PLAY THE MUSIC™ PODCAST
Director Gil Green has translated his creative vision into music videos for the likes of DJ Khaled, Jason Derulo, Pitbull, Nicki Minaj and many more. Today, he joins us on Play the Music to talk about his industry experience, and gives us some insight into the role a music video plays in a song’s promotion.
We also talk about hot new music from Miranda Lambert, Alfie Templeman, UMI, Hootie & The Blowfish, and Fred the Godson.
Jeff Sloan: [00:00:00] Welcome to this edition of Play the Music! I’m Jeff Sloan. I’ve got my co-host, brother, partner in FanLabel, Rich Sloan, with me this week.
Rich Sloan: [00:00:08] It’s great to be on board with you Jeff for Play the Music. Let’s do it.
Jeff Sloan: [00:00:11] Alright, let’s do it, Rich. You need a big win this week. We’re going to be following how you did in last week’s contest and hearing about your picks this week. We’re going to be watching closely. You need one man.
Rich Sloan: [00:00:20] I hope I don’t regret going country.
Jeff Sloan: [00:00:22] Alright, well, we’ll get to that in a minute. Before we get to that, Rich, we’re going to have a great guy on the show with us today. We’ll get to those results of last weeks’ FanLabel Five contests and we’ll get right into this week’s contest as well, hear some great new music, get some backstory on some of the music and also do our picks. Now before we do all that though, we got really cool guest on with us today. First of all, one of the great guys in the music business – one of the great guys period.
Rich Sloan: [00:00:51] Yeah, I agree and I try to use my pick my words very cautiously. I have a word that describes our guest, and its “mellifluous.” I think our next guest is “mellifluous.”
Jeff Sloan: [00:01:03] Can you spell it?
Rich Sloan: [00:01:05] I don’t know if I can spell it, but I can tell you it’s defined as, “sweetly flowing as in honey.”
Jeff Sloan: [00:01:11] Gil Green, if I were you I wouldn’t say a word. I would just leave it at that.
Gil Green: [00:01:21] You know what? I’m gonna have to use that word on the on my next date.
Rich Sloan: [00:01:27] There ya go!
Jeff Sloan: [00:01:30] Alright guys – boy that was an introduction. Gil green, you’ll never live that one down. We’re thrilled to have you on the show, and Rich, you’ve outdone yourself, buddy.
Rich Sloan: [00:01:45] Let’s talk about video. We’ve got a maestro of video and music with us today.
Jeff Sloan: [00:01:55] And I think the whole idea here is to we want to talk about video specifically. Gil Green, you are a master videographer, but beyond all of that, you’re a marketer, you’re a guy who understands the music business and the importance of various assets in the making of an artist in the making of the hit song Let’s jump in and learn how you got here. How does a guy get to be the Gill Green that we know and love?
Gil Green: [00:02:17] Well, first of all gentlemen, thank you for having me on the show. It’s an honor. I really gotten to know both of you over some time and and getting to do this podcast is great, as well as like to just jump into the FanLabel world. I think it starts for me as a fan. I grew up in the 80s in the hip hop world, specifically Miami, and I was privy to a scene that was developing in Miami – the Miami Bass hip-hop scene as well as the dancehall reggae world that takes place here in Miami being such a close neighbor to Jamaica.
So I started as a fan of music videos because the video killed the radio star by by the mid-80s. So I always was entrenched by both of these cultures. That image was a big part of it, like the music obviously is the driving force, but it’s it’s the clothes. It’s the slang. It’s the mannerisms and the dance. It’s the whole package that creates what I like to call culture – subcultures. I think that’s the beauty of the different genres of music videos and music, but also more importantly just just defining an artist – using your different senses beside your ears now and seeing the world that they come from, and the world that they want to take you into with the song.
