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Innovation has pushed the media and entertainment industry to reinvent.
We believe emerging and established brands can learn from artists and other creative change agents who have embraced new models and new ways to leverage their gift of storytelling to engage and entertain fans. The rise of branded experiences coupled with social media has allowed popular artists and labels to become masters of fan engagement, attracting tens of millions of followers. An authentic perspective and engaging story arguably matter more now than ever.
Entertainment industry change agent and Harvest Council member Bruce Flohr recently shared his perspectives with us when we sat down to talk about innovation in the music industry.
Flohr is Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President at Red Light Management (RLM), a management company founded by Coran Capshaw in 1991 when he began managing the Dave Matthews Band. RLM’s roster now also includes Phish, Luke Bryan, Alabama Shakes, Lady Antebellum and many more. RLM is known for taking an entrepreneurial approach with its diverse roster of clients and its capabilities include broad expertise in artist development, touring, commerce, festivals, licensing, branded entertainment, artist driven philanthropy, and more.
Flohr is also a partner at ATO Records and a founding partner of GreenLight, an innovative agency and production company specializing in branded content and experiences that create culture. Bruce lives and works in LA but he is a Sonoma County native.
The music industry has been disrupted by technology and innovation. What’s your point of view on where the industry is today?
I think the music industry is starting to see that the light at the end of the tunnel is NOT a train approaching at full speed. As streaming becomes the norm and the Spotify’s of the world start to work with the industry as creative partners, we will see not only success for the recording industry, but also the consumer’s experience with streaming will enhance the musical experience.
What are the key issues facing talent acquisition and management?
The increased pressure for management companies to be full service, providing infrastructure that goes beyond traditional management duties. Nowadays, an artist expects creative, marketing, social media, and promotional services to all be part managed, requiring larger infrastructure and in many cases a larger management roster.
Who are the best storytellers you have worked with?
I’m biased because of my role in GreenLight Media & Marketing, we have focused on storytelling within the music community all funded by brands. Programs such as Re:Generation, Evolution of a Song, and Lady Gaga & Intel are all great examples of an artist speaking in their own voice with the brand playing a supportive role. Some of the best storytellers I’ve worked with are Dave Growl with his projects. Dave Matthews with his Dreaming Tree Wines brand and Switchfoot with their surf documentary
What can brands learn from artists and entrepreneurs and vice versa?
Artists can teach brands how to have an authentic voice by following the artist’s lead in the one on one brand to consumer conversation—many times this mimics the artist to fan dialogue. Brands can teach artists how to think of themselves holistically so that as an artist they are finding ways to enhance and sometimes improve their fan base’s lives.
What’s your vision for direct-to-fan experiences and VR?
I’m excited for another medium to expose music such as VR and the ability to stand next to your favorite artist on stage potentially can give you goose bumps. But more importantly I think these experiences will only drive up the desire to stand in front of a real stage with a community and cheer your favorite rock star on.
Your work spans industries. Are there key insights that apply to all (sports, apparel, hospitality, etc)?
I think a key insight that applies to all, whether that’s music, sports, or hospitality, is what those industries are really providing is experiences—once in a lifetime moments that can’t happen binge watching Netflix or sitting on the couch watching YouTube. All of these industries give people an emotional high and a connection to others.
What’s your biggest failure?
My biggest failure is declining an offer to be a judge on American Idol, not just once but twice.
What’s your greatest success?
I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve been able to see the changes in the music business and evolve and adapt, rather than be stagnant and react. My career path from record company to management to branded content is unusual, yet makes total sense.
You grew up in Sonoma County and are now rocking the global music scene. What do you miss most about the area and why are you excited about Harvest Summit?
Probably what I miss the most about the area is how nature is still very much a part of everyday life and how the people in that community take the time to appreciate that they live here, rather than always worry about what’s next. I love that Harvest Summit is celebrating that spirit and spotlighting Sonoma County.