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Opinion

Should You Include Music In Your Influencer Campaign?

Music can play a critical role in viral videos and so understanding how to use it legally and creatively when working with creators is important. Here's everything you need to know about including music in your influencer campaign.

As more brands expand into the world of TikTok and Triller, now is the time to create smart guidelines for incorporating music into influencer campaigns. It’s undeniable that music plays a critical role in viral videos. Over 19 dances have swept the nation thanks to TikTok and up and coming TikTok choreographers. These groups of micro-influencers are creating a new lane for brand campaigns and definitely making the right music critical. Some even being commissioned by songwriters, and unsigned artists to create a dance that will hopefully start trending. 

When creating a campaign that capitalises on trends brands must keep individualism, creativity, and authenticity in mind when building a marketing strategy on the platform. What these platforms have created with the use of music are very blurred lines for creators. If brands want to make music a part of their campaign, they should think about what guidelines to implement for the following projects.

Takeovers

Collaborating with influencers to curate your platform’s content for a day has proven to be an incredibly successful marketing strategy. A social media takeover campaign can do two things; introduce your brand to a new audience and add clout to your brand with a key partnership. 

A good example is Sephora’s use of micro-influencers as makeup experts who created how-to tutorials to explain Sephora products in engaging Instagram stories and Snapchat.

While platforms like TikTok, and Triller are walking a fine tightrope when it comes to using copyrighted music, it’s important to include specific music guidelines for takeovers for two reasons. 

First, stories are live for 24 hours and have to be downloaded to use later. Any videos downloaded from social media platforms can be restricted if they contain music that isn’t legally licensed. While you might have a well-curated campaign on one platform, for brands, sharing, or repurposing that campaign for use where the use of copyrighted material is more strictly enforced like YouTube, would be almost impossible. 

Second, stories that contain music specifically on Instagram can’t be reposted. This could limit the virality of your campaign if creators aren’t able to repost the takeover on their own channels. In this case you may want to have clear distribution plans for each platform that allows you to capitalise on music but not lose out on shared content. 

Promoting a hashtag or challenge

When done right, challenges and hashtags can take off like wildfire. These campaigns give brands an opportunity to work with a broader audience to create content that feels both creative and authentic yet true to the brand’s image. Most famously, Drake’s “In My Feelings” challenge gave the non-single a push to stay on top of the Billboard Hot 100. 

When incorporating music in a hashtag or challenge campaign, you want to be clear on what type of content your brand is expecting. Giving too little direction can risk hurting your brand image but if you give too many limitations, the content can come off as scripted and will just be another ad, rather than valuable content with which your audience can engage with. 

Dedicated posts 

When working with an influencer to create sponsored video content, predominantly if it will appear on YouTube, it’s critical to include music guidelines in the campaign that will allow you to further distribute the video. 

Essentially brands should inquire if the influencer will be using music in the content or not, and where they are getting the music from. As the “client” in the partnership, you want to be sure that you can legally distribute the video if it includes stock or royalty-free music. Many music platforms offer unlimited use licenses, while some restrict use to the number of views, or to specific channels. For example a YouTube membership on Epidemic Sounds restricts the use of the music solely to YouTube, which means reposting a video made for you from an influencer on Facebook could be in violation of the license. 

Other platforms such as Evoke Music allow you to publish the video on any channel, and use the music any way that you like as long as the creator has an active membership. In the instance that creators switch platforms, or end their subscription, your brand could be subject to a claim if the video is live on your company’s YouTube channel. These nuanced restrictions are what make guidelines so important when working with creators and influencers. While you don’t want to restrict their creativity, you want to cover all bases and maintain the right to distribute the final product as you like. 

When brands create guidelines that don’t limit creativity, everyone wins in the process. If you’re considering adding a music component to your campaign think about when it makes sense to add guidelines. For many brands, background music is an afterthought but depending on the scope of your project here are a few things to consider. 

The platform

If your campaign is channel-specific, consider what restrictions those platforms have when it comes to sharing content not made by your brand. While it might be acceptable for non-commercial videos to contain copyrighted music, such as joining a trending hashtag, or recording specific choreography, once that content is used on a business account the rules are subject to change. It could be beneficial to supply a list of songs that are cleared for use in your campaign in the scope of work so you have both quality control, and consistency. 

The distribution

Again, this can depend on where the content will be shared and to how many. On Instagram for example, Stories containing music cannot be shared on other accounts so creating specific guidelines around this is incredibly beneficial. While it would be amazing to have millions of views on your YouTube video, this may not be the case. In this instance, requiring the creator to provide where they intend to get the music used in the content, as well as what type of license, (or membership plan) they have, is a necessary byline to add to your campaign guidelines. 

Music has an undeniable impact on campaigns, and depending on your demographic can greatly enhance your reach and engagement. Understanding how to use music legally when working with influencers, who may not have a comprehensive grasp of licensing, is important. There are many creators who are just as unsure of how music licensing works. By incorporating basic guidelines in your projects, you make it easy for creators, as well as your marketing department, to ensure the outcomes are successful. 

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