Music

Songs for Screens: How a Solange Synch Helped Sonos License Iconic Album Art

Sonos’ new campaign for its Move speaker marks a few milestones for the home audio company. Not only is Move the first portable product in the Sonos portfolio, but its campaign assets will feature rare licensed appearances of artwork from iconic albums by Outkast, Radiohead and David Bowie, among many other artists. The campaign will appear in digital TV, social, display, print and out-of-home media over the coming months, with different iterations rolling out highlighting other iconic album artwork. (Frank Ocean, Robyn and Chemical Brothers are among those still forthcoming.)

How did Brian Beck, Sonos’ global head of music, secure such revered real estate? With a little help from Solange, whose latest single “Binz” serves as the first commercial’s soundtrack. “Music plays such a paramount role in the Sonos experience,” says Beck of his supervision strategy. “It’s the way we introduce new products to the world from launch events to campaigns, retail displays and more. It’s important we always live up to that in the way we bring artists and their work into our creative process.”

Beck first approached Solange’s team after the singer was seen dancing with her PLAY:5 Sonos speakers in the homemade official video for “Binz” back in March, which opened the door for a larger-scale relationship. “We had just licensed her album cover for print and [out-of-home advertising], so it felt like the natural fit to highlight that song,” Beck says.

Securing Solange, who keeps her partnership roster tight (American Express, Apple and Levi’s are among the handful of companies she’s worked with in the past two years) served as a linchpin for getting other commercial-sensitive artists onboard. “We wanted to include a number of legendary album covers from incredible artists that don’t usually work with brands (i.e., Radiohead, Frank Ocean, etc.), [so] having Solange on board early helped give a strong start to those conversations right out of the gate,” Beck says.

“Binz” isn’t the only taste-making track featured in Move’s launch campaign. Karen O & Danger Mouse’s “Woman” is the focus track for the product’s reveal film, while “Slip” by emerging UK artist AMA is played at the end of a demo clip showcasing all the different conditions the Move can weather in a variety of environments.

Everything we do is about creating the best sound experiences, so we’re always looking for songs that have high production value and are also culturally relevant and inspiring,” says Beck. “We created a list of over 100 songs for Move to start and from there, we narrowed it down based on a number of things like pacing and lyrics. ‘Woman,’ for example, combines Karen O’s iconic voice with the strength of production from Danger Mouse. There’s also a lyric in the song that says, ‘Then you take it…’ This is naturally connected to Move because you can take it anywhere.”

Songs for Screens is a Variety column sponsored by music experiential agency MAC Presents, based in NYC. It is written by Andrew Hampp, founder of music marketing consultancy 1803 LLC and former correspondent for Billboard. Each week, the column highlights noteworthy use of music in advertising and marketing campaigns, as well as film and TV. Follow Andrew on Twitter at @ahampp.

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