So I started as a fan and I studied film and music videos. I went to college at New York University for music videos, for filmmaking, and I’ve just focused my energy on music videos. I shot a video as my thesis project that ended up with no label support or anything, but ending up on MTV and BET, you know, all of the networks, and I was like 20 years old sitting in my dorm room and my student project was playing on heavy rotation on all the major video channels. Again, this is pre-internet. So this is a time when it was there was only thirty videos playing at all for people to see, so it was it was a big feat for us and me as a filmmaker and that sparked a career of 20 years now of making videos.
Jeff Sloan: [00:04:56] And you got to tell us some of the stars that you’ve worked with throughout your career. It’s just amazing. I mean for those of us who don’t get that kind of access and you know, for those of us who are also fans, tell us about some of the amazing people that you’ve worked with.
Gil Green: [00:05:09] Oh man. I’ve had a fortunate career to work with – you know, I never name drop, but I guess this is the one time that it’s appropriate. I worked with everyone from Lil Wayne, to Drake, John Legend, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, DJ Khalid, Rick Ross, Jason Derulo, Pitbull, and Camila Cabello. I’ve been fortunate to work with so many great artists that I’m just a fan of their music and then to actually collaborate with them and help shape their the image of them and that particular song is just it’s a dream come true. I have a dream job.
Rich Sloan: [00:06:00] As you said Gil, the visual that’s attached to the sound, it’s just a profound impact on us as someone who might like that song, or even better, might be or become a fan. The way we know the artist many times is through that video. So do these videos begin with a sit-down session where it’s totally blue sky and you kind of say okay, “Where are we going? Where can we take this?” or is it more often that the artist comes to you and says “Here’s my vision.”
Gil Green: [00:06:37] Each job has its own nature of coming to to fruition, you know, sometimes you get a brief from a record label and that’s the general way it happens is they’ll send out a brief to maybe three or four directors that they feel are good for the job, and then they’ll ask you to come up with a concept, and you’re really bidding for a job. But a lot of times, it will be about a relationship with an artist. So someone like Pitbull will call me and say “I got this new song. What do you think?” or “I got this new song and I’m thinking of referencing this old video” or “This is about this particular feeling.” So having some direction is great for me particularly. If it’s a blue sky, the music, the song, and the context of the artist is really important – knowing the artist’s fan base, where the artist feels comfortable going, obviously, there’s some artists that are known for stepping out of the box like Missy who just won the Vanguard award this year at the MTV Awards. Like she had no fear from from day one. Her visuals have always like really defined her. Artists like her, Outcast, Busta Rhymes,who really took chances visually, but then you have some artists that are in a world where they don’t feel comfortable, you know, doing stuff like that. They want to show reality and the slice-of-life. So for them, it’s more about taking that reality and making it visually interesting. So every project has its own feet. I think that’s what’s amazing about this profession is like every two weeks you’re starting a new adventure and you get to do a bunch of them
Rich Sloan: [00:08:42] Of course, all of this is highly strategic in the context of FanLabel and building a fantasy record label and which might be based on, you know, where there are contests where streaming determines the best performing songs, because YouTube is the number-one streaming environment right now.
Jeff Sloan: [00:09:02] Right. YouTube video views count as streams and that’s obviously very central to the objective. It’s one thing to have the ability to execute on a script and deliver a beautiful product on film for video, but to be asked to interpret a song and then come up with kind of a storyline or a script, then to make the video, interpreting a song and coming up with an idea for the video is really interesting to me, very compelling, because you know, you could have 10 people sit down and come up with you know, 10 different ideas. You could have a thousand people sit down and in some cases have a thousand different ideas, and yet as Rich mentioned earlier, the idea that you come up with and that which then the public sees as a relates to that song, really does relate very directly to everyone’s impression of the song, everyone’s memory of the song, how they think about the song, how they bring the song into their own lives and relate it to their own experiences and so on. That interpretation is an amazing thing. You’re doing that for some of these projects as well, right?
