It took me many years to understand that taking a holiday wasn’t counterproductive to living ‘that producer life’ but actually a necessary reset to be even more productive for the long haul.
Producers understand this: When you’re in it… there’s no half-stepping. You gotta be 110% on. But grind for a few years without a proper unplug, and you get burned out. Especially when living that ‘rise & grind’ within today’s hyper-connected social/zoom/media/call-me-on-my-mobile world.
This June is my unplug, so I can come back swinging in July… fully charged. And the Amalfi Coast ain’t a bad place to do it. Let’s be honest.
I love these brand extensions. Like Hall & Oats, Sonny and Cher, and Chico and the Man… it’s during these trying times we can rest a little easier with the power duo of Martha and Snoop for our evening’s numbnation. In their latest “joint” venture, Martha released a wine under the same label as Snoop, 19 Crimes from Treasury Wine Estates. I honestly had no idea about Martha’s entry until I happened upon this glorious end-aisle display at Trader Joe’s in the Marina (dey Rey).
The Australian 19 Crimes caught my eye almost immediately in 2012 when it launched with a brand and label design which included some pretty cool augmented reality, especially for the time. Each bottle comes with a criminal’s tale, a decent blend, and an even more drinkable price. What’s not to love?
More recently came the Aussie’s first foray into California varieties with Snoop Cali Red in 2020 followed by Snoop Cali Rosé in 2021. A cross-promo collab which is working well for all parties.
And now this… Martha’s Chard in 2022. Despite the complete sh*+ show in Eastern Europe, here at home we can fill our tanks for $6 bucks a gallon, then blissfully motor to TJ’s for an $11.99 bottle of “tell me everything is gonna be alright.”
And the reviews seem to be decent too. She’s taking the piss without pouring it. No her name ain’t baby. It’s Martha. Miss Stewart if you’re Chianti. She went on to say “The world didn’t need just another Chardonnay, so I created one that is clean, crisp, and flavorful without being too heavy or oaky. It pairs perfectly with my delicious recipes or can be enjoyed on its own. I hope you love it as much as I do!“
Now putting artist names on perfume bottles at Walgreens still makes me cringe a little (sorry Glow by Jennifer Lopez). But these mass-market elixirs with “artist names on the bottles” actually feels good to me. So with Snoop Cali Red and now Martha’s Chard, yes, everything is gonna be alright.
This one is obviously inspired by my wife and daughter. But it’s in support of all women who kick ass and inspire… which happens to be almost exactly half of the human population. Despite the recent post-woke rhetoric from some noisy (but completely out of touch) middle-aged-white men, the pendulum has NOT swung too far in the other direction.
Don’t believe the hype: The stats confirm that it’s NOT suddenly harder to be a white male in Film & TV. In fact, gender equality still isn’t even close in ANY of the key positions of influence. Further, gender equality actually dipped over the last 12 months among producers and editors.
We need to get real with this stuff.
Note: The actual stats are from the ‘Center For The Study of Women in Film and TV’ – but I need to credit Evan Shapiro for including this chart in his recent post, or I wouldn’t have seen the stats or his graphic.
I am. And here’s a pic of ERW from ‘WEIRD: The Al Yankovic Story‘ which happens to be a music biopic that I really want to see. Not only is Al Yankovic simply a lovely guy… but his journey and accomplishments are astonishing.
In addition to the first look of ERW as Madonna, Roku Inc. also announced a few more additions to the cast. Rainn Wilson (“The Office”) as radio DJ Dr. Demento, Julianne Nicholson (“Mare of Easttown”) as Weird Al’s mum Mary Yankovic and Toby Huss (“Halt and Catch Fire”) as Weird Al’s father Nick Yankovic.
Curious… the only biopic that I’m more interested in is ‘I’m With The Band’ from Pamela Des Barres. (based on the NY Times Best Seller) Funny… it was at Pamela’s house that I met Al.
The world keeps counting her out but Britney keeps coming back stronger than ever. Here, Rolling Stone ranks the work of one of THE most influential artists of the past generation by counting down every song she’s ever done — from world-changing hits (Oops!, Hit me baby, Toxic, etc) to cha-ching corporate rock like 2004’s “We Will Rock You” with Pink and Beyoncé for Pepsi (which they rank at #70 btw).
It’s a great trip down Britney lane. And it commands #MusicIndustry respect because every song from her top 25 is likely more culturally impactful than the top #1 song from most charting-artists.
My second ‘Observing Music + Media‘ newsletter on Linkedin focuses on International Distribution trends, and how it will impact creative development here in the US. Snipped below. Click the link to read the whole thing on Linkedin.
