There are moments when South By Southwest Interactive becomes a lot like Hollywood, where crowds of people huddle outside an exclusive party and everyone is on the phone, calling favors to anyone who can let them in. Spotify and Path’s 120 Club party with A-GRade, the investment fund founded by Ashton Kutcher, Guy Oseary and Ron Burkle, was precisely one of those moments Sunday night at Austin’s W Hotel.
As tech notables, at least one of A-GRade’s portfolio companies and, per Twitter rumor, even Jeremy Lin all huddled to get in, a uniquely Silicon Beach-y intersection of entertainment, music, tech and brand execs all congregated inside to celebrate the end of a busy Interactive weekend, with Kutcher, Oseary and co. Scooter Braun, fresh from a day of tech-scouting with Oseary, dropped by to support his friend and business partner and later held court on a couch with friends like Sophia Bush and Uber’s Ryan Graves.
Ashton Kutcher (front, left in hat) was the most popular man of the night at A-GRade, Spotify and Path’s 120 Club party
Kutcher, meanwhile, was flanked by everyone from wine entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk to Mark Cuban to party co-host Dave Morin, while his “Two and a Half Men” creator Chuck Lorre hung out nearby with Warner Bros TV publicity powerhouse Tammy Golihew, swapping observations from their first SXSW Interactive. Lorre was marveling at the buzz from his Saturday Q&A with Neil Gaiman, including one fan’s hand-drawn comic strip of the hour-long conversation that Golihew posted on her Instagram.
Elsewhere, Backbeat caught up with Rob Bonstein, who helps foster tech partnerships with Bruno Mars manager Brandon Creed and CAA’s Susan Kamenar, who works in digital music marketing, about upcoming projects and activities. Bonstein was gearing up Bruno Mars’ Moonshine Jungle tour, which he noted was already over 80% sold out across all dates, with total sellouts at key venues like Staples in Los Angeles. Kamenar was gearing up for a long week at SXSW Music, where CAA clients like Ms Mr, Jamie N Commons, Blondfire, T.I. and many others would be performing at various showcases.
As Jane’s Addiction tore through a loud, energetic 30-minute set (the band’s only SXSW gig, no less), more guests managed to squeeze through the in-demand entrance. Backbeat caught Coca-Cola’s Emmanuel Seuge, head of global sports and entertainment, briefly, as he was in town to catch up with the folks at Spotify (Coke has a minority stake) and also close a deal with “a new company,” he teased. If Spotify and Coke’s partnership, announced just weeks after SXSW 2012, was a groundbreaking intersection of music, tech and branding, expect way more partnerships of the like by this time next year -- and likely from many of the players who showed up at Sunday night’s power party.