Skip to main content

Season two of imPRessions is here and in our first episode, Jenn and Kalli chat with Chris Enriquez, a music industry professional who leads programs for legendary music media brands such as Revolver Magazine, Brooklyn Vegan, Alternative Press, and more. Today’s episode covers the art and science of brand collaborations; what makes a partnership a success, how to navigate the challenges of authenticity, and emerging trends in the industry.

imPRessions Season 2 Episode #1 Transcript

Jenn: Hi, Kalli

Kalli: Hey, Jenn. Ready for season two?

Jenn: I’ve never been more ready for anything in my life. You had to go have a baby and disappear for a few months. How has that been?

Kalli: It’s been good. It’s been good. But I’m definitely excited to hear someone else’s voice. Yeah. I’m so super excited for season two. I can’t wait to talk to all the guests we have lined up. We have so many exciting things and it’s just really feels great to jump back into it.

Jenn: Yeah, we’ve missed this. We’ve definitely missed having these conversations. But of course, you know, you had to go, Mom and all. So we totally understand. But I think today you’re going to really like our first guest of season two. He’s an old friend of mine. When I worked in the music industry, he is one of the top marketing people at Revolver magazine, Alternative Press. He’s a musician, super smart, super sweet. And I think you’re gonna enjoy it. Especially since I know you’re a big music fan.

Kalli: Yeah, I know this is super exciting. I am thrilled to talk about this because I’ve actually been listening to a lot of music lately. Coming back to work, I’m able to put my headphones on a little bit, so it’s nice to listen to something other than lullabies and something a little bit more fun. So this is going to be great. I’m excited to talk about this and dive right in.

Jenn: Awesome. Well, let’s get to it. Brand collaborations have become a powerhouse in the business world. Transcending industries, leaving a lasting impact on both brands and consumers. Joining us for our first episode of season two is Chris Enriquez, musician and marketing lead for some of the most iconic music media brands, including Revolver Magazine, Brooklyn Vegan, and Alternative Press. As both a marketing expert and established touring musician, we’ll dive into what makes a successful brand collaboration from one of the best in the business. Hi Chris, so happy to have you on today.

Chris: Thank you for that beautiful intro. I am very happy to be here.

Kalli: Great. Thank you so much Chris. We are excited to kick off season two with you and really just dive right into it, you know? Tell us, how do you define a successful brand collaboration. You know, what elements are crucial for its success?

Chris: Well, I think knowing what the goal of your client is, you know, the fundamentals of what a marketing campaign is. You have to kind of break it down to those elements. What is the goal of this campaign? What is your client asking for? How are you going to accomplish that? And, uh, you know, I think you also have to you have a duty to your client to provide any insight on how you might be able to improve or enhance whatever their goals are, because they’re going to you assuming you’re an expert on, on your market, they know that your audience is something that they want to go after. So I think that they’re relying on you to also be there to guide them. At the same time, in my world, I think between doing various types of campaigns from award shows with sponsors, giving a sponsor title to an energy drink brand or an instrument company, uh, which, you know, is one way of of bringing brand awareness to some of the partners that we have, but also print marketing, digital marketing, which can kind of be a little bit more sophisticated.

One thing that can’t be ignored, I think, is the return on investment, because that’s how you ultimately keep somebody in business with you. And for me, I would imagine not just for me, you know, universally, I think data acquisition, which also can be, um, described as email acquisition, I think is sort of the, uh, the biggest return on investment that you can give to somebody because it’s a proven way to say, hey, this is what you spent your money on here is 10,000 or however many email addresses of people that you can kind of provide that might have shown interest in whatever it is that you were trying to promote for, for said brand, if that makes any sense.

Jenn: I literally just thought you said emo acquisition, and I was like, oh, is that like a new music marketing term?

Chris: Well, you know, I guess given my background, which, I’ve been in these many emo bands, I guess you could say that would be not too strange for me to use that word. But no, what I said was email acquisition.

Jenn: I know I got it. I was just thinking!

Kalli: I mean, I think we should. I think we are on to something here, though. Guys, I wouldn’t hate emo acquisition.

Jenn: Just marketers, musicians being innovative, you know? No big deal. I digress. Back to the brand collaborations. Do you have some examples you could share? And whether it’s music focused or any industries or anything that’s kind of struck you, as you know, exemplifying both an artistic and scientific approach that sort of achieves that success.

