Nova’s Claire Marshall on how the Red Room became part of the network’s “fabric”
Nova’s Red Room started in 2012 with a simple premise — to create special moments for Nova listeners through emotion-filled and personal live experiences.
To date, there have been over 200 Red Rooms in Australia and overseas.
Aussie locations have ranged from Cockatoo Island with Lorde, the Sydney Opera House with Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith, Hamilton Island with Taylor Swift, to more intimate gigs at the Leadbelly in Newton and The Bucket list in Bondi.
Overseas there have been Red Rooms in L.A, New York, Las Vegas, Dubai, London, Manchester and Ireland.
There’ve been intimate Red Rooms with just over with just over a dozen competition winners sitting on the edge of a stage watching Coldplay at Etihad Stadium in Manchester, to just under 2,000 seated guests at Sydney’s Opera House.
NOVA Entertainment’s music marketing director Claire Marshall has been a key driver behind Nova’s Red Room for more than four years.
“The Red Room is about creating an emotional and personal experience around our brand, that’s anchored in music, which is obviously a big passion for our audience,” she tells Radio Today.
“So live music events is kind of where we wanted to take it.
“It kicked off in March 2012, and we did a big launch at The Bucket List, down in Bondi, with four artists — Jessie J, Gym Class Heroes, Tinie Tempah, and Professor Green.
“That’s where it started, and the whole thing was around offering our listeners an up close and personal experience with some amazing great artists.”
Over the years Nova’s Red Room has become so much more than a concert series. It’s become synonymous with the Nova brand, and Marshall says that it has grown to become part of the fabric of the business.
“Well, it’s become part of the fabric, to be honest. Music’s at our core, and it’s our biggest driver,” she says.
“When I came into the role in 2014, my key remit was to grow that, and so that’s what I’ve done.
“A key part is to build the Red Room and to build relationships with our music industry partners, so it’s been very much a collaborative approach, making it into what it is today.”
One of the most crucial aspects at the centre of the success of the Red Room is ensuring that the listener is at the centre of everything, no matter who is performing or where.
“We’re offering our listeners those incredible experiences that go along with the Red Room as well,” says Marshall.
“So, it’s about getting up close and personal with the artist, be it through meet-and-greets or really small shows where you’re almost pretty much one-on-one.
“We’ve done shows where we have 20 people in the room with Taylor Swift. It’s those types of moments that we pride ourselves on and trade on.”
In 2018 there’s been a big swing towards Australian artists in the Red Room, with more local artists playing this year than ever before.
Marshall explains that Nova’s Red Room is a key way that NOVA Entertainment supports musicians outside of just playlisting their music, no matter where they hail from.
The recently announced Nova’s Red Room ARIA Week is set to take that support to new heights.
“I think it’s around artists, be they Australian or international, we support them. Whether they’re established or whether they’re developing artists, we support them.
“It just so happens that Australian music had an absolute banger year this year. So we kind of want to celebrate that with Nova’s red room ARIA Week.
“It’s a big partnership, our red room with ARIA. We’ve announced a series of four shows for ARIA Week, with a fantastic lineup.
“We’ve worked with EMI, Universal, Mushroom Group and Sony to pull together Keith Urban, Amy Shark, Vance Joy and Vera Blue. It’s four amazing shows over four nights.”
At the 2018 Radio Alive conference in Melbourne, a panel made up of Hit Network’s Ash London, Triple M’s Mike Fitzpatrick, K rock’s James Speed and NOVA Entertainment’s Scott Baker-Smith spoke of the need to continue to bridge the gap between the music and radio industries.
Marshall says that Nova’s Red Room is a great way to break down relationships between radio and record labels in particular.
“The priorities that our industry partners have for their artists, and the passion that they have for their artists — we share that.
“So we see it as our job to help them promote their artists, and also celebrate them and break them, and everything in between. It’s a really trusted relationship that just naturally exists because we’re lucky enough to work with really like-minded people both internally and externally.”
Of course, every great concept or tactic needs a face that people listeners with the name. For Nova’s Red Room, National Nights host Kent ‘Smallzy’ Small is the conduit that connects the listeners and the musicians with the concerts.
“He’s brilliant at what he does. He’s passionate about music so we’re really lucky that we have him.
“Everybody that touches red room in any way shape or form shares that passion,” says Marshall. “Smallzy is the face of Red Room, he presents just about every single one and he wants to be there.
“He’s really good at it and there’s a trust relationship between him and artists that he himself has cultivated. I think that really helps as well to bridge the gap between artists and the Red Room.”
Despite having just announced one of the most ambitious initiatives in the history of Nova’s Red Room, Marshall and her team are already looking ahead.
“We’ve had an incredibly busy second half of the year. It’s actually been quite overwhelming, but it’s been great because of all the music that’s been pumping through.
“Red Room will continue to grow and continue to develop. We’ll continue to push it as well so it will be diverse moving forward.
“It’s not finished yet, there’s still so much more to be done. So we’re lucky enough to work with a great group of people to make that happen.”