Billboard.biz caught up with Bob Ferguson, Manager of Creative Alliances & Music Outreach for Oxfam, during SXSW 2012.
Billboard.biz: Tell us about Oxfam and your role in the organization?
Bob Ferguson: Oxfam is a humanitarian organization that fights hunger and poverty issues in 90 countries around the world. I am responsible for getting our message out to the world through music and musicians. We work with a number of bands some of which include Radiohead, Coldplay, and other big names in the industry. But we also like to work with emerging and indie bands as well.
What are you looking for when you are selecting a band?
For us it is really about selecting artists that are tuned into social justice. We listen to their lyrics, what they are doing in their communities. It's really about fit and authenticity. We also look for artists that are good at connecting with people. We have a special message to share with the world, and we want the artists that represent us to have a special connection with people.
What brought you to SXSWi and how do you use technology in your business?
Our social media base is growing rapidly; we have about 110,000 Twitter Followers and our Facebook fan base is growing at a similar rate, which for our type of organization is a really big deal. We also use social media to talk about music and our efforts with artists.
What were you most excited to see at SXSWi this year?
I love the fact that big players continue to evolve and enhance their applications. We have seen far too many technologies either become stale or stay the same, and there have been a lot of great improvements this year. In particular, we are very excited about Songza. We hope to work with them after this show to put together a social justice and activism playlist for our site.
Any technologies you did not see at SXSWi that you would like to see in the future?
No technology specifically, but our big hope for technology and in particular Oxfam is that the tech community continue to build great products and services that enable voices to be heard, especially for those without a microphone.