The Participation Agency, a New York-based marketing firm, has launched an ambitious new project called “The Outpost,” providing free spaces in several key states for touring musicians to have the comforts of home – think, eat, stock up on groceries, have a nice cup of coffee, record in the studio, do laundry - as well as a unique opportunity to create and engage with the local community. The first Outpost space is located on I-10 in El Paso, a route familiar to all musicians playing shows in Texas. The goal behind this innovative and welcome respite for artists, which will also include the up-and-coming creative hub of Asbury Park, NJ, is to enable them to recharge, share their gifts and learn about fans in demographics they may previously not have had the opportunity to connect with. To that end, the Outpost serves both artists and their fans, and will hopefully bridge a gap, unifying people of differing backgrounds who are divided by geographical boundaries.
BMI caught up with the Outpost’s Josh Cocktail to find out more about this intriguing benefit for weary travelers. Here’s what he said:
Tell us about this passion project, the Outpost, and how you got involved.
Outpost is an initiative created by me and the team at The PA. We’ve been involved in other music initiatives supporting touring artists, and this time around we wanted to fill a gap that we’ve noticed while working in the industry.
As someone who has spent many years on the road, I know how hard it is and how quickly all the little expenses add up. Now, as I encourage brands to become philanthropists for artists, I’m trying to change the economy for touring artists and position Outpost as a program that solves some of these problems.
We just launched the first Outpost in El Paso on May 1, and it’s a roadside community that gives artists amenities that save them money while they’re on the road. It features a free general store stocked with essentials like toothbrushes, t-shirts and snacks along with laundry facilities, a recording studio outfitted by Gibson, and a ton of space to relax and stretch your legs.
Outpost brings together arts, local culture and even differing viewpoints. What do you hope the outcome is when you help merge these elements?
We want to use Outpost as a platform to encourage conversations and to connect culture between people who aren’t necessarily crossing paths otherwise. We see Outpost as a catalyst for creating connections among artists, locals, and the city itself.
Our goal is to create experiences that help artists grow inside the very communities that are vital to their long-term success as an artist. There’s a lot of room for different opportunities here, so we’re excited to see what will happen and explore the variety of interactions that will take place.
This effort takes the energy and lifestyles of coastal cities to flyover states – what’s that been like? What are each gaining from the other?
The cities we’re opening Outpost in are handpicked. They’re all places that are already growing really quickly, both economically and culturally. El Paso, which is home to the first Outpost, is not only home to the best tacos in Texas, but already hosts Neon Desert, a music festival in its seventh year that features huge artists like Migos and Logic.
Our initiative aims to show people how amazing these cities already are and how much they have to offer, and we’re positioning Outpost as the hub for these incredible cultural moments. It’s like a skate park — you can have countless kids out there skating the streets on their own, but once you build a skatepark, they all come together and that’s how communities and movements are built, and that’s what we want Outpost to be for touring artists.
You have many brands participating, from donating swag to sponsoring events… how does this help local musicians and communities? What does it mean for the brands?
You’d be surprised by what constitutes as a high commodity on the road. Sometimes you’ll go for weeks without doing laundry. Other times you’ll spend $50 on snacks that barely get you through the day. All these expenses take away from your earnings while touring, and Outpost is designed to help alleviate these expenses that artists incur when they’re on the road.
In terms of brands, Outpost provides opportunities for brands to organically connect in markets they haven’t been able to activate and brings their products directly into the hands of influencers and artists.
The Outpost provides a home-away-from-home for musicians to unwind and connect. What are the other benefits to them?
It gives artists space to unwind, relax, be creative in the studio, or do whatever they need to do that just isn’t possible when you’re spending hours on the road.
The opportunity to save money is obviously a key highlight of the program, but something that we think is equally important is the ability to stay healthy, which is something we encourage through the types of products we provide as well as the opportunity for physical activity on the outdoor modular gym which we plan to launch soon.
How do touring artists sign up to visit Outpost?
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a visit.