Apple is partnering with UK fashion retailer Burberry for the first branded channel on its new Apple Music streaming service, which makes perfect sense for both brands.
While Apple turned to the luxury leather artisans at Hermès to produce its first co-branded Apple Watch collection, it’s turning to Burberry—whose former CEO, Angela Ahrendts, is Apple’s SVP of retail and online stores—to create its first brand-curated bespoke channel on Apple Music.
It’s Burberry, after all, that dared to differentiate its brand by promoting and playing acoustic music at its shows, shirking the trend of EDM/techno-spinning DJs at Saint Laurent and other haute couture houses. Launched five years ago, Burberry Acoustic has been a passion project of Christopher Bailey since 2010 and has become an integral part of the Burberry brand’s DNA.
Bailey, then Burberry’s creative director (now its CEO), explained in the launch video above that the platform features “live acoustic sessions with bands that that we love—bands that we admire, bands that we believe in—the young, British new bands… Music is so important to us, and I know it is to so many of you,” he commented to viewers.
“Since his arrival at the label in 2001, Bailey has made it something of a mission to entangle the worlds of fashion and music,” The Guardian noted in a profile about Burberry Acoustic in 2013. As for why acoustic, he added that “I’ve always loved a pure voice or a pure instrument… I want people to feel the music – I want them to have that feeling where the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Because that’s how I feel when I listen to music.”
Far from a side project, Burberry Acoustic is prominent across its stores, runway shows and digital touch points. There is a dedicated channel on Burberry.com and it’s highlighted on YouTube, where Burberry Acoustic has produced 99 original music videos to date. Today’s Lilla Vargen video, below, marks its 99th original video, all of which promote the brand’s “the Best of British” ethos and the UK’s young artists, such as James Bay and Paloma Faith, who have also played live at Burberry’s runway shows.
Burberry’s channel lives in Apple Music’s “Curators” section and will feature live performance videos from its stable of young British artists such as Vargen, whose Burberry Acoustic video today includes a shout-out in the description for fans to head to applemusic.com/burberry to subscribe.
Burberry’s channel marks the first brand with a curated Apple Music hub besides media brands such as GQ, Wired, Pitchfork and Rolling Stone. It will promote live performances from British artists that will be filmed at the Burberry Womenswear show in London on September 21, just as Rhodes performed at its spring/summer menswear runway show in June.
“Music has always been intrinsic to what we do and I am excited about our partnership with Apple on this amazing platform which will enable us to take what we do now with Burberry Acoustic and share it with an even bigger audience,” said Bailey to Marketing UK.
The brand’s Apple Music programming will also draw on the Burberry Acoustic library of original recordings and live from the runway performances, while Bailey is also curating his own Music Monday playlist featuring an eclectic mix of British performers he’s a fan of (not all acoustic).
Beyond leveraging a shared love of music for Apple and Burberry, the partnership communicates, subtly, that the Burberry brand is hip to contemporary music and young performers and not some old school, aloof luxury brand. In addition to keeping Burberry in the cultural conversation and tapping into the zeitgeist of digital-meets-lo-fi art, the partnership will also help Apple drive subscriptions by targeting Burberry’s well-heeled fans.
It’s a well-timed fifth anniversary distribution channel for Burberry Acoustic, which launched on YouTube in August 2010 by streaming its spring/summer runway show live from London on the last day of the womenswear collections at London Fashion Week. The five-year-old platform has drawn 1.7 million views to date just on YouTube.
Apple Music, meanwhile, is promoting its own acoustic program, highlighting emerging artists such as Shamir (whose “On the Regular” promoted Google’s Android Wear smartwatch) with a new “Discover” series of acoustic performance videos on Apple’s YouTube channel.
Facing tough competition from Spotify, Pandora, Rhapsody, Google Play and (to a lesser extent) Jay Z’s Tidal, Amazon and other streaming services, Apple Music has attracted 11 million sign-ups during its three-month free trial offer, which ends on Sept. 30th. Apple is assessing the market for its $9.99 single subscription or $14.99 family plan, while rival Spotify claims 20 million paid users of its music service and 75 million total users.
“The Burberry partnership is yet another way Apple has tried to differentiate its service from that of Spotify and other competitors,” The Verge comments. “Apple’s past efforts include Connect, a kind of in-app social network that lets musicians post songs and personal updates directly fans, and Beats 1, an non-stop international radio station featuring top DJs from around the globe and special sets from artists like Drake and Pharrell.”
Now, with Burberry taking the lead, brands have a chance to guest-DJ on Apple, too—and express the music in their souls with a digital brand experience of their own.