What band sums up your formative middle school years? What song takes you back to your senior prom? What was the very first live show you went to? You probably don’t have to think too hard to find the answers. Music serves as the soundtrack to some of life’s most cherished moments and that’s why it can be an amazing vehicle for brands to make more meaningful and emotional connections with consumers. At a recent AMA Atlanta (American Marketing Association) event, Hothouse gathered a panel of industry experts to discuss the role music can play for today’s brands—and tips for marketers seeking the sweet sounds of success.

1. Music allows you to connect with your consumer “in the moment.”
We’ve grown accustomed to instant gratification and the bite-sized consumption of entertainment. Jason Carter, founder and president of Sol Fusion Music Group and ONE MusicFest, describes today as a “microwave era,” noting that with platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Vine, moments are limited to 140 characters or 6 seconds. But Carter believes that live music is different. He says, “it’s real, human contact. It’s being in someone’s actual space, in that moment with your prospective customer. For brands to have the opportunity to truly connect with their audience is unbelievably powerful.”

2. While music is emotional, music marketing is still a business.
Joe Belliotti, head of Global Music Marketing for The Coca-Cola Company admits that utilizing music can elevate your brand and create an emotional connection with your audience, but he emphasizes that it’s not solely about brand love—it’s also about brand value. He states, “You have to figure out how to operationalize music within the brand. How are you going to drive the business and how is music going to help you get to those goals?” Being able to quantify your return on investment is key, so start with your overall objective first.

3. Insist on authenticity.
The artist has to love the product—period. Mike Walbert, Partner and Director of the A3C Festival & Conference emphasizes, “If it’s just a paycheck, the audience will smell it. Two tweets aren’t going to do the job. The relationship has to vest over time.” Belliotti echoes the sentiment saying, “You want to find people who love and use your product…it allows you to have a genuine role for the brand in the activation.” He also notes that this typically results in more flexibility when it comes to access to the artist, what you’re able to do with them and what other assets you might receive. So put on your matchmaker hat first and find a music partner that’s willing to be a true ambassador for your brand.

4. Bands can boost brands—but also vice versa.
Music marketing is a two-way street. Yes, brands can reap the rewards of a successful alignment with a big-name artist. But brands also have the opportunity to help lesser-known artists get to the next level. Walbert believes that as the industry continues to change how music is released, brands can interject themselves into the creative process. “Brands can function like labels,” he says. “They can find artists, develop talent, invest in content, put them on tour.”

Coke utilizes Livestream to do just that. Through their partnership with Aloft hotels, the global brand streams performances from hotel lobbies featuring up-and-coming artists playing to an average of 100 guests. Via the platform, they’ll rake in an audience of up to 100,000, providing viewers with an opportunity to experience a unique moment they might otherwise miss.

5. Put your audience first.
A brand has to know their audience well and match them with the appropriate audience or event in order for the activation to resonate. Josh Antenucci, Senior Partner, Rival Entertainment applauds Heineken USA for their repeated success noting they “know who their audience is and how to have a brand presence, while trying to get them to engage in ways beyond just trying the beer.” But keeping is simple is key. Walbert cautions against “creating activations that are almost too creative for their own good.” He encourages marketers to remember that the audience didn’t come to the event with the sole purpose of participating in your experience. Avoid the overly abstract or complex so that it’s more “enjoy” than “annoy.”

6. Keep the conversation going digitally.
Your event should essentially have two plans—one for onsite and one for digital. Where and how do you want people sharing content? And how are you going to amplify it? For A3C, Walbert and his team start with a goal. For example, “if we want to touch 1,000 folks on site, then we aim for 10,000 digitally.” And they do so by creating onsite opportunities for sharing. In the case of 2016’s festival, they created a mural with Heneiken, featuring minimal branding but it served as the backdrop for countless photographs that spread across social media. This allowed for the brand to create a conversation beyond just the event by continuing it online.