Why is club culture stalwart Resident Advisor launching a creative agency?
Resident Advisor is best known as a hub for dance music and club culture. Now its content practice, which works with Nike and Sonos, is launching as a creative agency. We find out why as part of The Drum’s Audio Deep Dive.
Kasim Rashid, boss of Resident Advisor's new creative agency 23:59 / Amirah Tajdin
For the last 21 years, Resident Advisor (RA) has helped city-dwellers find their evening’s entertainment. It has also helped brands and advertisers speak to hard-to-reach youth demographics through an in-house content practice.
Now, the media and listings platform – one of the biggest established names in dance music and club culture – is expanding that practice out into its own dedicated creative agency, dubbed 23:59.
Led by chief brand and creative officer Kazim Rashid, who is formerly of Vice and Mixcloud, 23:59 aims to be “the world’s leading solution for global brands wanting to interact, engage and contribute to the growing global electronic music community and culture”.
According to chief executive officer David Selby, the company had butted up against the limits of an in-house content practice. A creative agency model, he says, was “the logical next step” to scale up its operation.
“We’ve been delivering world-class partnerships with brands under the RA banner for many years but the real estate restrictions of the magazine are always going to limit the number of partners and projects we can work on as full-scale, co-branded partnerships.
“The studio allows us to bring our extensive insight and knowledge of electronic music and youth culture beyond those boundaries. We will be able to work more dynamically with brands in a variety of capacities to help them realize their ambitions.”
Resident Advisor's publishing business suffered during the pandemic. Upon receiving a £750,000 government grant in 2020, co-founder Nick Sabine told The Guardian it had seen a 95% reduction in revenue.
Though Selby says its core business has recovered, its launch of 23:59 will help make the company more resilient. He told The Drum: ”As reported our revenue more or less evaporated overnight during the pandemic. As an independent business, without the deep pockets of a financial backer, this made it particularly challenging for us.”
He continued: ”The pandemic gave us a lot of chance for reflection and renewal. As we emerged from it we wanted to evolve the platform and our output. We see 23:59 as an opportunity to invest further in our creative teams; video, design, motion graphics and production. By developing our capabilities in those areas we can obviously deliver outstanding partnership projects through 23:59, telling stories with brands that would be impossible without additional support. However, we can then also leverage those skills to level up the wider RA multimedia output. Our hope is that 23:59 will allow us to do this in a financially sustainable way, which has always been the RA model.”
Resident Advisor claims to have 27 million annual and 5 million monthly users of its app. Launched to clients in spring, the agency has been working with Nike, Absolut, Sonos and Rockstar Games, as well as fashion house Bottega Veneta.
The agency will have a small core staff, based between London and Berlin, the company confirmed to The Drum, but plans to draw on RA’s 70-strong full-time employees in New York, Los Angeles and Manchester, as well as its freelance network, for further support.
Rashid says Resident Advisor plans to hire further full-time agency staff in the coming months. “As we’ve already been trading in our soft launch phase since the start of the year, the team has already grown. The next step is to think about our team globally. North America is a huge market for us and is going to be a priority for 23:59.”
He adds: “We have lots of great partners and relationships there and a huge community of electronic music and nightlife lovers. Beyond growing horizontally into key markets, the plan is to keep the team lean and invest in creative to allow us to ensure we’re always delivering best-in-class content and ideas for ourselves and our partners.”
For more on the power of sound, check out The Drum’s Audio Deep Dive hub.