Social-media firm eyes entertainment biz

Foursquare is checking in at UTA.

The mobile-centric social-media service has signed with the talent agency to assist in striking partnerships and other business development opportunities within the entertainment industry.

“We’re excited to work with UTA to introduce the entertainment, music and media industry to the benefits of using foursquare to connect with our community of over 20 million people worldwide,” said Jonathan Crowley, director of media partnerships for Foursquare.

Since launching in 2009, Foursquare established itself in a busy sector with its location-based orientation, enabling “check ins” that connect users with others in the same geographic location and earn virtual badges for visiting venues.

Foursquare’s interest in Hollywood is believed to be purely an extension of that central mission. The company is expected to leverage UTA’s relationships to turn companies that might otherwise be passive participants in the check-in experience into more active partners. For instance, a record label, concert venue and musical act could all coordinate with Foursquare in a way that can drive value-adds to fans including marketing and merchandising opportunities.

The strategy is a reflection of Foursquare’s focus on real-world locations. Signing with UTA isn’t likely to yield departures into the social-TV phenomenon, which has seen numerous start-ups put an entertainment spin on Foursquare’s approach. Nor is Foursquare looking to be turned into a TV show, get product placements or lend its logo in the lower-third of TV shows.

Social-media firms like Facebook and Twitter don’t typically sign with talent agencies, though their interest in Hollywood tends to lead them to maintain West Coast offices. Foursquare is headquartered in New York and hasn’t spread out much beyond a San Francisco office that handles the engineering end of the business.

Foursquare has dabbled in Hollywood as far back as 2010, with content companies from Warner Bros. to Bravo having used the social-media platform to promote their programming. More recently, tie-ups have ranged from a partnership with VH1 to promote its “Save the Music” foundation to author Nicholas Sparks using Foursquare to spread the word about the release of “The Lucky One,” the latest of his books to be adapted to film.

Eric Kuhn, head of social media at UTA, was responsible for bringing in Foursquare. He first worked with the company in his previous post overseeing social media at CNN, where he collaborated with Foursquare on several initiatives.

“We’re excited to be able to connect this forward-thinking company with other forward thinkers throughout the entertainment industry,” he said.

With a digital division under the direction of Brent Weinstein, UTA already counts numerous tech companies to its client list, including Crimson Hexagon, Brand Affinity Technologies and Young Hollywood.

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