“We want people to come on to the campus of REVOLT World, and it’s going to be like putting on VR glasses and walking through who we are as a company, as a brand, and interacting with all facets of our organization.”
-Anita H. Martin, VP-Events and Experiential, REVOLT
REVOLT, a Black-owned multimedia network founded by Sean “Diddy” Combs, is in a phase of growth. Originally started as a cable network in 2013, REVOLT has since expanded into digital media, podcasting, news and events, all aiming to give Black storytellers access to the platforms, resources and support needed to engage a global audience.
REVOLT recently welcomed Anita H. Martin as vice president of events and experiential. While she officially joined the team in March, Martin is a familiar face at REVOLT, having previously worked with the brand as an events consultant for almost a year. Now, in her new role, Martin leads REVOLT’s new events division and will launch REVOLT World, a festival coming to Atlanta in September that is set to bring together some of the most influential voices in hip-hop for networking, performances and discussions (a revamp of REVOLT Summit).
Bringing more than 20 years of experience in events—from working with the Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup, Formula 1, Super Bowls, Art Basel and New York Fashion Week—Martin says she understands the complexities, budgets and unique structures behind large-scale events and sees “a tremendous amount of opportunity” with experiential at REVOLT. We sat down with Martin to discuss engagement trends and get an inside look at plans for expanding REVOLT’s events portfolio, as the brand celebrates its 10-year anniversary.
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Event Marketer: Tell us a bit about REVOLT Summit and how its evolving.
Anita H. Martin: It’s definitely evolving, which is super exciting. We did REVOLT Summit for about four years. We had a couple of digital virtual versions of it during the pandemic, but it was a great event. It was very focused on education around being in the hip-hop industry, and it was local to the Atlanta market for the most part. We’ve decided that we want to just evolve things; REVOLT is really growing. 2023 is the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, and as a leader in hip-hop culture, we want to take some of our previous events—REVOLT Music Conference, REVOLT Summit—and uplevel them significantly.
REVOLT World, just in the title alone, you can kind of understand that hip-hop is global. REVOLT is global. We’re expanding our consumer base. REVOLT World is meant to be fully immersive. It’s REVOLT centric, so we’ve got a significant focus on REVOLT content in our verticals. We’re going to be seeing live iterations of our REVOLT TV shows; a presence of REVOLT Black News, which is our news network; and a presence of REVOLT Podcast Network, which we’re going to be doing some live podcasting with the podcasts that are run on our platforms.
We’re going to see a lot of things being a lot more interactive. One of the great analogies that we’ve been floating around in the planning team is that we want people to come on to the campus of REVOLT World, and it’s going to be like putting on VR glasses and walking through who we are as a company, as a brand, and just interacting with all facets of our organization.
EM: We spent so much time online and in virtual spaces the last few years. How are you coming back to live, in-person experiences?
AM: It’s funny because we were forced to move into this virtual world, and now we can actually take those virtual tools and apply them back to a live world. One of the amazing things about REVOLT is that we have incredible talent within. We’ve got a full technology team that manages everything that happens on our platforms, and they are working closely on enabling connections for REVOLT World. I don’t want to give away too much, but you’re going to see that the attendees of REVOLT World are going to be able to really connect with one another in a different way, an unconventional way you don’t see at your traditional conference or festival.
There are going to be things that they can do before they get to the event so they can see who else is going to be there and find people with common interests that maybe are within a certain perimeter around them and ping them. They can make connections and plan an impromptu meet up with somebody else who has common interests or is experienced in a certain area. And then they’re going to be able to stay connected after the event as well.
EM: Do you see that becoming a trend of extending the engagement before and after the event?
AM: I think that a lot of conference apps have this list of all the attendees with their headshot, and it’s pretty run-of-the-mill. But what I love about REVOLT is that we do everything with this hip-hop and edgy angle, so it’s not just going to be the basic solution. It’s going to be bespoke because we’re building it from within, which is really cool that we have that capability in-house. And then it’s going to match the culture. Everything that people experience at REVOLT World, they’re just going to be wowed because it’s going to be so thoughtful and meaningful. One of the things we’re really trying to do is make sure that people get tremendous value in attending REVOLT World because we want folks to actually fly in. We want to expand the market beyond Atlanta, where the event is taking place, and for this to be a weekend destination. And we want to see people coming to this event because they know that it is the “it” event to make connections in the world of hip-hop.
EM: In addition to planning REVOLT World, you’re also building out a new events division. How are you managing that?
AM: One of the reasons I wanted to join REVOLT is that it is an incredible opportunity from many different angles. As a Black woman, to be able to work with a Black media company is really exciting for me. This is the right time in my career. I’ve been in the trenches, I’ve been with traditional brands, and REVOLT represents an exciting opportunity for me in my career trajectory. I love our executive leadership here, the vision, what we’ve done and where we’re going. Being in a digital media space is also something that’s relatively new to me as well, so I was attracted to that. I have always been in sports and entertainment but not directly linked to a media company per se, so that, for me, is an opportunity to learn a new business. And then the chance to grow a business division is really an amazing opportunity as well.
I’ve spent my career doing events, and REVOLT has been doing events for a long time. But I think a lot of companies and brands are seeing events as a true vertical, as a chance to grow the brand and exposure, and for us, I think we take it a step further because we really are so passionate about the culture and inspiring young creators. Within Black culture itself, there’s a lot going on, and it’s exciting to be out there and unapologetically Black and just really wanting to strengthen our brand, be disruptive and push us beyond where we’ve been before to keep evolving.
EM: What other kinds of events can we expect to come from REVOLT in the future?
AM: Even beyond REVOLT World, you’re going to be seeing a lot of really thoughtful events coming out of REVOLT. We’re planning to expand the portfolio. We’ve traditionally had REVOLT Houses at a lot of the cultural events like SXSW and Art Basel, so we’ll be expanding those. We’ll be doing some live podcast touring, where some of our most popular podcasts will go on the road. We’ve done a lot of great work with universities, specifically HBCUs. We’ve partnered with them to build out gaming curriculum, and I think one of the next ones would be podcasting because we’re really focused on content creation and inspiring the youth. It’s more than just being in the music business; it’s about creating content, being in front of or behind the camera or being a performer or being the people behind the performers that make them successful. We’re trying to encourage young folks that there are so many opportunities in this business and in this culture.
*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Photo credit: REVOLT; Dree Williams (headshot)