Chase & Status on musicians working with brands

Appearing at Advertising Week Europe today was Saul Milton, one half of electronic music duo Chase & Status. Milton, who has previously worked with brands including Red Bull, shared his opinions on the pros and cons of musicians teaming up with commercial partners…

Milton appeared at Ad Week Europe alongside Luke Mitzman of JHO Management, who manages Chase & Status alongside other acts including Knife Party and Zane Lowe, and Nic Jones of Vevo. The trio talked through the advantages for brands and bands alike of working together, and some potential pitfalls that should be avoided.

Of the latter, there was agreement that it is important for brands to take a subtle, respectful attitude in teaming up with musicians. In other words, too many logos are a bad thing. “The key for us is to find a brand that doesn’t compromise an artist’s integrity,” said Mitzman. “It’s not a badging exercise – kids will see through that in a second, they won’t even register it. You have to create an all-round experience for a brand.”

In recalling his experience of working with Red Bull on its recent Culture Clash event, where four crews of musicians were pitted against each other live at Earl’s Court, Milton spoke admiringly of how the brand “gave us space to breath”. “They didn’t want their stuff all over the place – as an artist that was appealing,” he said. “They don’t need to shout about it.”

Trailer for Red Bull Culture Clash, featuring Chase & Status. Image shown top is also from the event

On choosing which brands to work with, Milton cited a number of reasons why a partnership might not go ahead, including personal ethics, the brands not being cool enough, or the match just not quite fitting. He also made the point that musicians are now brands in their own right. “It’s about what feels right for us,” he said. “First and foremost you want to protect your brand…. I’m really passionate about preserving our brand.”

Alongside respect for the musicians, trust is also key, and in particular an understanding that a band will probably know best what will appeal to its fans. “It’s about finding brands who will trust us when we say ‘that’s not going to work, that’s going to turn people off’,” said Mitzman.

Blind Faith by Chase & Status, directed by Daniel Wolfe

Both Milton and Mitzman agreed that brands can play an important role in helping a musician launch their career now, and that the earlier a brand backs an artist, the stronger and more authentic this relationship will appear to fans. If done correctly, where there is a synergy between the brand and the band, it will no longer be seen as selling out for the musicians to team up with a commercial company now. But Milton was hopeful that such partnerships will not become the only route to success for musicians. “It would be short-sighted to close doors on things,” he said. “You don’t have to sell out to do something with brands, but I hope it’s not essential to get there.”

Advertising Week Europe is taking place in London this week. More info is