It’s 2018 and we must acknowledge that race barriers sadly exist for too many Americans. Today in 1961 #Motown released its first million-seller. #ShopAround by #TheMiracles. Talk about breaking cultural barriers. Amazing achievement. I almost didn’t post this cause I didn’t want the importance to sound contrived—me being a white guy posting during #BlackHistoryMonth. But I happen to love #SmokeyRobinson. And I’ve had the pleasure of working with him. This anniversary deserves acknowledgment.
In honor of the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl win earlier this week (and the Grammys last week) we’re gonna kick off the weekend with a Philly-born Grammy-winning legend—DJ Jazzy Jeff. Born in Philly, winner of HipHop’s first Grammy (for 1989’s ‘Parents Just Don’t Understand’) and legit creator of Turntablism’s game-changing Transform scratch—DJ Jazzy Jeff is still so good that Hollywood went to him to perform all the scratching in the feature film ‘Straight Outta Compton.’
This set is almost three years old—but so damn good. Hosted by collaborator and MC, Dayne Jordan, here is DJ Jazzy Jeff performing a tribute to the late-great J. Dilla from Johnny Brenda’s on N. Frankford Avenue in Philadelphia, PA.
Happy Friday. And you’re welcome!
Does it matter that the “safe choice” for Music TV’s single biggest performance doesn’t have a good album?
This Sunday Justin Timberlake takes the Super Bowl Halftime stage to support an album that Pitchfork describes as “shallow” and “a huge misstep for Justin” …but does it matter?
Let’s start with why Justin? Let’s be honest—he’s not musically exciting, he’s already done it, and nobody misses him yet. So wasn’t there anyone else the fans would be more excited to see?
Millennial pop fans prefer Charlie Puth – but JT is okay
R&B pop fans prefer Cardi B – but JT is okay
Older pop fans prefer Madonna – but JT is okay
Rock fans apparently don’t exist
Country fans prefer Chris Stapleton – but JT is okay if he brings Chris Stapleton
So when you look at it that way—JT is the clear and obvious choice for today’s TV Executive. The question of “is he musically relevant right now?” wasn’t even asked. Booking rule number one for TV Execs should always be—how is the music?
As long as we’re attempting to safely appeal to the perfect middle of a divided country, JT is what we get. But I can’t help but believe that going for the “second best booking” because it safely checks the boxes isn’t just a cop-out. How well is “lowest common denominator” working in other areas?
Now, throwing a bone to JT… his catalog and charisma may pull him through just fine. But I do hope he doesn’t bring Jimmy Fallon on stage. If he brings out Janet Jackson however— I’ll forgo another trip to the seven-layer dip and watch what happens. All that said, a “safe” performer with a questionable new album should not be enough to book TV’s biggest music gig.
Yes, everyone will be a ratings expert by Monday morning. But answering the headline’s question of “does it matter” two day’s before the event isn’t a sure thing. He’s a star for a reason, even if that reason happened a few years back. Social media will rant regardless of quality, so perhaps the actual Halftime ratings will be the only true definition of Halftime success or failure.
If Halftime experiences a ratings drop-off of Grammy proportions then yes, it matters. Take a knee to that.
We’re proud of the latest campaign we created for the amazing non-profit A Better Balance—called Family Leave Works. And we’re even more proud to help spread their message this holiday season in support of New York State’s ground-breaking paid family leave law which goes into effect January 1st, 2018. You can learn more about the amazing work they do by visiting www.FamilyLeaveWorks.org.
You can help too with a simple Tweet or Post of support…
I support #FamilyLeaveWorks and paid family leave.
Learn more at FamilyLeaveWorks.org
We’ll also be taking meetings on behalf of client JA Films (#RollingStones, #Adele, #EdSheeran).
Meet with us at the @Live4everMedia Lounge at the Omni. Email GabrielGornell@LocoDistro.com if you wanna meet up to talk music branding, distribution, and 360º packaging.
