Welcome to the Team / Industry Expert Interview: Amanda Slavin
"Trust Me", my Co-Founder said to me when looking for our first partner for initial seed funding. Amanda Slavin reminds me of a dear old friend I could have grown up with, mixed with the energy of a freight train. I first met her in Venice, and after one of the most comfortable conversations with an investor I've had, and it's been full steam ahead from there. From brainstorming at her home in Las Vegas, to just her willingness to fly across the country to sit down face to face with a potential client is the epitome of her hustle - and she's bringing her entire agency on board for for all our experiential activations. I'd like to officially introduce our Head of Agency, Amanda Slavin!
Amanda is the CEO and Founder of CatalystCreativ, an experiential marketing agency with expertise in creative activations, team optimization, and brand education. Clients include NPR, Dell, Paypal, W Hotels, Coke, Biossance, The Nature Conservancy, WildAid, Foundation Fighting Blindness, Zappos, The Raiders, ESPN, Nestle. Not to mention, she made Forbes 30 under 30 a couple years back. I need a beer.
We sat down with Amanda and asked her a couple questions that will help you get to know Amanda more as a marketing expert. Check out the conversation below:
What's one of your favorite moments throughout your career?: One of my favorite moments during my career was during our partner Life is Beautiful's ideas series two years ago, which CatalystCreativ curated and produced. We curated Justin Baldoni, who is an actor and filmmaker to speak, but also surprised the audience by inviting Claire Wineland up on stage to speak. Claire has a terminal illness and her dream is to be a professional speaker. We coordinated with Justin to have her in the audience as if she was watching his talk, and then in the middle of his talk, after showing a trailer of his new show, "My Last Days" which featured Claire, we invited Claire to come up on stage. Claire was just as surprised as everyone in the audience, as she had no idea she would be speaking to 500 people! Claire gave an incredible talk to the audience, bringing everyone to tears and then to their feet as she received a standing ovation when she was finished. At that moment, I realized that the intersection of my background in education and experiential marketing could truly make an impact on people's lives.
Can you describe the brand/music partnership you're most proud of? What makes this one special to you?: For two and a half years, CatalystCreativ launched, curated and produced a project with our partner Tony Hsieh to curate interesting and engaging people to come speak about what they were passionate about, while learning more about Downtown Vegas. We curated 2000 people, and provided 250 free talks to the public; and while we started with speakers during a monthly series called Catalyst Week, we then created another series called Creativ Week because of the high demand of people wanting to participate. During Creativ Week, we identified local, national and global talent to come and showcase their music to a community of engaged listeners and provided a platform for them to share their "creativ" side. This made me very proud as we witnessed some incredible musicians that never really got an opportunity to share their work in that way before.
Who do you consider an innovator in brand/music partnerships? : I think that festivals really need to step up to cut through the clutter and noise (literally) and provide something that adds emotional value to fans if they want to stick around. I am grateful that Life is Beautiful is a partner in CatalystCreativ as I feel that the work they are doing with musicians and brands and how they are deeply connecting with fans to change the way they think about the world is an incredible platform. I also am on the Global Citizen Festival board and think the work that they are doing to end global poverty by leveraging brands and musicians is absolutely transformative.
What is one of the biggest hurdles facing brands to fully leverage music partnership or marketing opportunities?: I think that brands really need to recognize that engagement is much deeper than a follower count. A lot of brands find the hottest musician with a ton of followers and think that the musician is going to transform their brand with a bunch of social posts, and that's just not the case. Identifying any partnership, particularly with a musican has to be deeply and emotionally aligned, and feel truly authentic with not only the followers of the brand but the followers of the artist. There is a bit more science to it than, "let's work with her because she has 5 million instagram followers."
Why should a brand engage with an artist (music influencer) over a traditional influencer?: Musicians have a deep connection to their fans as influencers, not only because of the emotional connection of the words they are writing and the fact that music is so personalized, but also because of the physical connection with their followers. Not a lot of influencers have to go on tour to interact with their fans physically as well as digitally; musicians are constantly on the road directly connecting with their fans; this provides a higher level of engagement if done right.
Do you see a better ROI (engagement, sales, etc.) with emerging artists or A-listers?: I always feel that having a series of emerging artists has a better ROI. I recoined ROI as ripple of impact instead of return on investment, and I believe that when you give people a platform to shine and they feel a part of your narrative, they are more likely to be a supporter for life and go above and beyond to support your product. I think A-listers can be a great value, if you are willing to allow them to be creators in the process and don't just tell them to post 15 times in a month with no real win for them (other than a financial gain), which is a low level of engagement.
Who should we keep an eye out for, music or brand-wise? : I am a big Magic Giant fan, they are dear friends of mine and I haved watched them grow over the years and their new album is incredible, particularly the song Window.
And finally, your thoughts on the Partner.ly platform: I think that the music industry needs Partner.ly desperately. I think that more brands and musicians need to connect in a way that is strategic and provides true alignment, and I believe that Partner.ly will also be a tremendous platform for up and coming talent to connect with brands on a completely different level.