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XLIVE Interview Series

XLIVE Interview Series: Brandon Frankel, Paradigm Talent Agency

We had the opportunity to sit down with one of our keynote guest, Brandon Frankel, SVP of Partnerships and Creators Initiative at Paradigm Talent Agency. Brandon has lead the charge at Paradigm in creating unique sponsorship and branding opportunities for some of it’s amazing talent.

Tell us a little about your role at Paradigm Talent Agency and some of your latest initiatives in Brand Partnerships and Creators Initiative.

The role is really a bit of a swiss army knife of capacities. I’ve always been very A.D.D. and hungry to learn and grow (diagnosed and been the multi-task king since first grade :), so I’m better suited doing a bunch of different things than being stuck in any single lane. For Brand Partnerships, I look after what was mostly the fka Windish roster, plus I help with a bunch of agents who sonically/socially I fit well with. It’s doing various deals from digital campaigns, experiential, endorsements, collaborations, one-offs/private events, content campaigns, etc. I work very had to actually collaborate with the brands and make sure it’s an actual PARTNERSHIP and not just a transaction. My goal is to keep everything agnostic as possible and symbiotic versus parasitic. We have to ensure this to make the brands and their various agencies want to keep coming back. We aim to be such a positive experience and help make them look good to the point they trust us and we can get crafty together.

For brands we’ve worked with- it runs the gamut. Google, Anheuser-Busch, Johnnie Walker, Toyota, Samsung, Calvin Klein, The Gap, Spotify, Simon Malls, Hennessy…. you name it.

Can you explain to us what is the Creators Initiative? Where did the idea come from? How did it come to fruition? How as it effected your career?

Basically, I saw a lack of us representing people who don’t fit the traditional “talent/tv/film”, “lit”, or “music” boxes and wanted to work with artists who create things in various fields and crafts.I’m here to help them to monetize, architect careers, and sustain their craft and grow it as big as they can or want to dream. Sometimes they’ll even say I’m more passionate or envisioned than they even are- and that makes me smile. This includes instagram models, fine/street artists, personalities, health and wellness folks, music.ly superstars, choreographers, comedians, and more. More goals and aspirations are really diverse and exciting for me. The idea really just came to me watching all these young, hungry folks make a name and business for themselves by using the internet and amassing genuine fans who can relate to them. It’s honestly been super inspiring and reinvigorating because, as I mentioned before, I get very complacent if I keep only doing the same thing over and over- so this had added a new area of growth for me! I’ve done the major label thing. I’ve done management. I’ve done the big CAA agency thing. I’ve done the boutique Windish agency thing. I’ve been media. I try and use my diverse background and my speediness and passion for what I do to keep myself constantly evolving and relevant.

How do you feel emerging technologies are impacting how you approach the market?

Brands and consumers are getting smarter. The days of “how many social followers do you have?” being the barometer for working with a client are pretty much dead. There’s too many different ways to track growth, demographics, how engaged people are or aren’t- and how effective your campaign actually was (not a perfect science, but leaps and bounds ahead of when I started in the business a long time ago). I actually find it to be refreshing– for better or worse, you have a means to help prove things that once were just talking a good game. It helps keep people honest, really.

You’ve logged quite a few miles the past few years, travelling globally for clients and shows. I only imagine that it can get really tiresome after a while. What have you found to be the best recipe for balance between work/life/play and how do you keep the positivity up?

I definitely have! Ha- basically, I had a period of change due to Windish being acquired by Paradigm, getting divorced, moving to LA- and everything was a bit chaotic and hard to find any “me” time to say the least. After traveling the world and gathering a ton of different perspective on culture (I have gotten to travel to Moscow, Prague, London, Mumbai x 2, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Kyoto, Hong Kong, Toronto, Cannes and more in the less than 2 years now), how other people live, the beauty that exists in the world in general amidst a lot of chaos and sadness….it just reminds you to be thankful and humble. It can always be better….but it can also always be WAY worse.

I decided to re-align my personal habits, my fitness routine (of which I more or less had none my entire life until recent), my way of eating (my juice/smoothie shop basically know my orders by heart now, haha)- and legit, it’s made me a much happier and zen person. I now go to Barry’s Bootcamp about 3-4 times a week, got super in shape to the point I never thought my body could look and feel the way it does, and that just makes me wants to spread that message and help anyone who would have it. I was always either “chunky” or rail thin my entire life. I struggled with body image and feeling comfortable in my own skin. I hated physical activity and to prevent myself from embarrassment, I think I consciously or subconsciously declined any/all physical activity requests because “I suck at it/hate it”….who knew I would actually love running and weight lifting??