Written by Gabriel Gornell
Gabriel Gornell is a branding, production, and distribution executive who has worked with countless artists that range from The Rolling Stones to Oscar the Grouch.
If your band’s attractive lead singer gets 300 likes for every pouty pic on Instagram—but you struggle to get 50 people to come to your gigs—you’ve got great reach but terrible impact. Same holds true for established acts just a few years out of their prime who have a respectable Facebook following—but struggle to get decent festival bookings.
Of course there are many factors involved in branding your music project (like the actual music for instance) but this post focuses on the importance of consistency.
Across the go-to social platforms, messaging from both established acts and emerging acts compete against millions of posts from hundreds of thousands of artists. Snoop Dogg alone puts up 5-10 Instagrams per day.
Further complicating, even if you do break through the clutter, ‘likes’ and ‘follows’ aren’t the only measure of your branding success. Don’t get us wrong—the reach you can get from Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook is awesome. But reach is not the same thing as impact. So how can your posts possibly stand out? Have any impact? And how can you convert ‘likes’ to ‘listens’ on a distribution platform like SoundCloud? This article explains why consistency helps.
The Van Halen logo will be our obvious example. This mark has changed very little since 1978, and regardless of who’s singing—it represents the Van Halen brand. Almost 40 years later, the Van Halen brand is so strong—they’ve survived 3 singers, internal feuds, Wolfgang on bass, and lots more. Obviously they back up their brand-promise with a guitar god, Diamond Dave, classic records, and a great mythology that all work together. But for the most part—long before social media mattered— they’ve been consistent with regard to their identity materials. They’ve actually been more consistent than The Rolling Stones who create a new tongue treatment for every tour and every album. In a sense, Van Halen has become the Coca-Cola of Rock n’ Roll branding. And here is why Van Halen-like consistency will help your music project.
Reason #1 The most obvious benefit of consistency is increased awareness because the more your audience is exposed to your brand—the better their chances of remembering it. And simply put, if you keep changing it there is less chance your audience will remember it. ‘Effective frequency’ is the marketing lingo for this. Understanding all the competition and clutter out there—even the old advertising ‘Rule of 7’ probably isn’t enough anymore.
The Rule of 7 states that a customer needs to “hear” a marketing message at least 7 times before they’ll buy that product or service.
Today most marketing experts put effective frequency numbers much higher than just 7 times. But wherever you think it is for your particular audience (7 times, 20x, 100x) one thing everyone generally agrees on is that messages are more effective when repeated. So don’t waste your brand impressions by being inconsistent!
The benefit of effective frequency and consistency working together is true across all entertainment mediums. Have you ever seen a televised award show where the show logo is different in the on-air promos, the step-and-repeat, and the animated show open? One show with three logos happens more than you’d expect (not mentioning any producer names). Not surprising, the network then wonders why their unaided awareness numbers are slipping. Partially they’re slipping because televised award shows have become boring as shit. But it’s also because their brand team doesn’t keep a watchful eye—and their effective frequency is watered down by inconsistent branding.
Reason #2 Consistency conveys your identity and attitude. A focused effort to establish and maintain consistent branding across all your touchpoints (social, website, SoundCloud page, EPKs, etc.) will deliver a specific set of impressions. Do you follow through? Will you deliver a decent bar tab? Will you get the ratings? Will you sell the tickets?
Reason #3 Consistency helps you manage perceptions. By thinking deliberately about your brand message and what you’re trying to accomplish—you control how people perceive your music project. This goes beyond your fans—it also helps manage what promoters, venues, labels, and sponsors think of you.
Reason #4 Consistency connotes professionalism and stability. Let’s be honest—labels, promoters, distribution partners, and sponsors hate instability. In 2017, even Guns N’ Roses show up on time—and all of their current materials reference their ‘Not In This Lifetime’ tour with impressive consistency. So act like a stable organization!
