Hard Rock Debuts New Music Program at Interactive Press Event

By Anna Sekula December 13, 2011, 1:04 PM EST

Photo: Caleb Ferguson for BizBash

Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos' Media & Tastemaker Event
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Eager to carve out a niche distinct from other brands and play up its association with music, Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos will roll out a new program next year. To preview this to media, investors, and key partners, the Florida-based company held a lively event at Exit Art on Thursday, December 8. Packed with several interactive components, the 600-person affair, overseen by Hard Rock Hotels' head of global marketing Brian Klein and produced by BMF Media, was designed to debut a new music initiative as well as highlight Hard Rock's current properties and vast collection of music memorabilia.

“The whole purpose of the event was to really celebrate all the great things that are happening in the world of Hard Rock, specifically Hard Rock Hotels,” said Klein. “We have four incredible new properties opening next year—one in Panama City, Panama, one in Cancun, one in Puerto Vallarta, and another in Riviera Maya—and are introducing the 'Sound of Your Stay' program, a really branded experience. At Hard Rock, we really have this unique relationship with music, and our goal is to rock the world, so the only way to do that is to offer those unique amenities that truly will differentiate us from the competition.”

As an additional incentive for attendees to linger at the event, the organizers tapped Mayer Hawthorne & the County, alternative rock band Tribe, guitarist Andy Rourke, and DJs Questlove, Jeffrey Tonneson, and Shiftee to perform live.

The “Sound of Your Stay” program includes three key amenities available to hotel guests. “Tracks” gives guests one of three curated playlists of 15 songs at check in. “Picks,” which will be fully implemented by the end of 2012, allows for Fender Stratocasters to be rented with an amplifier and high-definition Soul by Ludacris headphones, and includes video lessons from Hal Leonard. Still in development is “Mix,” a component that enables guests to borrow DJ equipment and mixing software from Native Instruments in their rooms.

To incorporate these elements of the program for the showcase at Exit Art, the production team constructed three stages, each giving event guests the opportunity to check out the playlists, strum a guitar, and learn to mix music. The elevated vignettes also doubled as the platform for performers, with the DJs using the decks in the Mix area and Tribe playing from the Tracks stage.

Beyond music, Hard Rock also devoted space to other features important to the brand identity. A gallery-style section, replete with gold- and black-toned lounge furniture, served as an exhibition of hotel and casino properties, displaying glossy photos of 20 different locations on the walls. A spot in the rear was a decked out as a casino with neon sign that read, “Get lucky,” marking the entrance and two blackjack tables manned by dealers from Tampa casino. And rather than creating a cluttered display of Hard Rock's vast collection of music memorabilia, the production team employed two over-size touch-screen wall panels that attendees could use to scroll through photos and descriptions of the objects.

“By offering the 'Sound of Your Stay' program, it's making our current partners happy, because now we're offering that one brand-defining amenity that nobody else can offer,” Klein said, describing the feedback from guests of the event. “Whether you're a leisure customers or you're a corporate meeting coming to stay at one of our hotels, these programs are all relevant, and it makes it exciting.”

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