10 Questions with ... FlyteVu
October 11, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Music industry veterans Jeremy Holley and Laura Hutfless have partnered to launch a full-service marketing agency offering brands a wide variety of services including strategy and planning, custom analytics, creative services, talent and property partnerships, music licensing, digital and social strategy, event activation, and more. FlyteVu is the name of the agency, which officially opened Thursday, October 1st. Holley, who exits his post as Warner Music Nashville (WMN) SVP/Consumer & Interactive Marketing, and Hutfless, who exits her role as Creative Artists Agency (CAA) Music Brand Partnership Agent, have already hired FlyteVu's first employee, CAA's Whitney Byerly.
1. Good morning, guys! Thank you for taking time to talk with All Access about this exciting new company you've launched. We should probably start by offering everyone a little background information about each of you; let's start with Jeremy. We know you best as the Warner Music Nashville SVP/Consumer & Interactive Marketing. Can you tell us a bit about your career experience and what you're bringing to the table?
Jeremy: "Before Warner, I actually was an entrepreneur and ran a brokerage firm. I moved to Nashville after that in 2005 and started working for Warner. That was a time when Warner was building out all of their 360 multiple-rights businesses, so merchandise, digital, direct-to-consumer, and it was a really fun time, because we were able to build out each one of those businesses. So my background is primarily in digital creative and most recently strategic marketing, overseeing those divisions for Warner for now a decade. And building out marketing. I work directly with artists to build out initiatives, specifically in the digital space, where it's usually content-focused. And we're starting to see a real big shift in the last few years to strategic marketing, where we're aligning with brands and building out integrated content plans. So that's kind of my background."
2. Similar question for you, Laura. You've made a name for yourself at Creative Artists Agency as a Music Brand Partnership Agent. What special skillsets have you developed throughout your career that you are bringing to this partnership with Jeremy?
Laura: "I came to town in 2004, and my first job was working at William Morris selling artist sponsorships. And at that time, it was difficult to find an artist who would consider a brand partner, because a lot of artists at that time still considered it 'selling out.' How times have changed! Ten years later, every artist is looking for a brand partner, and there's been a tremendous shift, where they really consider brands as true partners. Brands have a seat at the table now when these campaigns are being launched and artists are planning out their careers. So my role has really changed where I'm really helping build brand platforms and finding the right partnership between an artist and a brand that will help elevate both brands for the artist and the brand."
3. How did the two of you originally meet and begin working together?
Jeremy: "I think it's really important to note that Laura and I have been doing business together for five-plus years, and really found ways to offer brands better solutions by building out more platforms with more integrated solutions across technology and content. And because of that, we were able to land more deals and better opportunities for our artists."
Laura: "Instead of the offerings being siloes with me being at the agency with the artist and brand relationship and Jeremy being at the label, we discovered by working together, we were able to create more successful programs."
Jeremy: "We met - Laura is infamous - Laura is one of the best in the business when it comes to brand partnerships. And my background had been primarily marketing and building out digital with content-focused initiatives. Over the past year and a half, Warner launched a strategic marketing division internally, that I oversaw, and we met through doing deals. I would hear her name, and every conversation would lead back to Laura in some way. So, we really met through business and formed a commonality with the way we approach business and the ideals that we had around it, and we're very talent- and artist-centric, but we also understand that the brands are trying to navigate the space, and we want to help them do that. So, I think for us, we met through doing deals and just became friends and discovered this opportunity, and were able to prove the model together over the past five years."
Laura: "One example of us proving the model is the Hunter Hayes Road Race. Hunter was launching his album and putting together the platform to create a lot of press, and it was the attempt to break the Guinness Book Of World Records for the most shows in 24 hours. So, as the label was structuring that platform, we were looking for partners for that program. We found several, ConAgra being the largest, and created that Road Race To End Child Hunger, which ended up increasing brand awareness for ConAgra tremendously, driving a lot of code redemptions and donations to Feeding America. The program saw a lot of success. So by working together with our different relationships and assets, we were able to create something really great for the artist and the brand."