Reason #5 Consistency eliminates issues surrounding brand confusion. For many emerging music acts (especially emerging DJs… no digs intended), their branding is actually more of a hindrance than a help. A consistent brand should instill confidence rather than prompt confusion. Which EDM artist was that again?
Reason #6 Consistency protects your investment. Without established brand standards—many labels, managers, and producers will spend thousands of dollars building a brand—only to have it degraded by inconsistent and sloppy application. Build equity in your brand by being consistent and build upon previous successes.
In a nutshell, be Van Halen. Be consistent.
“The intangible sum of a product’s attributes: its name, packaging, and price, its history, its reputation, and the way it’s advertised.” —David Ogilvy
Many years later, this simple yet telegraphic definition is still the best. And it holds true regardless of whether the brand is a toothpaste or a rock band— though for bands, there are some obvious additions to the list. Regardless… how do you define and guide an emerging brand/band when most of these elements aren’t yet known? By writing down what it is that you want!
For us—Every successful distribution plan. Every marketing plan. Every identity plan. And every concert film starts with some basic branding exercises. And if your brand isn’t yet defined, start by telling us what you want. Give us your top ten.
For any emerging artist or music project we urge you to start by simply making a list of the top ten things that you’d like to accomplish. And there are no wrong answers!
- Release a record
- Sell my concert film to Netflix
- Put $100K into a savings account within 18 months.
- Write 20 new songs
- Book two gigs per month
- Whatever they are, they are!
The music side of the entertainment business is a challenging winding journey to say the least. So give your projects their best chance by clearly defining your goals upfront—so that you may then develop strong strategic plans to accomplish those goals.
From a sales and distribution standpoint—clearly defining where you’re going and how you’re going to get there will soon be as much of your brand as your music.
(Funny aside, I actually shot a commercial for the Spice Girls dolls during my advertising years. They are probably worth a ton today!)
As an entertainment exec with on-going projects that straddle production, distribution, and branding—I’m always taken by how often entertainment properties (music, film, TV, event) seem to forego basic marketing concepts. This post isn’t going to delve into deep strategy—but it will ‘shine a light’ on some awesome band logos! Here are my 20 favorite band logos—along with a couple honorable mentions. Enjoy.
Iron Maiden: Likely inspired by the movie poster for 1976’s ‘The Man To Fell To Earth’, the classic band logo was supposedly created by bassist Steve Harris and has been used since the band’s 1979 debut. Other reports credit the logo to British artist Derek Riggs who is best known for creating the legendary mascot Eddie—and countless album covers.
Metallica: Guitarist James Hetfield created this piece of rock history in the 80s. It’s simplicity, aggressiveness, and balance make it a near perfect rock n’ roll logo. Plus it’s got lightening bolts, which are basically the “more cowbell” of rock logo design. Hetfield also created the band’s 1996 version as well the band’s ninja star marks. Ninja stars and lightening bolts. Awesome.
ᗅᗺᗷᗅ: The official logo was designed by Rune Söderqvist, and appeared for the first time on ‘Dancing Queen’ in 1976. Since then, it’s appeared on every album and single. There are conflicting reports on the origin of the backwards B but regardless ‘Mama Mia’ fans can happily recreate it by using the bold version of the News Gothic typeface.
The Grateful Dead: The Dead’s logo was designed by Owsley Stanley and rendered by Bob Thomas. Amongst the deadheads, this mark is best known as the ‘Steal your Face’ logo, which is named after the band’s 1976 live album of the same name. That said, the mark it first appeared on the cover of ‘History of the Grateful Dead, Volume One’ from 1973.
Aerosmith: Guitarist Raymond Tabano only played with the band until 1971—but certainly his mark by designing one of the most recognized band logos in rock history. First seen on the 1974 album ‘Get Your Wings’ it continues to represent the band to this day.
Bauhaus: This one may not count. The Bauhaus logo was originally designed by Oskar Schlemmer in 1922 for the Bauhaus school in Germany. Can the band get credit for simply adopting it as their own? This entire list isn’t all that serious—so why not?
