Everybody flew down to Austin to network and see the latest and the greatest technological wonders the world has to offer. Celebrities gave keynotes, everybody had a VR setup — even the President spoke! But most marketers still missed the best part of SXSW. Why? Everybody flew home too soon.
Right after Interactive ended, everybody rushed back to the airport to fly home. But Music is the best part of SXSW, and it’s the only part of the festival guaranteed to provide some level of applicable insights for the next year. We all already know — or should know — that virtual reality is the "next big thing." We didn’t need SXSW for that. But do you know what the next breakout music act of 2016/2017 is going to be?
At Interactive, there were myriad panels about connecting with a millennial audience, and they were all packed. Judging by the attendance, brands are still struggling to connect with this young and influential consumer segment. Meanwhile, as marketers boarded their planes back home, every millennial tastemaker in the country gathered on 6th Street.
YouTube Music, Spotify and Pandora paraded their top up-and-coming talent on full display, ripe for the picking. A quick scan of the audience can show exactly what kind of audience these artists cultivate and how they react to the music. A quick Google can reveal exactly how large each band’s digital footprint is. SXSW is delivering on a silver platter the best brand ambassadors marketers could possibly want to be involved with.
SXSW is the right time to grab them, too. They haven’t fully broken yet! Most of them haven’t gone to radio or MTV. Give it six months, though, and they will. SXSW is the perfect chance to align with top emerging talent right before they break. Obviously, there’s no way to know which ones will, but some of the top digital properties have endorsed these artists. YouTube, Pandora and Spotify are editorially featuring these artists. Done correctly and early enough, that equates to a large amount of earned media.
Imagine your brand is embedded in the music video of an artist that YouTube Music is excited about. It’s still a relatively small band, so you didn’t have to pay much for the opportunity. YouTube Music then features that act. Your eCPM just plummeted! Your brand gets to be associated with music discovery. This is a marketer’s dream! But it didn’t happen, because you flew home too early.
Next year, may I recommend that we all stay in SXSW for a few more days? Sit down with YouTube Music, Spotify and Pandora and find out who they’re excited about. Watch their showcases. See how their audiences react to their music. Meet with a few of the acts, and check out their digital channels. With a few small, well-placed bets, our brands may be able to reap the rewards of getting in early with the next hottest artist in the country.
Josh von Scheiner runs VonShine Industries, a word-of-mouth media agency.