4. As you began thinking about the idea of forming this company, what needs did you see that were not being met that led you to initially spark interest in creating FlyteVu?
Laura: "I think, really, when we started to truly work with brands and realize that there wasn't a solution for them to create a music platform that could really benefit them and the artist. We realized there wasn't a solution, or an agency, in place that could do that. So, we decided to create one!"
Jeremy: "I think the other part of it is, we know the business; we are coming from within the music space. We're both music fans, we both understand artists, we both understand all of the layers and the nuances from within the music space. So I think that's another thing that we bring to the table that maybe an outside agency doesn't."
5. Now that you've launched FlyteVu, can you drill down and tell us exactly what the company is and does and what services you offer?
Laura: "I would say that we really start with strategy. We really want to work with our clients and do a deep-dive to understand their brand, listen to them, find out their goals and objectives, and really build out a long-term strategy. Doing a one-off isn't effective anymore; it's not authentic to consumers. So for us, it's about building that foundation at the intersection of music and technology. So that's the over-arching bucket. Within that, we have talent partnerships, property assessments, social and digital media, data and analytics, press - both traditional and non-traditional - influencer strategy."
Jeremy: "And I think out of all of that list, outside of strategy being the core, storytelling - how do we build the story or the brand and give a snapshot of what they are about. And then the follow-through on that is the data. A lot of people or brands want ROI, and we want to prove that to them. We want to show them that the results are there for the dollars that they're spending. And from an artist's perspective, show them the impressions and the reach that they are getting through these programs. We're not going to do media buying, although we will advise our clients on how to integrate the spend that they are already doing. So, it will be more like figuring out how to integrate Shazam and technology messages in to the spend."
Laura: "A lot of brands are spending a lot in media, but they're not utilizing it like they should be. So, how do you then integrate this platform and program in to what they're already doing? And I think maybe that's a myth, too, that this is going to cost a lot more money to work with an entertainment platform or music platform. But it doesn't really. It's just using the assets that you already have to elevate the program. And the reason for our name, 'FlyteVu,' is to elevate. So that's our keyword, and that is what we want to do for brands."
6. You mentioned that it's really about elevating the spend a client is already doing - making sure the message they are putting out in their traditional media buys ties in to the platform and digital content elements. You're offering a lot of exciting, varied services to potential clients, and I can't help but wonder if you think some of these services could benefit terrestrial radio? If so, do you have any plans to add consulting services on that level, or would you be open to that?
Jeremy: "Yes, 100 percent. I mean, look, I'm on the CRS Agenda Committee, and I've been involved with radio at an arm's length for the past ten years. I think I definitely see a need at radio to get more innovative, and I think there's an appetite for it. I think there's a lot of great things that are happening across the board, everything from reporting and how they monitor what to play, to how they're getting more listeners and engaging them. So, for us, it's things like programs with brands we are going to be partnering with. There's certainly going to be activation, and that can be anything from a radio remote that we better optimize with artists and brands to more extended, longer-term campaigns that we build out in partnership with the artists, the brand, and the station. And obviously, radio has such a large voice in all of our worlds, and we only want to support that. We're not the kind of company that is digitally focused but not worried about the past and radio. Radio is the future! And it has and will be relevant for many, many years to come. And I'll expand even further. I've been saying this in a lot of the committees that I'm on, radio - a lot of radio, but not all of radio - views technology, in a lot of ways, as a threat. And I think we can change their point of view to view that as a brand extension and a way they can reach their consumers that they're not. An example of that would be, 18-34 is not Country radio's primary demo or listener; those people are spending time on platforms like Spotify and other streaming services, so why isn't radio extending their brand in to those outlets. Peak hours are another thing that comes up a lot. The peak hours for streaming are on the weekends, and radio's peak hours are not the weekends. So, I think there are certainly strategies they can deploy to extend their brands, and that is something we would absolutely be interested in helping solve."
7. Much has been made of the tech-savvy Millennial demographic and the need to keep them engaged. How will FlyteVu help their clients target this pivotal age cell, and what do you think labels and terrestrial radio could do to better target the demo?
