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Ryan Seacrest with Usher

Artist-brand collaborations not compromises, Usher says

Usher was interviewed live on the Cannes Lions stage by Ryan Seacrest, the US entrepreneur and broadcaster, at yesterday’s iHeartMedia Presents keynote session.

BRANDS and media play an essential role in artists’ creative achievements, said recording music icon and actor Usher yesterday. Speaking exclusively to the Lions Daily News, he argued that such relationships should be seen as collaborations, not artistic compromises.

Usher was in Cannes to be interviewed live on stage by Ryan Seacrest, the US entrepreneur and broadcaster, at yesterday’s iHeartMedia Presents keynote session.

The move to bring the two men together was inspired by the fact that Usher is one of the high-profile artists with a show on US-based iHeartRadio — iHeartMedia’s advertising-funded online radio platform — while Seacrest is one of iHeartRadio’s biggest stars, with a massive US syndicated radio programme.

For Usher, the way he and Seacrest have worked together with iHeartRadio has confirmed that the right partnerships with marketers and media-owners can contribute to an artist’s development. “The music industry needs advertisers just as much as anyone does,” he said. “And as it relates to radio, I have a great deal of respect for what iHeartMedia does. It is one thing for us to put out hit singles, but they also present who we are as artists.”

To describe that kind of relationship as a compromise would be unfair, he continued: “Creative people have to do things that take them out of their comfort zone, and sometimes you have to acquiesce to what is best for your creative goals.”

Usher also said his love for competitive sport has inspired his artistic development. He is starring as US boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard in the forthcoming movie Hands Of Stone. Furthermore, he has just seen his favourite professional US basketball team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, win its first NBA championship in more than 50 years. Very few people know the singing star has been an investor in the Cavaliers since 2005.

“I am in a league of my own,” he said. “How many artists can say they are part of a team that just won the championship?”

Seacrest said he is a fan of Usher both as an artist and an entrepreneur: “People don’t realise how much goes into the work we do and I admire his ferocious determination to succeed.”

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