Visible Is Building a Transparent Music Box at SXSW Where You Can Record a Track

Phone provider is also hosting three days of live performances, from Andrew Bird to Patty Griffin

Inside will be a guitar, amp, drum set and karaoke set. Visible
Headshot of Marty Swant

Anyone who’s ever gone to South by Southwest in Austin and had a hankering for making their own music might finally get the chance.

As part of a street closure during next month’s festival, Verizon-backed digital-only phone provider Visible is building a clear “Music Box” that it hopes will be both as a respite from the busy festival and also serve as a metaphor for its “transparent” $40 flat phone bill.

The structure will serve as a venue for both musicians (and non-musicians) to pick up an instrument and play a track. Inside of the plexiglass box will be a guitar, amp, drum set and karaoke set. Individuals or groups can play a song that will then be recorded and emailed to them after the performance.

According to Visible CMO Minjae Ormes, the idea is for the brand debut at the festival and blend in with what everyone is already there for: music.

“We’re assuming that a lot of people in Austin may be seeing us for the first time physically,” she said. “So the idea was, let’s give them something fun to do in addition to their experience at [SXSW].”

Visible, one of the main sponsors for the music portion of the festival, is also planning to have a larger area near an outdoor stage, where visitors can charge their phones while also interacting with the brand. To get access, visitors will have to “emote”—a reference to the face in the brand’s logo—which will unlock a variety of features at the pop-up.

The activation was developed in partnership with creative agency Madwell and Zenith’s VM1.

While the bands for Thursday and Friday’s music lineups have not yet been announced, Ormes said musicians for Saturday will include Andrew Bird and Patty Griffin. She said SXSW conference organizers worked with Visible to make sure the bands who played on the stage aligned with fans who might be interested in Visible’s services.

SXSW is just one of several ways Visible is trying to be more, well, visible at festivals and various cities around the U.S. Last fall at the Grandoozy music festival in the company’s home state of Colorado, it delivered “hangover kits” to attendees, which included breakfast burritos. In New York City, it hosted a pop-up store with fake products including an upside-down subway platform. And later next month, it’ll begin rolling out an out-of-home campaign in Los Angeles.

“This is the connecting point between wanting to be contextually relevant and about music,” Ormes said. “But we wanted to provide a space that had people saying, ‘Hold on, I want to check it out.’”

@martyswant Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.