I am continuing our ‘Careers in the Music Industry’ blog this week with Steve Baker from Visual Image Marketing.
Visual Image Marketing (VIM) is a music video promotion company based just south of Nashville, Tennessee. VIM helps to distribute music videos to over 60 music video networks across the USA which impacts tens of millions of potential households. International video outlets also cover countries including (but not limited to); Australia, Brazil, Ireland, France, Norway and Canada.
Steve very kindly spoke to me at 8am CST to talk with us about his company, how he helps independent artists and how he got to where he is today.
Steve has spent the majority of his career working on Music Row, living ~40 minutes south of music city. He has been married for 27 years and has a 20 year old daughter in college. Steve's wife works for Broadcast Music Incorporated so while his daughter was growing up he always had an office at home so he could work while still being there for her during school holidays. His only steadfast rule during this time was “If I’m on the phone be quiet” -something I tell my own children daily!
Music Steve's family's blood - his brother is a professional musician, having toured all over the world as a drummer and session musician. Whereas his brother is all about performing, Steve is about the music business and wanting artists to get as much as they can out of their music, surrounding themselves with good, honest people.
Steve started in the music industry in 1989 after completing his college degree in Recording Industry Management. During his studies, he interned at an artist management company, he
kept turning up and they figured they needed to start paying him... Enter 'an actual paying music industry job'! Since this, he has worked at a major market radio promotions company, started two independent record labels and worked in marketing for numerous other companies. He also started working with a company who marketed music videos and decided that was something he wanted to pursue - thus VIM was born.
With the main focus being independent artists, Steve wanted to help artists with no backing to feel like they had somewhere to go, and that someone was willing to help them market their music to the wider audience. Big record labels were not about to give these independent artists a chance so Steve started to establish connection with those who would be willing to play artist videos across the networks. 20 years later and he has successfully promoted 365 videos from 275 different artists. He has worked with the likes of Gene Watson, Dolly Parton, Bellamy Brothers and Charley Pride to name a few. He still gets so much joy out of his job when he can call up an artist up and share news that their video has been added to a music video network!
Lockdown was an interesting time for VIM. Although it was 'business as usual', major labels stopped sending out videos and although independents did cut back they also got incredibly creative. Their savviness paid off and they produced some good quality videos. Due to this , Steve managed to keep a steady stream of videos going out and since the labels weren’t sending any there was more traction on the independent artists work, they got highlighted and played more.
A typical day at VIM!
As we all know, anyone working within the music industry does not have an average day and Steve is no exception. His day always starts with waking up around 6:30am, grabbing a coffee, feeding the dog and taking her out for a walk. Then, he gets down to business by looking over his to-do list and checking emails. His days consist of making sure all that need contacting have been contacted, connecting with new artists and letting people discover the company and the accompanying benefits that visual imaging can have on a promotions campaign. Since he works from home, Steve is very flexible with his time and often goes back to work after dinner to reply to international clients. With so many different things to do it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Steve’s mantra is to get one job done at a time and not to stress.
“Sometimes its like herding cats, can't always catch everything in the same room.”
Steve doesn’t look for anybody in particular to work with however, 90% of Steve’s artists are Country based artists (probably due to his geographical location), currently working with the likes of Mike Denver, Brandon McPhee, Binky (UK), Marty Rhone (Australia) and Chris Lindberg (Sweden) however, he is also currently working with pop artist Alex Freeman and often works with Americana and Blue-Grass artists too. He has found that networks are very receptive to UK country as the style is more classic and people like that. He also works with artists in the states and feels very blessed to be able to work with video network companies in the UK to help international artists tour here. He now wants to flip it around and provide that opportunity for UK artists in the US through working with Scarlet River Management.
Steve offers a personalised approach based on the artist's needs and vision. He does charge a set fee for a 12-week or 16-week promotion but, overall price can depend on the amount of work required. If an artist is multi-genre or has a song which can be classed as multi-genre then it can be promoted to a much wider audience. This will be more work so will cost more money, however Steve is very flexible and as an artist, you can expect never ending support. The prices are scalable depending on the artist's needs and requirements.
One thing Steve wants to do is to help the artist understand where the music video promotion fits into the overall marketing of the song and the artist. Radio can be very difficult to get on, especially as an independent artist looking to make it in the mainstream market (or even a UK artist in the US) however, video programmers are always on the lookout for new active content. They have the power to add what they want, offering bigger opportunities to independent artists worldwide.
When working with Steve, you should expect to find someone who cares about the artists, the music and the direction you are looking to go down. Always willing to help people grow and expand, Steve is willing to help out anyone who needs it, offering invaluable advice and available to answer any questions at any time. Steve is always looking to work with new people and companies to showcase his artists in additional ways and looking for opportunities to help them outside of VIM. This level of dedication has been apparent during my interview with Steve, the advice he has given me and the additional help he has given SRM.
Visual Image Marketing have joined forces with American based MyShopSee.com to help market music videos differently and to showcase merchandise to expand branding potential. The patented technology is a new way of marketing, creating a new platform for artists. This technology will soon be available via Scarlet River Management in the UK.
For more information on either company contact us at Scarlet river!