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iHeart's Gayle Troberman: ‘We’re Going To Start Bringing Events Into The Metaverse.’

What is the future of live events for audio companies? For iHeartMedia, part of what lies ahead involves the metaverse, according to Chief Marketing Officer Gayle Troberman. “We’re going to take a lot of the success we’ve had in our events business,” she says in a Q&A with Matt Britton on Adweek’s “The Speed of Culture” podcast. “We do hundreds of events from the big Jingle Balls to small local events, music events, concerts. We’re going to start bringing events into the metaverse, so we can connect fans and artists and brands in some new ways. We’re going to start learning.”

Aiming to build an on-ramp to the metaverse for its 250 million users, iHeartMedia said in January it will create events and experiences for listeners and music fans on the online gaming platform Roblox. “We’re going to go where consumers are,” Troberman told Britton on the podcast, elaborating on the Roblox initiative. “We’ll be creating iHeart lands. Now we can bring without all the physical world costs of what it costs to put on a job festival or a live event in the real world, I think we can do even more interactive and more engaging opportunities that bring the fan closer and closer to the artist.”

Troberman said she believes the audio industry will remain on a growth curve due to its unscripted nature. “It’s live and it’s human and it’s unscripted. It’s not just a place to hear music. It’s a place to actually have a conversation and not be alone. It’s a really bizarre business most people don’t understand.”

And with smart speakers, voice interfaces and wireless headphones keeping people connected, she predicts audio will only get more accessible. “We’ve certainly seen people listening in their cars. They listen on their smart speakers. They listen on their laptops, on their phones, on their watches… on their TVs, but we’re seeing listening continues to grow and to more types of content.

Rather than uniting people in a Kumbaya moment, Troberman claims digital media did the exact opposite. “It’s brought out our worst selves. It’s become a place that makes you feel worse, not better. I think that’s why you’re seeing a lot of content that’s live and human. Companionship conversation media seems to be growing everywhere and I think that’s why we’re seeing this massive new podcast rocket ship grow. Podcasting is really similar. It’s mostly human and unscripted.”

Troberman also made the case that podcasting has helped fill a void for Millennials, who she thinks have been mostly misunderstood by content companies. “We kept talking about short attention spans, but we forgot we were talking about the most curious, interested, educated generation in the U.S. – connected and educated and interested. We were going, ‘Oh, 140 characters. You can only handle 15 seconds of my advertising,’ and yet, they’re listening to three-hour podcasts about revisionist history.”

Speaking of history, Troberman recounts how she came onboard just as Clear Channel was about to rebrand as iHeartMedia. “We went through a spreadsheet of thousands and thousands of line items as a leadership team. Make every decision, ballpark costs. What is it? The sign on top of the building, the billboard here, the elevators in these offices, every single place the brand appeared, and we made a decision, boom and we rebranded the company in something like I think six weeks… It was super fun.”

Listen to “How Powerful Insights Beat Shiny Tactics with Gayle Troberman, CMO of iHeartMedia” HERE.

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