Black Flag: This logo was designed by American artist Raymond Pettibon (aka Raymond Ginn) who happens to be the brother of Black Flag guitarist/founder Greg Ginn around 1977. Pettibon also named the band (previously called Panic) which was to represent opposite of a white flag of surrender.
The Cramps: Part punk, part rockabilly, and possibly the creators of Psychobilly—the wackadoos known as The Cramps cemented their place in retro-rock kitsch culture when frontman Lux Interior based the band’s logo from EC Comics’ title ‘Tales From the Crypt.’
The French duo’s logo is as enigmatic as the band itself. Thomas Bangalter (one half the duo) once explained “To us, the Daft Punk logo should be the star – the concept is to keep us more low-profile than the music itself.” We’re unsure of the logo’s origin, but electronic fans will be happy to know a font was created called Daft Font (credit to MatreroG) which is pretty damn close!
The Scissor Sisters’ logo was designed by the band’s guitarist Scott “Babydaddy” Hoffman in 2001 immediately after frontman/singer Jake Shears came up with the band name—which happens to be a slang expression for lesbians. Babydaddy recalls “He told it to me, and I made the logo the next day” by merging the two everyday images.
PRINCE RIP. In the world of merging two familiar images to create a new mark—an honorable mention must be given to Prince for his 1993 unpronounceable logo – known as the “Love Symbol” – which incorporates the images for Mars (male) and Venus (female). Extra points because the Purple one has turned this into some very cool custom guitars
NYC thrash legends Anthrax have stood the test of time—as has their aggressive angular logo. The logo, as well as the band’s first album cover (1983’s ‘Fistful of Metal’) were designed by Kent Joshpe. The band’s creative direction was simple—make it feel like a guy’s face was being punched through from the back of his head. Damn Daniel! Over the years, their pointy logo has been on everything from baseball caps to wristbands to the all important measure of success—painted denim jackets.
The Nine Inch Nails logo was designed in 1989 by Trent Reznor and Gary Talpas, who worked as art director on albums through 1997. The type treatment was inspired by the sleeve of Talking Heads’ ‘Remain In Light’ album which also featured bold type—but flopped the A’s in a similar fashion to the flopped N of the NIN logo. The logo first appeared within the music video for Nine Inch Nails’ debut single, “Down in It.”
In the early 70s everything about this band was split. In fact, in a Creem magazine poll, The New York Dolls were elected both best and worst new group of 1973. They were pre-punk, pre-glam, and 40 years later they are recognized as one of the most influential band’s of all time. Their smudged lipstick logo led the charge first appearing on their self-titled debut.
MTB: It’s been with the band since 1971—and GRAMMY® Magazine featured it as one of the ten most distinctive artist logos that “need no introduction” along with some others from my list here.
Allman Brothers Band While honoring this countrified (or country fried?) type-driven style, it’s hard to completely ignore the also-famous logo for The Allman Brothers Band. But for readability and impact—we went with MTB as our first choice.
Contrary to popular belief, this pop art-inspired logo has actually never appeared on an album by The Who. It was designed by Brian Pike in 1964 for a poster advertising the group’s gig at London’s Marquee club. It subsequently found its way onto thousands of pins, badges, t-shirts, notebooks, and denim jackets becoming a key element of mod iconography.
KISS’ first lead guitarist, Ace Frehley, came up with the famous logo which first appeared on the band’s second album, ‘Hotter Than Hell’ in 1974. What’s the key to the logo success? You got it, lightening bolts! Interestingly, the German version of the KISS logo is differently because the two S lightening bolts too closely resemble the Nazi SS symbol with is illegal to depict in Germany. Kinda hard to have an issue with this modification.
