Yesterday I went to the second ever FRUKT Sessions, hosted by the Brands Bands Fans folk. It’s one of those things where leading “thinkers” go. I’ve always wondered what a room full of thinkers would look like, and it turns out they look quite similar to normal people, only they always tend to be staring at Blackberries.

Anyway, the FRUKT Sessions are all about discussing where music marketing is at in this tempestuous time for the music industry, etc. With record companies taking forever to get to grips with Music 13.0, or whatever you want to call it, there’s an increased opportunity for “brands” to step in and “engage” with music fans. Session #002 was all about how brands could do more to engage with fans of live music.

I did feel a bit like an infiltrator in a secret cult – someone did actually say “blue sky” at one point, and there was lots of talk about “adding value”, “content” and “consumer experience”. However it was also interesting to get a look from the point of view of marketers, and to get glimpses of some innovative campaigns. For instance there was a look at XBox 360’s increasing investment in music projects, and opinion from representatives from NME and Bacardi among others.

The campaign that caught my eye the most was that of The Tennents Mutual. Set up by drinks brand Tennents, they contributed £150,000 to a fund to create a live music experience – and then left the rest to fans. Their website allowed fans to interact and vote on who they wanted to see and where, “through their ratings, nominations and agitations throughout April, May and June 2008″. The first season was a huge success, and you can see the bills that resulted here.

Similarly impressive is that for the next season, the money raised from selling tickets in 2008 will be re-invested – which means 2009’s season will have £197,014.86 behind it.

I was amazed that I hadn’t heard of this campaign before, especially with me writing a music site and all that. It seems like a genuinely innovative idea which fans have totally gone for, and it’s allowed live music-neglected regions to put on shows by acts who wouldn’t normally visit – it brought Glasvegas and Little Kicks to Dumfries (near where I lived for a while as a wee one), and Teenage Fanclub to Dundee, among many others. The video played at the FRUKT Session showed fans over the moon that they’d been able to attract such high calibre acts.

Compared with some other brands logo-heavy, value-light approaches to sponsoring live music events, Tennents offering was quite inspiring.

Thanks to Darika at Grapevine Consulting for the invite!