One line that has often been used in recent years at music business debates where the question of “how do we compete with free?” has been raised, is “well look at water, that’s free from the tap, yet people still buy expensive bottled water products”. Of course that sort of ignores the bill from Thames Water that lands on my door mat once a year, though possibly there’s still a workable analogy here: I pay five pounds a month to Spotify or my internet service provider for a basic music service, but I’ll still spend more money with the music industry for more convenience or a better product.
Anyway, whatever, if anyone wants to know what the music industry can learn from water sellers, or indeed the other way round, look no further than Lady Gaga manager Troy Carter, who has teamed up with photographer Terry Richardson to launch his own flavoured water brand, Pop Water. And this will be a soft drink with music in its DNA, apparently, which is scientifically impossible I think, but hey, presumably this liquid will be Gaga-approved, and that’s good enough for me.
With a soft-launch planned for the New Year in the US, Carter told Billboard: “We noticed none of the [soft drinks] brands had music in their DNA. We felt we could build something with relevance to music and pop culture if we built something from scratch. Whether it’s flying to Kentucky with food scientists or flying around the world sourcing the packaging, the last two years has been an education for us in the beverage space”.
Though Carter hopes that it won’t just be Pop Water’s pop credentials that will make the new brand a success. The drink will be, he says, a healthy alternative to those evil syrupy cola drinks. Noting a recent rule in New York banning the sale of mega-cups of fizzy drinks in restaurants and cinemas, Carter added: “We see what’s happening in New York with Mayor Bloomberg and this consciousness throughout the country where people want to get healthier, looking for alternatives. When we saw what was happening with Subway and how they completely disrupted McDonald’s… it’s a bigger movement than what we expected”.