Projects I was lucky enough to work on
MPIX and React Presents Team up to drop Spring Awakenings Music Festival to the world.
Ryan Bitzer joins Mindpix as VP of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships
The OMMA Awards celebrate the year’s most innovative and brilliant online advertising creative, campaigns and Web sites across 70 categories within three disciplines. And Eventful & KISS won the 2011 OMMA Award for Best Integrated Online Campaign in the category of Entertainment: …
Edgehill Cafe turns to YouTube for advertising alternative Jamie McGee, Staff Writer-Nashville Business Journal In a two-minute clip poking fun at coffee shops turned into office spaces by entrepreneurs, Edgehill Cafe is using YouTube as an alternative to traditional advertising. …
Jason Aldean Taps Sparkart as Web Partner by Christopher Simmons on Wed, 02 Dec 2009 in Companies and People, Industry Headlines NASHVILLE, Tenn. /Music Industry Newswire/ — Multi-platinum country rocker Jason Aldean has partnered with Sparkart Group, Inc., an Oakland-based full-service independent digital agency, to develop, …
A Brief History...and a long one.
Ryan Bitzer received his music business BBA from Belmont University in Nashville, TN. While completing his degree, he was recruited at RPM Management as a Marketing Coordinator and promoted to Marketing Manager. Ryan managed the various online and traditional marketing for Tim McGraw, Jessica Andrews, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, and Billy Gilman. In 2004, Ryan relocated to Seattle, WA to expand his knowledge in new media technology and its place in entertainment. He handled all licensing for the funded startup Blue Frog Mobile, eventually directing interactive music television channels into 20 million homes. After 4 years, RPM Management brought him back to Nashville as Chief Strategy Officer to head up the marketing efforts for Tim McGraw and Julianne Hough. In 2009, he was tapped to head up all Business Development for Sparkart, a technology company that assists artists like Bon Jovi, Carrie Underwood, Brooks and Dunn, and Rascal Flatts, to name a few. Ryan’s success in sales landed him as the National Sales Manager for Music and Live Event marketing at Eventful. Over 3.5 years, he grew the department over 200% and opened up new categories within festivals, fairs, agencies, and labels. Currently Ryan is VP of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships at Mindpix, a media services and Internet streaming company.
There is no better way to explain it – I have a complete infatuation with entertainment and the business around it, always have. Even when I was a kid, I was selling tickets to my own magic shows and my family was my only audience. When I was in high school, I recorded my band and sold tapes to other students out of my locker. Then I recorded other bands, high school theatre, choral practice, anything I could…to be closer to music and the business around it.
So it came as no surprise when I told my parents I wanted to go into the entertainment business after high school. They challenged me to find a college where I could learn entertainment, but walked away with a business degree. Thinking they won this challenge, I proved them wrong and found Belmont University. A then-small university in the heart of Music Row Nasvhille, TN. I didn’t know much about country music, but I was ready to learn.
I started interning at rpm Management (Tim McGraw, Jessica Andrews, Billy Gilman, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Jeffrey Steele) working as the assistant to the VP of Marketing. After college, I got hired there and started learning everything I could about this business – marketing, radio promotion, label relations, album launches, tour marketing, photo shoots, album design, video shoots, getting new V Neck T-shirts at midnight, getting clothes tailored, etc – you get the idea. After honing my chops, I was promoted to Marketing Manager. This allowed me to specifically tackle all of our artists web properties. Since I grew up with the web, it was a great fit and grew entirely new lines of business for McGraw. I spent 6 years there with people that are still my friends today. The problem with this business though, is there isn’t really a middle management tier. You either are on the bottom or you are on the top; the middle just doesn’t exist. I had to get out of Nashville and learn another business that touched entertainment. I had to learn skills that didn’t exist in the current entertainment arena.
I got the bug to work in the technology sector so it was either Silicon Valley or Seattle. I chose Seattle. I immediately got involved in the [then] hot mobile entertainment industry and managed all digital content and licensing as the Director of Content for Blue Frog Mobile. My first assignment? Clean up a law suit with Eminem. I spent 2 years teaching the publishing and PRO’s about ringtones, how they work, what the business model looks like, and compromising on a deal. At that time, people didn’t know how to charge for this emerging product. It isn’t really a full song download, just 30 seconds of MIDI style music. My team and I ended up closing over 1,300 publishers as well as ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC as well as international PRO’s like PRS and SABAM. Then I was asked to start producing an interactive Music TV show called NOYZ. This was the first US TV channel with SMS interactivity and messaging that would be presented along side the music videos. So people could text message about the artists and give shout outs all while winning cool prizes. I had to do deals with all the major record labels for content and program 24/7 blocks of TV. Our company ended up with a network size of 15 million households which led us to opening different types of music channels; Latin, Tween, Pop, Rock, Christian, and Country. Country NOYZ would ultimately bring me back to Nashville.
While trying to get Country NOYZ off the ground in Nasvhille, I ended up accepting a position back with rpm Management as Chief Strategy Officer. The goal was simple, how do we take one of the biggest entertainers in the country music world and prepare his career for life AFTER his label commitments. At that time, direct to fan concepts were just emerging and building the relationships were a priority. We had to do all of this while weaving strategies in his day to day needs. We launched an amazing 50 date tour with interactive tents and games for the fans to have a good time all while securing their contact information for direct messaging. The pace was break neck but a lot of fun and I got to exercise the digital muscle I had developed on a huge act. We also worked with the amazing Julianne Hough (Dancing With The Stars) as well. We were honored to orchestrate a deal with Wrigley’s creating Julianne as the new face of Juicy Fruit gum with a massive online and TV ad campaign.
In 2009, Sparkart (www.sparkart.com) contacted me about opening their Nashville office. I couldn’t have been more excited about taking the world’s leading entertainment web platform agency services to our Nashville artistic community. Over the course of 2 years, we landed some great clients on our Nashville roster including Rascal Flatts, Brooks and Dunn, Ronnie Dunn, Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Darius Rucker, Country Throwdown Tour, and Big Machine Records. The job allowed me to develop and implement forward thinking digital campaigns with killer technology that Sparkart had built.
All that led me to my current position with Eventful. One of the the most fascinating and growing sectors of our business is live event marketing. As radio, TV, and print become a little less effective in selling tickets, online couldn’t be hotter. That is where Eventful comes in. They are the world’s largest online live events destination. What does that mean? Well, no matter where you are in the world, you can always come to Eventful.com and find what is happening around you today, this week, this month, this year! Eventful has amassed 20 million people that rely on us to learn about what is happening in their local area. This means we know who people are, where they live, and what types of entertainment they like. Eventful has one of the smartest teams I have ever been a part of and is head up by one of the best leaders I have worked with, Jordan Glazier.
If you made it this far, congrats. It isn’t an interesting story to most, but to me it is amazing. To work in the business I love, utilizing my skill sets, trying to solve problems every day is what makes me happy.
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Where you can find me
I love Nashville. I love the people. There is something about a group of people trying to help each other reach their destination that doesn’t exist in other cities. My office is located in the heart of Music Row and Vanderbilt University…and within walking distance of great coffee.