Blavity Inc., known for amplifying Black voices and reshaping the media landscape, is in the spotlight again. With the acquisition of RNB House Party and its subsequent rebranding to Blavity House Party, the media giant aims to scale heights never reached before. But what drives this change? In an exclusive interview with Mike Hadgis—who joined the company earlier this year as its Chief Revenue Officer—he sheds light on Blavity’s strategic growth and the promising opportunities ahead.
Under Hadgis’ leadership, Blavity Media Group’s custom digital product offering are taking a new shape, creating a more aggressive growth strategy for the division, and increasing its profit margins. Before joining Blavity, Hadgis worked as the chief business officer at ATTN:, a media company, production studio and creative agency bridging entertainment with topical issues to explain the world. There he oversaw all revenue lines of business and strategy for sales, marketing, agency sales & consulting, experiential, revenue strategy, & pricing. Mike helped ATTN: become profitable, which allowed the brand to successfully exit to Candle Media (owned by Blackstone) in June 2022.
“I am excited to join the market leader in Black media and technology to help them continue to build their brand partnerships,” Hadgis says of his appointment. “With our growing brand portfolio, Blavity Culture Ad Network, and AfroTech, we are the best spot for brands to reach Black millennials while also investing in Black-owned media.”
Prior to ATTN:, Hadgis was Vox Media’s first-ever head of revenue & partnerships, in charge of the brand’s ad network and all client revenue strategies for the company. Mike helped secure Vox Media’s most significant partnerships with brands like Google, Capital One, StubHub, Ford, John Frieda, and more. He also represented Vox Media as a board member for the AdCouncil.
His experience as a digital media leader who can coach and mentor the team is what Blavity CEO and Founder Morgan DeBaun believes will help the Black-owned and Black-led media company expand its product offerings. “He has a proven track record for identifying growth areas and capitalizing on them. We are excited to have Mike expand our partnerships with CMOs and agencies seeking to invest in Black-owned media.”
Making the first move: RNB House Party
Less than a year on the job and Hadgis is confident in a new acquisition that aims to enhance the company’s experiential business. RNB House Party, a famous Black-owned family business known for its exceptional productions and traveling day parties, now part of Blavity will live on under its new identity Blavity House Party. As part of the acquisition, Blavity Media Group will have its first music festival in 2024. In addition to the acquisition, the founder of RNB House Party, Charles Kuykendoll, joins the company as general manager of community at Blavity Inc.
Prior to founding RNB House Party and joining Blavity, he held several key roles at Stripe, Airbnb and Facebook. At Stripe, Kuykendoll was the global lead for talent brand, events, & DEI partnerships. Before then, he was Airbnb’s principal for engineering leadership recruiting and Facebook’s technical sourcing lead and led university recruiting for PhD machine learning initiatives.
“Charles Kuykendoll will play a pivotal role in nurturing and growing our community, given his extensive experience in both talent acquisition and the events sector,” Hadgis says. Drawing from Kuykendoll’s rich background in talent acquisition and events, Kuykendoll is now tasked with bolstering community relations and ensuring Blavity House Party events truly resonate with attendees. He will oversee event planning and execution to ultimately enhance the overall Blavity House Party experience.
Getting advertisers on board
As Grand View Research forecasts the U.S. music festival market to expand at a compound annual rate of 10.4% between 2020 and 2027, Blavity Media Group is gearing up to host its first music festival in 2024.
Hadgis says it is a strategic move, to provide advertisers with unparalleled access to a highly engaged multicultural millennial and Gen Z audience within the booming festival market. “We aim to deliver value by offering advertisers contextual alignment with hard-to-reach demographics, a trusted network of creator talent, and a comprehensive suite of content creation and monetization tools.”
Blavity aims to enable brands to tap into the influencer-led advertising opportunities that are increasingly crucial in reaching today’s multicultural consumers. Considering the rising buying power of the multicultural community, which is expected to reach $1.8 trillion by next year, Hadgis and his team are moving quickly to bridge the gap between brands and the new majority of multicultural millennials and Gen Z.
“We offer a unique opportunity for brands to authentically connect with this audience through a portfolio of premium brands and cultural moments. Marketers can tap into the cultural zeitgeist by partnering with us, driving both brand affinity and loyalty,” he adds.
While the revenue chief shares that Blavity Inc’s events have been consistently growing in popularity year over year, particularly AfroTech, he says could not provide specific attendee numbers at the time of this interview. Counting Blavity House Party’s addition to their portfolio, Hadgis adds, “We anticipate a significant increase in event attendance. Our focus remains on quality and cultural relevance, ensuring that each event attracts a massive and engaged audience.”
In addition to Blavity House Party, Blavity offers a range of experiential offerings to empower brands in reaching younger consumers. Flagship events including Blavity Grammy’s House Party, All-Star Weekend, and an HBCU Homecoming House Party serve as cultural touchpoints for brands to engage authentically.
“We are entering a new phase of growth and innovation within our Blavity Media Group division,” DeBaun says of the expanding company offerings. “The acquisition of RNB House Party marks a pivotal step in our journey to provide impactful experiences and leverage the scale of our reach to bring our audience together in person.”