Marketers spend a lot of time worrying about their brand image. In addition to running the usual ad campaigns, marketers seek to align themselves with charities or other not-for-profit organizations that will enhance their image. Enterprises in specific industries have found that celebrity endorsements of their products can enhance their standing with consumers. Now, some companies are looking at sound as the next way to stand apart from their competitors.

Specifically, marketers want to boost their brands with the right kind of music. This is particularly true of companies who seek to stay ‘relevant’, i.e., popular with younger consumers. The trend was noticeable at this year’s SXSW festival according to Fortune writer Shelley DuBois. For example, the AMEX/Twitter promotion I wrote about earlier this week was introduced at SXSW by Jay-Z. Rising star April Smith, and her band Great Picture Show, is now singing for Lowe’s in TV ads and the company is footing the bill for her upcoming tour.

Musicians are aware of this trend and sat in on panels at SXSW to learn how they can connect with enterprises looking for a new sound. Who knew that radio commercials are now considered a big way to launch a career in music? It seems that record companies have gone the way of the dinosaur. Today’s artists can connect directly with marketers or the agents of both parties can talk and sign deals.

Music business professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Peter Alhadeff, says the industry is changing and artists believe “any exposure is good, including a top consumer brand.” Talent manager Kevin Liles reminds marketers that they should remain in the business of staying relevant. As such, they need to carefully curate the type of artist they sign to represent their brands.

But, if this trend grows, brands may find the music is a great way to appeal to consumers and grow sales. At the same time, consumers will potentially get a chance to discover a new favorite artist.

[Source: DuBois, Shelley. “Are advertisers the new record labels?” Management.Fortune.cnn.com. 14 Mar. 2012. Web. 30 Mar. 2012]