Gil Green: [00:10:19] Yeah, I think that’s that’s the most exciting part of my job is, like you said, music really takes you to a place in your memory bank and a lot of times that comes with either a feeling or a particular moment in your life, a memory, but sometimes what we do is if you’re introduced to a song right away by a music video, you’re creating that memory. If you can think about hearing a song at a particular event, or that sparks a certain memory in your life, you might have not heard that seen that video yet, and so that always takes you back to that moment. But when you have a video as the first initial impression, that becomes the memory bank for most people if the video is memorable obviously, but most of the time that’s like. You automatically go there and it’s the same with films like, you know, when you hear that Rocky tune, you know Rocky’s climbing up those step ready to fight, like your brain takes you right there. So the context of putting music with visuals is so vital, so important to this industry and being a part of that creative process is exciting because now it’s not just executing. You’re not just delivering what an artist particularly wants. You’re actually creating with these artists from a fan’s perspective.
Jeff Sloan: [00:11:47] I’m thinking through the process then of laying down the actual video doing the production of the video itself. That’s got to be a colorful experience. I mean, you know, you’re dealing with artists, you’re dealing with, you know, interesting people with big ideas of their own and I can only imagine what the set of an actual video production is like. And the stories, the behind-the-scenes, the bloopers have got to be really colorful.
Gil Green: [00:12:21] The stories are crazy. Probably 90% of them could never come out. They won’t be as interesting as the Fleetwood Mac stories that have been coming out with their books, but I would say the madness of production sometimes – like just this week I got called on Monday if I’m interested in doing a music video that shoots in seven days, so I had to come up with a concept in a few hours. The artist is Lil Wayne and Lil TJ, a new artist for your FanLabel people. But it’s the pressure of knowing how to flip a video of production where we’re talking about a team that is more more than 30, 40 people on your on your production team, and as the as the Director, you’re the general and need to know how to move these departments, make them work, make them work on the set, as well as manage personalities, the egos. All of that. It’s a lot of tedious grunt work that goes into it, but it’s definitely worth it.
And just to get back to your stories, I would say one great one is a video that I won to a VMA award for with Lil Wayne years ago called “Lollipop” that really helped elevate him into a mainstream platform, but that was another scenario where I got called 4 days before the music video. “Can you do a video for Lil Wayne in Las Vegas? We have the song “Lollipop” and Lil Wayne wrote some ideas down.” And they literally faxed me his handwriting which looked like it was written on some toilet paper- Casino. Night Club. Hotel. You know – Vegas. So we say yes, we write it. I write what’s called a treatment which is your script. And that gets approved we go out to Vegas and now we have to deliver this and we find out that just two weeks earlier Little Wayne had got into some trouble in the law and that his bus pulled over and there was some weapon charges and and stuff, and so every hotel didn’t know Lil Wayne at the time so they Googled his name and that’s the first thing that came up and they all refused us to shoot in their hotel, which was all of the casinos and all of the nightclubs.
So we literally had no location the night where we were shooting. And we came up with this idea of like let’s just turn the Vegas Street in to our location and we got a big flatbed and we made it look like a huge stage and we drove it right down the strip and it looked amazing. Yeah, it was it was like one of those moments where everyone thought the video wasn’t even going to happen and we turned it out and the product was great. And then and then on that same day, we reached out to the Maloof brothers who lent us their mansion, so that night we went to their mansion and ended up shooting, but a lot of it is Murphy’s Law and a lot of it is just being ready to call audibles.
Jeff Sloan: [00:15:52] I have a question about the importance of video today as an asset in the marketing of an artist and of a hit song. You mentioned “Video Killed the Radio Star” and certainly back in the early 80s, video burst onto the scene as the thing, and thus the title of the song. How does that time and the importance of video during that time or any time in between then to now, where does video rank among importance the labels place on it, artists place on it, marketers place on it? Where does video fit today? Of course Rich mentioned, you know it counts as a stream, of course it matters there, but in terms of marketing is it still as important as it was?
