April 28, 2011
In An Increasingly Erratic Music Industry Landscape, Social Media Entrepreneur, Amy Houck, Creates A Flourishing New Model For Music Marketing.
“I am no expert, although I have been called it. I am just a person, a wandering poet, a rolling stone, a 1980’s baby, born in a Baltimore home, in love with the music, If you want to call me something, call me “alive”… call me “the moment”… call me “you.” Because, I think we are each other, we are all born with a purpose, with a passion squeezing that weird place right about our hearts… if you want to call me something, find a word for that, and call me by it.”
May 1, 2011–“Amy Houck is an online entrepreneur; she is the CEO and founder of 440 Artist Alignment, a frontier marketing company that specializes in artist development via social media. She comes from a background working as a marketing and design executive with Universal Music Group, Island Def Jam, Geffen, Motown and many other Indie labels. She is responsible for launching the careers of several well-known independent artists. Her expertise lies in the areas of design, development and branding, but her soul makes her stand out amongst millions of “experts.”
How it all began…
“1990. I was 6 years old, and in the second grade. I was chosen to read a poem to the entire student body. The poem was hilariously about Hot Dogs, one of my chosen favorite foods at the time! I won an award for dramatic reading, and it was at this moment I realized that I love words! I love the way they move and flow. I soon learned rhythm and cadence, songwriting and lyrics. I started taking piano lessons, and writing. I was in love with creating music. It made me feel alive; I knew this was for me. I was born to be a part of this.”
Growing up in Armistead Gardens in Baltimore City, Amy learned the value of street smarts and family. Raised by two loving parents, Susan and Duain (who have currently been married for 28 years), Amy was the middle child to an older sister named Jessica and a younger brother named Douglas.
“My Dad was a Mechanic and my mom was a stay-at-home mom. From a young age, my parents encouraged me. I could do anything; I could be anything. My mom was big on creating, and taking us on adventures. Even though we didn’t have a lot at the time, and lived in a row home, my mom took the ordinary and made it incredible. She taught me to dream.”
When Amy was 7, her family moved to a little town in the country called Stewartstown, PA. She eventually graduated from Kennard Dale High School, Fawn Grove.
“At first I hated the country. It was so boring, but it gave me a lot of time to think and to create. I used to sit in my room and make mixtapes and create elaborate poems about trees and the weather. I remember once writing a 4 page poem about a Hurricane. Lol! As I grew older, I loved it more and more. I worked at a Fruit Farm called Belvins Fruit Market every summer. It was my first job, and also one of my favorites. I learned about sales, money management, inventory and stock, I also learned incredible math skills and how to count in my head. I have always been very thankful for this job and send all my love to the Belvin’s family. There were also many teachers who encouraged me to continue writing and noticed that I had a talent in speaking and communicating to large crowds. English and Art Class were among my favorites, and before I knew it, it was graduation time.”
At 17 years old, Amy started her first college, Mansfield University in Mansfield, Pennsylvania, where she was awarded an athletic scholarship as a Field Hockey Player. During this time, she found herself writing lyrics for many hip-hop artists and singer/songwriters on campus. She bought her first recording program, and a microphone from Radio Shack, and she started recording artists in her college apartment.
“I had a home made pop filter from a pair of white nylon tights, and a bent wire salt and pepper shaker holder. I didn’t know what I was doing, but my God, I loved it.”
Amy soon made the decision to graduate and move forward with a career in music.
Moving to Orlando…
Amy moved on to graduate her second college, Full Sail University, in Orlando, Florida, with a degree in Recording Arts. It was during this time of watching the recording and creating process at its best that Amy realized something incredible: the way that artists were creating their art was not being translated into the physical world, let alone the online world, with the same energy. She wanted to fix it.
“I started with a few songs I was working on at the studio, and put them on MySpace. I created a brand around myself and taught myself CSS, Photoshop, and coding. I started small with MySpace, and then built a website for my poetry and lyrics. I started with over 20,000 fans a day, and realized I was doing it right. My brand represented me the way I was, and people got it.”
It wasn’t long before Amy started doing this for other artists on campus, and soon she had a side job promoting artists. She had a knack for tuning into the artist and figuring out what type of images represented them–designing their logos, color schemes, CD covers, MySpace pages, and so on. Social Media and branding soon became a driving force in Amy’s life. Little did she know it, then, but this was “social media marketing and development,” and she was standing at the forefront of one the greatest tools for music marketing, for what would be the next decade.
“True story… I flew out to LA with my Father and my Grandfather, after days of searching for what my Dad called ‘slums for bums,’ I found a great apartment in Sherman Oaks, aka “the valley.” I loved it! On my apartment application, it asked me where I worked, and I wrote “Universal Music Group.” At the time though, I didn’t have a job there. I didn’t even have an interview, but I knew it was going to be part of my process. Two weeks after I moved, guess who got called in for an interview… Behold the power of YOUR MIND.”
