From working with up-and-coming independent artists of all genres to overseeing online marketing for major acts like KISS, Britney Spears, and Dream Theater, Michael Brandvold’s impact on the modern music industry is without question. In addition to spearheading digital strategy creation and online social media management for bands, he has helped create marketing strategies that have made millions of dollars for clients.
Michael found himself working in the music industry directly after graduating from Minnesota’s Mankato State University in 1987. He was tapped to serve as Director of Marketing for Chicago-based artist management firm DKP Productions. Michael held that post for nearly three years before becoming the national radio promotions manager for Red Light Records in 1990.
However, Michael’s professional life realized a radical shift in 1995 when he utilized his self-taught knowledge of the HTML computer language to build a fan website dedicated to legendary rock band KISS. The website, known as KISS Otaku, became a huge success for Michael.
“I built a website that I, as a KISS fan, would want to visit,” he explains. “I didn’t build something to get the attention of the band. I created it because I was a fan.”
Not only did the website garner fans from all around the world during a time when the Internet was still utilizing slow and screeching 56K modems, it also captured the attention of the band’s own Gene Simmons. The business-minded bass player gave Michael an opportunity to interview for the position of Director of Web Services at Sony Signatures. The company hired Michael and tasked him with the creation and management of the KISS online community.
“There were similarities between the fan website and the official online community,” Michael says. “Both were driven by the core value of creating something that a fan would want to visit. But, with the official community, there was greater access to content to build and operate, while at the same time, having to follow formalities with the band, management, the label, and other approvals.”
Michael’s expertise was instrumental in growing and managing the KISS online community from its inception in 1998 to an enterprise generating millions of dollars every year and engaging more than a half-million visitors every month.
In addition to assisting with the band’s online community, Michael was also instrumental in the creation of the VIP Platinum Ticket Program, which was first implemented during KISS’ 2003 US tour. The concept granted the band’s biggest fans face-to-face access to the band, premium seating at shows, and exclusive autographed merchandise. The tickets, priced at $1,000 each, completely sold out during the tour.
“Bands were looking for new revenue streams as album sales were dying,” says Michael. “I looked at what fans were doing and what fans wanted. They all wanted to meet the artist and get a photo. I just looked at what value we could add to a ticket sale and what we could sell it for.”
The program was such a success for KISS that it became a music industry standard utilized by major artists such as U2, Madonna, and Alice Cooper.
Michael has also been hired to lend his extensive online marketing expertise to the world of entertainment. In 2005, he became the Director of Affiliate Sales at content outlet eLine. While there, Michael headed up the company’s marketing departments in Spain, Toronto, and Philadelphia which were responsible for generating more than four million dollars in annual income.
Over the years, Michael’s expertise has been put to use for a number of well-known companies like Universal Music Group, BMG/Sanctuary Records, Rhino Records, Playboy, Roadrunner Records, and Nuclear Blast Records.
In 2014, Michael published a revised edition of his book, KISS School of Marketing: 11 Lessons Learned While Working with KISS. The digital book quickly climbed to the number one spot on Noisetrade’s Business & Finance and Arts & Entertainment lists.
When Michael isn’t working one-on-one with clients, he can be found teaching many of the same strategies he is employing in the music industry. He has spoken at several events around the world, including the popular South By Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, Toronto Canadian Music Week, The Conclave, and the NAB Radio Show.
Michael is also a veteran of the music marketing podcast scene. He hosts the popular Music Biz Weekly Podcast, which has already notched more than 300 episodes that can be heard on iTunes, Google, YouTube, and SoundCloud. He also co-hosts a second podcast entitled Three Sides of the Coin, which has produced more than 250 episodes with more than 3,000,000 plays.
Even when presented with opportunities to take a breather from his work in the music industry, Michael’s passion leads him right back to it. He volunteered his time to teach music marketing to students at the Brennan Rock & Roll Academy. The now-closed learning initiative was based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and was operated by the Boys & Girls Club of America.
It should come as no surprise that Michael Brandvold is one of the most in-demand online marketing experts in today’s music industry. His experience and results in the realms of digital marketing, merchandise, shows, and album releases make Michael a true force in a constantly changing industry.
“Everything I do is about helping artists find their fans and help them connect with those fans,” Michael says. “This is done by creating digital and content strategies to support your music and video releases, tours, merchandise, and online activities.
- Hypebot.com 2012 – The Best And Brightest Music Industry Minds On Twitter
- CD Baby 2012 – 10 Top Music Marketing & Promotion Resources On Twitter
- CD Baby 2012 – 11 Must-Follow People on Twitter.
- 2012 Named a Klout Star by Klout.com
- Finalist in the Best New Media / Social Media Executive for NARIP 2011 Best in the Biz.
- Finalist in the 2011 Top 10 Social Media Bloggers by Social Media Examiner.
- Finalist in the 2011 CBS San Francisco Most Valuable Blogger.
- Double Platinum RIAA award for promoting KISS Symphony DVD.
- Gold RIAA award for promoting the five disc KISS Box Set.
- Gold RIAA award for promoting the Billboard Top 10 release KISS Psycho Circus.
- Gold RIAA award for promoting the DVD Live At Luna Park by Dream Theater.
- KISSONLINE.com –
- Yahoo! Internet Life Magazine Online Music Awards, 2000 Top Five Artist Sites Nominee
- Yahoo! Internet Life Magazine, 1999 Top Five To Watch for 2000.
- Britneyspears.com – ArtistDirect Online Music Awards, 2000 Best Official Website Nominee.
- Madonnamusic.com – ArtistDirect Online Music Awards, 2000 Best Official Website Nominee.
- The Recording Academy
- National Association of Record Industry Professionals
- Bay Area Affiliate Manager Coalition
- Bay Area Search Engine Marketing Coalition