What is Volume Visual? How did you come up with the idea for it?
We help artists develop their audience on YouTube and pair them with brands that want to reach a hip-hop audience. My partner Benoni Tagoe and I were both creating content for YouTube (me with my documentary series Jabari Presents, and Benoni producing Awkward Black Girl) and found out about the multi-channel network space because we were both signed to different networks. We noticed that there weren't any MCNs serving the needs of hip-hop artists; [most were focusing] on signing cover musicians and people "trying to make it big on YouTube." We wanted to work with artists [pursuing] more traditional success (touring, merchandise, sales) and offer them value in a space where they could be succeeding more: YouTube. We help our artists claim revenue [that] they are not [currently securing], integrate brands into some of their content, and increase the overall potential for them to get the [highest] viewership possible.
If you had to choose one word or phrase to describe Volume Visual, what would it be?
‘Talented’. We really focus on searching for talented artists for our network. We don't just sign channels with huge names and numbers, but are really looking for who is next up in hip-hop. Artists like Gilbere Forté, Shawn Chrystopher, and Phil Adé are some people who we're really excited to be working with and are going to be making a lot of big moves in 2013.
How do you define success for your enterprise?
We are only concerned about helping our artists. It's amazing when I get off a call with an artist or manager and they are enlightened on some information that they didn't know before. Annotations and calls to action are things that many YouTubers know about, but so many musicians on YouTube are clueless when it comes to these things. We like being that bridge between YouTube and our artists and helping out any way that we can. Artists have to worry about so much outside of music these days, so it's a great feeling to offer support with their visuals so they can get back to focusing on making the best music possible.
What is the one thing you wish you knew before you founded Volume Visual?
How difficult it is to find investors. I thought that we were just going to be able to make a business plan, have a few partners, and people would be able to see the vision. You really have to be able to show investors that your company can scale, and it all boils down to how much revenue [it can] generate in [X] amount of time. Anything I'm involved in I usually understand that it may take a bit of time to build, but investors want to see monetary growth very soon so they can get their return.
What is the one thing you never want to hear (or, most want to hear) from a client?
I always want to hear, “thank you for helping us.” A simple ‘thank you’ always goes a long way, and [it allows me to] know our artists are happy with the services we've offered them.
What compan[y]ies (other than your own) are you inspired by, and why?
Apple. I love their design and the emphasis on experience when you open a product, go into a store, etc. They usually set a high standard and their competition adapts to it.
What advice would you give a brand or marketer about the most effective ways to leverage the YouTube audience? And for the artists looking to connect with fans?
It's not always about trying to get that big YouTube star who has a million subscribers to put your brand in their video. If a brand can do something creative that works well with 10 smaller YouTube channels they might see the same (or an even better) result. A lot of brands just want to steal an artist’s following for whatever the advertising integration is; but if it's not something that's natural, fans will see right through that. Fans see all product placement; it's just a matter of what they think is cool or not. It's always a challenge as an artist to include a brand's message in your art, so when it's done right everybody wins.