Senior Vice President / Head of °1824
Years with Company: 6
Address: Santa Monica, CA
Clients: °1824 has been instrumental in content creation and creative strategy for UMG artists such as 5 Seconds of Summer, Olivia Rodrigo, Public, Brye and more.
Having worked in college and alternative marketing at Sony Music, Todd Goodwin is well aware of the power youth has in the music industry. He developed °1824 as an internal creative solutions team to tap into that talent for Universal Music Group. From the outset, students become true hires. To date, they have moved more than 90 reps into full-time positions.
When I came to Universal, I did an audit of the company. We were looking at skillsets we needed and the idea of young people promoting things never really came up. It was more like––we need more animators, we need more content creators. We need more people who understand social media. We need more ears on the ground who can tell us trends that are happening. We quickly built a team of 85 part-time student employees. We started doing content work with our artists, like shooting interviews and creating little personality packages that could be sent to radio and press. We had people across the country interacting with artists, capturing every moment and creating social media content. Before long, we were doing full, official videos from beginning to end.
We were called UMUSIC Experience. We were working with the University of Michigan to produce a show in 2017. We had 2 Chainz, Lil Yachty and Desiigner and needed a name for the show. We also needed a name for our team, but couldn’t get anything to clear. We had a week before the ticket on-sale was happening. We were at a meeting and somebody said, “Let’s call it UMUSIC Experience.” We never really loved the name, but we went with it for two years. It never really reflected our core mission. A few years later, we came up with °1824 with a degree [symbol] at the beginning, meaning understanding the temperature and location of the 18 to 24 demographic.
We built this database of 300 to 400 influencers divided by very niche categories like—these people love music but they’re also influential with roller-skating. Or these people are really into magic or fashion. Or here’s a group of bartenders. And all of them had substantial audiences on social media. If we want to do a campaign that’s niche, we can pull from our pool of influencers, connect them directly with our artists and they do unique things together.
There’s this band, Public, that had this massive song, “Make You Mine,” on TikTok. John Jigitz and Brandon Chase from my team, they spent a weekend watching rom-coms and coming-of-age movies and wrote this treatment. They pitched the treatment, it got accepted and we shot the video. In the first week, we got a million views. That video now has 85 million views. That kind of opened the door to doing more. It wasn’t the first video we had done, but it was the most successful.
We developed a press team of six or seven students and one full-time person to look at non-traditional press, student run college press, local press, even things like Reddit communities. They might have a million members in the Reddit community and nobody was building a relationship or bringing events to them. So we started bringing our artists in to do AMAs [Ask Me Anythings]. We started building press junkets where we would have all these ground level, emerging editorial outlets. It only takes 30 minutes of the artist’s time and we can have 25 articles come out.
Serving Labels and Artists
We’re built to serve our labels. Our favorite thing to do is sit with a new artist and evaluate what they need. Some of them have in-house videographers but they need help editing. Or maybe they need training on how to use TikTok to build their brand. We’ll sit with an artist, talk for an hour and come back with a presentation—“Here’s the things you need to focus on.” Dave Rocco, who runs our creative team, came to us to assist with developing assets for the launch of Taylor Swift’s folklore album with Republic. It was a badge of honor to work on, but the bulk of our efforts are with emerging artists.
We’re not an internship. There’s nothing wrong with internships, but the standard internship is you spend eight weeks with a company and move on. You take what you’ve learned and hopefully stay in touch. Maybe it leads to a job, maybe it doesn’t. We hire people for multiple years. If I hire somebody as a sophomore in college, my goal is for that person to have a 30-year career with our company.
Maybe it’s somebody who has unique skills. Maybe it’s somebody who has a unique personality that is going to mesh with our artists or labels. Obviously, there are foundational things, like time-management and communication skills. There’s a high level of accountability with our team because we’re putting people in direct communication with managers, label executives and artists. They have to be able to handle those conversations. With the amount of work we do, we can’t always be a buffer.
Recently, we did a recruiting initiative through TikTok. We needed more content creators for TikTok, so [we thought], why don’t we go to creators on the platform? Our content team came up with this idea that we have a couple student reps do a call-to-action. If you’re interested [in joining °1824], post a video submission using the hashtag #1824next. We knew we would get some great candidates, but in two weeks we probably got 700 submissions. We had over 10 million views using that hashtag. I think we hired nine people in the last month off that initiative.
We’re working with reps constantly. They get paid for every hour they work. We have weekly and bi-weekly calls. We have constant communication and a million ways in which we communicate. That’s how the mentorships happen––by doing the work. We do reviews and say, “What do you want to do? What are your goals? How do we help you get there?” We’ll have catch-up meetings and say, “Here’s where you’re at. Here’s what you need to improve.” Then there’s an annual review. “Based on what you told me last year, here’s where you are now. You’re surpassing expectations,” or “You’re almost there and here’s what we need to work on.” That’s how we mentor.
Not everything we do at °1824 is going to work in every territory. In some cases, it may not be needed. In some cases, labor laws are different. There are a million reasons why I can’t just say, “Here’s the model. We’re going to replicate it in five territories.” We’ve presented to a few and said, “Here’s what we do. Let’s talk about your needs and what we can take from this that might work.” In 2018, we launched in the U.K. They took what we were doing and ran a successful test. We’re doing some really interesting work with New Zealand. It’s been fun watching them have early successes and making amazing content.
Not Just Students
We are a creative solutions team that offers top-quality, first-in-class content, influencer marketing, event production and creative strategy for Universal Music Group. And we happen to be powered by students. We’re not placing people because we’re a student development team. We’re placing them because of the work they’re doing. They’re amazing content creators, not amazing student content creators. Our best creators can compete with any outside agency. The work they produce speaks for itself.
Photo by Jordan Strauss