When on the road, I make sure to pack some healthy snacks for emergencies (protein powders, vitamins and supplements, protein bars, almonds/nut mix, chlorophyll if I can (yes…I’m a plant!) , and try and locate some healthy-ish options depending on the city and how easy or hard that is….you get spoiled in LA! I also make it a priority to figure out how to fit in some gym time or your own running/body weights in your hotel or somewhere nearby. Luckily, Barry’s Bootcamp has locations all over, so in NYC and London I kept my routine going. That’s been really pivotal in me keeping to a routine and keeping my mind and body happy and healthy. I definitely feel “off” if I start straying from my routine. I’ve also cut out most alcohol minus special occasions….which was easy because I’ve never ever loved drinking to begin with
In your career you have had the opportunity to work with numerous up-and-coming artists early in their careers. How has that sense of mentorship helped shape your career or direct your current or past projects?

Part of the reason I do what I do is to help actually develop artists, not just jump on big names and be able to ride the wave. Trust, I’ve had a bunch of that…but it’s not as rewarding per say. From Atlantic Records to now, I’ve always been super passionate about finding the next big thing and doing everything you can to have an impact. That’s one of the things that really gravitated me to Tom Windish and his Windish Agency (R.I.P.) for a long time…his passion and dedication to finding things EARLY, and signing them when sometimes there’s no manager, no label, and really no music but a great live show. Or vice-versa, a great song that’s not mastered that he totally loves. To have a client thank you as they grow and to know you’ve had even a tiny hand in what they’ve accomplished is really empowering and humbling. I’ve been lucky enough to work with more than I can remember who’ve broke. That in and of itself provides enough motivation and inspiration for me that I’m constantly trying to figure out new and innovative ways to help my clients “architect their career” as I say. I like to look 5….10…15 years down the road at the “mansion” we want to build. In order to plan for that mansion, which we probably can’t afford right now, we have to plan for what we can afford, and then make sure the blueprints take into account what we are trying to accomplish. I don’t like to haphazardly “build” without a real plan. Sure, you can have a lot of curveballs and one-offs that come and make sense for the current….but I want to build with a plan and a purpose. If you build a house and add additions without planning ahead….that house starts to look janky, and you risk it falling apart. I find building a business/career for an artist to be very similar.

There has been a lot of buzz around female empowerment and equality within the entertainment workplace, and you represent some strong female talent. What has been the experience and what advice would you share with your younger self for future?

This is a topic I could go on and on about, as it’s pretty important to me personally….plus it’s a pretty hot and controversial topic that I always choose to be one of the odd-duck dudes speaking out publicly…but for sake of time, will try and keep this concise. I personally know that the entertainment field, more than most, can be a total “boys club”. Luckily we have some amazing, strong powerful bosses out there paving the way for other women to do their thing. They should NOT have to overcompensate because society makes them, and there’s strong women (and some men, too) who help bring up a new regime of girl bosses. Julie Greenwald at Atlantic Records, Lou Taylor at Tri-Star , Christine Webby at Universal Music Group, Katie Nowak at Paradigm (and was my best assistant and right-hand at CAA before that), and so many more are shining examples of women I idolize because they just crush. Girl or Boy- it doesn’t even matter! They are the best at what they do. Working with a ton of strong female colleagues and also representing strong female talent, I just try and remind them that your sex doesn’t matter. What matters is how hard we work and how we treat people. Own our mistakes and empower others. Inspire and be inspired.

Luckily, younger (and future) me have always been pro female…so I would just say in general that we must take note of all the shit that’s going on and how the days of people getting away with crap is hopefully coming to an end. If you see something and you do not say something, you are just as much of a problem as the offender. I task everyone here to keep their eyes open for their fellow people and look out and care for one another. We can be the change. Don’t be part of the problem and another statistic! It’s getting out of control.

What keeps you up at night?

Oh man…so many things! A lot of times it’s some new music that my brain is spinning ideas about. Sometimes it’s going through the relevant ad campaigns to see what people are working on and how can I be inspired by the work? Other times, I’m just constantly thinking “oh wait, did we send that invoice to Adidas?” , or “Ah damn, I need to follow up with X about that major initiative we dreamed up and never discussed again!”….I’m a thinker. For better or for worse.

If you weren’t involved in the music space, what industry would you be in?

To be honest, since back to when I was 3years old telling my parents I’m going to work in arts/entertainment/music but “make millions of dollars”….. I would say some sort of creative field or trying to do more in health/wellness as well. You know, because that A.D.D. thing as a constant Frankel theme here. I enjoy working with brands and artists on partnerships and creative campaigns that can last and pave the way for other programs. Creative consulting and vision for various entities and people….just overall project management. I enjoy public speaking- I think it would be great to be some sort of motivational speaker/coach and help people through things. I’ve been to hell and back by age 32 and want to share my lessons with others so people can possibly learn from my own mistakes, take advantage of my “life hacks”, and be happier, giving, thankful people. I want to do it all!

Brandon is one of our Keynote speakers, you can check him out HERE

These thoughts are Brandon’s and no way reflect Paradigm Talent Agency.

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