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A quick glimpse at sonic branding with former Head of Global Music at Coca-Cola Joe Belliotti | #GettingToKnow

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One could say that Joe Belliotti is in love with the music industry. But even that alone would be a massive understatement.

Joe breathes and lives music every day. He embraced it as a constant which has been part of his life since he joined the creative industries, and even now, as he heads the North American division of MassiveMusic as the CEO, his bond with audio, music and sonic branding is stronger than ever. Joe and his team work relentlessly to help brands understand better their potential in the realm of sonic branding. Their work has been so successful and made enough noise (pun intended) that we even featured one of their most recent projects in a Behind The Idea on the Creativepool Magazine.

Today we are Getting to Know Joe Belliotti, CEO of MassiveMusic North America and former Head of Global Music at Coca-Cola, to learn about music, sonic identities, and simply to discover more about Joe as a creative leader in the audio scene.

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Tell us a bit about your role! Is there a “typical” day?

What I love most is that our work varies so much depending on our clients’ needs. On any given day we could be developing a brand’s sonic identity, creating artist influencer programs, using new music tech to bring a new idea to life or creating music for a brand’s advertising campaign. 

What was the biggest challenge in getting to your current position?

I’m lucky to have sat on every side of the music-brand-agency table; working in the music industry, starting an entertainment agency, leading music for The Coca-Cola Company for eight years and now with MassiveMusic.

What I’ve found is that, up until recently, brands had been slow to make the investment in building their internal music and sound capabilities. But we are seeing a shift, and more of them are; they’re developing these new music capabilities, sonic identities and using music to build meaningful relationships with audiences. There is so much research out there to prove music is a top passion point across all audience demographics. And brands know how important it is for consumers to not only recognize their brand when they see it, but also recognize the brand when they hear it. 

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What is your biggest career-related win? What is your biggest loss?

I’ve been lucky to work with some of the most talented and popular artists in the world, orchestrating first-of-its-kind partnerships with companies like Spotify and learning from some of the smartest and nicest people in the industry. There is one win that stands out on a personal level, which was working with Queen as part of our Coca-Cola partnership with the social movement (RED). We played a key role in supporting the release of a never-before-heard Queen song with Freddie Mercury, released on World AIDS Day, to bring awareness and help raise funds for (RED)’s mission. It was like bringing his voice back to life and, as a lifelong Queen fan, it meant a lot.

Biggest loss? I’ve failed many many times but every time I learned, so I don’t consider those losses.    

If you could go back to your teenage years, would you have done things differently? Do you have any regrets?

Technology and communication were a little different in those days but today I tell students looking to enter the industry or even artists looking to break in, to share their points of view on LinkedIn, Medium or TikTok. It’s never too early to be part of the dialogue of the industry you are looking to enter, and there are creative ways in getting your voice heard.

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What’s your one big dream for the future of the industry?

My dream would be for every brand to have an internal music and sound team to help bring music into the strategic conversations at those brands. It will help brands link music to driving business results and, in turn, create more opportunities to work creatively with the music community to provide even more memorable experiences to audiences. 

What are your top tips for aspiring creative professionals?

Three pieces I’ve picked up along the way are:

  1. Listen to your audience. They will inspire the ways your brand can play a role to enhance their lives.
  2. Understand how the companies you work with make money. This can actually boost creativity and certainly boosts ROI.
  3. Be collaborative. We have the best jobs in the world, share this with your colleagues, clients and partners, invite them in.

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When you think about your team, what is the thing that matters to you the most?

The key for me is that people feel energized, happy and fulfilled in their work. I wish more brands and agencies knew our team the way I do. I like to encourage people to get out there and share their stories and the work they are doing. I’m really proud of the team at MassiveMusic, we have such a great culture of talented and passionate music experts – it’s a really natural environment to flex our creative muscles.

Do you have any websites, books or resources you would recommend?

For new music I follow The Fader. It started in the late 1990s but has managed to stay on the pulse of culture year in and year out. 

For marketing inspiration I find myself every year re-listening to the audiobook ‘Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story'’ by Peter Guber. Peter reminds us that it's not the PowerPoint or the data that moves people, it's the story. And more specifically, magic happens when people feel they play a key role in the story.  

For the podcast, I’d recommend ‘The Radical with Nick Terzo’. Nick is a music industry veteran who finds guests have creatively disrupted different facets of music, entertainment and pop culture. I’ve just finished the episode with Jenna Andrews, a hit songwriter who also hosts a show called ‘The Green Room’ where she leads a dialogue around mental health and music. 

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