Chris: Yeah, absolutely. And what I’m about to say, I think, is not unique to me. I think that giveaways are usually the best method of capturing data and emails, and honestly, like, it’s not something I realized until recent years until we started partnering with brands where we would give away a trip to a festival or the things that really would perform the best would be for our audience, which is music-centric… giving away a instruments or a signed record or something like that. And the reason why giveaways are things that we’re able to do with our clients is because, you know, in the course of one month, we’ll make sure that we’re doing social posts once a week, and we’ll send out newsletters to our entire mailing list once a week, and that would be four weeks. And all of these things are driving traffic to one central location, uh, which is a place where people give consent to give you their email address to sign up for your mailing list. And, um, what that does is you then get to keep those people’s, you know, information on hand so that you can target them. So if you’re if you’re promoting a guitar giveaway or, you know, in our case, we’ve done giveaways where you can get a tattoo for free of your favorite artist and meet them in the process, I’ll kind of get into those examples, which were really fun. You now know that X amount of people answered because they’re into tattoos or into instruments. And so now in the future, you have case studies. So, on the scientific and strategic and statistical aspect of these things, you really are building different areas to strengthen your brand. And obviously, you have to have a strong brand to be able to bring good results. So, you know, that’s a whole other podcast. But giveaways for us have been great. You know, we did a guitar giveaway with Lars from rancid, the punk rock band from the 90s. I think they’re still pretty popular today. And it was signed and we had him participate in the giveaway, where we had some videos of him talking about the guitar and, uh, what made it special. And it was a custom instrument that we gave away to a lucky fan. And I believe we had gotten like at least 10,000 entries from that one giveaway alone, which was a huge success for us. And to show our partner that we, um, worked with on that. And then, um, the most entertaining, uh, giveaways, I think would be like, we actually were doing free tattoos of your favorite artist where you could meet the artist and, like, get the tattoo in front of them, and we would film it. And, um, we did one with Phil from Pantera, the metal band from also from the 90s is still pretty popular, where a guy showed up and got the singer’s face tattooed on them in front of Phil, and we did that with Ace Frehley from Kiss. And it’s just really fun because you kind of see this life-changing moment for, like, a regular person, a fan. And so you’re doing several things. You’re building a mailing list for the artist and promoting their new record or whatever it is that they’re trying to market at that given moment, and you’re also giving an opportunity to a lucky fan who’s going to remember that for the rest of their life and cherish it. And in the process, there’s just all this other great marketing happening at the same time where it’s like real results and not, you know, throwing something into the wind and hoping that that, you know, someone sees the billboard or someone sees, like the print ad, which are still valuable in their own ways. But I really like when you can actually go to a client and say, “I did this for you. Here’s here are 10,000 email addresses” like they’re usually happy when you can do something like that. You know.

Jenn: Emo marketing.

Chris: Emo marketing!

Kalli: Yeah. I mean, that sounds amazing. And I’m not going to pretend I’m not wiping my eyeliner as I’m like, oh my God, if I had a tattoo in front of my favorite artist, like, I’d lose it.

Jenn: Who would it be? Don’t say N’Sync. Don’t say it.

Kalli: Um, no, no. But we’re not going to talk about how I didn’t get Justin Timberlake tickets this morning.

Chris: Oh, Irving Plaza, right, I think. I am so sorry.

Kalli: It’s my life. It’s fine. It’s. You know what? I’ve been through this pain before. It’s cool. I saw him sing a few times, but that is not who I would get my tattoo on. Um, because they’re just, like, not cool. Like I love in N’sync. Don’t get me wrong. It would be Billie Joe Armstrong for me. I would literally lose it if he, like, saw me getting his face tattooed. I mean, my husband would probably also lose it for different reasons, but like I don’t think I’d be able to control myself, and me being on video doing that would probably be the most embarrassing moment of my life. And like, I’m, I’m fairly embarrassing. So like, that actually says a lot.

