PinUp Productions & Artist Management, a California-based talent management, representation, and production company, is opening a new division. PinUp Creative will house the roster of digital content creators represented and/or managed by PinUp Productions.
For the entirety of its 16-year existence, PinUp Productions has specialized in the music industry, but the global COVID-19 pandemic has hamstrung the ability to gather in large crowds, and by extension, live concerts.
PinUp, like the rest of the music industry, has had to pivot and began doing so by streaming concerts to give people a way to enjoy live music during quarantine. However, that wasn’t enough to stop co-founder and CEO Joel Haston — known in the Bay Area hardcore/metal(core) scenes as Joel Cupcake — from getting restless.
“Joel Cupcake: UNEDITED” started as a vlog, but has evolved into a podcast that features the eponymous host discussing a variety of topics with other prominent figures in the heavy music scene, particularly those residing or from Northern California. "With Joel Cupcake: UNEDITED I was looking to do something different — something as an outlet, something that helped what the hell was going on in this global pandemic,” Haston said in an interview with Inven Global.
“Whether it's 15 minutes or 90 minutes, I wanted to give people something to listen to that was a departure from their own lives. It was actually a challenge - I don't like public speaking...recording myself, having to hear it, and playing it back has really pushed me out of my personal boundaries, and that's changed the way I think about how PinUp Productions works."
The podcast was initially launched as a recreational project and a respite for those looking for a reprieve from the restrictive quarantined lifestyle, but Haston noticed that there were already music industry professionals who had established themselves in the streaming space and many more looking to do so due to COVID-19.
Andrew Baird, drummer of San Francisco-based death metal band Fallujah, is a close friend of Haston’s. After a handful of podcasts and speaking to Baird about the finer points of optimizing his YouTube channel and Twitch channel SigmaCaldera, the seed that would eventually sew PinUp Creative was planted.
PinUp Productions has done the majority of its work in the music industry at the local level, but putting on shows for global heavy music acts throughout the years hasn’t changed Haston’s perspective on the importance of solid foundation to build upon: “9/10 times it's crucial to an artist's success to have the right team, and that starts at a very early career point. The way I looked at it was, 'Why can't I apply that to Twitch and other avenues of digital content creation?'"
Laying a base
PinUp Productions isn’t the first entity from the music industry to migrate to Twitch and other avenues of digital content creation, but Haston is acutely aware of the potential pitfalls in navigating a new platform. Rather than call out those who have not transferred to a digital medium seamlessly, Haston highlighted Fit For An Autopsy lead vocalist JoeBad, who has tactfully introduced his previous following to his new medium while cultivating an organic following on Twitch.
“JoeBad is a great streamer because he does vocal covers on his stream, and has a following, but people have found him organically through Twitch and he understands the importance of the community and he's worked to merge those two followings,” said Haston. “That's one of the coolest things you can hope to achieve.”
In addition to navigating a new community, Twitch and other streaming platforms may also present functionality challenges, especially for musicians unfamiliar with YouTube and other video hosting platforms. Small factors like fresh overlays and relatable emotes can make or break a streaming career, and familiarity with function is as important to the brand as familiarity with the space itself.
“I'm big on branding. Every streamer I work with is in discussions with me multiple times per week about their branding from how they're perceived to new emotes, overlays and scene tweeks," said Haston. "Spending time just chatting and engaging their audience and responding to every comment in chat; the importance of shoutout commands — a lot of small things that fall by the wayside that overall really help build up one's channel.”
Branding is only one side of the digital content creation coin. The other side is the hardware: what is needed in terms of online connectivity, recording, and quality and how that interacts with one’s software and the channel itself. Starting any type of digital content creation medium is certainly a handful.
Members of the PinUp Creative roster such as Rocksmith streamer YoungGun, Calvin “Cowvan” Gines, Oceano vocalist Adam “BlaqMario” Warren and Eddie Hermida of Suicide Silence/All Shall Perish fame are established in their own right, but Haston wants to focus on giving new creators an all-encompassing startup package to get fully on their feet in their preferred medium.
“I've been doing what I do for 16 years. I've made almost every mistake you can make in the book along the way, and I learn better that way, but not everybody does. It's good to have someone in your corner that can help advise and review things.”
PinUp Creative’s roster currently consists of twelve clients across multiple professions in the gaming and digital spaces, but this is only the beginning for both PinUp Productions’ new wing and the music industry’s full assimilation into the digital space as a whole. The absence of live music has affected the music industry at all levels, and Haston hopes that PinUp Creative will open the door to others in the music industry looking for a digital pivot.
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