MORE SIZZLE… LESS STEAK
Errr…um… Less Impossible Burger. And not actually in China. Hollywood will continue to adapt to their growth requirements the only way it knows how… with the continued “dumbing down” of the arts and culture. Why? Because thoughtful, intelligent entertainment is much harder to scale beyond cultural boundaries. And the commitment to develop thoughtful local content is literally impossible to scale at the level required by studios and big-media streamers like Netflix.
On television’s biggest day and on music’s biggest stage… I’m most excited for the Queen of Hip Hop Soul… Miss Mary J Blige. With 9 Grammys, 4 AMAs, and 12 Billboard Awards… Come On! Do we even have to ask ‘What’s the 411?’ It’s Mary J.
Would you like to see another side? Here’s a piece she did for Vogue breaking down 11 looks from 1994 to present. Now please pass the guac. GO RAMS!
From Royalties to Rogan… it may be time to make a decision. But I’m not sure leaving Spotify is actually better for the artists.
Like most media executives, I’ve long hated how much the artists and stakeholders actually make from their Spotify streams. Usually less than $3K per million… which means a manager’s 15% is only $450 bucks per million. And let me be clear, for non-celebrity working-artists… one million streams is a LOT. And the music-business has collectively accepted this. Not because we like it, but because Spotify is currently (perhaps) the most important tool for artists to leverage in order to sell tickets and tee shirts – which still make money.
This is not a hard concept. If people aren’t listening to your songs, they’re buying fewer tickets and tees. There is a direct correlation.
So here’s the real question: Are artists willing to give up their (largely free) ticket and tee shirt “marketing support” from Spotify in order to take a stand for fair royalties? The days of CDs are over. And tickets and tees are the foundation of many. Heck, even before CDs went away, artists like #IronMaiden made more from tee shirts than anything else. Merch isn’t a side-business. It’s the business!
Plus (fair shout out to Spotify) I do love the #SpotifyForArtists tools. I love the analytics – which we leverage for our direct-to-fan efforts and routing strategies. And I love programs like “Fan First” which is an efficient DDM (digital direct mail) tool. And I love the listing options, artist picks, playlisting, etc. If you’re willing to accept that Spotify is primarily marketing for your artist (not the product, itself)… Spotify is a solid tool.
IN SUMMARY For many music executives, accepting the low streamer-royalties is an unspoken approved transaction from both sides. We give #Spotify the music for a song (haha) and they give the artists reach and tools to sell tickets and tee shirts. Done.
ENTER ROGAN! The shift came when Spotify dipped their toe in #FoxNews Light. They essentially paid $100 million to reposition themselves from ‘agnostic music platform’ to an opinion network. And #JoeRogan (albeit funny and socially likable) can be boiled down to MMA-culture meets #Hannity. Hannity! For many, the mere association is enough to boycott. And it’s undeniable that Spotify endorses this “opinion” because they paid $100 million for it.
#MileyCyrus and many others have given Rogan interviews knowing EXACTLY who he is. But she used the platform for her own media needs. Do we judge Miley now too? She’s more than “still on Spotify” …she’s actually appeared on Rogan.
HERE’S MY OPINION Boycott Rogan and Boycott Stupidity. But until Spotify’s subs ACTUALLY migrate to #Apple, #Amazon, #Deezer or #Tidal… let the artists be without unfair judgment.
One closing tid bit. Something I’ve never heard a music executive say… “I SURE LOVE NAVIGATING APPLE FOR ARTISTS”
If you’re working the DSPs this week to support your artist… and they don’t happen to be playing halftime… which will get your artist or campaign the most pick up… Jock rock or baby making?
Common wisdom says go with the biggest media event of the year. 9 of 10 of the most watched TV broadcasts ever were Super Bowls after all. But with so much Super Bowl media-noise this week, unless you’re over-spending, perhaps the smarter play is to go where corporate media isn’t. Go Valentine’s Day.
(MASH btw. The one TV Broadcast in the all time Top Ten that wasn’t a Super Bowl was the MASH finale)
Having spent a fair amount of time traveling the land of network on-air promos… those :05 to :15 second bumps that sell an entire program… I got to thinking about socials. Hmmm… don’t on-air promos look a lot like a TikTok? And haven’t most TV execs banged out more of these :15 second wonders than Charli D’Amelio on one-too-many Red Bulls?
My tour d’ promo was very east coast. MTV, A&E Networks, HBO, Turner, NBC, ESPN, Hallmark, and lots of trips to down Bethesda/Silver Spring. (Who remembers Discovery in Bethesda?)
One of my mentors was/is Steve Lancewho as creative director ofNBC (and a host of others in the 70s, 80s, 90s) developed a simple promo-measuring-stick that I still rely on today: On A.I.R. Wisdom. With A.I.R. standing for Attention, Interest, and Recall.
The Zoom-salon went like this.
GABE: In terms of A.I.R… What’s the biggest difference between a :15 second on-air promo and a piece of TV marketing delivered as a :15 second TikTok or IG Story?
