Speaking with SpokesBUZZ founder and music fanatic Dani Grant is like talking music with a best friend. Her unbridled enthusiasm coupled with her impenetrable work ethic is glaringly obvious in every word she utters. The non-profit powerhouse has a similar effect on the community; mention SpokesBUZZ in the Fort Collins area and people’s faces light up. The name is meant to highlight what makes Fort Collins such an inspiring place to live; bikes, bands and beer are crucial components that add richness to the community. According to its website, “As informal spokespeople for the quality of life and creative culture found in Fort Collins, we help generate buzz about our city as a hub for amazing music.”
SpokesBUZZ was founded in 2009 after Grant had taken a trek to Austin’s notorious SXSW Music Festival. Her unquenchable thirst to bring the music of Northern Colorado to the rest of the world was undeniable and quickly led to SpokesBUZZ’s creation. She’s been supporting Front Range talent at SXSW ever since.
“I was trying to figure out ways to promote and gain awareness for Fort Collins and the whole Front Range music scene,” Grant explains. “SXSW seemed like a great platform. It was a place we could make a lot of noise and provide a platform for what is happening on the Front Range.”
SpokesBUZZ’s presence at SXSW has grown exponentially over the past four years. The first year, 2010, featured six bands from Fort Collins on a $5,000 budget with zero promotional marketing. It received 500 RSVPs and in Grant’s words “were cheering” about it. By 2013, the SpokesBUZZ showcase at SXSW had blossomed into two stages, fourteen bands and 15,000 RSVPs. This year, it has moved from solely a SpokesBUZZ showcase to an all-encompassing Colorado showcase supported by 25 various partners from the Front Range area with two days and two stages to showcase thirty Colorado bands. Out of the thirty bands headed to SXSW from Colorado, only four are officially under the SpokesBUZZ umbrella, which includes Winchester Holiday, The Yawpers, Wasteland Hop and The Patti Fiasco. Each band is a harmonious hybrid of genres ranging from hip-hop and rock to folk and new wave.
SpokesBUZZ uses bands from its “Incubator” program to fill slots and the team takes pride in its subjective selection process.
“We select bands we think are the most keyed up and ready to take advantage of SXSW opportunities in terms of development as a band and representing Colorado,” Grant says. “SpokesBUZZ is only bringing four out of the 30 bands. Nine are officially on the roster, but other partners have picked them up.”
Grant’s concept for SpokesBUZZ is to carry out its mission to amplify the Colorado music scene, develop professional artists, promote Colorado as a progressive cultural destination and grow local economies. Overall, SpokesBUZZ aims to raise global awareness of Fort Collins music and culture by bringing worldwide attention to local bands. While it seemed like a daunting task in the beginning, Grant has managed to execute it with ease. Behind the scenes, it’s massive amounts of work, but she doesn’t mind the challenge. After all, the triumphant nature of SpokesBUZZ is deafening. By bringing the state of Colorado into the festival this year, alongside various partners including bands from Telluride and Colorado Springs and local businesses in Boulder, it’s clear Spokesbuzz is going in the right direction. To Grant, it shows their collaborative efforts are a success.
“Personally, it’s validation that the mission, message of SpokesBUZZ and practices we’re using are really, really working,” Grant says. “While we can’t take credit for all of the buzz around the Colorado music scene, I think we can directly be called one of the key motivators for the national perspective on Colorado.”
As Grant and the rest of those involved in the SpokesBUZZ family inch closer to making the annual trip to Texas, they are undoubtedly thrilled to, once again, have the opportunity.
“We’re really excited,” Grant says. “Collaborating with all of these different partners takes an awful lot of work. It takes really incredible leadership and I believe SpokesBUZZ has that leadership. We have the ability to create trusting and meaningful relationships with all types of businesses. I think it embodies the way things are heading in the future for this industry. Without trusting relationships, we won’t be able to make a dent—too much noise on the airwaves.”