AC/DC’s logo was designed by Atlantic Records creative art director Bob Defrin and the now legendary logo made its debut on the international edition of ‘Let There Be Rock.’ Hmmm… it’s actually one of four logos on this top 20 list to feature lightening bolts. Got that young bands? When in doubt, add lightening bolts. And with this in our #4 spot, Axl sort of made our list. Sort of.
John Lydon came up for the idea for this logo for his post-Sex Pistols band, Public Image Ltd., and wanted it to resemble an aspirin—get it? The artist he commissioned to design the logo was Dennis Morris, who had previously been the Sex Pistols’ official photographer.
Sex Pistols Honorable mention should go to Jamie Reid for designing the Sex Pistols logo in 1977. The Sex Pistols logo didn’t make this list because although I love Lydon—I just couldn’t give him two logos on the same list. Piss off.
The Van Halen mark is probably the most scribbled band logo of all time on school lockers, desks, and notebooks! Designed by Dave Bhang, The stylized VH logo is an example of formal design perfection – although, interestingly, they changed its wings from angular to curvy to announce the arrival of Sammy Hagar on ‘5150’ in 1986. In retrospect… I really like Sammy.
No surprise here. But it’s freaking undeniable. The Rolling Stones’ world-famous logo was designed by art student John Pasche in 1970—and on the ‘Sticky Fingers’ album in 1971. Poor Pasche was paid just £250 over a period of two years for his work. Supposedly, the logo was equally inspired by the mouths of both Mick Jagger and the Hindu goddess Kali. Sorry Miss P, but personally, I’d rather make out with Kali.
Originally Published on Linkedin:
As an EP/Director who has also been a partner with a sales & distribution company for several years, I’m often asked for my thoughts on distribution. Particularly, about international distribution in the form of pre-sales.
I hear this all the time…
“Do you think we can cover our budget from pre-sales?”
And this question is not coming from inexperienced producers. Truth is, many working producers really have no idea how it works. And it’s not their fault. The business, especially the TV business, has positioned itself to take a lot of the “producing” out of making content. So producers can go their whole career without being exposed to piecing the budget together from various sources—with international pre-sales being one of them.
Let’s be honest, many producers support themselves with “production commissions” in which they actually own none of the show or feature they produce. Therefore, they never take those shows to market—and so they never experience how international works.
Disclaimer… obviously TV and Film are different, but there are enough similarities between markets like Mipcom in Cannes and EFM in Berlin that some generalities can be made. Here we go.
Truth is, it’s HARD for an indie producer to pre-sell international. International isn’t the sure thing that many producers believe. Buyers are picky. MGs are down. And some countries just seem to be flat broke. Just because Tom Cruise films make money overseas regardless of their US performance HARDLY means your film or show will pre-sell overseas! For the record… I’m a Tom Cruise fan. The above example wasn’t a jab—it was actually a compliment.
Now… before we dive into International it might be easier to quickly touch on US sales as a point of reference. In my experience, there are five things you need to cover-off if you want to be taken seriously by US buyers before the movie is actually made. (Note: Once the movie is made, and buyers can actually watch it, throw most of this out the window!)
Top 5 List: Pitching Scripted to Domestic
2. Showrunner or Director
3. The Relationship With The Buyer
4. The IP as a whole—including the Writer attachment
5. The Script
Explanations…. #1 is Talent. So surprise. Can you see the talent’s face on a poster or billboard? I don’t really care if the talent acted brilliantly in the supporting role of a movie nobody saw. If you can’t see their face on a poster… your sale is that much harder.
#2 The Showrunner or Director. Gimme a safe track record, and selling the show or movie is much easier.
#3 The Relationship with the buyer. If you’ve never sold to a particular buyer before… guess what? Your chances are lower than the other EP who has. Relationships matter. Put someone on your team who has previously sold to the buyers on your hit list.
#4 and #5. The IP and the Script. Many may disagree with the order I put #4 & #5 in. But I think that if you wanna be taken seriously than you first need buyers to get past the synopsis—or the value of the IP as a whole which includes the writer attachment. Without this, the buyer may never even read the script. Basically, the creative concept has to have some merit in some way, shape or form.