Chris: That’s a really relatable tie-in to what I was just talking about, actually, because Green Day did a giveaway to see them at Irving Plaza last week. Same place, at the same place you were trying to see  Justin Timberlake tonight. And it was like a Sirius XM giveaway. And I thought that was really awesome because they were doing kind of something similar to what I was just talking about, promoting it, but promoting the new record and giving lucky fans, you know, maybe a thousand of them, a chance to see them in this intimate setting. And I think that’s like a great way to, to be able to look at something and be like, okay, these are the people that are still listening to us because you have to fill out your birthday and where you live. So scientifically, you’re like, “Oh, cool. Like, you know, we still have fans that are in their 20s, or now our fans are 45 years old.” I don’t know, you know, but it’s all relative, you know.

Kalli: Yeah. I mean, these creative collaborations sound amazing. And just as a fan we’re obviously getting excited just hearing about them. But how do you balance that with the business side of it and those types of considerations because fans love, you know, the bigger the better. Like getting a tattoo? I mean, I think it’s awesome. I would follow it. I would want to watch people doing it.  How do you come to the business side of it? And it’s like, well, this is going to be profitable and this is going to be what’s going to drive sales. You know what else kind of goes into that side of it?

Chris: I think, you know, a little bit of what I was just saying, you know, obviously you have to make your campaigns fun, playful, silly, anything that will make something inviting because the general public only has so much attention span to, like, see something that they’re being fed. You have to have a proven method of actually providing that return on investment. It doesn’t always work out the way you want it because, you know, there’s still like print ads, which, you know, I sell those things, I still sell digital ads, and there’s no real way to show or prove all the time that it’s really turning into a purchase of tickets or a purchase of a product. But I think you have to get inventive and take advantage today of social media and tie those things in. I think that the sophistication of social media tied in to online media for us, for example, we’re media companies, but we also are an e-commerce company, and we have a shop on Alternative Press, and we have a shop on Brooklyn Vegan, and we have a shop on Revolver, where you can buy records and T-shirts and books. And for us, the way that we’ve sort of, like, made our, space valuable for clients is to show that people are shopping and actually buying stuff from us. So we’re a great place for you to come promote your brand because we can actually tell you that people spend money and have their credit cards out as they’re reading their, you know, a story about their favorite band. It’s about keeping your brand forward, thinking that’s how you balance strategy and business, being forward thinking, but also having your marketing campaigns designed so that they’re fun and inviting and also paying attention to what your client’s goals are all at the same time.

Jenn: You know, that makes a lot of sense. And I kind of mentioned this earlier. One thing that I love about our conversation today is that you kind of come at it from both a marketing perspective and a musician’s perspective. You’ve been a touring musician for years and years and years, so you kind of have the best of both worlds. So I’d love to know, on the flip side of what we’ve been talking about from an artist’s perspective, what considerations should they take into account when deciding to collaborate with a brand like they’re thinking about doing a collaboration, as you said, with Revolver or Alternative Press? They want to make sure that their partnership aligns with their personal brand. What considerations should they take when trying to partner with somebody?

Chris: Sure. Yeah. And thanks for saying that. It is a unique position to be in. I think that having my foot in the world of being an artist and, also, in the business and the advantages to that is like, I kind of have an idea of how artists think, but also how the publicists for artists as well as the, the record labels, you know what? What are their priorities? How do their budgets work? What do they talk about behind closed doors? And then on my end of things how do you address those things? And it’s really honestly subjective to the artist, I guess. But as a general rule of thumb, I think, you know, every artist has when they have a new project that they’re launching, whether that’s most of the time, a new album or a tour to promote. There might be a concept around that album or tour that tie into something that you can get creative around. So, you know, if like somebody is doing something like, I worked with Megadeth once where they had a new album out and they were launching a new beer. We were able to meet with management as well as with the artist at some point down the line and figure out how they wanted to go about promoting the album and the beer and tie it in together. And so we actually did a special event at a small club in Brooklyn called Saint Vitus, where Dave Mustaine showed up, the lead singer of Megadeth, and we served the beer, and he bartended for a while, and then I interviewed him on stage live on Twitch, in front of a live audience in front of us, but also in the online ether. And what that did was it gave us an opportunity to talk about his music and cross-promote that with the new beer that they had released.