Gil Green: [00:16:34] I think it’s more important and I’ll explain – I think a lot of your listeners will find this information really good. When video started, they came out of the marketing department and they were used as a marketing tool. They were made and then given for free to MTV and the other video outlet channels to help promote an album. What happened in the digital age is now that you’re able to monetize an actual video play, meaning like YouTube will play an ad before the video and there’s money that comes in with every stream, it’s no longer just a marketing tool. It actually is a revenue maker. So, you know, people aren’t buying albums, but people are watching music videos. People are streaming.
So it has become the central focus of an artist and a single because that’s what’s generating the money.
Jeff Sloan: [00:17:32] Incredible. Love what you do. Love your work. By the way, if anyone wants to see your work, they can check it out on your website, gilgreen.com.
And now moving on, we do this contest feature on the podcast and we draw from the contest called the ” FanLabel Five” which is in the FanLabel app that everyone can play during any given week.
There are several of them there in many cases, but we do a feature contest. Last week, we did a contest called “Genre Benders” where really it was songs where you’re mixing genres, and we picked the song that we believed would be most popular, that is most liked, by the FanLabel community. So we’re going to run down really quickly, and Gill stick with us because then we’re going to go to a contest that’s live this week.
We’re going to ask you to go on the record with us and pick the song that we think will be most popular most streamed based on the contest that we feature this week, but let’s review first last week’s contest and see how we did. We had five songs to pick from – let’s quickly run down the songs from last week.
“One Thing Right” by Marshmello and Kane Brown. This is a mix up a mash-up of EDM and Country. So that was one out of five songs.
Then the second song was a song called “10,000 Hours” by Dan and Shay and Justin Bieber, mashing pop and country for the genre-bending of that particular song. Then we had “The Git Up” which we all know well. A little Country and Hip-Hop genre-bending going on there.
Then “The Bones” by Marin Morris – pop and country and alternative. We got a three-way mashup on this one. Last but not least, “Kinfolks” by Sam Hunt. Country and pop and R&B all thrown into a blender and mixed up into what’s called “Kinfolks.”
So Gil, you’re going to be going on the record in the picking one of the five out of the next contest, which we’ll talk about in a second. That’s this week’s hot contest. But in this particular contest we were asked to pick the song that we think would be most popular out of the five – most liked.
So the FanLabel community went in and voted on the song out of the five they thought would be the one they most desired. Now before we tell the answer and how we did – Gil, what do you think? Did any song jump out of here as a song you’d listen to and add to your playlist?
Gil Green: [00:20:43] Well, I already know it’s a no-brainer for me. “The Git Up” is not only a certified smash now. It’s going to be at every wedding and bar mitzvah for the next 10 years because of the dance that goes with it.
Jeff Sloan: [00:20:58] It is, and you know what? I’ll bet that’s the song that probably has garnered the most streams to date. Certainly we know that but interesting, you know, this is one of the things about a novelty kind of song. It kind of has a huge escalation in popularity and desirability doesn’t always have the best longevity.
So interesting coming off this period of time where “The Git Up” was everywhere, the song that actually was most popular over the last week was “One Thing Right” by Marshmello and Kane Brown, getting 32.8% of all picks. Once again, Jeff Sloan, I think for for five weeks in a row, picked that song as the number one song and it was indeed, as did Mick Brege and Stephanie Wagner.
Rich Sloan, as did Christina Bosch, picked “10,000 Hours.” That song finished in number two with 28.7% of the picks. We’ve got “The Git Up” at number three with 26% of the votes. The popularity tailed off there a little bit and got 26% of the votes as most liked. “The Bones” coming in at number four 9.6%, and “Kinfolks” at 2.7%. So there you have it. That’s the results from last week. Now, let’s get busy guys.