Okay. So that’s the over-simplified foundation. Now we’re onto what this article is actually about: International Pre-Sales. Here are the five things you should try to lock-down if you wanna be well-positioned for International Pre-Sales.
Top 5 List: Pitching Scripted for International Pre-Sales
1. US Network or Studio
3. The Relationship With The Buyer
4. The IP as a whole—including the Writer attachment
5. The Script
Explanations… Now, most of these are the same as Domestic for the same reasons—just in a slightly different order. But there is one major exception and one major hiccup.
#1 is the US Network or Studio. We call this the “country of origin” rule. Basically, if you’re making an American movie with American filmmakers and American talent than you had better be able to demonstrate that at the very least—American buyers want it! Put yourself in the Italian buyer’s head. Why should he pre-buy this American content for Italy if nobody in America even wants it?
The day you can say “Our US partner is Warner Brothers” is the day you’ll be taken more seriously in areas of international pre-sales. The same is true for TV Networks. You gotta sell the country of origin first, or your International Pre-Sales challenge becomes very very very difficult.
Now here is the hiccup: #3 The Relationship With The Buyer. This is a hiccup because it’s hard. Think about how hard it is (as an indie producer) to have relationships with all the buyers here in the US—your own damn country! Now multiply that list by 80 countries, and factor in that many of these buyers speak languages that you don’t. Not to mention that it’s not as simple as hopping on the 405 to go see them for a drink.
#3 is the reason that an entire entertainment sub-business of international sales agents exist. These are people who’s primary business it is knowing the international buyers, and traveling to the various international markets several times a year to see them.
So in a nut-shell, this is LocoDistro’s over-simplified take on the 5 most important things you need to focus on when pitching scripted content for International pre-sales. By the way, the answer to that above listed example question… “Do you think we can cover our budget from pre-sales?” …is NO! But more on that in a future post.
Hope you enjoyed the article, and possibly even learned something!
Originally Published to Linkedin Here:
How creatively involved do you really want your business-minded producers to be?
A few weeks ago a colleague who I’ve done business with for years said something that I found shocking. I’ll refer to this colleague as Lana.
To put things in context, we’re soon to begin packaging a feature film based on a script from an interesting writer—and there are already some exciting elements attached. I’m wearing the hat of creative-producer and Lana is wearing the hat of business-producer. After a few weeks, I asked Lana if she’s read the script. Boom. I put it out there. Basically… Are you into this or not? To my dismay, Lana responded… “Nope. Have not read it. I’m not the creative producer. To me, it’s a product. I will read it soon however.”
It got me to thinking… a product?
Has Lana lost her sense of direction? Her sense of purpose? Has she forgotten why we do this for a living? Or, and even more troubling… did Lana maintain the perfect level of indifference so not to be emotionally driven in business-based decisions? After all… I’m dedicated to the creative, and perhaps Lana knows that I’ve got it covered.
Then I asked myself for the truth: As the creative producer, do I really want creative comments from Lana anyway? Or do I just want her to dig-into tax law, international compliance, and identifying the equity folks. Focus on what you’re good at Lana! I’ve got a whole circle of artists who I can discuss the creative with. Let’s be honest, Lana is not a creative person. And that’s why we love her!
Full circle. Hmmm.
Realization: Am I dwelling on this because Lana referred to the script as just “a product” to me? Holy shit. It’s my creative ego, isn’t it? How can something I’m a part of simply be “a product” in Lana’s mind? I thought we all agreed I was an artiste? Maybe this is my hang-up after all—and it has got nothing to do with whether or not Lana should or shouldn’t read the script.
So here are questions raised: How creatively involved do you really want your business-minded producers to be? And is your answer to that question driven by practicality or ego?
While nobody likes to hear that their art is just a product—Maybe that’s okay.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.