2 Minutes With … Cassie Petrey, Co-Founder of Crowd Surf

Helping brands and music artists work in harmony

Cassie built the company behind the social media initiatives for Backstreet Boys, Camila Cabello, Paramore, Nickelback and more. She co-founded Crowd Surf, a marketing and music management firm. At age 12, she created a BSB newsletter that reached fans worldwide. Years later, she helped reintroduce them to a next-generation audience.

Cassie was among the first in the music industry to recognize the marketing potential of nascent mid-2000s platforms Myspace and Facebook. Since then, Crowd Surf has evolved into a 50-person team with a presence in Nashville, L.A. and New York. It has a revolving roster featuring some of the most successful artists, comedians and companies in the industry, including Apple and Google, and labels such as Universal, Disney, Sony and Warner.

We spent two minutes with Cassie to learn more about her background, her creative inspirations and recent work she's admired.

Cassie, tell us …

Where you grew up, and where you live now. 

I grew up in Louisville, Ky., and I now live in Santa Monica.

Your earliest musical memory. 

I remember loving the soundtracks to Beauty and The Beast, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King and Aladdin

Your favorite bands/musicians today. 

I'm forever a child of Y2K, and grateful a lot of those artists are still active. I love Backstreet Boys, Pink, Usher and Nelly.

One of your favorite projects you've ever worked on. 

Working with the Backstreet Boys is the gift that keeps on giving. I'll never not be in shock that I get to be part of their world.

A recent project you're proud of. 

I just started work with an R&B boy band called Pop Money. They're signed to Republic Records. Incredibly talented and kind people. Can't wait for them to get out there and show what they're all about.

One thing about how the music world is evolving that you're excited about. 

Artists have more options than ever in terms of partners to release their music. You have choices now, and that's powerful.

Someone else's work, in music or beyond, that you admired lately. 

The new Duolingo program where you learn the basics of music theory and how to read music is amazing. I couldn't put that application down. It was so fun and easy to learn. You can't stop me from playing "Happy Birthday" on the piano now!

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring. 

I absolutely loved Season 2 of Love on the Spectrum. The honesty of their stories is magical. 

An artist you admire outside the world of music. 

I love resin art that resembles the ocean. People are doing awesome pieces with this technique in Hawaii. Akima Kai makes some really pretty pieces.

Your favorite fictional character. 

Olivia Pope. Forever and always the queen of handling things.

How musicians should approach working with brands. 

Most brands have a very different operating system than the music industry. Be patient in the process. It's not that nobody trusts you. It's that there's a lot of different checkpoints and nuances involved. Don't take it personally.

How brands should approach working with musicians. 

Musicians are creative beings who unfortunately have to open themselves up to public trolling on a daily basis. Be emphatic if they're overthinking how your collaboration might be perceived by their audience.

A mentor that helped you navigate the industry. 

Jennie Smythe at Girlilla Marketing is my sounding board, and has been since I was 18 years old. It's amazing to always have a person to call to ask, "Am I crazy?"

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the music business. 

I would have been a lawyer. I'm not sure in which field, but I would for sure be involved in litigation to some degree. I recently got to be an expert witness, and I found the process of being deposed and interrogated on the stand fascinating.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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