+Aziz, a marketer/musician born for Collision

The Collision tech conference was made for a guy like Aziz Ali.

Aziz is a marketer, who devises strategies around culture. And he’s a musician known as +Aziz, who plays guitar. He is a man who appreciates both the joy of creating art and the discipline of measuring just how his music is resonating.

PlusAziz

“It’s actually very different brains,” he says of his musician side and his strategist side. “You kind of need to be your own manager and that’s when you’re sinking into the world of finance and analytics and where you need to be. And then you have this other portion of you that is the side of you that just wants to play.”

It’s only a bit of a stretch to say Ali personifies Collision, the upstart conference with the hip vibe, that expects to draw 11,000 to New Orleans this week. The conference is focused on technology, but more, with parallel focuses on music, sports and marketing. As it did in Las Vegas its first two years, it works to connect with the community in which it’s held.

And here’s Ali, a proud New Orleans resident, who plays music and tracks metrics and knows a thing or two about data-driven marketing: A Collision trifecta. Naturally, he’s scheduled to talk about the band as a brand at the conference on Thursday.

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Ali lives the tension that Collision embraces  — the balance between art and science, gut and data, when it comes to running an enterprise. In Ali’s case, he’s an indie rock/world music guitarist, who’s launching a band called Kuwaisiana, a blend of Kuwait and Louisiana.

Some musicians he talks to aren’t crazy about data driving art, Ali says, and he worries himself that the fixation on metrics could detract from the creative process.

“Not a lot of musicians that I talk to are comfortable with that kind of stuff, when I start to talk to them about KPIs (key performance indicators) and measuring and having defined audiences,” he says.

But Ali says he’s decided it’s a necessary distraction in today’s music world. And so, he turns to Google Analytics and services like Reverb. At least once a week, he looks in on his social media platforms, which include SoundCloud, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

“Usually what I’m looking for is that there is attention,” he said. “For me it’s about awareness and exposure to more eyeballs. I’m usually focused on expanding to new potential communities.”

Ali has identified his core fans and potential fans as those interested in Middle Eastern music and indie music, world music enthusiasts and people in the Middle East or of Middle Eastern descent.

“Those audiences haven’t embraced me to the same degree that they’ve embraced other people that they’re fanatical about,” he said of the last group.

He’s hoping to appeal to “music snobs” who might write a blog post about his music and expand his market. In the meantime, he’ll keep tracking key metrics.

And he’ll continue to increase his visibility with novel projects, like his mashup with a computer programmer who translated hashtags at one of his concerts into bits of music and his partnership with Lululemon that brought his music to yoga enthusiasts.

And, of course, there are the speaking engagements, like the one at Collision, which is right where he belongs.

Photo by Rushing Haise, courtesy of Aziz Ali.

Mike Cassidy is BloomReach’s storyteller. Contact him at mike.cassidy@bloomreach.com; follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy.