Industry Profile: Anna Paula Goncalves
By Larry LeBlanc (CelebrityAccess)
This week In the Hot Seat with Larry LeBlanc: Anna Paula Goncalves, founder/CEO Global Brand Appeal.
Like the Mary Richards resolve in conquering Minneapolis in the Ď70s sitcom, ďThe Mary Tyler Moore Show,Ē Anna Paula Goncalves is intent on taking Los Angeles by storm.
Two months ago, the 27-year old transplanted her Global Brand Appeal (GBA) firm from Boston to Los Angeles in order to expand its reach and in order for her to make further connections within the entertainment industry there.
Launched in 2012, GBA is a talent branding company specializing in consulting and working with entertainment clients.
The company currently represents the start-up entertainment company Melboss, singer/actress Kristinia DeBarge, and producer Thaddeus Dixon.
This career path in the entertainment field is not one that Goncalves ever foresaw for herself.
In the last year of completing a Bachelor of Science degree from Bentley University, a private co-educational university in Waltham, Massachusetts, Goncalves realized that the career she had in mind for herself didnít interest her any longer. With some experiences working in public relations in entertainment, she concluded this was the field she wanted to pursue in life.
Goncalves then immersed herself in the entertainment business as a production Intern at a local TV production company. She also began handling public relations at numerous local film festivals, and helping out at any event she could to meet and network with people, first in Boston and later in New York.
Then she decided to freelance which led her to return to Boston to launch GBA.
Goncalves believes that her launch of a branding and publicity company was well-timed as a strategy of reaching out directly to consumers has become an integral component of the music food chain.
Goncalves believes that artist survival in the future will require an understanding of branding, as well as an absolute acceptance of social media, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram, Foursquare and other digital spaces that engage fans through examples of artist's repertoire, persona, visuals, and other social networking magnets.
Why did you recently move from Boston to Los Angeles?
The reason was not because I couldnít necessarily achieve what I wanted to achieve in Boston--I know that I could--but I wanted to expand. I wanted to have more face to face with the people out here, and build my relationships on the west coast. Being on the east coast, I was working with people here (in Los Angeles) or reaching out to people here, and doing the e-mail and Skype thing. I felt, ďLet me go out, find clients there, and work closely with them as opposed to working over the phone.Ē I just knew that it was time to come out here. Not necessarily to completely move out, but to come out, and see what I can achieve here, and see who I can connect with and build relationships with.
How are you settling in?
Iím super Boston. If I would tell you that I was going to stay in LA for the rest of my life, I would probably be saying that just to say that. I donít really believe that. At the same time, I donít know what LA has to offer, and what it will offer me while Iím here.
Los Angeles is a highly distinctive and competitive entertainment market. More so than what you faced in Boston.
Thereís a lot of talent in Boston. I launched the company there because I wanted to assist artists there, and do everything that I could do to help the local talent there to expand their horizons, and not just be local. I worked with some great professionals there. You could say that there was no competition because there werenít many doing what I was doing.
Do you work on your own?
Honestly, itís me. I live right near Studio City. I am always near Hollywood. Thereís the networking aspect here. Thatís why moving out was necessary for my business. Itís a young business. Iíve always been the person who has said, ďYou do not need to move to New York or to LA to be successful at whatever level of success that you see yourself in the (entertainment) business. If you have the drive, you can do it (work) from everywhere. Itís having that desire to work a little a little bit harder because you are not where things are happening the most.Ē
Thatís the beauty of PR. You can work from anywhere. I hope while Iím out here to meet many professionals in whatever fields within the entertainment industry. Thatís my primary goal out here. I hope to achieve that day in, and day out.
Your newest client is Melboss which is trying to build a collaborative forum between music creators and the music business world.
They are basically a start-up. They are not quite two years old. I work closely with Francisco Buendia who is the CEO, and I also work with the marketing team to get the word out to people in the music industry.
What they do is bridge the gap between industry professionals, and upcoming artists on an online site. If you are an artist, and you want to be coached by someone, you can do that via Melboss. We have a lot of coaches that we are bringing onto the team, and people can pay for their services. If you want to talk to somebody regarding your music, thereís a producer. If you want to know from an A&R perspective what you should be working on now, thereís an A&R person for you to reach out to. Itís a place for artists to connect, and be taught what it is they should be doing to advance their careers, and for professionals in music who want to find talent or who want connect with other professionals.
How does it work?
For the site, you need to be validated; but you donít pay to sign up. Itís free sign up. If you are on there and, if you want to talk to a coach, you pay them to have a session with you. I like to say that itís almost like LinkedIn, but only for music professionals, and with a lot of perks too. We want to make sure that itís a place to access resources for upcoming artists who are serious about their careers. It is also a place for (music) executives to come, and hear new music and, maybe, discover new talent, if thatís what they are looking for. So itís a place for serious people in the music industry. Music professionals.
One of your clients has been singer Kristinia DeBarge.
I work closely with her manager Aurora Pfeiffer, who recently launched Rolen Music Group. We work on a lot with people that come to her. We try to collaborate on work and on initiatives with different artists.
Kristinia is James DeBargeís daughter. Sheís recorded two albums. Sheís quite good.
Sheís really good, and sheís now in the studio. She has some endorsements happening with brands like Pastry Sneakers. They love her brand. She's also endorsed by Bebe/2bBebe, and is on the celebrity cabinet for the American Diabetes Foundation.
[Kristinia DeBarge is featured on Redrama's recent single and music video "Let Go" which reached #3 on the The Official Finnish Chart. DeBarge is also featured in Nick Cannon's directorial film debut, ďSchool Dance,Ē where she plays the lead female role, which was released this summer.]
You have also worked with the Detroit producer Thaddeus Dixon. What services can you offer a music producer?
Again, I work closely with Aurora. Looking for sync opportunities, and reaching out to people who might want to work with him. But also looking for (media) features. He wants that. A lot of people working in the ďback officeĒ (in production), donít want to be seen. They donít want features. They donít care to have the spotlight on them, but he wants to have that fan base that he can interact with.
Global Brand Appeal is a lofty name for a company. Whatís behind choosing the name?
Global Brand Appeal says what we are all about. We know that every brand wants to be seen, but we want to make sure that every brand has a global mentality. They donít just have to stay local. They start local, but they achieve global status. To achieve global status, we believe in gaining respect from all the different cultures from all different backgrounds, and finding opportunities that will make people remember them for the right reasons. We are a branding and publicity company, but we focus a lot on the brand, and building a strong foundation so that when the time comes for that brand to be publicizedówhen itís time to show off what they are all aboutóthat itís unique. Itís them. It is not something that is manufactured. Itís actually them because their brand is exactly them.
A strategy of acting regionally but thinking globally?
Oh absolutely. A lot of times that is the mentality that is lacking because a lot of upcoming artists just want to be famous. Thatís always what we hear. ďWe want to be famous.Ē
How do you respond to that?
I tell them we believe in (you) being recognized for your unique talent, and for what you are all about. So letís start locally. Letís get your fans from where you are from behind you because if your own hometown isnít getting behind you, how do expect other hometowns to be fans? They need to start at the very bottom, and not expect to reach a global status overnight. But to really build that strong foundation with their home town. Locally do shows, and be interactive with their fans. Go and see them. Have some sort of relationship with them. Through that local status, they will start growing and, at the same time, people from other states and from other countries are getting to see them. Soon they will get to that point that people are hearing about them through media platforms in other countries.
How do you figure out where to start with an emerging act?
It all depends on what each talent, each brand, wants. What their objective is. We make it happen or we find somebody that will make it happen and partner with them. Or we send them to somebody who will do it. Itís not just, ďHere letís put them in magazines.Ē Itís very much knowing their goals and objectives and where they want to go so we can align every desire with what needs to be done to make it happen.
Traditionally, artists have released music, toured behind the music, and expanded into other markets. That has changed with the internet. Even the tiniest of artists can get pockets of fame worldwide now. Justin Bieber started out with homemade videos on YouTube. His ability to harness an online fan base has been unprecedented.
The internet is an incredible tool that is giving artists that kind of control to develop themselves. I think that is necessary. What has changed the game is that for artists now, itís not enough to be seen. They now have to harness that brand and work toward making it polished so that they can have longevity in their career. You mentioned Justin Bieber. I followed Justin Bieberís career from the very beginning. What a lot of people donít know is that he wasnít an overnight success. Although he did have a huge fan base that followed him, and requested him to do certain covers, it took about two years for him to break as an artist.
So though an artist may be seen (on the internet) and people are loving them, and becoming hard fans, thatís not even half of the work. They need to put in time to build their brand so people can now relate to them as a brand, and not just as a musician. Although music is super important, itís not everything. They (artists) need to be a whole package. They need to work on things from their image to how they speak to how they talk while onstage and how they interact with people. So yes, it has definitely changed, but it has become a little bit harder for artists now because the competition is ridiculous. You go online, and you see artists doing covers of other artists--hoping to be seen. But, if they are just doing that, and not focusing on all of the other aspects that it takes to become a whole artist--the whole brand--then it (their career) is not going to last.
An artist may attract someone to an internet site, but they have to develop something that insures that people keep coming back and, as well, attract viewers to visit their site or attend a live performance. Artists have to take online viewers past the click stage. They have to break though, ďWhatís next?Ē
Right. Artists, a lot of them, what they donít understand is that being an artist means running their own business. They are basically a business. So they need to keep customers coming back for whatever it is that they offer. So, as you mentioned, clicking and hearing somebody doing a cover or hearing their latest single, what makes it different from everything else that is out there? What is going to make me go and check out their social media or their website or check out all of the videos that they have? What will make me buy their product, and be that loyal fan that all artists need in order to build their empire?
Word-of-mouth has always been part of entertainment. Many artists donít understand how to create word-of-mouth through social media. ďHow often should I go on Twitter?" becomes," Iím walking to the store.Ē How often should artists be utilizing social media?
That is certainly a challenge for people who arenít social media savvy. I always say that they have to be organic. They just canít be seen like a robot. That they are going in, and hereís a post, and then two hours hereís another. Though sometimes it helps to have certain tweets going out with links to their work. To their videos To whatever project that they are working on. They do need to know what needs to go out at certain times, and all of that. Thatís fine. Writing about how they are about to brush their teeth is not really relevant. Letting people know how awesome a night that they had performed for a crowd or opened up for whoever (headliner) is. Itís about engaging people so that they know what the artist is doing and so they find the artist to be interesting. Not because of their music or because of their craft, but because of the artist as a whole package. The artist as a brand. The artist as a person. All of that correlates. All of that goes hand-in-hand. Social media is very much about being very organic. A lot of people donít like using social media. (The attitude is), ďIím not so into it, but I understand the value of it. I know that I can use it to my advantage, and to my benefit.Ē They have to understand that itís just a matter of them being themselves and not trying to put up a front and not being somebody they are not.
The advantages of social media can depend on what level an artist is at in their careers. As an emerging artist, itís hard to attract attention. If they have a sizable following, say as a heritage act, it can be very effective. If it is a popular act, it can drive a career. There are different levels of use that artists have to understand.
You are definitely right. A lot of artists look at social media as, ďI will get it when Iím ready.Ē I donít think that is really the right mentality because if they you have this objective they want to get to then they need to start doing things now. So what if they have only 10 followers? Continue posting. Continue letting people know what you are doing. Hash tag certain words. Engage, and start conversations. Making sure that they are active there (in social media) so that when they get to that (career) point, they donít have to start it at that point. They had already had started it. They are then, basically, continuing the flow from the very beginning.
The strategy is to start a conversation with fans early on.
Right. That is something artists need to do. Many, many times they want to leave it for later. But donít leave it for later, start now.
Give a musician $1,200 and the choice to buy a Gibson Les Paul Studio guitar or to hire a social media consultant for a few months, and they will pick buying the new guitar. Perhaps, one of the members of any band today should be someone handling social media. After all, itís a key component of a musical career today.
Oh yes. It is a key component. I donít like finances but I have to do that with my company. It just comes with the territory. So anyone in it (the music industry) for the long haul, they need to know that there will be sacrifices that they will have to make. Either going out or doing things for fun. They are going to have to be in the studio or they are going to have to be reading or getting themselves to where they understand what they are getting themselves into. We arenít meant to like everything. We just have to know that there are certain things that we have to do, take the responsibility, and to do it
PledgeMusic allows artists and fans to share in the music-making experience in fairly direct ways. Fans can get higher-priced deluxe versions of an album with bonus material limited edition items and autographs, music and merchandise bundles, and take part in such activities as fan firsts, tickets, fan contests and sweepstakes. The whole thing of waiting for the album to be released...why?
I always say that behind the scenes information, things that arenít out in the public, those are the best ones. As someone who has artists that I enjoy, and that I am a fan of, I love to know what they are up to straight from them as opposed to waiting for something to come out to know what they are up to. I like to have that exclusive access. People love that.
Thatís why people join fan clubs.
I used to be in the ĎN Sync Fan Club. Oh, how I loved those boys.
How do you target the music media via social media or provide them with tracks by artists? They get deluged with music and press requests. How do you get through to those people?
First of all, there is such as thing as not being ready for publicity, just yet. There are some artists that just are not ready. Itís funny that you say this because I have just emailed an upcoming artist who reached out to me because she is interested in publicity. After taking a look at her work, at her (social media) numbers, where she is in her career--just doing a whole lot of research on her, quickly--I told her that sheís not ready for publicity.
A lot of the times publicists will take on work that they shouldnít. Sometimes artists need to do some of the work themselves or hire a brand consultant to help them to do certain things to grow their fan base--to grow their brandóin order to make sure that their brand is really, strong and that there is something to publicize. That there is a story to tell because thatís what it is. Publicity is publicizing a story. Publicizing news. It needs to be newsworthy. I wonít reach out to a journalist until I feel that it is a good product to offer them. Of course, that then comes with the pitch, and how you present why it would benefit them.
Over the past decade, the music media has greatly changed. Generally, music journalists and music bloggers hide behind their email addresses or their telephones. Newspapers have also become more centric to their individual markets, and seek to primarily report on acts impacting locally.
Yeah, very much so. I love to first build relationships. Not just with journalists, but everybody within this industry in order to become somebody that can reach out to them and share something with them. But I know that the product needs to be a good product for them to want to feature it. So I know it takes a lot of building. Thatís why we are primarily a brand development company. We want to build a clientís story first and, then when they are ready, we reach out to certain media that we feel would be appropriate for them. A lot of the time. artists want certain magazines or certain newspapers. They will give me a list. Sometimes, I love to do that. It is a little tactic that I do with people that want to work with me. I meet with them, talk with them, and I see where their heads are at. Where they want to be. I give them homework. I pretty well tell them, ďSend me an email with bullet points of what you want. Flat out of what you want whether it will be attainable or not.Ē That helps me figure out where their head is really at, and what they believe they can achieve. So I can tell them, ďOkay, this, this and this, you can achieve but you wonít be able to achieve it until you do this, this and this.Ē
How realistic have your potential clients' expectations been?
Itís been a 50/50 mix. Iíve had somebody come to me and say, ďI want to be Diddy.Ē Iím like, ďWell, Diddy is Diddy, and you are who you are, so you are not going to be the next Diddy. Scratch that off your list.Ē I let them know the importance of them being unique. Sure, they can look to other artists ,and to aspire to be like them, but I tell them donít aspire to be these major acts or try to be a different version of them.
Is there a minimal time limit that you seek to work with a client? Some publicists wonít work with an act unless it is, at least, a three month term. You canít do much in three months, really.
Not a lot. I will take brand consultation for three months because in that time I can guide them in the right direction of what they need to do, and get the right resources together, and get them to go into the right direction. But for publicity, it (three months) really is difficult because a lot of it (activity) is not in our hands. Itís us reaching out to people, and us creating all the right situations, but itís not all on our hands as publicists. We do need other people, people that we are reaching out to, especially journalists. A lot of the time that is difficult with the many emails that they get bombarded with. But two months is definitely very difficult I donít take two months.
What time length do you generally look for?
I love to do six months but I have taken three months before depending on the expectations.
And depending on if you can grow the project?
A lot of new artists are seeking the ďmagicĒ answer right out of the box.
Oh yes. They want that. Thatís the problem a lot of the time. I prefer to give that person a ďnoĒ than promise them things that wonít be attainable. Rather then at the end of the trial period of working together, they arenít so happy with my services or with the relationship that we forged during whatever time the contract was for. Itís just not worth it to jeopardize that.
How savvy are the new artists you meet today about social media?
You will have people who donít even any profiles up and then you will have the ones who really good at it. Then you will have the ones that donít know what they are doing, and they keep spamming people. So you have different levels. It all comes down to sitting them down and explaining to them why they shouldnít post certain things because of the connotation that it has or why they shouldnít be posting every single time because plainly itís really annoying and people donít appreciate that. They have to create some sort of mystery as well. A nice balance of mystery and engagement with the fan base. So there are different levels from the ones that have no clue to the ones that know what they are doing to the ones that just kind of need to tone it down a bit.
So many artist websites are inadequate.
Definitely. A lot of the times they (artists) donít realize by going on their website that we should have some kind of idea of what kind of artist that they are. So everything goes in line where they want to go. How it is presented. The colors. The images. Their photos. Everything. I have to want to go and see them in order to go on their website. If I donít go to their website, itís because they arenít intriguing. Or, if I go to their social media, and I donít see things that really matter, Iím not even going to brother to hear what they have to say with their music. Everything needs to be in line with one another.
Industry executives, producers, publishers, music bloggers, and music journalists often trawl through YouTube and websites checking out artists. If they go to a website and canít find out much on the band or artist or the site hasnít been refreshed, they arenít impressed.
A lot of the times those (artists) have been the ones that the expectations are above and beyond whatís realistic. The ones that have those expectations are the ones that have those issues going on whether itís on social media or whether itís on their YouTube with two views of a video that is poorly edited or swearing every other word. These are the ones that I have come across that have this idea that, ďI want to be so and so.Ē But when you look at what they have done, itís very much not there. They need to step back first without any professional coming into play, read and get a sense a sense of what social media does. (Understand) the power of it and get to know the music industry, and whatís it all about, and learn what they need to do to be part of it. A lot of people claim to be an artist, but not many are. Ití
For decades, success in the music industry was measured by hit recordings, and successful tours. Making it. With the breakdown of the label system, and radio not as supportive for many artists, what is success today for them? The ability to make a living?
Success for each individual artist is different. Thereís also long term success versus short term success. Each artist will have their own definition of success for sure. I believe success is not being signed to a label. Itís not getting a Grammy. I donít think that these are the things that a lot of artists should strive for. Sure, these are awesome things that many will strive for, but I think that the biggest success is when they are able to impact people through their art. Whether it be people finding their lyrics to be refreshing or changing somebodyís mind about certain topics that are so huge in our society, or making people open their minds to what is going on in our society. Just making music that people will gravitate towards. Itís about having that platform that they have built so well by themselves-- without the help of a publicist or anyone else--but they were able to create something that people appreciate, and follow and love and become entrenched in what they are, and what they are all about. It is about creating loyal fans, a cult following if you will, of people that follow them for what they represent. I think that is beautiful and, to me, that is success.
Thatís certainly a rung on the career ladder. A big rung. As artists make each rung, they need to re-evaluate their career goals.
Right. I think that when an artist has people that respect them and look up to them, thereís no limit. They can achieve all these intangible ďsuccessesĒ that they want to achieve. I think that is the type of success that the artist should strive toward, and then build on that. Artists canít get somewhere without having that foundation. I think that the people who support them and respect them and go to bat for them because of who they are, I think that is number one success.
An artist also needs to make a living from what they do.
But that takes awhile. And thatís the sacrifice. Even for someone who wants to open a business, it takes awhile (to be successful). Thereís all that structure that needs to go in. There are so many hats that they have to wear as a CEO. When they are an artist, they are their own CEO. They are their own business. So they have to understand that they are going to live now in a way that is not really attractive for anybody looking in. They are not making money. They are not getting the perks that they probably see artists that are touring are getting. The fame. All of that comes with ďmaking it big.Ē I hate that term by the way. But yeah, itís a sacrifice and I think that a lot of artists need to understand the importance of being an artist and understand performance as an artist. Covers are great. Posting on YouTube is great, but you need to be seen. You need that human interaction with people, and the practicing onstage. All of that takes time. and making a living off of it, that is something you want to attain, but money should never be the force to get you to do something because thatís when you fail.
I have never really seen a true overnight success in music.
If you ever find an overnight success, it wonít last. An overnight success is just that. Actually, thereís Rebecca Black (with the 2011 single "Friday"). That was not the type of success that any artist should strive for. It is something that happens today, and is gone tomorrow. The problem with the artist mentality today is that they donít see the process. They donít try to educate themselves with the process. They just see what gets on the limelight. Thatís not the right way to go. You need to see what was done prior to that happening. That really gives you more of an understanding of everything that is necessary and what it really takes to get to a certain platform. The platform that you basically want to be.
You are from Boston, of course.
I was born, and raised in Boston. I am very proud of my city. I lived in New York for a awhile, and then I moved back to Boston and launched my business in September, 2012.
What do you parents do?
My mom has a cleaning company, and does nanny and babysitting work. My dad, he was a chef at a deli for 25 years, but got laid off. Right now, he has a Lincoln sedan, and drives people to their destinations. They are both huge supporters of me. They know that Iím a person who will go all in with something. They donít really like the industry. They donít think itís safe. But they are very supportive.
You have a Bachelor of Science degree from Bentley University, a private co-educational university in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Really different, right? I wanted to go into human resources until I met a complete stranger on a plane on my way to Brazil who was almost like an angel sent from heaven. He got me thinking about what I was telling myself that what I wanted to do as opposed to listening to what I should be doing. He just opened my mind. I was very thinking very hard about my journey (in life), and where I would be as opposed to telling myself where I should be. It was during my last year of college when I discovered, ďThis is not what I want to do. This is what I want to do.Ē Then it was a lot of catching up. A lot of reading. A lot of research. A lot of reaching out to professionals in the industry and learning from them. It was a really great, and challenging process.
Bentley emphasizes marketing analytics, finances, and the impact of technology on business. All useful tools to have in the entertainment field.
It definitely helped me with opening my business. They pretty much ingrain that in your head. Being an entrepreneur. I owe that to them for sure.
You worked in television production after college.
One of the first things that I did was working in PR at film festivals. The Boston Film Festival, The New Hampshire Film Festival, The Martha Vineyard Film Festival, and The Boston International Film, Festival. I donated my time doing everything I could do to learn. My focus was to learn as much as I could. I learned a lot about the (entertainment) industry.
When you launched Global Brand Appeal in 2012, did you open up with set clients?
No I didnít. I had worked as a freelancer prior to that but when I launched the business I really wanted to focus on the business. I didnít want to open up when I had clients. I want to open prior to so I could focus the company. Making sure that it was my vision was right for it.
You opened by yourself.
How soon afterwards did you hire staff.
Three months into the launch, Anthony Villiotti reached out to me. He wanted to intern with me. Heís been a great asset to the company, and is a huge part of GBA still. Heís on and off because heís still a (senior) student (at Boston University in accounting and operations management).
Larry LeBlanc is widely recognized as one of the leading music industry journalists in the world. Before joining CelebrityAccess in 2008 as senior editor, he was the Canadian bureau chief of Billboard from 1991-2007 and Canadian editor of Record World from 1970-89. He was also a co-founder of the late Canadian music trade, The Record.
He has been quoted on music industry issues in hundreds of publications including Time, Forbes, and the London Times. He is co-author of the book ďMusic From Far And Wide.Ē
Larry is the recipient of the 2013 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award, recognizing individuals who have made an impact on the Canadian music industry. He is a board member of the Mariposa Folk Festival in Orillia, Ontario.