The Hard Rock Hotel Combines Music & Technology

Establishing a brand is hard enough but establishing an icon brand which changes with the music & technology trends and must adhere to worldwide consumers can be an insanely complex task. I sat down with Hard Rock’s Jeff Nolan, Master Historian, and Matt Watts, Director of Music Marketing at SXSW, last month to get the skinny on how Hard Rock Hotels manages their dynamic brand.

As an outsider, I assumed the Hard Rock brand revolved around rock music exclusively, however, one trip to any of their properties and anyone will realize its about music as an ecosystem. From Fergie’s earrings to Madonna’s Limo, the 77,000 priceless pieces of memorabilia in the Hard Rock collection all tell unique stories revolving around their decades. One of the main objectives of the collection is to make sure guests are taken on a musical journey.

As Watts says, “These pieces of one-of-a-kind memorabilia truly provide a unique and at times, nostalgic experience for our guests. We also have a wide variety of music-centric guest amenities, which serve as an additional touch point and it’s not uncommon to catch an intimate performance from one of your favorites artists at one of our properties.”

Within this collection are endless pieces of technology. As any great artist or garage band knows, technology is at the root of all music. (Besides Pitch Perfect, not many groups are singing a capella these days.) From guitars to mixers, technology produces the tunes that vocalists jam along to. At Hard Rock, this aspect is increasingly becoming more and more important with their guests.

The Sound of Your Stay amenity program is an all-encompassing in-room music experience that breaks down into three different features – tracks., picks., and mix.. As Watts explained to me, “Given the fact that music fans are consuming music in different ways than ever before, we’re in the process of evolving this program into something truly unique.”

The three main technologies of The Sounds of Your Stay program can turn any guest into a full blown musician. As Watts walked me through them, I soon realized being a musician is far more than a great voice and ability to count beats.

Tracks. is the curated downloadable playlist provided to guests upon check-in and it’s their first real touch point at the property. The playlists are updated in collaboration with record labels, artists, and partners, resulting in a new volume every few months.

Picks. gives guests the ability to pick a Fender Guitar from a menu of 20+ and have it delivered to their room with a floor amp and headphones for the duration of their stay. This is made possible through the hotel’s partnership with Fender.

Mix. allows guests to check out an iPad and Traktor Kontrol, complete with headphones and video DJ lessons to learn how to mix like a professional DJ in the comfort of their rooms. Native Instruments and their Traktor DJ Program made this possible.

While Hard Rock is working hard to make their hotel guests musical gurus, they are also translating their mission to the overall music landscape. At SXSW, Coachella, and other music festivals, they focus on delivering a unique and authentic experience that caters directly to music fans. From Fender guitar stations to create your own DJ mixes, the brand is providing hands-on-examples of how technology is constantly used in the music world.

To close it out one thing I know you all are wondering – how is the music in the hotels chosen? Okay, at least I wanted to know. Watts gave me the scoop:

“Given the fact that music is our ethos at Hard Rock, and that it’s our brand differentiator, the music is hand curated by our team at Hard Rock International, as well as the Vibe Manager at each property.  We take a lot of pride in the music that we get to share with our guests, and it’s a rarity for our guests to ever hear the same song twice during their stay. We really try to evoke those ‘I love this song’, or ‘I need to know what this song is’ sort of moments.” – no elevator music here.

Rock on readers!

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For the past 10 years, Lauren's worked with startups and technology businesses propelling them to success through innovative strategies. Lauren is a fast paced thinker who's quick-witted personality translate to her lifestyle, technology, and business - Project Halcyon, all over the country.
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