Laura: "Music is working! Music is the platform that targets Millennials! We've done a lot of research, and it shows that Millennials identify and feel what makes their generation most unique is number one music, and number two technologies. That ranks above fashion, above a lot of other things that you think would be high on the list. So if brands are looking to connect to that Millennial consumer, the best way to do it is through music and technology. So that's what we want to help brands do; create a platform that will connect to that demographic, and it's not traditional media. That's one part of the equation, but you have to look beyond that. It's a multi-screen generation, so when they're watching television, they're also on their iPad, and they're on their phone. And you have to be all places. That's our goal is to create those platforms that are all places on all screens, and really create those Pop Culture moments that we can extend over time to create the brand."
8. You've both been on the forefront of technology and creative branding in your respective roles at WMN and CAA, and you've built successful relationships with artists and major brands. Are there additional technologies that are just starting to be made available that you are excited about? Can you share some ideas that you're interested in exploring in regards to the ever-evolving technology landscape?
Jeremy: "That's a really, really fun question! And there are a lot of roads for that. Without getting specific, I mean, I think that artists - the one thing and trend we see are that obviously all these new tech start-ups want entertainment and music to be a core part of their launch strategy. And no matter where they end up or where they take it, it really is music that gets it off the ground. Because our artists and our talent in this town - ranging from songwriters to artists to, honestly, even radio curators and on-air talent - has so much to offer. They literally have so much influence over an audience, and I think for us, it's just about how do we pick the right technologies. Because there's a lot of noise out there, as well, that can deploy the message to specific niche audiences. And I think we're moving to a world that is becoming more and more niche with how people want to consume and what they want to hear. So we have to be a lot more micro-focused on segmentation. Right? I think that technology allows us to do that in a really easy, meaningful way, and I think you're starting to see that happen more and more. But as far as the next big player, I don't know is the answer! I think it is something that could come from out of nowhere! When you look at Spotify, they've only been around a few years. I've only been in the music business for, I guess almost 11 years now. And when I first started, Facebook was only for college. Twitter didn't exists."
Laura: "We didn't even have things like MySpace!"
Jeremy: "YouTube didn't exist."
Laura: "To Jeremy's point, when I started selling sponsorship deals, we used eScores. That was the only technology we had to analyze artists. Now, there's social media numbers - Twitter numbers and Instagram numbers - to really measure affinity. We didn't have those. MySpace had just started, and we were just figuring out how to use that. So to see how far it has come in just ten years, and really even in just the past three years, trends happen so much faster now. And artists break so much faster now. Brands really need to understand Pop Culture, and they need to be there right when the moment occurs. And since we are inside the industry, we can help them take advantage of those moments, because they happen so fast."
Jeremy: "This is an overused quote by me, but I always say, 'More paints and more canvases don't make more Picassos.' And what I mean by that is, it's not really about the platform or the distribution mechanism as much as it is about the talent and the story, and how they're positioning it to an audience who wants to hear it. So we have tools that exist today that we obviously already know, we have tools that haven't even been created yet that will exist tomorrow, and it's our job as an agency to define and identify those tools, but to focus more on the story that we're distributing through those tools and the connection."
Laura: "And at the end of the day, it's all about that authentic connection. That's what is going to break through the clutter."
Jeremy: "Especially to Millennials!"
Laura: "I would say that music is the bridge to emotion, and emotion is the bridge to sales. And for brands, it's about creating that authentic emotional connection to consumers."
9. As the two of you launch this company in partnership, are there any plans to add to the staff? What are your goals for staffing FlyteVu over the next five years?
Jeremy: "Our three to five year range is that we want to be a boutique agency. We're going to be relatively small in staff and focus. We're more about the culture we build. It's really important to Laura and I that we build a culture of..."
Laura: "...of family, and trust, and honesty, and positivity. And we don't see obstacles, we see solutions. That's going to set us apart in this space. So for us, it's about finding the right people, with the right attitude, and with the right skill set, and doing the best work for our clients. And at the end of the day, that's what drives us; that's what we're passionate about, and I am really thankful to have found a partner like Jeremy who has the same beliefs and passions and ideals that I do."
