Shaun David Barker has worked with some of the biggest EDM artists, labels and management agencies in the world, managing and/or marketing the careers of homegrown international success stories, Timmy Trumpet, Stafford Brothers and tyDi. As a record promoter, his work includes singles featuring US superstars Lil Wayne, Christina Milian, T.I. and many more, as well as the four-times, platinum selling single ‘Freaks’ by Timmy Trumpet & Savage. Now based in Los Angeles, he’s taking on Hollywood too, as the Creative Director and Head of Development at TPH Media.
I have worked in music for over 20 years in a number of roles, starting out as a musician and promoter when I was still in high school. During that time I have been fortunate enough to work as an Artist Manager, Marketing Executive, Creative Director, Executive Music Producer, A&R Manager, Writer and Project Manager with some of the most successful brands in the music industry.
TPH Media, based in Los Angeles, is an amalgamation of the services that I have been drawn to and excelled at, during my time working across the various departments. Over the past 5 years I have worked almost exclusively in development, marketing and project management. In a nutshell, we develop, produce and market music, film and TV, independently, or collaboratively with our clients and third party management.
As the head of Creative & Development, my job is to create the blueprint for our projects, then compile a team that is right for each endeavor, internally and/or externally, then drive that team to execute our mission. Whether that is something as simple as marketing an artist’s single, or working on a film for two years, the methodology and application behind every project is very similar and it’s my position to see that we always stay on track and achieve what we set out to in the beginning.
This week kicked off with some fun as we hosted a table read of a feature film script we are currently developing based on the true story of Chicago band, Madina Lake. Some of our actor friends joined the writers and producers at our office in Studio City, to read and play out dialogue while we took notes and evaluated the story – at the same time as enjoying great food and drinks with some very talented people.
There was plenty to organize in the office including the digital marketing roll out and material for some charity work we are doing with the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. The organization helps support ill, disabled and elderly musicians in need. Working together with Ed Norton’s company Crowdrise, TPH Media are contributing our marketing services for fundraising activities surrounding this year’s Lollapalooza, who donated a bunch of VIP 4 day passes. The promotion organizer managed to get a signed Fender Telecaster from Radiohead to help us raise money as well. Very cool!
I have developed a love hate relationship with the Los Angeles to Sydney direct flight that I’ll be partaking in today for what seems to be the millionth time. Love – because my phone will be switched off for once and I get a chance to catch up on a hell of a lot of movies. Hate – because at some point, they’ll cut off the whiskey and I’m forced to try and sleep on a plane, something I have never been able to master! Then it’s straight to the home office to get back to work, fight the jetlag and battle the inbox while I’ve been out of reach.
Today started with a very early Skype meeting, 3am local time (god bless America) to discuss a potential partnership with an electronics company for an upcoming joint venture with one of my artists. While I’m up nice and early, I squeezed in a few hours writing for a new screenplay I’m working on. Timmy Trumpet has a new single coming out called ‘Party Til We Die’ which I am promoting so I spent most of the day putting together the roll out plan, marketing budget and team structure ahead of meeting with his management and label. A few pop up items needed my attention, but I generally try to lock myself away, free from any distraction when I’m in the initial planning stages of any campaign.
Caught up with Timmy’s management with a draft internal marketing plan for the release and learned that the record has been signed to Ministry of Sound in Australia, and Ultra Records for the rest of the world. Pending budget approval, release dates and a few other bits and pieces, the single is now ready to go into the creative stages with the rest of my team. I spent the afternoon discussing creative strategy with my marketing team and we pulled some ideas together for the people we would like to work with in developing the campaign assets. Managed to scrape in some quick face time with a few players from around town while I’m here on this short visit to discuss upcoming projects. TGIF… time to have some fun!
Escaped a serious hangover by successfully executing a ‘white ninja’ AKA vanishing without notice at the bar the night before. It’s Friday in the States, then Monday when it’s Sunday the other way around, so it can be difficult to get any less than six working days in each week. Formulated some of our creative ideas into a revised marketing brief for TT’s new single, wrote for a couple of hours and even managed to catch some of the NBA Playoffs in the background. It was a casual work day, but effective all the same. Something is always better than nothing, and often when I’m most relaxed I find I do my best creative work.
It started with Yoga and ended with Frozen Yogurt, HBO and a respectable turn-in-time. Sundays are for family and friends, unwinding or having fun. Unless there is something absolutely critical to a current project – shooting on set or a meeting that cannot take place any other time, then it’s down time for me. Recharge the batteries and gear up for the week ahead!
Highlights Of The Week
The table read in LA. Hearing your work come to life and then getting the opportunity to tear it down and pull it apart is one of the most rewarding processes in any creative project. It’s often difficult for creative professionals to take criticism well and most shy away from the opportunity to be critiqued by others. I’ve never seen any sense in that and always want people to pull apart my work so I can learn from what people are saying, or not saying.
Lowlights Of The Week
Juggling time zones is always tricky but all things considered, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Long-haul flights, jetlag, early meetings and the inability to sometimes catch up with someone in an instant. I love living in Los Angeles, but Australia will always be my home. I do whatever I can to keep one foot in the door here and do my best to continue to work with Aussie artists.
Word Of Wisdom
Study Marketing! You don’t have to attend formal education – although I respect education with the highest regard. There is an insurmountable degree of information readily available thanks to the Internet on any and every subject in order to get a firm grasp, or at least a moderate understanding of the practice. I am always amazed at the amount of high-level executives, managers and key industry professionals that have next to no understanding of how marketing actually works.
Too many artists are playing the hit-and-miss game under the guidance of hierarchy that doesn’t actually have the tools or know how to execute their creative work. Gone are the days where labels can simply make or break an artist. The power is with the fans, audience and marketplace and unless you have an understanding on the who, what, why, when and how – you’re simply leaving your career to chance.
Simply showing up is also everything. Nike really got it right… Just Do It, as long as you are prepared to some degree. You will be amazed by how much you can figure out along the way.