Music's most brand-friendly artist talks about selling and selling out

Lately, Black Eyed Peas singer will.i.am has been busy as Intel’s Director of Creative Innovation, where, in his words, he does “creative directing.” Asked to elaborate at Federated Media’s Conversational Marketing Summit, he said he’s working on “cool little thingies around chipsets.” The audience indulged him with polite laughter.

     His cute and clueless schtick doesn’t change the fact that the seemingly ubiquitous will.i.am, active philanthropist, prolific endorser, and producer of commercials, is probably the most marketable, brand-friendly pop star in the market. He took the conference stage in a capri pantsuit, shimmery lamé top, rhinestone-covered brogues and futuristic indoor sunglasses. This is his everyday wear, and it’s all part of Brand Will.i.am. He’s never out of character, he’s never off-message, and even when Black Eyed Peas are on hiatus, he’s never too far from the public consciousness. He’s like his infuriatingly catchy songs. A human earworm.

     The appearance was peppered with a series of branding-friendly aphorisms like, “Marketing is art.” Or, “Twitter isn’t a microphone, it’s a macrophone.” Also, "I'm thinking inside the box." And “Selling out is a hoax.” The concept of selling out has been perpetuated by music industry middlemen who don’t want artists to connect with their audiences, he said. It’s a picture of modern success in the music industry. We didn't know!