Be First to Be Heard, CES 2019 Panel Recap

Let’s face it, everyone wants to be first. It’s more important than ever to make that first impression and get ahead of your competition. But, in such a crowded and noisy environment, how do you create first-to-market opportunities that still surprise and catch the attention of consumers?

At CES, we sat down with an esteemed group of panelists for their take on ‘Being First to Be Heard.’ Check out the highlights below.


  • Minjae Ormes, CMO, Visible
  • Chris Phillips, CPO, Pandora
  • Mike Weissman, COO, SoundCloud
  • Lizzo, American Hip-Hop Artist
  • Tim Peterson, Sr. Reporter, Digiday (Moderator)

CES Panel Recap

On first-to-market opportunities and why they’re important

First-to-market opportunities can come in a variety of forms: partnerships, content, product launches, etc. For Minjae Ormes, CMO of Visible—a new digital only, unlimited phone service that brought it’s own $40-a-month-no-matter-what twist to the space—it’s all about showing up in a way that’s different. Hence, the company’s recent partnership with the up-and-coming pop superstar, Lizzo. (If you haven’t listened to her new single, Juice, you should.)

Mike Weissman, COO of SoundCloud, which played a critical role in the brand partnership, elaborated:

On the flip side, Chris Phillips, CPO at Pandora, talks about how to make a difference from a platform standpoint: “Being the product person and creating and inventing new products, I always look at our team and ask, what is the real big, important, unmet need or problem? What is that thing that we can do that matters to a lot of people, that no one has really done, or done well?” The end goal? To create something that makes consumers say, “I can’t live without this.”

On Risk and Doing Something New

Besides the risk, Phillips warns brands that their reputation is also on the line. However, sometimes you have to make that big jump in order to experiment and really learn.

Chris Phillips discusses Pandora’s recent Podcast launch:

Ormes approached the topic from a new brand perspective, considering the riskiness of putting your brand out there for the first time ever in partnership with an artist, especially because anything can happen. However, as long as you set goals and there is alignment between the brand and the artist, artist partnerships can cultivate amazing communities that you can’t find elsewhere. Lizzo agreed, “it was lit.” Between the intimacy of the concert and one-of-a-kind activations, the event brought people together in a unique way.

On Testing and Data

The panelists concurred, almost everything they do is, in some way, a test. Weissman adds that in today’s digital world, it’s much easier to see what works and what doesn’t. Data can be collected quickly in order to course correct from both a brand and an artist standpoint.

When asked her thoughts on artist data, Lizzo expressed her appreciation:

And because of artist data, Lizzo found out, to her surprise, that she has a big fanbase in Germany—and is now doing a show there!

On the platform side, Phillips describes how he “geeks out on data” and the value of the information Pandora provides artists:

“You put out a new song and we can feature it, we can actually spin it to new audience and tell you how many thumbs up, thumbs down, and how quickly. You can even understand which song is popular in which city, so when you tour there you could lead with this song, or finish with that song.”

On Keeping It Authentic

It’s not just important for brands to to keep it real, it’s important for artists, too. Lizzo admits she has been lucky that every brand she has worked with so far has respected her message and let her be herself. She advises, “you have to stay true to yourself.”

Ormes unpacks the Visible + Lizzo partnership strategy:

Interested in more content from CES? Check out our ‘What Does the Future Sound Like’ podcast and panel session recap here.