While most companies looking to make an impression at SXSW choose to create nightclubs out of warehouses or pop-up music parks out of deserted parking lots, Beats Music opted for hosting a higher-touch, intimate event. The good old house party!
A couple of weeks ago I received a party invitation in my inbox directing me to a mysterious residential address in Austin. So on the night of the event I hopped on a shuttle and got a break from the chaos of South By with a low-key cocktail reception.
Once inside the house I started talking to several perfectly affable strangers. Until I realized that some of them weren’t strangers at all. Also at the Beats Music party were some folks from MTV who recognized me from the Flaming Lips tour, and the head of PR for Soundcloud who lives in San Francisco.
I also got to finally meet pop music maven Arjan Timmermans, who is now the head of pop music for Beats Music. He, in turn, introduced me to DJ Samatha Ronson. After she played a TLC song, I told Sam how much I loved her song from the Mean Girls soundtrack and that quickly led to a discussion about the redeeming qualities of pop music.
“My brother [Mark Ronson] doesn’t think ‘Locked Out of Heaven’ [which he produced] is pop. He just hates that word,” she said.
The Beats Music house party was one of my favorite events at South By. Unlike the rest of SXSW, none of the guests here were taking pictures or posing for selfies. I don’t even remember people looking at their smartphones, which was great for meeting and mingling.
And I learned that Beats Music does not sell placement for songs to be included in their playlists or other “editorial” features. So unlike Clear Channel, when you listen to a song on Beats Music, you’ll know it’s been curated by real editors and not by a sales team.
— Arjan Timmermans (@arjanwrites) March 12, 2014