Can you tell me how you got into music video promotion and the origin of your company HIP Video Promo?
I purchased my first bass guitar in 1979 at the age of 18 and my musical group began performing the following year. January 30th, 1980 was my first paid performance and for 20 years I played in musical groups and had the opportunity to record many albums. By 1995 I started to wear the promoter hat in that I would arrange and produce shows throughout New Jersey and New York. At the time we called it New Brunswick Underground, but that quickly morphed into Artist Amplification. Artist Amplification was a musical collective where the best bands and artists in the Tri-State area would submit one of their songs and we would put together a compilation CD and offer them up free at the shows we would produce. By 2000 I became aware that this model would not take care of the rent or allow me to live a comfortable life. That was when the idea of HIP Video Promo was born.
What makes a rap/hip hop or R&B video standout in today’s market?
Just like any other creative endeavor, it all starts with an idea. Your music video is only as good as the song attached to it. The song is the most important aspect of a successful music video, in that an average (or just ok) song will only be enhanced marginally by an excellent music video. But when you combine an excellent song with a well-crafted, fully realized, stand-out music video, that is what moves the needle the most.
Who are some of your favorite urban artists you’ve represented?
I must go back to my first urban hip hop video in 2005. As a rock n’ roller for 25 years, I was personally skeptical whether my team would be well positioned to promote urban hip hop videos. But I learned early when the music video “The Drill” by Bay Area’s Zion dropped into my lap in 2005, I am only as good as the video I am presenting. We hit the ground running and the video secured tons of exposure. That led to a great campaign with The Cool Kids out of Chicago. Their “Black Mags” music video performed super well, too, and that led to more great artists/groups coming on board. We’ve promoted music videos by T-Pain, Method Man, Cam’ron, Rich Brian, Justina Valentine, Luh Kel – the list goes on and on. It’s been a great thrill to champion these extraordinarily talented artists.
In addition to websites and blogs like Hip Hop Weekly, where do you and your team pitch music videos to?
Because we began in the year 2000, our relationships with the programmers at the television outlets are long-standing and go way back. Throughout the last two decades, exposure opportunities have increased exponentially and we pride ourselves on securing friendships with the tastemakers, gatekeepers and decision makers. Retail Pool/Content Providers are still super important — these are our friends that secure programming for your new music video in fitness centers, shoe stores (like Foot Locker), department stores, nightclubs etc. OTT platforms are the video on-demand devices, which deliver videos into our homes via Roku, Google Chromecast, Apple TV, etc. Our online PR team is also vital to what we offer our clients. We’re told on a regular basis that we easily outperform the traditional, mega-pricey publicists. Though it’s important to remember, the product needs to be stellar if we want to get the attention of the blogs and websites. There’s a lot of competition and it needs to stand out from the crowd if you want to be recognized. We also pitch to YouTube playlist curators and do Spotify promotion — all of which leads to genuine authentic views and streams. Furthermore, we have a video production branch of the company called HIP Video Productions and we’ve shot many standout music videos for urban artists. Many of which have been seen on the big networks.
Do you have any tips for up and comers that are about to make a music video regarding how to increase their chances of getting added to programming at big networks like BET Jams, Revolt, MTV Pluto, etc?
Nowadays, music lovers “listen with their eyes”. You always want to have a well crafted, sharp, thoughtfully prepared visual. As an independent artist you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Visuals are the best way to bring brand awareness as well as an increased fanbase. But it needs to sizzle. You want to make sure you get with a trusted videographer, someone who will help you create and execute your vision. Try to steer clear of these red flags when it comes to the censors: firearms, sexual content and drug usage – that will up your chances of getting picked up for broadcast (though we are able to do edits for clients like blurring objects out for the national networks). Also steer clear of overly long non-musical openings, they are a buzzkill. Straight up. In a world where the attention span of the average human being is right around 7 seconds, you want your video to get right to the song, not linger on a “produced by so and so” – graphic for 20 seconds. I’ve always said you wanna hook them to cook them. So don’t have people clicking away before they even get to hear your music
You mentioned OTT platforms and I know they’re rising in popularity, can you explain more and why it’s considered the next big thing?
Around North America and around the world, many people are cutting their cable TV. The proliferation of OTT channels (video on-demand) makes sense in that having your visuals delivered via the internet allows you to expand your programming choices substantially and to your specific needs. There are huge exposure opportunities for independent artists. So many new music video channels! Whether someone’s using Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Google ChromeCast, Sling or Apple TV or any of the others, they’ll be able to randomly discover you. The best part for the viewer is they can watch it on their big screen TV, their phone, their laptop, iPad. We’re talking genuine national and international exposure.
How do I get my music video on TV screens in stores like Foot Locker?
There are close to two dozen companies that provide in-store and in-location entertainment for their clients. These clients are shopping malls, department stores, fitness centers – all these places are looking to provide entertainment for their clientele. It’s all about having the relationships and long standing friendships with the decision-makers and gatekeepers at these retail pools and content providers. Please note that they are looking to provide the most appropriate experience for their clients, and the videos need to be palatable and mostly PG-rated, for the average person. So not every video is going to be appropriate for every potential retail and or fitness location. Exposure in these cases can lead to hundreds of thousands of impressions.
What are some of your favorite memories working with your hip hop clients?
NJ’s Justina Valentine has been releasing incredible new music videos throughout 2020. Our relationship goes back to all the way in 2011 when she was just starting out. Watching her star shine brighter every month and watching her fanbase grow into an international force to be reckoned with is one of my proudest feathers in my United States Marine Corps utility cap. Working with Doomtree and having the pleasure to hang out with them at SXSW back in 2012 was also a great thrill. They’re one of my favorite hip hop collectives. Luh Kel is another success story that is just so inspiring. When we began promoting the “Wrong’ music video in the spring of 2019, we were quite confident that the video would do well. Since then the Luh Kel “Wrong” music video has 110 millions YouTube views. If we go back to 2007, K’Naan was brand new here from Somalia and we knew along with his amazing story he could potentially get big traction, which he definitely did. His “Struggling” video was seen by the folks over at Octone Records and because we were working with Octone at the time promoting the first Maroon 5 video, I was honored to help bring K’Naan to Octone’s attention.
How does someone with a music video get in touch with you for promotion?
Well that’s super easy being an old school type of music professional. I encourage clients to give me a call. I can be reached at (732) 613-1779 or if you go to our website you can click on the caricature of me on the right side of the homepage and send your video that way. Our email is info@HIPVideopromo.com and we do encourage you to check out our client list, our social media platforms, as well as our YouTube channel. If you’re reading this and you have a brand new music video, I look forward to speaking with you and discussing your upcoming project.
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