A few years ago I partnered with like-minded entertainment people and founded the Quantum Collective, an innovative music marketing company that brings musicians, artists, celebrities and consumer brands together through original programs and live events. Our flagship event, The Southwest Invasion, took place this March 20-21st in Austin, during SXSW week. Over the past four years we’ve had artists such as Imagine Dragons, The Lumineers, Pentatonix, A Great Big World, Lisa Marie Presley, Matisyahu, G. Love, Suzanne Vega, Capital Cities, ZZ Ward, Rick Springfield, Kenny Loggins, Delta Rae and others grace our stage. We’ve had sponsors such as Amazon, Fidbit, IZZE sparkling juice, O.N.E Coconut Water, Relix magazine and more. I thought it was going to be really hard to top, but this year’s event was the best yet, and if you were a part of it, I want to thank you! It has been such an incredible experience watching this grow from a small rock show to a huge event.
WorldArts powered this year’s Invasion, and the event was done in association with Whole Foods Market and Whole Planet Foundation. As with past events, it was free and open to the public, with two full days of music, food and fun. Continuing the tradition, the main stage was on the Whole Foods Rooftop overlooking Austin, and new this year was our second stage on the ground level in the Whole Foods patio area. We weren’t sure how it would go over, but it was a smash! The entire music event was streamed live through WorldArts.com, and if you missed it, it is streaming again April 3rd & 4th 2015. We had forty-one amazing artists with 32 hours of programming.
Over 50,000 people RSVP’ed, and each day there were lines of people waiting to get in despite the rain that covered Austin over the SXSW weekend. All the performances were amazing, but The Zombies blew everyone away. X Ambassadors, Big Data, Civil Twilight and Elijah Wood’s DJ set – using vinyl no less - also created a buzz. In addition, WorldArts ran a contest where 3 unsigned bands won a slot to perform on the second stage. It was really great to give that talent an opportunity they wouldn’t have had otherwise. You can view the full line-up here.
Thanks to the generosity of Southwest Invasion attendees, over $1,750 were raised for the Whole Planet Foundation via the Quantum Collective Musicians for Microcredit project. 100 of the funds raised will be used to help alleviate poverty in 63 countries. Along with main sponsors WorldArts and Whole Foods Market, primary partners for the Southwest Invasion this year included Klean Kanteen and Lagunitas Brewing Company, Lifeway Kefir, Organic Gemini’s TigerNut Horchata, TRUE Grimmway Farms organic juice, Bhakti Chai, Section 101 and Riptide Music Group, with media partners Red Boot PR, Women in Music and Austin Fusion Magazine.
If producing the Southwest Invasion wasn’t enough, I also moderated a well-attended panel at SXSW called “Commercial TV/Film Placements Aren't Just for the Big Kids Anymore." The other panelists - Dan Silver (Riptide Music Group), Mike Ladman (McCann Erickson) and Danny Exum (Workshop Creative) - were a literal fountain of knowledge for up-and-coming artists who want their music placed in film/television shows/commercials/video games, but don’t know how to compete with the major labels. Dan, (who we did a cool Q&A with here) is also a founder of the Quantum Collective and works with Mike and Danny on placing music from his clients, most of whom aren’t on major labels yet. The panel tipped the audience off that covers are what’s in right now, because budgets for music in films have gotten smaller, and a good cover of a well –known song is what music Supervisors are looking for. That presents a big opportunity for indie bands.The key take-away seemed to be that the exposure these placements provide is worth well more than any financial payment. Some of the artists Dan works with score major label deals on the heels of their placements with him. A third party like Riptide Music – where Dan is an executive – will push his artists whereas the conventional wisdom was that a label would push their key (read: superstar) acts and not take big risks.
All in, it was an incredible week in Austin. I need a few weekss to recover and then I am going to start planning next year’s event.