Burbank is sometimes characterized as the “media capital of the world”. Some might argue that point, but without a doubt, the city is home to a wide range of people and companies that create and support music, film and other media.
In our printing business, we are fortunate to get the chance to meet and work with many people in these fields. Recently, we met Beth Ann Hilton, who owns and manages the B Company, a PR and marketing firm with a niche specialty in promoting New Age, World and Contemporary Instrumental music.
We sat down with Beth to learn more about her company and the connections to the music world. Here are some highlights of what we learned and answers to some of the interview questions we posed –
Prior to founding The B Company, Beth headed the Strategic Promotions department for Warner Music Group, Inc., where she created and managed partnerships and integrated promotions for the company’s Atlantic, Elektra, Lava, Maverick, Warner Bros./Reprise, Warner Nashville, WEA Latina, Nonesuch and Rhino Record labels with major corporations as well as WMG’s sister companies within AOL/TimeWarner.
That experience -- preceded by earlier editing and public relations positions -- provided a wealth of knowledge and understanding that led her to developing her own company.
Here are a few questions we posed and things we discussed -
Since you founded the company, about how many different artists have you supported and represented?
Oooh, I haven’t kept count, but I’m a digital packrat, so if I glance at my client folders, I see about 72 clients there since 2002. Some were simple consultations, others were content creation, but most are new music or film releases or events; I’m pleased that about 95% of my clients are recurring customers - that creates a family feeling.
Is there any specific professional experience that stands out as the most challenging, unusual, or interesting chapter in your company’s history?
Of course...navigating childbirth! I had been traveling quite a bit for tour sponsorships and pitches, but didn’t want to do that as a new mom. But who could I trust to take over the business for a while without “taking over” the business?! I had an associate with complementary skills who was a big help during my son’s first six months. During that time, I realized I didn’t want to travel as much, so I decided to refocus the business on traditional PR services versus sponsorships, which allowed me to work at home. That just felt right, and I learned to do a lot in 20 minute increments...that still comes in handy! The business was just fine in the end, despite my concerns.
You have represented artists who have been nominated for GRAMMY(R) Awards. What comes with that territory?
Well, getting them to that point of nomination is an art in itself; we set the stage a year in advance, sometimes longer. There are two rounds of balloting, so when a nomination is earned, it is a win in and of itself...from November to February, there are many bases to be touched, artwork to update, press releases to issue, ads to run, peer campaigning, and appearance opportunities, just to name just a few. Having helped multiple artists in this area, we can help the artist work out the right plan, avoid the land mines, and maximize the incredible opportunity that comes with a nomination.
What are the services you offer to your musical artist clients?
I enjoy working with indie and emerging artists, so their needs vary quite a bit. We have worked out a way to provide intensive, ongoing support, as well as basic hourly consultations. If we feel that their art or content is a good fit for us, then we evaluate their Marketing/Communications universe, and make recommendations on their future direction. We have clients on retainer, and others who we coach along, providing consultative advice to guide them in their careers and music marketing.
There are many avenues that contribute to artist exposure and opening up the important communication lines that lead to new opportunities. We of course work with the full range of communication tools, including traditional press releases, various social media tools, and (very important) content creation like videos, etc.
While they are sometimes placed in the shadow of social media, we have found that an effective website, newsletter, and blog are essential components to building a career. I emphasize this to every new client: keep your own contacts, and create a community...even if you begin with just a few, it will grow; everyone begins somewhere!
How do you see The B Company evolving and expanding from here?
The most logical step is to hire a Junior Publicist so that I can accept the new business inquiries that we’ve had to turn away; we’re looking for new offices, too. Our content creation service is growing very nicely, including everything from creative writing to videos to podcasts, and I’m always looking for new partner/vendors in those fields. Dreaming big, I would love to get into Virtual Reality, filming special “destination events” for musicians...to offer viewers a whole new way to experience their music. Producing in a whole new space would be exciting...I didn’t have the nerves for it when I was younger, but I think I’d enjoy the challenge now.
You located your family and company here in Burbank. How did that come about?
Having worked in the area with Warner Music Group and other organizations, I had settled in the area and very much like the climate here, contrasted with the harsh winters I experienced growing up near Lancaster, PA. We lived in Studio City when my son attended Carpenter Community Charter, but, I found it to be too busy and began looking to relocate in Burbank. We’d also heard wonderful things about the music programs at Burbank USD, so voila, here we are enjoying the choir program with Ms. DeMore!
I am here now with the business and my family, and find it a great community for kids, access to everything, great restaurants (I’m a foodie!) and very people friendly. We are very happy to be here!
We appreciate Beth taking the time to meet with us and share sample CDs of a number of the artists she represents. The variety of talent she supports is extensive, and to say the least, the scope of New Age, World, and Contemporary Instrumental music is quite vast!
|Not your parents' new age music...the new sound is FLOW, an anagram for|
Fiona Joy, Lawrence Blatt, Jeff Oster & Will Ackerman
The B Company website is: TheBCompany.com
Check it out and you will find multiple links to the wide range of talent she supports, and likely find some great listening along the way.