Exclusive: Palladia to give SXSW 2014 attendee programming power for a day

By Adam Flomenbaum 

unnamedNext week, the film, television, music, and tech industries will descend upon Austin for South by Southwest (SXSW). The festival has grown tremendously in the past five years, and many brands use the week to shine a spotlight on new projects.

VH1 will be heading down and will focus on marketing its hi-def music channel, Palladia. Whereas MTV and VH1 have strayed away from music programming, Palladia is dedicated to showcasing music from Viacom’s portfolio 24/7.

On March 12, the network will be taking over Cedar Door Grill in Austin for “Palladia’s EPIC. AWESOME. SHOWCASE.” More exciting, though, is that Palladia will be giving one fan at SXSW the opportunity to program Palladia for an entire day with whatever live music content they want to show. SXSW attendees simply have to tweet about their “epic” and “awesome” experience using hashtag #epicawesome and Palladia will be choosing the winner based on the most compelling tweets received.

As TV and music options proliferate, networks will have to continue to integrate fan feedback into their programming schedules in order to hold their attention. “Simply put, fans impacting and influencing the programming is in my opinion not just the future of social TV, but TV in general,” Tom Chirico, VP, Digital and Social Engagement, VH1 and Palladia, told Lost Remote. “Digital has created the expectation that we live in an on-demand content world and through activations like this we’re bringing that same spirit to linear as well.”We asked Chirico, who will be spearheading Palladia’s efforts at SXSW, about the idea to turn the network’s programming over to a fan for a day, the approval it required, and how a winner will be selected.

Lost Remote: How did you come up with the idea for this execution?

Tom Chirico: Palladia is the ultimate destination on TV for live concerts. Outside of being there in the flesh, its truly the next best way to experience a concert and our goal is to raise awareness for Palladia among the true music crowd at the festival.

What better way to get into the zeitgeist of the live music die-hard than to be in the live music capital and make what the live music fan is saying have a real tangible outcome that can be felt nationwide.

We wanted to do something — in our minds — that’s never been done before, literally turning over the keys to the programming to a fan for an entire day.

LR: What type of approval was required from the network to turn over programming to a fan?

Chirico: Shockingly very little – throughout our organization, from the listening and feedback we receive in social, we know Palladia has incredibly passionate, knowledgeable and opinionated fans. We frequently listen and use their feedback to inform the live music content we place on the network – and this was just a logical next step.

LR: Why choose to activate at SXSW versus other festivals like Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, or even Austin City Limits?

Chirico: We chose SXSW because it’s the ultimate convergence of social media and music. It’s probably the one festival that can break both the next indie darling and the next million download app.

We also looked at social data and found that SXSW has the highest volume of conversation with fans talking about the shows they’re seeing, bands that are breaking, and amazing surprises and we thought – what better and more integrated way to inject Palladia into their mindset than to add this amazing opportunity as a bonus to the behavior they’re already exhibiting as live music junkies and SXSW attendees.

LR: What’s the plan for the rollout, and will you be leaning on the SXSW organizers for any assistance?

Chirico: We’re not leaning on the actual organizers of the festival. Instead, our rollout strategy is very organic starting with the artists playing our showcase: “Palladia’s EPIC. AWESOME. SHOWCASE.” We’re leveraging Instagram video and Viddy and have a great promo spot with up and comer Aloe Blacc asking fans to participate.

We’re also going to be doing some more gorilla tactics in Austin leveraging stickers, signage and more.

Finally we’ll of course be getting the word out to our loyal music fans across the VH1 networks as well as the rest of the Viacom family.

LR: How will you go about selecting the winner?

Chirico: We’re looking for the most passionate fan at SXSW that’s not only attending and talking about the most shows, but doing it in an epic and awesome way. This isn’t about who’s posting the most, it’s who’s getting most creative in capturing the epic, awesome nature of the countless live concerts going on that truly embodies the spirit of Palladia.