Artists to Athletes: The Rise of Social Media in the Licensing

During the third day of Licensing Week Virtual, speakers highlighted the growing influence of social media in licensing categories ranging from art to sports.
James Dohnert

June 18, 2020

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Day three of Licensing Week Virtual brought the art, design and emerging categories front and center. Guest speakers across the categories spoke about the role social media has played in not only connected people with brands but also turning people into influencers. 

On the sports front, the NFLPA sponsored a discussion on the growing concept of Group Player Rights. This licensing paradigm sees sports' league player associations such as the NFLPA license out player rights as a collective. Group Player Rights allows licensees to work directly with players represented associations to license athletes' rights without having to license their team's brand. 

The concept also allows groups to sign deals for all player rights instead of just individuals one-by-one. Under the terms of the agreement, the sports teams still own team branding and players still own their individual brand, but licensees looking to work with many players at once now have a new option in their tool kit. 

Group Player Rights

come at an ideal time for many licensees and licensors in the space. The rise of social media platforms has offered players the chance to raise their own profiles outside of a traditional team or sport. Players now more than ever are expanding their individual brands and sharing their views and personality directly with fans online. Due to the increase in influencer athletes, today's individual sports stars are more well-known than ever.   

"We've always had things to say, it's just now people are accepting athletes and their platforms which is good for us, and brands as well because it opens up the type of branding and different types of sponsorships we can get," says Renee Montgomery, athlete, Atlanta Dream, during her Licensing Week Virtual panel discussion, 

"Strength in Numbers: Maximize Your Next Licensing Initiative with Group Player Rights."

 

For artists, social media has also played a vital role in bringing their work to the masses. Not only are artists building their brand through social media, but limited-edition product launches are now easier to promote than ever before. During the 

"Art of the Drop"

 panel, David Stark, Founder and President, Artestar, shared how limited-edition product drops paired with social media have become one of the most substantial ways for brands to generate earned media in an ever-crowding marketplace.  

"Remember the long lines outside stores when a new iPhone is being released, now transplant them in front of a high-end fashion boutique and you've got drop culture," says Stark. 

From athletes to artists, the importance of social media in the brand building can't be understated. It's not just a brand imperative to build social media influence, but it's also a vital tool for individuals looking to expand their reach to new fans. 

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