Startup Directory


Millennial Fans, Bands and Brands

Fresh from a Music Management degree, Cuttime founder Ryan Ziemba ‘13BUS, began to wonder how Coke, Cover Girl, and the Milk Advisory Board decided that a Taylor Swift, celebrity endorsement was the most effective and efficient marketing spend. Conversely, just to be fair to Taylor, how could she be sure that the brands she represented wouldn’t alienate her fans?

Enter Cuttime, Inc., founded in 2014 by Ryan, Swupnil Sahai ’17GSAS, and Jason Lekberg a veteran performing artist and Columbia Ph.D candidate in statistics. The team hopes to make their mark on marketing by providing audience analytics and partnership recommendations for connecting bands and brands.

“Our customers are PR agencies, traditional marketing agencies, digital advertising networks and experiential marketers like Momentum Worldwide,” said Ziemba. “Putting Taylor together with Cover Girl makes perfect intuitive sense, right? But before Cuttime there really is no quantitative analysis in that decision process. Science has tended to take a backseat to gut instinct, which increases the risk that band-brand collaborations will be ineffective.”

Cuttime, has responded with an unbiased analytical approach focusing on the mutual affinity between band and brand consumers that enables both sides to avoid the trap of speculation.

Enhancing its value proposition, Cuttime also reveals marketing opportunities for brands among long tail recording artists. Too often, marketers match their clients with expensive celebrity bands simply based on mass appeal and broad targets without adequately considering the potential of up-and-coming acts.  In doing so, brand marketers overlook prospects that are likely less expensive, easier to work with, and whose fans have a higher propensity to engage the brand than those of major bands.

It is no revelation that the world of marketing and advertising has reinvented itself every decade for the last century; it changes as rapidly as modern culture becomes passé. But now marketers seem to be using mood and sentiment to sell product. Ryan gave an interesting case in point.

Converse, the sneaker company, has created what it calls “Rubber Tracks”. It’s a network of community-based recording studios where emerging musicians of all genres can apply for free studio time. Then, if selected, artists record and Converse distributes the music, all at no cost while allowing the artist to maintain the rights to their own music.

Ok, so how does Converse make money by recording music and giving it away free? Please don’t say “they make it up on volume.”

“Converse is hoping to generate both word of mouth and positive sentiment,” explained Ryan. “When you talk about the millennial market you have to be tactful and aware that millennials don’t respond well to traditional advertising tactics. They respond to brands associating with bands but it has to be authentic. If you place your bets on the right artists, a brand can reach their audiences and influence behaviors more effectively for a fraction of the money and that’s a significant cost savings for brands.”