When Janelle Monáe visits the new Renaissance Hotel in midtown Atlanta for its official opening on Sept. 15, it won't be for a casual overnight stay.
To help christen the new place, the singer has been tapped by the Renaissance to perform a 45-minute set in a ballroom at the hotel.
The event is part of parent company Marriott International's RLife Live program, which entertains guests at Renaissance properties with free live performances by a mix of new recording artists and emerging stars.
RLife Live also aims to harness the appeal of up-and-coming artists to burnish the Renaissance brand, which consists of about 150 properties in 34 countries. Relevent Partners, an experiential marketing company in New York, is helping the hotel chain curate the program.
"Although music is subjective for what you like and don't like, at the end of the day it allows you to have a connective moment that touches you in a way that gives you an experience," Relevent CEO Tony Berger says. "And you remember that experience as something that was given to you by Renaissance."
Renaissance joins the ranks of other major hospitality chains that have partnered with record labels and musical artists in recent years. Two years ago, W Hotels Worldwide appointed Michaelangelo L'Acqua as the hotel chain's first global music director, assigning him the task of creating partnerships with labels and curating the company's compilation CDs (Billboard, Sept. 19, 2009). And in 2007, Sony BMG Entertainment entered an exclusive partnership with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide to develop uniquely branded music- and entertainment-based programming.
Since launching last October, RLife Live has featured Robyn, Thievery Corporation, Robin Thicke, Neon Trees and Bruno Mars, among other acts. The appearances have consisted of acoustic performances, listening parties, DJ sets and meet-and-greets at Renaissance hotel bars, lounges and restaurants.
"It's a great opportunity to introduce some of our upcoming artists to new audiences and also to tie in local radio stations, and other partners, to make it a more interesting venue than just a radio station lounge," says Epic Records marketing manager Veronica Sanjines, who's had Epic artists Andrew Allen, Lenka and Hugo participate in RLife Live.
In addition to providing an opportunity to play for potential new fans, RLife Live can help up-and-coming acts reduce touring expenses. Relevent's Berger says most artists who participate in RLife Live generally aren't paid a flat fee for performing. Instead, they receive free rooms at Renaissance hotels in exchange for performing at multiple properties while on a tour. RLife Live appearances are typically staged several hours before or after a concert performance in the city they're visiting.
"An artist is on tour, and at the end of the day they need 10-30 rooms, so it's a way to help offset the costs of their touring," Berger says.
Renaissance promotes each RLife Live event on its website and through its social media channels, including Twitter and Facebook. The hotel plans to roll out a new website dedicated to RLife Live in August. RLifeLive.com currently links to the program's Facebook page, but it will soon take visitors to a site featuring in-depth profiles about performing artists, a chain-wide calendar of events and other information.
In June, Renaissance also teamed with digital company Sonicbids-which has a network of 300,000 emerging bands-to help find local artists to book and lend a more unique flavor to a stay at one of its hotels.
"We want to bring the locals in," Renaissance Hotels VP of marketing Dan Vinh says, "so our guests feel like they don't have to step foot outside of the hotel to get a sense of the place they're visiting and to experience new things."
Berger says integrating artists into the hotel chain's branding efforts will help strengthen bonds with its customer base.Ã¢Â€Â©"We used music as our foundation," he says, "because it's a true touch point for the consumer."