is. Out of that some ideas start to emerge about what the right strategy might be. Budget is also a consideration. It’s really about picking the right artist for the particular campaign. A brand has got to want to be in the space. You’ve got to respect the nuances of operating in the music space. You’ve got to respect the integrity of the artists that they work with. And if a brand has those traits and if they do approach the campaign with that headspace, then it’s going to be a successful campaign. You’ve got to be genuine.

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