Twitter Freestyles in Brooklyn

Synth pop group St. Lucia is based in Brooklyn, although frontman Jean-Philip Grobler hails from South Africa. (Photo courtesy Columbia Records)

Synth pop group St. Lucia is based in Brooklyn, although frontman Jean-Philip Grobler hails from South Africa. (Photo courtesy Columbia Records)

Hipster Brooklyn hotspot Freehold has teamed with Twitter on a series of intimate concerts, that are being billed as secret summer sessions. The first of eight unfolds tonight with St. Lucia.

Freehold is a mixed-use destination, serving food, offering workspace and operating a bar. Though open to the public, it is also a club that offers member benefits. Freehold members (“Freeholders”) will receive advance notice of #StudioSessions gigs, but the bands won’t be revealed until the doors open that evening. The synth-pop St. Lucia is signed to Columbia. Frontman Jean-Philip Grobler, who hails from South Africa and is now based in Brooklyn, sounds like a cross between Morrissey and Rick Astley.

Freehold membership is free, but the list is curated, creating a supply-demand dynamic that results in lines of up to 1,000 people outside the Williamsburg venue on Friday and Saturday nights, marketing director Lydia Mazzolini said.

St. Lucia provides “an idea of the scale of band we’ll be showcasing for this series,” a Twitter spokewoman said. The social platform recently announced was teaming for live music streaming with Live Nation (one of 16 live stream partners Twitter announced at its first NewFronts presentation, an alternative to the upfronts, May 1 in New York. That collaboration kicked off with the Zac Brown Band, which streamed live from Atlanta on May 13. Other acts will include Train, August Alsina, Portugal. The Man and Marian Hill.

“With seven of the 10 most followed Twitter users musicians, and Billboard’s Grammy Awards live pre-show the most-viewed entertainment live stream on Twitter to date,” music-related content is a star performer for the platform, the Twitter rep noted, such brand extensions are a natural.

The Freehold venture is a bit different in that it won’t always involve original content, although some of the performances will stream @Periscope, and bands will have the opportunity to participate in Twitter Q&As as part of #StudioSessions.

The #StudioSessions concept grew of out of some shows in March, when electronic duo The Knocks finished their tour with a sold-out date at the 3,000 capacity Terminal 5 in Hell’s Kitchen with an unofficial encore at Freehold the following night. A show by indie pop easy-listeners Wet followed. Both were informally promoted via @TwitterMusic.

“We’ve been in talks with Twitter’s team for some time now, throwing ideas around for ways to officially partner,” Mazzolini noted. After a St. Lucia performance last year went over well with the crowd, Freehold decided to go all-in with a live performance series.

“The fact that we’ve had such amazing bands so far has created a buzz around the series, where people know they’re going to get a great performance. And it reinforces our loyalty-based Freeholder program,” Mazzolini said.

Twitter has installed its Twitter Studio photo booth on site for the event, so people can automatically upload images to the social platform and the idea is to get people socializing about the venue, the band and the show, extending the Freehold brand, while reinforcing Twitter as a platform to help break new acts.

“It’s creating community and conversation between Twitter, Freehold, our audience and our artists,” Mazzolini said. From Twitter’s perspective, it’s a matter of scaling to the needs of a particular promotional partner. Though the Live Nation deal, fans will be able to watch live performances from locations throughout the world. With Freehold, the idea is to get people out of the house and into the venue for an on-site experience.

Launched in 2015 by Brice Jones, a 31-year-old entrepreneur, Freehold is a 10,000 square-foot hospitality space designed to conjure a hotel lobby. The space includes multiple bars, a coffee shop, restaurant, game room, an outdoor courtyard and a live music and event space. Last year, Jones launched a Freehold app that includes a “private section” to keep member Freeholders connected. Members are privy to special deals and priority admittance with up to three guests. Mazzolini said the member concept has allowed Freehold to cultivate an influencer crowd of tastemakers while also enabling the company to reward loyal customers.

To peek inside Freehold, click here.


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