FREE Webinar: 'Immersive Experiences Unveiled'
Join us for a FREE webinar, 'Immersive Experiences Unveiled,' on Thursday.

Top 10 Innovative Brands 2015: #5 iHeartRadio

The music streaming service is connecting artists with their fans—and brands with consumers—at events and festivals.

Singer Meghan Trainor performed at the 2014 iHeartRadio Music Festival Village in Las Vegas.
Singer Meghan Trainor performed at the 2014 iHeartRadio Music Festival Village in Las Vegas.
Photo: Rich Polk/Getty Images

Internet radio is booming, with the biggest brands growing at a rapid rate. And iHeartRadio is not only establishing itself as a major competitor in the digital space, but also as a successful live event producer, hosting more than 20,000 local and national events a year. Music festivals, award shows, and other live experiences are how the iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel) flagship is setting itself apart from its rivals—platforms like Spotify and Pandora—and capturing an increasingly distracted, media-savvy audience.

Since September 2011, the iHeartRadio Music Festival has been the keystone of iHeartMedia’s event strategy. As radio’s biggest live concert experience, the two-day fest boasts big-name acts, tens of thousands of attendees, and a special fan “village” where sponsors can engage with visitors and musical acts can reach a larger audience—a concept introduced during the 2013 festival.

“Given the huge success of the inaugural festival, we quickly learned that we needed to plan more activities around the festival,” says Natasha Eno, vice president of events and venues partnerships for the San Antonio, Texas-based iHeartMedia. “The iHeartRadio Music Festival Village was created for several reasons, including giving our consumers more music from their favorite artists as well as giving our partners the opportunity to bring brands to life and create lasting, tangible experiences with passionate fans and consumers. Allowing partners [to design] custom activations helps generate R.O.I. because they truly change consumer perception.”

Last year’s event, which was held on September 19 and 20 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, featured artists such as Iggy Azalea, Taylor Swift, and Usher, along with clever sponsor activations at the iHeartRadio Village, which was open to those who didn’t score tickets to the sold-out fest. Pepsi constructed a giant waterslide; Wet N Wild’s makeup artists helped attendees recreate looks inspired by pop stars; and guests received branded airbrush tattoos at the Jim Beam station.

Deeply integrated into its experiential tactics is social media engagement, and the 2014 festival saw more than five billion social media impressions. Just as notable is the iHeart Music Awards, which launched last year to 5.5 million viewers and 8.5 billion social impressions. This year the show generated 14 billion social impressions with an expanded digital footprint that integrated Snapchat and behind-the-scenes Periscope streams. The award show, which included a category for Best Fan Army, was live-streamed to the Web, the iHeartRadio app, and iHeartMedia’s stations.

“These culture-defining events help build awareness of iHeartRadio and also capture the essence of what music is all about—energy, passion, excitement, and the deep connection between artists and their fans,” Eno says. “Also, for those fans who can’t attend live, millions can still experience these amazing concerts through live audio and video streaming of the events across iHeartMedia stations nationwide and via iHeartRadio.”

Back to the Most Innovative Brands list