And it was a really insightful and thoughtful conversation that I think went a long way. And then we announced at the end that the band would be doing a tour and a special intimate performance at the venue, which happened a few weeks later. So like, there’s like really great examples I can give of things like that. That was a really notable one for me, but hopefully, there is a limitless amount of things you can do if your brand will allow it. And if the budget is there, which normally, you know, you have to kind of rely on the label and this sort of situation, or if you could bring other partners in and get creative, you can also try to get like sponsors to participate in these sorts of things, which I’ve done with instrument sponsors, energy drink sponsors. And when you do that sort of thing, you’re cross-branding and bringing different things together; you’re really winning because you’re now able to win over like 3, 4 or 5 clients all at the same time and then connect to them so they could continue working together in some capacity. And I might have digressed a little bit from the original question, but, just to tie it all together, you know, in that particular example, I think what we did was listen to the goals of the artist and work with their team to accomplish exactly what it is that they were looking to do. So, you know, every artist has a different vision. You get conservative ones, liberal ones, and, you know, as a marketing person, you have a duty to meet their vision. You’re working for them, and you want them to come back to you again. So, those are some challenges and some things I always try to think about when we’re doing things with artists.

Kalli: Yeah, that actually makes a lot of sense because, you know, you can have all these different collaborations, you know, you know, an artist that has a beer line coming out or, you know, obviously instruments are a huge part of that, you know, but how when it comes to different types of things, how do you navigate the challenge of maintaining authenticity and artistic integrity of the musicians and bread collaborations, you know, in this industry? Because it is really important to have that authenticity. It’s so highly valued, you know, one to the musician, but also to the fans, you know, how do you kind of work around that and navigate that challenge?

Chris: A lifestyle, I think, is the key to being able to connect the audience to the campaign that you are getting hired to work on. I think that, like, the lifestyle of your audience isn’t as simple as saying, okay, we have a music brand. So these people like music, you know, there are things like extreme sports, for example. You know, things like that that you do surveys, you know, every so often when you work at a legitimate brand that tells you what the age demographic, what the gender breakdown, what the activities are of your audience. And then, once you have that, you can sort of take that into consideration when you’re working with an artist. So we like to ask questions about artists that many years ago, I don’t think normally would come up in conversation. For example, you know, I’ve been with Revolver for about ten years now.

Over the past few years, we started focusing more on the lifestyle elements of artists. I didn’t know that, for example, that the singer of tool, I didn’t know that he was into Jiu-Jitsu. I also didn’t know that he had a winery and owned a restaurant. You know, those sorts of things came up, and we did a little short documentary-style film about his lifestyle. And the reason we did that was because your audience growth and engagement start to become a little bit more sophisticated and can help you get different types of clients. When you hone in on that and you don’t just sort of talk about just the music part of it. So I find that, you know, knowing where artists stand in terms of spirituality, in terms of whether they’re into sports or not, are they foodies? Do they drink? Are they sober? It’s starting to become a little bit more relevant to the narrative of how you market and promote these artists and how on both the end of management and label and their team, but also on the end of media and how you make it compelling and interesting versus just kind of, you know, throwing something out there and saying, hey, check out this emo band or check out this punk band. It’s not that simple anymore, and I really like that because I like to know things about people I’m a fan of, outside of just like, you know, a cool tune or something like that. I hope I answered your question.

Jenn: Yeah, yeah, it’s artist relations. I did that for a minute, but it’s a really important component to just building relationships with people and having that connection. You know, people want to work with people they trust and they know. So when you can find that common ground, it also just shows them that we kind of deal with this in PR, right? Same thing with journalists where we’re pitching a journalist. We have to know what they write about. We have to make ourselves relevant to their world. You know, I oftentimes say, hey, I saw you did a write-up on such and such. It’s the same thing. It personalizes it, which is really, really, really important.

Chris: Absolutely. I mean, you know, if somebody is into gaming video, the video game industry is, is massive. You know, I’ve still yet to break into that aspect of the world, which I’ve been wanting to for a while because it’s such challenging. But those are the things that also are relevant to our audience that, you know, you might not think right off the top of your head unless you did the research and did the surveys and all that stuff. In terms of trends, I kind of think we covered this mostly- but I’m curious if there’s anything else. Do you see anything that’s emerging right now? I know you mentioned, you know, kind of combining different industries, like getting a tattoo of your favorite artist, kind of tapping into that demographic of people that love to get tattooed versus people that are listening to some, you know, their favorite band and some genre. And I worked in a music company, and we did a lot of collaborations with different beer companies and breweries and stuff like that. Do you see anything else happening that you think it’s noteworthy to talk about?

