Multicultural Marketing and Its Role in Music
To connect with diverse audiences is to maintain ongoing relevance, as the multicultural population in the United States continues to increase (yasss!). So, it would be a mistake for artists and brands to ignore multicultural angles in their work and promotion of them. But what is multicultural marketing?
Multicultural marketing is an approach that aligns marketing or content strategies to appeal to diverse audiences, and cultural differences are recognized, respected, and in my opinion, amplified. The motive behind multicultural marketing is definitely NOT to single out other groups in a negative way, but rather to take into consideration the impact that can be had by positively uplifting audiences that represent a specific cultural background, mindset, gender, generation, and even certain abilities.
Why is multicultural marketing essential for artists and brands? First, diversity - the basis of multicultural marketing - is what makes our society rich, beautiful and strong. The products of marketing efforts weave into our everyday lives in the form of visuals and messages, and have certainly worked their way into cultural attitudes and the histories of societies. Multicultural marketing can literally serve as a strategy to catalyze positive social change, so we have a duty as messengers to keep in mind cultural sensitivities and the importance of diversity and representation.
Second, are two words: Buying power. According to a 2018 study published by catalyst.org (1):
The buying power of Latinx and Asian-Americans is on the rise, with Latinx buying power ($1.5 trillion) surpassing the entire economies of all but 10 nations across the world. Asian-Americans’ buying power ($1.0 trillion) dwarfs all but 16 nations across the globe.
Black Americans’ buying power of $1.3 trillion is also growing, fueled by increasing education levels and the number of Black-owned companies.
Women are earning a higher share of household income, with a buying power of over $5 trillion.
The buying power of LGBTQ Americans is estimated at $1 trillion.
People with disabilities, their families, and communities make up a powerful consumer base, with an estimated dispensable income of $490 billion.
Millennials have an estimated buying power of over $65 billion per year, and they expect brands to connect with their values.
In 2014, the combined buying power of Black women, Asian women, and Latinas was estimated at $1 trillion.
The numbers are telling, and the way I see it, buying power can also translate to a form of activism. When I feel represented and uplifted - whether it be by a brand, an artist, a song, or a film - you best believe I’ll show my support by purchasing a product, a download, or a ticket. If an artist or brand makes a serious faux pas that reflects their attitude about certain groups of people, I don’t know about you, but they typically lose my support. Imagine the multitude of other conscious consumers that can be reached and who react by making a purchase or boycotting an artist or brand altogether.
So, how does multicultural marketing factor into the realm of music and artistry in general? Using music as a model, I think we can agree that music is very personal and infects our souls. The initial and typical response of an artist is to make music for all, but what might happen if songs are less general and target very specific audiences? Songs and artists have the ability to represent movements, and they’re likely to be memorialized by the audiences they touched.
Songs that immediately come to mind that have beautifully and successfully articulated and represented specific cultural groups and experiences are:
Solange’s ”Almeda” and Ruby Ibarra‘s “Nothing On Us” (featuring Rocky Rivera, Klassy, and Faith Santilla), both celebrating the characteristics and resilience embedded in Black culture and Filipino women, respectively.
"1-800-273-8255" by Logic ft. Alessia Cara and Khalid, which features the perspective of a suicidal person who finds the will to keep living. The track is accompanied by a powerful music video that that tells the story of a suicidal Black gay teen; and
Who can forget Bey’s universal female anthem “Run the World (Girls)”?
There’s a cost for ignoring multicultural marketing, which can crush an artist’s and brand’s staying power. In my opinion, the missed opportunity and ultimate cost is its potential contribution to social progress.
What does diversity sound like to you? How are you shifting your craft to address growing multicultural audiences?
1 : Catalyst, Quick Take: Buying Power (November 27, 2018).