Bonnaroo 2013: Q&A with Sean O’Connell of Music Allies

Aug 1, 2013 9:00 AM


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photo of HayBale Studios

From left: Elijah Shaw (mix engineer), Sean O'Connell and Tom Hansen

For the 10th year running, Music Allies handled marketing for the festival and operated Radio Bonnaroo, building a broadcast center, which is overseen by Tom Hansen, for more than 30 radio stations, including local radio station Fantasy Radio 101.5 FM, WFTZ, which partners with Music Allies.


Bonnaroo 2013 Photo Gallery

For the first time, Radio Bonnaroo partnered with iHeartRadio. "This year we partnered with iHeartRadio to increase our coverage," says Sean O'Connell, CEO and founder of Music Allies and Creative Allies in Asheville, N.C. "We've always had streaming radio but our partnership with iHeartRadio expanded our reach."

Plus, Bonnaroo 2013 saw the return of HayBale Studios, a custom built on-site recording studio adjacent to the broadcast center that records exclusive performances and interviews for Radio Bonnaroo and partner stations.

After the festival concluded Mix asked Sean O'Connell to recap Music Allies' work at Bonnaroo in 2013.

Back in 2009, you spoke with Mix editor Tom Kenny about Radio Bonnaroo ( Could you provide an update and overview of Radio Bonnaroo's operations for 2013?
Radio Bonnaroo is now in its 10th year. We get a lot of attention for the studios we build at Bonnaroo, but ultimately Music Allies is first and foremost a marketing company. We came up with the ideas of creating backstage studios as a way to reward our marketing partners at radio and to create a buzz that weekend that will create excitement about Bonnaroo. We also handle marketing for numerous other festivals and bands.

Our process starts in December every year as we line up radio stations that will work with Bonnaroo on promotional campaigns to promote the festival. Our promotions kick off in earnest during the announcement. During that week alone, our partner radio station delivered over 100 million impressions via their airwaves, emails and Websites. The culmination of our marketing efforts for the festival is Radio Bonnaroo.

What is the basic broadcast setup for Radio Bonnaroo?
Backstage we build a massive broadcast center for over 30 of our radio stations and our very own Radio Bonnaroo streaming station. Tom Hansen oversees our broadcasting. His team builds and engineers every broadcast for these stations. We had over 300 broadcast hours transmitted from backstage!

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