Industry Expert Interview: Chris Donohue

As you can imagine, since starting Partner.ly Thomas and I have been building an incredible network of supporters from the traditional music, brand and marketing industries. One of our early supporters was Chris Donohue - who actually joined us at one of our first General Assembly panels over a year ago. Chris is Vice President of Business Strategy and Partnerships for See Tickets, and previous Chief Operating Officer of the digital content delivery service Vydia. I'd like to also add, he is a former manager for the band Weezer (how cool is that?!).

Chris has given us some invaluable advice along the way as a startup, and we thought we'd start off our interviews by talking to an industry vet that understands artist / strategic partnerships, as well as emerging technology. 

What's one of your favorite moments throughout your career?: I somehow managed to travel the world with good friends and get paid for it. I am especially proud of the development stories in my life whether they be with an artist, record label or technology startup.

Can you describe the brand/music partnership you're most proud of? What makes this one special to you?: The first major sponsorship I took part in was with Yahoo and Weezer, an artist I helped manage. While common these days, the depth of on-site activation and branding was nearly uncharted territory and a lot of what we created went on to be standardized practices in the space.

Who do you consider an innovator in brand/music partnerships?: The global standard is unquestionably Red Bull. While consumers and the industry alike see the results of their collaborative efforts with music, the behind the scenes commitment, infrastructure and technological investments is unrivaled. For example, the Red bull Content pool (or more specifically their Audio Library) is a proprietary licensing portal that rivals that of solutions developed by major publishers or performance rights organizations. It was developed to meet the brand's insatiable appetite for audio recordings and rights but equally illustrates a depth of commitment (I am sure it costs a fortune to build/maintain) that is unparalleled.

What is one of the biggest hurdles facing brands to fully leverage music partnership or marketing opportunities?: Organic integrations. Too many brands are focused on traditional advertising KPI's and agencies rarely play the long game, opting instead for immediate "brand heavy" activations. Consumers in turn tune out and the value proposition decreases for artists.

Why should a brand engage with an artist (music influencer) over a traditional influencer?: The simple answer is reach. Music is quantifiably the most sticky and consumed content in existence on account access to music exceeds all other forms of media. As a logical extension, those who create music have a reach beyond that of other influencers.

Do you see a better ROI (engagement, sales, etc.) with emerging artists or A-listers?: "Yield" is best understood by first identifying the objective, followed by finding the right partnership than analyzing the results. Size of an artist is less important, context more so.

Who should we keep an eye out for, music or brand-wise?: What excites me the most is data. We've got a long way to go but with a better understanding of music consumers and their habits, both artists and brands will be better positioned to develop more focused solutions. The better the data, the better the solution, the better the ROI for all.

In regards to Partner.ly I think it's great the work you are doing to help bridge the gap between all sides. Keep it up!

Thomas Fiss