The Rainmakers: iHeartMedia’s Alissa Pollack In Conversation With Nikki Sixx

Nikki Sixx and Alissa Pollack
Julia Lofstrand Photography
– Nikki Sixx and Alissa Pollack

Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx has seen the evolution of music and marketing for more than 30 years, and by staying involved with the process and with new technologies, sees new ways of using data and targeted branding to reach new audiences. iHeartMedia’s Alissa Pollack work is on the bleeding edge of that process for the nation’s largest radio conglomerate, using the newest methods to predict trends and drive marketing. Together, they laid out the challenges and possibilities for the future.

Sixx identified the sheer “clutter” of platforms between radio, streaming and social media as a challenge in reaching his market demographic, not only for a classic rock ‘n’ roll band as Motley Crue, but his side projects – his band Sixx A.M., books including “The Heroin Diaries,” photography, an upcoming film project and a musical.

Pollack recognized that challenged but said it’s still “an exciting time,” citing the use of technology to create new platforms. “The project bringing together Marshmello and Fortnight is astounding, and competed with the Super Bowl.” She envisions the use of virtual reality for meet and greets, backstage tours, and new ways of accessing content in ways that can be executed “exactly the way you want it.”

Sixx acknowledged being frustrated at times with reaching a Motley Crue audience while also being discovered by a younger demographic. But he says the barriers are being broken.

“It used to be, you had few platforms: radio, record stores, movies and even TV,” Sixx said, citing a friend who chose a Fender Telecaster as his first guitar because he’d seen Buck Owens play one on “Hee Haw.”  But rather than bemoan changes in music and marketing, he reminded the audience that even though classic bands may go out of fashion, at least temporarily, by working hard and staying relevant, “they might go down once, but they may very well come back two or three times!”

Pollack pointed to branding with social causes as a way to remain relevant and reach new audiences, noting that one way to stand out is to find a good cause and platform. “Millennials and Gen Z are into causes. People don’t know how to give back, but want to. By aligning with a cause of platform, you are one of those authentically showing your dedication and passion for your causes to a new audience that cares about it, too.”

She cited Sixx’s own consciousness in regard to addiction and opioids. “We put a powerful program together, and it’s saving lives by connecting brands.”

Sixx said it is important for artists, at all stages of their career, to have marketing and branding partners. “Without a partner, reach is short,” he said.

Returning to the use of data in the digital age, Sixx stressed that “data determines everything.”

Pollack said that not too long ago, the only way to quantify the popularity of a band like Motley Crue was by monitoring radio airplay and record sales. “Now, it’s about data to identify an artist’s streaming and views; the accuracy and predictive power of the data we use is astounding. I tell clients the data can be so specific, it can match demographics to global reach. It’s a win/win.

“I talk to other artists all the time and tell them we can now reach markets we didn’t think possible,” Sixx added. “We’re now in a place where records don’t sell. Some artists even stop making them, which is a shame. Some still do. But we are reaching new audiences, and technology is helping the problem of time because you don’t have to do the radio interviews or personal appearance to sell your product, which gives you more time and ability to keep creating. You can use so many platforms to reach more people  than you could before in far less time.”