On a sunny July afternoon, Laura Hutfless and Jeremy Holley of entertainment marketing agency FlyteVu sat down with MusicRow to share secrets that made their first year of business a success. The print feature can be read in the magazine’s latest Artist Roster issue.
The two executives spoke from their spacious new office space in Nashville’s Gulch neighborhood, which houses seven employees. The innovative business pairs artist/influencer talent with such brands as Cracker Barrel, Anheuser-Busch, Red Cross, Macy’s, Snap Fitness, Mary Kay and Tennessee Tourism.
“I want people to understand the depth and breadth of what we do at FlyteVU,” says Hutfless. “We work with so many brands and opportunities and not just limited to music.”
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MusicRow: How is your new entrepreneurial environment different than the corporate environment each of you left?
Laura: There’s no politics or agendas other than the client’s agenda. That frees us up to work with whatever artists, properties, or corporations we want.
My background was working at a talent agency where every artist was hungry for a deal to find other ways to market music or for revenue. Jeremy and I both found that we were better able to help emerging artists especially find those brand dollars and help them grow when we were on the brand side helping create the campaigns. Being in a position aligned with a brand offers more opportunity to build programs for brands that will help more artists.
How will your new office space better serve your company?
Laura: We ran out of space at CAA! CAA was great and supportive in they gave us space when we started finding our team. The space here is amazing and there’s room to grow each vertical. And in Nashville, as soon as a space is available, it’s taken. So we’re lucky.
Jeremy: Being in the Gulch is great too because management companies, Sony and William Morris are moving here. It’s a really cool, walking, happening place.
How have your campaigns with Cracker Barrel expanded their music offering?
Jeremy: Cracker Barrel has 635 restaurants. It’s an amazing brand that has been selling music in their stores since they launched. The categories of music they were selling were very siloed. We brought Pentatonix to the table. They were a great partner and hit so many categories with Cracker Barrel—authentic, family friendly, talented. We took a risk.
Laura: I am most proud of us for that campaign. It was the first campaign we had done for any client. For it to be such a departure for what Cracker Barrel had ever done, it made a huge impact. It was a really fun and exciting project for us. The band over delivered and the audience connected. People connect with good music whether it be country or pop. That campaign opened the door for other great musicians to have a home at Cracker Barrel, and Anthony Hamilton was next in line in addition to several more we are working with in the next year.
Jeremy: It was mutually beneficial for both parties because Pentatonix took the No. 1 spot at Billboard their street week over Demi Lovato thanks to Cracker Barrel. To think of a world where physical sales are declining, Cracker Barrel is doing pretty well in physical sales because their transient audience comes through.
What artist team member does FlyteVu most commonly deal with?
Laura: Managers ultimately make the decision. But it could be the label if we need rights to music, or the booking agent if we’re booking a date, or the publicist. We want everyone to be onboard and involved.
You use the term “repeatable platform” to describe a service of FlyteVu. What exactly does that mean?
Jeremy: For a campaign with the State of Tennessee we did three shows from iconic Tennessee venues streamed into Chicago on a two-sided billboard in the middle of Michigan Avenue. It had a camera pumped back to the audience on the street to interact. It’s completely cool and hugely successful. Could we repeat that? Yes. We may take that to London. But that was a one-time thing. The Red Cross came to us to increase fire safety with Millennials. We came up with a campaign that included about 30 artists and 200 influencers with partners like iHeartRadio and What’s Trending for an event in Los Angeles called Tube-A-Thon. It was one of the most successful things the Red Cross has ever done.
Laura: That [Red Cross] platform is not dependent on one artist or influencer. Anyone can participate because it is a scalable, repeatable program that you don’t have to recreate every year.
Is there a secret to maintaining all the relationships required for a business like FlyteVu?
Jeremy: Lots of lunches. Most of these people are our friends. We’ve done business with them for years. So it’s just about relationships.
Laura: A lot of coffees. We try to stay as connected as possible with our previous teams, and we’re working with them already. We’ve taken a lot of deals to CAA and William Morris, and all the agencies. Since we’re talking to them on a day-to-day basis about talent, opportunities and what the brands we’re working with have coming up, staying connected isn’t that hard. And making the rounds. We’re going to Los Angeles next week to meet with managers, artists and agents. When you’ve worked in the industry for 12 years, you have a decent Rolodex. As we’re doing more deals, they’re coming to us with opportunities too. It’s a two-way street.
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