UTA Team on Fashion, Beauty Deals for Music Celebrities – WWD
In a normal year, the team at United Talent Agency are busy supporting clients like Chance the Rapper, Bad Bunny, and Machine Gun Kelly as they release new music and go on tour to promote their work.
Of course, 2020 was nothing like that – yet the United Talent Agency team, made up of all women and led by Alisann Blood and Toni Wallace, has closed some 300 contracts for around 275 clients over the past year. , stepping out of the usual areas and working with their A-listers to embrace all that is virtual. The result is an eight-figure music venture for the agency and a whole new set of possibilities for how musical talent can work with brands in the fashion space.
Since the start of the pandemic, the deals have included Princess Nokia’s partnership with NYX Cosmetics, where she created personalized lip kits; Chance the Rapper’s Bitmoji fashion collection with Ralph Lauren (it is undoubtedly the first of its kind for the American brand); the agreements between Lauryn Hill and Louis Vuitton, Arlo Parks and Gucci and AJ Tracey with Versace; the Bebe Rexha brand ambassador with Puma and Deichmann; YG’s K-Swiss sneaker launch deal and finally, Bad Bunny’s Adidas Originals collaboration.
“At the start of the pandemic, when it all started, everyone was in a moment where people were off the road, they were sitting at home. When you think about it, we didn’t even know what it really was. But it was fun because it actually gave us the opportunity to be really creative with our clients, ”Blood says. “Usually on the music side, the artists are on the road most of the year. So all of a sudden everyone is now in one place, sitting in their house and it kind of became a really fun test to find out what [were] some of the different things we could do in the digital space while people were literally on their couches.
At the start of COVID-19, it was so uncertain that brands didn’t even have a sense of how to budget for partnerships, unsure how long these deals would last with the pandemic restrictions.
“That’s how you started to see some of the first contracts where it was really artists in their living room talking to fans,” Blood says. “We partnered with Pitbull and Bose very early on, where he talked about music and how sound played in his experience. They were very early, in terms of a pandemic, then over time and we settled into the pandemic and it became clear that it was actually going to be longer than people thought, brands and artists became more comfortable with this new normal, things started to evolve and there was a lot of creative iterations and deals that we made.
Chance the Rapper is one of their most successful examples. At the start of the pandemic, UTA orchestrated deals for him with General Mills and Verizon, which were virtual partnerships, and after seeing them pay off, they landed him a partnership with Ralph Lauren, where he did a livestream. as part of their first Bitmoji Fashion collection.
“Chance is someone who has done a really amazing job of working in an interesting way in the brand space and in particular using live streaming as a solid method for that,” Blood said. “[Ralph Lauren] really came about in large part because Chance is a fan of the brand and has been wearing their products from the start.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, one of the areas that I’m most passionate about is that brands are finally starting to invest in content owned and operated by artists,” Wallace says. “We’ve been talking about it for a long time as an industry, but the pandemic has accelerated the process. Artists and their creative teams have always developed some of the best and most innovative content in the world. They set trends and culture not only in music but also in visual media. During the pandemic, many brands started hiring the artist and their teams to create content while we were at home. We’ve done this with Post Malone, Bad Bunny, Chance the Rapper, and many more. Not only does this create more authentic content and experiences for fans, but it also creates a more transparent partnership between brands and artists with major value-added efficiency for all parties. “
Even as things start to reopen and recover, the UTA team believes digital offerings are here to stay.
“I think even if we go back to an environment where live music comes back as it is now and brands start to have real experiences, there will always be a digital element in these partnerships,” Blood says. “I think especially now with the rise of TikTok over the past 18 months, you’re going to continue to see digital elements in any campaign that unfolds. A good example of this is a campaign we just did for Bebe Rexha as the face of Adore Me. She’s the face of the celebrity and they’ve never used a celebrity in their campaigns before. This particular campaign, there are a lot of digital elements going into that. She is constantly on her TikTok and her Instagram to do pieces of this campaign. Most of the time there are personal appearances that play out [deals]; with Bebe, she had a partnership with Puma and Deichmann in Europe, events that she would normally attend in person, and we had to make it virtual. With Adore Me, she makes virtual appearances. In fact, I don’t think that will change. You will see a mixture.
“Working with Alisann and his team has been a pleasure: they understand who I am both as an individual and as an artist,” Rexha says in an email. “Thanks to their advice and expertise, I have had the chance to partner with brands that resonate with my fans and that also correspond to my values. “
As Rexha becomes the first celebrity face for a brand, many companies in the fashion and beauty industry have changed the way they work with talent over the past year – and the demand is only increasing.
“Fashion and music have always been very aligned; so many artists that we work with, when we sit down with talent and really build the roadmap of opportunities and things that they want to focus on, fashion is usually, I would say, the top three, sometimes one or two Blood says. “I wouldn’t say fashion partnerships necessarily differed during the pandemic, but everyone was just trying to think a little more outside the box and creatively.”