We’re going to start fresh here and do a new contest. Let’s see how Gil Green, Rich Sloan, and Jeff Sloan do this week on the FanLabel Five. This is “Hot New Music.” We’re going to pick the one song out of five that we think will be streamed the most. So Gil, this is now which song we think will be streamed the most. This is new music. Let’s see how we do on this one.
Song number one: “Track Record” by Miranda Lambert course, that’s in the country genre. Hot song. It’s got a little bit of a genre-bending kind of feel to it – little bit country, little bit pop. This is from the album “Wild Card” just released today. This happens to be Lambert’s first album since 2016. She’s had a lot of number-one hits on the Billboard country charts. That’s the first song, “Track Record.” Start taking notes guys.
Rich Sloan: [00:23:11] I would just say this. I’ve been the guy who has been taking the risks on country tunes over the past few contests and I’m licking wounds from making those choices.
Jeff Sloan: [00:23:20] That’s really noble of you. I think it’s great that you’re loyal to country. You know, the way I go about this contests, Rich, is I try to pick the song I think’s going to win. So yeah. Anyway, song number two, “Don’t Go Wasting Time” by Alfie Templeman. This is in the alternative category. Cool sound in the alternative category. This is a 16 year old English singer-songwriter multi-instrumentalist. It’s a good sound. Number three is a song called “Breathe” by UMI in the R&B category. Gil, you’re down there in Miami. That’s a song you can totally put on while you’re looking at the waves lapping up onto the beach down there in Miami.
Gil Green: [00:24:20] Oh, yeah. Yeah, that’s a sexy song right there.
Jeff Sloan: [00:24:25] Number four, “We Are One” by Hootie and the Blowfish in the country and pop genre. Familiar sound there. No doubt about it. These guys have had great success and need no introduction.
Rich Sloan: [00:24:48] The band is back together.
Jeff Sloan: [00:24:52] “Better Now” is the fifth song by Fred the Godson featuring Jim Jones and Mark Scibilia. That’s right up your alley, Gill.
Gil Green: [00:25:07] Yeah. Yeah, I’m feeling that one that one. Yeah, I love the baseline on that.
Jeff Sloan: [00:25:12] Now here’s the challenge. You see now Rich mentioned earlier, he stayed loyal to country and picked the country song. You know, if you want to win in FanLabel and you want to get lots of virtual royalties, you want to rise to the top of the leaderboards, you want to be a winner, you gotta pick the song, not that you like the most, here in this case. That’s what we did last week. In this case we’re picking the song that we think will have the most commercial success as defined by total streams over a week-long period. Got the rules, guys?
Rich, we gotta go with you first. Let’s hear what you think will be the most successful song commercially from this list over the next week.
Rich Sloan: [00:25:51] I’m gonna go with Hootie and the Blowfish – their song. And the reason I am is because I think they have the chance to cross over audiences from older to younger. That’s where I’m going.
Jeff Sloan: [00:26:04] That’s a strong smart pick I think. I’ll go next just so you can see where the Sloan brothers come down and then you can pick since you’re the newbie in the group here as least as it relates to being on the record on these FanLabel contests. All right, so I have to tell you so we talk about the song we like but I love that “Breathe” song by UMI, but in terms of commercial success, I’m torn either between “We Are One” by Hootie and the Blowfish and… here I go country Miranda Lambert and “Track Record”, you know, I’m going with “Track Record” Miranda Lambert.
Gil Green: [00:26:53] I have to agree with you. I’m gonna go for the “Track Record” song because I felt it was the most up-tempo radio-friendly record that I think can break in there and that’s just gut feeling.
Jeff Sloan: [00:27:12] Okay. That’s what it’s all about – gut feeling but of course, you know, you’ve got an inside perspective, that’s for sure. So that’s interesting this time I go country. Gil, you go country, even though we had you a good rap hip-hop song in the mix there and Rich, you go Hootie and the Blowfish “We Are One.” Let’s see how we do next week when we check back on Play the Music we’ll find out how we do and that’ll be fun.