10. You've both been named to powerful lists of "30 Under 30" and "40 Under 40" throughout the years, meaning you've held a lot of influence from an early age. What advice would you give to young people looking to make a mark in the industry, who may not be certain how to find the path that is best for them?
Laura: "The great thing about the space now is that there is so much opportunity. We've forged our own path, and that's what I would encourage anyone coming up through the ranks right now to do. Find the opportunity; find something that nobody else is doing. Forge your own path. The great thing about technology is that it allows you to do that. So I love - I was a design major and art major - I love to think outside the box and create new ideas. And there's so much opportunity to create right now. Whether you're an artist, or whether you're on the business side of the equation, there's a lot of opportunity. Work hard. Work harder than everyone else; I know everyone says that, but it's true. And really value relationships. I think that's something that has served Jeremy and I well. Every person that we meet, we really focus on that person and that relationship. Be honest, be trustworthy, and that always pays off in the long run."
Jeremy: "Integrity. And Laura and I both have a really positive view of the business. We see so much opportunity, and I think for my interns that are coming out of Belmont - I'm part of the Belmont Mentorship Program - what I tell all of them is, make sure people know your name, and make your mark. And the way you do that is being intentional. I think there's a lot of entitlement, and I think that limits people's success."
Laura: "I love that a lot of Belmont kids and college kids that we both mentor really inspire me, because they still have that attitude that anything is possible. I think as we get older, sometimes we get beat down, and you're used to people saying no. So, sometimes you don't take advantage of the opportunity, or you don't take risks like you did when you were younger. I remember I took a lot of risks when I was younger, and they paid off. So, I love working with that younger generation, because it just reminds me of that attitude of anything is possible, and ask the question 'Why not?' and then make it happen. And those are the kids that are typically most successful in this business."
1. Charitable events and cause marketing are also high priority items for you. Can you each share which charities are closest to your heart and why?
Jeremy: "Yeah, for me, it's International Justice Mission. They are based in Washington, D.C. and are mostly international. They basically stop human slavery and human trafficking. I actually was with them in the Philippines a couple of years ago and got to see first-hand everything that is going on in that space. And the work they are doing is phenomenal. I'm on the Nashville advisory committee for them, and it's certainly something that I'm passionate about. It's a heavy one."
Laura: "I was going to play in to that one, too. Gosh, A21 is an organization similar to International Justice Mission, where they help rescue girls who have been sold in to slavery, and that's a passion of mine. I also love supporting social enterprise, so Thistle Farms, and Fashionable are two organizations in Nashville that help give women skills so that they don't fall back in to addiction or a life of abuse or slavery, whether it's here or overseas. I love business, and I feel that's how I can give back, by helping these social enterprises and these women learn their own skills and create their own businesses to really better their lives. And we have hired our first employee, our Account Manager. Her name is Whitney Byerly, and we're really excited to have her on board and lucky to have her. Cause marketing is very important to her, so I know cause marketing will be the focus of a lot of our marketing, and she will be leading that effort."
2. Clearly, cutting edge technology is important to both of you. What new app or tech gadget would you each recommend we add to our holiday wish lists for this year?
Jeremy: "Oh my gosh! GoButler!"
Laura: "He loves that app!"
Jeremy: "It's not even an app. It's literally, you sign up for GoButler, and they either accept you or they don't. And then you can text them like a personal assistant. And they'll do anything! They'll book a flight, or send flowers, or pick up your laundry. It's the greatest thing ever. I think it's just GoButler.com, but you sign up, and then you wait to get accepted. Then they'll say, 'Hey, this is Joey or Cindy, your personal assistant. What can I do for you today?' And I haven't used it a lot, but I've ordered lunch, I've ordered flowers."
Laura: "Well, now your wife knows that! Mine would be CharlieApp. It's an app that pulls information from your calendar. So when you're meeting with someone, it will pull all of their background information, their work history, their hobbies, any past tweets, and their Instagram accounts, their LinkedIn page. And it gives you a report on that person before you walk in to a meeting. So, I love that app! Because then you're familiar with someone, and you have a connection point the first time you walk in to meet with them."