Marketing and Promotion in Music: The FADER


The FADER is the definitive voice of emerging music and the lifestyle that surrounds it.


The FADER is a New York City-based media brand. It started out as a magazine, and over the years developed into more than just a printed publication. The full magazine is launched bi-monthly. For 6 issues a year, a subscription in the Unite States costs $29.99. Buying hardcopies of the magazine individually costs $10 a piece. “People see The FADER logo, and it means something to them,” (, 2016). Because everything seems to be digital these days, to adapt, The FADER website frequently creates content and posts about current music, style, and culture.

The FADER magazine was launched in 1999. Founders, Jon Cohen and Rob Stone started out as childhood friends. Years down the road they became both business partners and the co-founders of two unique companies: Cornerstone and The FADER. The two companies share an office space in New York City and collectively have about 50 employees.



In 2005, The New York Times dubbed The FADER as “the new music-and-fashion bible,” (RatLiff, 2005). The FADER discovers artists before they get big and hit the mainstream. Drake is a classic example. The company discovered Drake back in 2009. Drake started as one of Lil Wayne’s affiliates. Lil Wayne’s affiliates are called Young Money. Pre-Drake, Young Money didn’t have the best reputation. When Drake joined Young Money, the hip hop music community were skeptical at first and assumed that he was ghostwriting his music. When Drake’s hit song “Best I Ever Had” was released, it quickly hit #1 on many music charts. Now, in 2016, Drake is huge! The FADER called it, “Drake was the next big thing,” (The FADER, 2009). Other artists The FADER discovered and covered include but are not limited to The White Stripes, Kanye West, and Bon Iver.

The FADER produces original content. The company has in-house photographers, videographers, writers, social media marketing team, and stylists. With its own team on board, they don’t reproduce and regurgitate information around the internet.

In addition to the magazine, The FADER produces events. These events are exclusive and produced in partnership with other brands. In a symbiotic relationship, The FADER and its clients promote one another and manipulate the way people view its brands through innovative marketing. In 2002, The FORT was created. This is another asset of the brand. The FADER FORT is a live music entity that started out as an anti-VMAs party. The VMAs are also known as the annual MTV Video Music Awards. The FADER FORT appears annually at the Austin, Texas’s South by Southwest festival and New York City’s College Music Journal festival.


Posting on the social media accounts direct traffic to articles and content. It helps raise awareness around the brands and artists involved. This kind of capital is invaluable.

The FADER has collaborated with a countless number of brands. One example of a company that The FADER continuously works with is Vitamin Water. Vitamin Water is owned by Coca-Cola. Ultimately The FADER has a strong partnership with the Coca-Cola brand. The idea behind this series is “boring made brilliant.” 2015 was vitaminwater #uncapped’s 5th anniversary. The twitter handle used for the #uncapped campaign was “#vitaminwateruncapped.” 2015’s series of concerts was marketed as “5 years| 5 nights| 5 shows|, ” (The FADER, 2015). This cycle of #uncapped was a wrap. This series of events produced a lot of online coverage and buzz. In the summer of 2013, The FADER produced small unexpected secret shows throughout New York City, still in partnership with Vitamin Water. Rapper Earl Sweatshirt performed for an intimate crowd of about 30 people in an auto repair shop. Everyone was drinking vitaminwater that night. In the coming weeks, Solange performed a showcase for a small crowd in a Laundromat and the following week Travis Scott performed in a bank. He too had a small intimate audience. The FADER prides itself on its unconventional marketing strategies.

I wanted to add footage of the #uncapped events mentioned above but those videos have been made private for unknown reasons.  

Brand partnerships and sponsorships are what help make all of these campaigns possible. They fund the events. The amount of money spent and earned isn’t disclosed anywhere on the internet. Whether FADER is collaborating with Toyota Avalon, Sprite, Sonos, or Converse, these companies all agree on a budget. Once the budget is negotiated and signed off on, The FADER then takes care of how the shows are produced, promoted and covered afterwards. Recap reports are sent back to its clients. The brands that The FADER partners with aren’t as creatively involved in these campaigns. The client’s main concern is that its logo is present and that the product is heavily featured and portrayed as “cool.” As a result, the ultimate goal for these events is to help clients increase sales through fun and eccentric approaches.

Other ways that The FADER promotes its clients and its brand is through online contests and giveaways. September 17th 2015, The FADER partnered with New Era for a giveaway in celebration of its 100th issue. To participate “you would post your favorite cover in addition to why it’s your favorite for a chance to win some exclusive caps. Make sure you hashtag #FADER100,” (Pham, 2015). At the time it was a mystery as to who would make it on the covers of the 100th issue. Once launched, it was no surprise that Drake and Rihanna appeared on the covers.

The FADER website,, generates a significant amount of traffic each month. The FADER keeps its statistics very transparent online while similar publications such as Complex and Noisey do not. Complex and Noisey are similar music outlets- competition. When using services like Quantcast and Compete for statistics, hardly any information on unique views or page visits come up for these sites. Shouldn’t these companies be proud of their growth? Complex magazine produces 1.7 million monthly US Uniques where as The FADER produces 1.4 million monthly US Uniques, (Quantcast, 2016). Uniques is a common term used to describe the standard measure of visitors based on cookies. Cookies are small files that websites save on the computer to track how often a specific user visits the website. Websites such as Quancast have a method of converting cookies to Uniques. In marketing, it is important to understand what demographic, psychographic and geographic areas you appeal to, and don’t appeal to.

Here are The FADER’s current social media counts as of 2/24/16:

Facebook: 283,074 likes

Instagram: 227,000 followers

Twitter: 363,000 followers

Youtube: 191,000 subscribers


The FADER FORT presented by Converse will be at SXSW this coming March. The lineup for the event is TBA (to be announced). South by Southwest is an annual week-long film, interactive media, and music festival spread across the streets of Austin, Texas. Expect great things from The FADER in 2016! The team over at there comes up with unique marketing strategies that set the brand apart from others. I’m curious to see The FADER’s future collaborations and what artists it breaks next.


Aswad, J. (2015, March 16). Corner Office: Cornerstone Co-CEOs and The Fader Co-Founders Jon Cohen & Rob Stone on Riding With the Notorious B.I.G., SXSW | Billboard. Retrieved February 8, 2016, from

Cornerstone Agency. (n.d.). Retrieved February 8, 2016, from

Cover Story: Drake’s Rise to Fame and Fortune. (2009, September 1). Retrieved February 10, 2016, from

Frank, A., McDermott, P. D., Pastel, J., & Zeichner, N. (2015, September 29). I Trust You: The Oral History Of The FADER. Retrieved February 8, 2016, from

Pham, R. (2015, September 17). The FADER 100th Issue Giveaway. Retrieved December 8, 2016, from

RSVP For The FADER And vitaminwater®’s 5th Anniversary Of #uncapped. (2015, September 24). Retrieved February 10, 2016, from

Ratliff, B. (2005, October 30). Overcoming the Stereotype of Sexy and Sophisticated. Retrieved February 8, 2016, from

Mitchell, J. (2015, October 29). Get Paid To Be Yourself: The Business Of Being Rob Stone. Retrieved February 24, 2016, from

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