Rich Sloan: [00:27:36] I gotta get a W. Gil, obviously I wish you well, I wish you luck, but I’m looking for the W.
Jeff Sloan: [00:27:42] You need it, Rich. I think you came out really strong at the beginning of all this. You had like three number ones in a row and then you kind of tailed off because you got too clever, you got too loyal. You started picking your country songs because you wanted to be loyal to whatever I don’t know
Rich Sloan: [00:27:59] Frankly, I got less strategic and I just started taking wild risks or going from “that sounds like a good song,” but when you get strategic, you get better results.
Jeff Sloan: [00:28:10] Okay. Alright, so guys we’ve gone on the record. Gill, thanks so much for being on this episode of Play the Music. Your story’s amazing. You’re amazing. We mean that too.
Gil Green: [00:28:18] Thank you. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate the time and being on this platform and being able to share my story. Miranda – don’t let me down Miranda.
Jeff Sloan: [00:28:29] There you go. Exactly. That’s the whole idea.
Rich Sloan: [00:28:32] We’ll bring her on to the next episode to say thank you.
Jeff Sloan: [00:28:35] You know, you got an inside track there, Gil. Give her a ring and tell her there’s a lot riding on this this week for you and me.
Gil Green: [00:28:41] Oh, you know what, I can tell your fans this: they should pay attention to the videos as far as like, strategizing who to place their bets on because a lot of times the production value in a video will tell you how a label feels about them and now they’re going to push them, you know. We didn’t touch about the budgets, but when I get that phone call from a record label, it usually means that they’re behind this record. Sometimes they’ll release the video with the song at the same time because they just believe in it that much. So I would tell your fans that there’s a strategy when picking artists on the type of support that a record label is planning on by the production of the video.
Jeff Sloan: [00:29:38] That is a huge tip. That’s an insider tip right there on the Play the Music. That’s a serious tip. That’s cool Gil.
Gil Green: [00:29:44] Yes, your fans should know that a lot of radio happens because of money that’s pumped into a particular project. So unfortunately it’s not just about the best song that wins, but a lot of times it’s what song gets supported with marketing dollars that will help achieve that type of success. So one indication again is the music video – if they’re spending money. If you see a big-name director, and you can start learning the directors names, but if you start seeing Hype Williams and Dave Myers name on videos, that means they’re spending some bank on it, and that means they’re going to spend that same type of money promoting it on the radio as well.
Jeff Sloan: [00:30:29] I’m checking that out now every week, guys. All right, that’s a good one. That’s really good. Thank you so much Gil.
Gil Green: [00:30:35] Hey, thanks again. Absolutely guys. Thanks, brothers, for having me on.
Jeff Sloan: [00:30:39] We look forward to more with you. So Rich, great show. So great having Gil on the show learning about his story as a videographer, the importance of video to music today, actually learning that it’s more important now than it was when video killed the radio star back in the early 80s.
Rich Sloan: [00:30:54] And also strategically Jeff, that tip that he dropped where if you see heavy-duty production, what looks like a expensive music video attached to a song that means there is an additional promotional budget being put behind that song and all other places which could really drive streaming for a song – that helps you with strategy as you build your fantasy label. That’s a huge one. Good Insider tip there.
Jeff Sloan: [00:31:18] Well, this was fun. Good luck in the FanLabel Five this week, Rich. We hope you get a W next week. I think you made a really strong pick by the way. Thanks for joining us on this episode and Rich, we’ll be back next week with another episode of Play the Music.
Alright great addition of Play the Music. See you on the leaderboards. Before we sign off, we want to thank our production team: Cara O’Bleness Kristen Kujawa, Andrea Garcia, Daman Nallamothu, Ryan O’Bleness, and our engineer, Mark Pastoria. Download the FanLabel app from the Apple store or the Google Play Store!
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