Chris: This is going to sound funny because when you talk about trends or, you know, strategies, you know, it’s usually something a little bit less basic than what I’m about to say. But something that happened during the pandemic time period that I think is still prevalent right now and relevant to the industry that I’m in is vinyl. And it’s really refreshing because vinyl records somehow became extremely trendy and continue to be, you know, four years later and counting. And it’s something that I think is refreshing because we found that in the music industry when streaming and Napster and all that stuff started happening, that it was actually taking away revenue from the artists or from the record labels and stuff like that.

And now we’re starting to see that we’re actually going back to basics. Ticket sales and merchandise and actual record sales seem to be really driving up revenue streams for artists and music brands and record labels. And we have we’ve gotten creative around those things to make it beneficial to everyone that we work with. And, you know, God willing hopefully the trend keeps going. But you see it when you go into Walmart or when you go to Urban Outfitters, you know, it’s not just us. Like there are these sections where you’re buying your clothes and, you know, there’s this one floor dedicated to vinyl. You know, it’s really it’s really interesting. So, I think that with music, that’s something that is really working out well again, for where I sit.

I actually have been doing some college lectures about that, where I’m talking to aspiring kids that want to be musicians or work in the industry, and I’m trying to help them sort of navigate the importance of, yes, social media and streaming and all that. But at the same time, while you want to make a living, you know, it’s really important to look at what’s in front of you. And nothing has changed in terms of how valuable the in-person, real-life aspect of being at a concert and paying for a ticket and buying a piece of merchandise puts money into the venues and into the label’s hands and the artists and keeps the industry going. So I’m an advocate for the sort of non-digital, real-life in-person stuff over the online stuff, even though online and all that is still very important. And I will never steer away from the money-in-hand in-person experience.

Kalli: That definitely makes a lot of sense because at the end of the day, we all want to make some money, but just kind of going back to some of the challenges that can happen or, you know, some pitfalls and brand collaborations, you know, how do you avoid those types of things and really just find that success and not have it fall flat?

Chris: That’s a very tough challenge that we all face, right? Because everything seems to be a- I wouldn’t call it a crapshoot because, like, you know, if you work in marketing for a living, you know, in any aspect of, of e-commerce related business, you can’t afford to take huge risks- But at the same time, you can never be completely sure that what you’re going to sell or what you’re going to partner up on is actually going to meet the expectations of everyone involved.

So honestly, I think, you know, research, it’s going to sound pretty generic. But research, real deep research, is sort of like the best way to prevent the pitfalls that you’re going to be challenged with. I mean, you can still do research and fail at something, but hopefully, you know, if you do fail, you start to realize that the research you did wasn’t sufficient. So you improve the second time around. So there are trials and errors, but at the same time, it is so important to be thorough and diligent. So, you know, I’ve had my hit, you know, misses you know, luckily knock on wood, you know, in the future, more successes than misses. I’ve found that to be the case so far. Otherwise, I wouldn’t still be employed. But, you know, you just really have to be smart about your decisions. And if you feel like the odds are against you when you’re about to embark on something where your name is on the line, it’s sometimes better to pass on something than to say yes if you don’t think you can actually deliver, if that makes any sense.

Jenn: Of course, it makes sense. You’re the best. This has been so insightful. I mean, we legitimately coined “emo marketing.” I mean, I really don’t think it gets much better than that.

Chris: No, I like that. I’ll use that in some shape or form. I think you know, yeah. “Emo marketing.”

That’s good.

Kalli: I am excited for it!

Jenn: I am, too; I love it. It’s pretty clear that whether you’re working for one of the most iconic music publications or simply working to leverage your client’s brand, I think we can all agree collaborations are a surefire way to land success. So, Chris, thank you so much for being our first guest of season two. You certainly set the bar high, and we really appreciate your expertise.

Chris: I’m honored to speak to both of you. You guys are awesome, and I really appreciate being here.

Kalli: Of course. Thank you again so much.

Jenn: For our listeners, follow us on social media, review our podcast, and listen on any of our available platforms, such as Spotify, Apple, and Amazon Music. We publish new episodes every other Wednesday, so be on the lookout for the next one. Finally, if you have a guest in mind, reach out to us at We’re looking forward to another season of amazing guests. Till next time.