How Colin James Came To Rock the 19th Floor of The Royal York Hotel
How Colin James Came To Rock the 19th Floor of The Royal York Hotel

Colin James rocking Toronto's Royal York Hotel (Photo: Michel Roy/Digital Direct)

If you happen to be a loyal Fairmont Hotels & Resorts guest, you just might be eligible for a private concert by an EMI artist like Corinne Bailey Rae, Emeli Sande or Barenaked Ladies thanks to an innovative partnership between the luxury hotelier and the record label.

The Sounds of Fairmont, as this global music series is called, is a customer relationship management (CRM) program forged last year between EMI and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and managed out of Toronto. The unique global partnership includes intimate live concerts on Fairmont properties, promotional music downloads, co-branded media campaigns (valued at $1 million) and artist access programs. The companies claim over 4 million worldwide impressions have been directly driven by Sounds of Fairmont activity.

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"The idea is to increase customer loyalty and elevate the profile of the Fairmont," says EMI Music Canada's director of music and brand partnerships, Vered Koren, who works closely with Fairmont's executive director of brand development and global partnerships, Alexandra Blum and Diana Wetherly, manager brand development and global partnerhships, who run the program internationally out of their corporate headquarters in Toronto.

Abbey Road Studios, Fairmont Hotels Partner for Music-Themed Lodging 'Experience'

In late August, Canadian blues-rock singer-guitarist Colin James played a private and rather sophisticated soiree on the 19th floor of Toronto's luxe Royal York hotel with wine, hors d'oeuvres and individual photo-ops, followed by a seated concert in the ornate Imperial Room. The event was attended by the Fairmont's most valuable clients, partners, media as well as a small number of radio contest winners.

Within the past year, similar events have taken place all over the world, including Bermuda, United Arab Emirates, China, Scotland in addition to Toronto, New York and Boston. Participating artists have included Barenaked Ladies, KT Tunstall, Corinne Bailey Rae, Naturally 7, Alex Cuba, Diane Schuur and Emeli Sande.

In 2012 EMI incorporated Abbey Road Studios into the Sounds of Fairmont program, which included Fairmont designed studio lounges, special events at the studio, and access to the studio for tours and recording experiences.

The partnership between EMI Music and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts began in 2007 with EMI Music Canada's Sean Hutchinson, now at Facebook Canada, overseeing a very different and less involved music program, the now defunct Fairmont Music Store.

"It was focused on delivering downloads [from the EMI catalogue]," says Koren, who was not with the company at the time. "[Fairmont's] President Club members got a discount on downloads. They [Fairmont] wanted to start doing more experiential programs, but at that point there was no strategic plan and there was no budget."

Koren helped design a strategy for the reinvigorated program that included more experiential opportunities such as artist meet and greets and music performed on the property. The new partnership began on August 2011 and provided benefits for EMI artists.

"It gave our artists access to their hotels at preferred rates for tours," Koren explains "We also utilized their properties for EMI promotional events, built bespoke product like custom CDs and playlists and utilized a number of verticals to become more strategic." This included such Fairmont promotional channels as Fairmont magazine, newsletters and email blasts to their user base. EMI has also run contests at radio or and with media partners to help evangelize the program and bring more value to the artists to reach new fans and promote releases.

Canadian pop band Glass Tiger is the next Sounds of Fairmont act on Dec. 2 at Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec. After Glass Tiger Koren says she is working with Fairmont's Blum and Wetherly on activities for early 2013 at new properties in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and "maybe Cairo."