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Q&A: Mac Presents' Marcie Allen on How Tech Is Impacting Music Marketing

And what to look for at SXSW

Marcie Allen says brands “have to do something really powerful” to stand out at SXSW. Photo: Chris Loupos


Specs
Current gig President, MAC Presents
Twitter @MarcieAllen
Age 42

Adweek: You've been in the music marketing industry for more than 20 years. What's new?
Marcie Allen: Probably looking at all the new technology, from virtual reality to RFID (radio frequency identification) bracelets, which broke onto the scene a few years ago. Now more than ever content is king and brands are looking to get content, share content, so you're looking at all the social media platforms from Periscope to Snapchat, really playing a bigger role than ever and brands are activating partnerships with the different artists and bands.

Is virtual reality really the wave of the future?
Virtual reality is just now starting. You had Oculus Rift launch at Sundance a couple of weeks ago and you're going to see Samsung Gear do more and more deals with artists where they're wanting to shoot an artist's videos similar to kind of what Target [did] with Gwen Stefani during the Grammys. The music video aired live for three minutes, and there was exclusive content that appeared on Periscope and Snapchat later on. That's the pillar of the type of deals that we're going to see more.

But are artists interested in long-term relationships with brands?
Of course they are! Artists just want to get the big check for doing a corporate event, and unless you're doing CES or SXSW or Sundance or the Grammys or Super Bowl, it's hard to find those big checks anymore. I think brands are realizing the power of having a relationship with an artist that extends past what in our world we call a "one and done." Last year, [we did a deal] with Imagine Dragons and Southwest Airlines when their album Smoke + Mirrors was dropping. Southwest said to us, "You know, we're really only interested in this if we can integrate into everything that Imagine Dragons is doing around this album launch." It's about coming in and taking over all of the messaging and making sure that there's a sense of connection between the brand and the artist.

With all of the technological advances, are there things you have to be thinking about that maybe you didn't a year ago?
Absolutely. Moving forward into 2017 and Q3 and Q4 of 2016 all of our brand clients are saying to us, "What new technology can we use at our activation?" I can't really give examples because that's a trend that has just now started. Like I said, Oculus just launched a couple of weeks ago at Sundance. But it's something like right now we're having a conversation with a huge artist about shooting their next music video in virtual reality. Those are the kinds of programs I think you're going to see more of.

Is there anything in particular that we should be on the lookout for at SXSW?
SXSW is a challenge for brands. [The] Interactive [week of SXSW] is much more powerful. There's a lot of brands that get lost at SXSW because of the sheer number and now when you look at how much it costs just to get involved if you aren't going to go guerrilla. You have to do something really powerful to break through the clutter.

This story first appeared in the March 7 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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