Tell us about Section 101 and how you came up with the idea.
My business partner and I started our company as a way to provide new revenue streams for major artists and brands by leveraging their existing fan bases and by cultivating new audiences. We found this worked for both established and emerging artists, but it was costly to get started. A seminal moment for us was cloud computing, which opened the window for all artists, at all levels, to create amazing websites/ web presences that are effective and affordable. As labels began to change, so did the focus they were able to provide to some artists, so we were happy to be able to apply marketing and technology to a vertical industry we were passionate about that would put artists back in the driver’s seat. In 2007 we began developing a platform to do just this, and in 2009 officially launched Section 101, a marketing technology platform.
Are you a musician yourself?
I took piano lessons for 12 years, but I am not what I would call a musician. Having taken lessons for so long does provide me with an appreciation of the effort and work it takes to be a professional musician. I am envious of musicians!
However, in not being a musician, it’s a bit easier to divorce yourself from the purely artistic and focus on the business end of music. I wear a marketing and branding hat, and have an acceptance of the importance of the creative, but also an understanding of the type of business decisions it takes to be successful. I think it’s important to bring a different mind-set to the table, and I am able to do that for our clients. I have been able to combine my passion for marketing with a need in the music and entertainment industry that I knew Section 101 could fill.
Can you share with us one or two of your most successful branding campaigns you’ve launched recently?
www.KinaGrannis.com is a critical tool for Kina Grannis, whose fan base is extremely engaged and interactive. Section 101′s cross-channel integration of Kina’s media, within the website platform, helped propel her new video premiere for “Into Your Arms” to over 4 million views in less than a month, helping her to land recent television appearances on Ellen, Jimmy Kimmel Live and many print and web articles.
BUSH’s new website, www.BushOfficial.com, was launched in the summer of 2011 to coincide with the band’s album, The Sea of Memories. Section 101′s effective digital marketing platform enabled successful Geo-targeting of banner ads on the website to promote the band’s new album along with their US, European and Asian Pacific tour. Direct targeting of markets helped the band sell-out tour dates and grabbed attention for their first single, “The Sound of Winter,” which reached No. 4 on Billboard’s Rock Songs Chart.
What or who are you most excited to experience at SXSW 2012?
SXSW is a terrific opportunity to see great music as well as meet great people. You have the chance to cultivate relationships with people you’d like to work with, but don’t necessarily see frequently. From my point of view, SXSW presents an amazing possibility for opportunities as well as music! The energy of the conference is infectious.
Section 101 is exhibiting between Interactive and Music this year, and the conference hall is completely sold out. I am excited to see what type of cutting edge technology will be on display as I always keep an eye out for what’s coming next. For instance, location based software and its effect on driving fan bases over the course of a tour will be of great interest to me, and I plan on really taking the time to see what’s new and exciting.
Tell us about what you will be presenting at SXSW 2012 – the topic(s), who you will be presenting with, key messages – the whole kit and caboodle!
I am really excited to moderate a panel for the third year in a row. My topic this year is “The Biggest Missed Opportunities on the Web.” Having a website is so important, it is how people discover you. For example, if your website doesn’t have a BIO on it, then you’re leaving visitors to do their research elsewhere and wiki will become the official source. You own your brand; you also need to own your online real estate.
S101 is also about to launch a new service, and I am very excited to show people more about it at SXSW. We currently have the Premium service for artists that want Section 101 to do more of the heavy lifting; we are about to debut a self-serve model for the growing DIY community. We will be giving the client all the right tools to get started in building out the creative, adding content, photos, music, and more. They can do this quickly, easily and maybe more importantly, affordably.
We also have a new feature set we’re going to present at SXSW. One of the things we’re most excited about is our social networking integration and syndication. The way we integrate the social allows the User to really go viral with their news, which has become a huge component of what we do/offer. We also have full e-commerce integration with both Nimbit and Topspin. In addition, we are going to have an Event Piece that allows the User to auto-populate dates in to their site. I really cannot wait to show people our Demos.
Lastly, we’re partnering with a number of like-minded companies as a “collective” to present showcases, parties and gatherings at SXSW. You can learn more about it here: www.southestinvasion.com.
If you could dine with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Bella Abzug, who is someone no longer with us. She was an extraordinary advocate of Woman’s rights and issues, and always went above and beyond for a cause she believed in. As for someone very much alive, it’d love to sit with Madonna for meal. What’s of interest to me is that Madonna has always stayed true to her brand. Part of her core brand is reinvention, and she has always done that so well. The longevity of her career is also something I’d love to discuss with her as I admire it.
How would you describe your perfect meal?
I prefer lots of little meals, so I am a big fan of Tappas. I love the tastes of different foods so I love many, many small dishes, full of different spices and tastes.
My perfect meal would also include lots of good wine and good friends.
What is the most exotic or strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
As you may know, in Thailand they enjoy eating insects as snack food [seasoned with Thai pepper powder and certain sauces]. When in Rome…!
As a mentor for emerging entrepreneurs with the Eugene Lang Center at Columbia Business School, what is the best or most useful piece of advice you can share with our grubbers (many of whom are entrepreneurs themselves)?
This is a great question. Being an entrepreneur is about persistence stick–to–itiveness. Some may think it’s an “easy” path because you’re your own boss, and while that is nice, keep in mind that also means that it all comes down to you, which adds pressure. My advice would be to be willing to fail, to stay your course but be nimble enough to follow the curve of what opportunities bring your way.
I also advise people to really know who they are and what they can, and cannot, tolerate. Entrepreneurs are huge risk takers by the nature of what we do; at different points of your life/career, you may be ready for that, but there may be other times when your timing is off because of family obligations, or school loans to pay. I always advise people to weigh their options and be realistic.
The other big factor in being a successful entrepreneur is in developing and harvesting great networks and relationships. It’s one area where certain people get it right and those are the ones that do well. If it doesn’t come naturally, it’s something you have to try and focus on. Relationships can put you two clicks away from a very important decision maker. It’s important that you treat everyone with respect, not just the people you think you may need now. Don’t just focus on today; be open to everyone’s input. You never know where you might cross paths again.