STEVE:Great question. (BTW – a few people even remember Discovery in Landover). The answers would fill a book – and there are plenty of them out there. But if I had to boil it down to an easily-digestible blog, I’d have to say this: A.I.R. still applies, but Big Data and Clever Algorithms (can I put a trademark around that phrase?) have changed the dynamics and ratio of the three elements. Let’s re-visit these three basics in the new “social” environment.
“Attention” is really promo-writing 101. How fast can you toss out a hook to keep eyeballs? The folks writing :15-second spots for YouTube, TikTok, etc. [skip commercial in :05…] need to learn from good promo creators. Most of the current :15, :10 and even :05-second ads try to sell the product or message, not hook the viewer. Great promo writing is about hitting someone in the gut or tugging at their heart, not selling them something. No matter what the platform, for writer/producers, the most important part of every promo has to be the first three seconds. And that should be the domain of the creative people, not the marketers. If I were running a promo department today, I would ask all the writer/producers to show me their click bait opening.
“Interest” is where all the new buzzwords reside. Research, big data, data targeting, blah, blah, blah—it’s all a media planning conversation. There’s important information for the creatives here, but it’s not an end in itself. The job of marketing is to determine the target and opportunity. The job of creative is to turn those numbers into an emotional experience people can connect with. That’s a non-conversation to a marketer or media planner, so creative gets smothered under a pile of analytics and there’s no heart to the message. I’m always bemused (and annoyed) by the algorithms “If You Watched This You’ll Love This…” because they’re genre decisions which don’t embrace the intangible emotional experiences I have. Sadly, creatives will have to accept that marketers will continue to harass and annoy them into producing emotionless drivel after the first three seconds.
“Recall” as we’ve discussed before, is almost immaterial. There are no shortage of links, buttons, lists and platforms we can use to make sure a person can find a show again or recommend it to their friends. So a case can be made that “Recall” can now be refined to something closer to “Motivate the click-through.” Fortunately, A.I.M. is a decent acronym too.
GABE: If all this is true, what’s really changed? If “attention” and “interest” are still paramount, have SVOD viewing habits actually impacted how we should message and market programming – regardless of TikTok versus On-air as the platform? It seems like perhaps fans are still fans, and they’re largely still responding to the same cues. Simply on a mobile versus in the living room.
STEVE:The biggest change, perhaps, is Tentpole strategy. Back in the ancient days of CBI (Cable Before Internet…can I trademark that, too?) smart marketers and programmers knew the best way to utilize resources was a Tentpole Event. This would be a high-visibility, high-E special even that would bring casual viewers as well as hardcore fans to the network. Shark Week was a Tentpole event. For eight days before the traditional Fall new season premieres, Discovery would pump up viewership and use that event to build interest in other programs. We still see it with Disney+ and HBO Max and the other “bonus” programming packages. “If you want to see the world premiere of [XX], sign up now for our PLUS offering.” In this case, it’s the promise of the program rather than the program itself which is meant to serve as a tentpole.
GABE: Agreed. And beyond immediate tune-in, tentpoles also served as a pillar of the network’s brand foundation. We used to inherently know that Shark Week was Discovery, ‘Must See TV’ was NBC, and Sopranos was HBO. But today… and perhaps because of the shift in Tentpole strategies… no matter how popular the show, we always ask… Is that Netflix or HBO or Amazon?
It’s got to be more than shifts in Tentpoles and Fall season premieres. What are today’s Networks doing wrong regarding owning their content as their own?
STEVE:The final element has been completely shredded the past ten years: Branding. Chris Moseley, former CMO of Discovery was a champion of branding. Whatever people say about the Discovery brand, they owe it all to the work Chris did. HBO built itself by being a brand that stood for something (It’s Not TV, It’s HBO). Promotion delivered the promise of Programming. Discovery, as well (Explore Your World) brought their world-class programs to life. And, of course, countless time slots and programs like Must See TV and SNL.
The truth is that marketers, creatives, media planners… just about everyone in our side of the business have largely given up. The accepted “wisdom” is “Young people don’t care what network/channel/device it’s on.”
That’s simply, well, I don’t know what the young, hip term is for “bullshit.”
Branding still matters in entertainment the same way it matters in Tech, in Footwear, in every area of peoples’ lives. Is it harder than ever to establish and maintain an entertainment BRAND? Absolutely. Is that a reason not to try? Absolutely not.
GABE: Preach! Branding still matters!
STEVE:Yes. And I hope that helps. Stay safe. Stay sane. And stay smart! It’s the people who ask and think about those questions who’ll thrive in the coming years.
Steve Lance now leads workshops, trainings and webinars on Taming the Approval Process–giving creatives and marketers 20 tools and tips they can use to get the approval process under control. Yes, it’s possible. Connect with him on LinkedIn or psinsights.com