During her time at Universal Music Group, Amy was part of NetReach, the first online marketing department of its kind and a frontier part of social media development for music artists. All the social networks were just starting to bloom, and Amy was right on the cusp of it!
“Networks were exploding; MySpace, Immem, Bebo, Facebook. The sheer numbers would grow from thousands to millions of fans. Finally, something that was helping create a positive solid revenue change for artists!”
It was an exciting time for the music industry. Amy marketed and branded a vast variety of clients, such as; The Dream, Mariah Carey, Rihanna, Duffy, Queen (even creating the original Queen Facebook page, which now was over a million members,) LL Cool J, The Killers, The Lonely Island (originally designing all their debut online media,) Ludo, Ne-Yo, John McLaughlin, Q-Tip, Kanye West, Common, President Obama’s Election DVD marketing, LMFAO, Rascal Flatts, and many more! Amy was also one of the designers responsible for branding and designing the Universal Music Group YouTube channel, which was the first channel on all of YouTube to get 1 billion views, and 1 million subscribers. At this point, her alumni, Full Sail, wrote an article about her you can read it by clicking here.
While working so many accounts at a time, Amy realized something was missing; there was a gap between what artists wanted and what labels were representing on their behalf.
“The problem lied in the fact that the teams were too large, and the artist was involved on a minimum level. Universal is an amazing beast, but with that being said, it is still a beast.”
In the heat of all the amazing artists around her, her brainchild company, 440 Artist Alignment was born.
440 Artist Alignment is born…
The back-story to that brainchild was that during this time, Amy also got very sick. She was admitted to the hospital for stress induced health issues, and her best friend, a wonderful and amazing Grammy nominated songwriter and life coach, came to the rescue! Amy took two weeks off of work to stay at her wonderful friend’s house in Malibu and relax. It was during this time that the concept of 440 was born.
“I was sitting on the coach eating potato leak soup… sick as dog, brainstorming out loud. I was thinking of the number 440, you know… perfect pitch, the A above middle C, tuned to 440 cycles per second… I was playing around with words until I said out loud, 440 Artist Alignment and there it was.”
440 Artist Alignment would creatively align artists with their perfect pitch: their true selves, their brand, and their marketing image. It was perfect! In 2009, she put in her thankful letter of resignation to Universal, and moved onward and upward!
440 Artist Alignment from $76 to a $1,000,076…
“When I started the business, after registering for my LLC, and all the original expenses, I had $76 left in my bank account. I am not ashamed to tell this story. This is the truth. This it what makes you. I can honestly say I definitely ate $1 chicken sandwiches for a while. But it was worth it. I had my dream. I had clients. I even had a few major clients follow me from Universal. Shh! I won’t say who, lol. But we started growing, and growing, and growing! Our artists starting increasing online sales by 10%, 20%, 300%. I was amazed at the data, and we had so much of it! Each network had its own data that we could collect and generate reports. Reports that explained the things that helped sales, demographics, cites of interest, age groups, keywords, etc, We were developing an amazing system, and it began working… over and over again. Our client list grew from 3 clients to 10 clients a month. Our campaigns got more extensive. We covered more networks, reached a bigger target audience, and added enhanced advertising. I hired young experts in London, England, and Germany. We were growing!
We started making a splash large enough to make a wave to get the attention of some of the industry’s top managers and A&R’s. The phones were ringing, and I needed another mastermind in my own version of “Dexter’s laboratory.” It was then that I found Helen Schmidt, a recent graduate of Full Sail, my Alumni, and an online creative genius in her own right. She was the perfect fit, and to this very day continues to impress me daily with her vision and creativity.
We gained the attention of companies that wanted our help with their roster of artists, and wanted us to take stock in developing ideas. Almost overnight, our company’s net worth grew to just shy of a perfect million at $1,000,076. I laughed, right before I cried. My accountant came back to me with that odd $76!! And to think, two years before that is all I had!! You can imagine what it feels like to achieve a milestone in your business career. Knowing that I consider this step .6 out of a 100… that during my lifetime, myself, along with the 440 team are going to be able to help so many artists create long-term success.
440 Artist Alignment has chosen Ue3 Promotions as its source for connecting artists to Brand Sponsorships and Endorsements.
“Jennifer Lyneis (CEO of Ue3) is a genius. Her background in this industry is solid and she is someone I respect like family. We have teamed up with her on many projects, including Static Cycle, Josh Charles, Trent Hancock, and Susan Calloway, while creating sponsorships with Mac, Gibson, Sennheiser, and many others. Her company and ideas are absolutely amazing, and her team helps make our campaigns more successful.”
Combining forces, Amy Houck often takes the role as Social Media Director and consultant for many cutting edge marketing and development companies. She is the Social Media Director behind the collective think tank VoxPop Worldwide, a powerful new company, whose focus is on discovery and exposure for upcoming musicians. She works alongside some of the industry’s most well known and most respected individuals. Including Phil Quartararo, former President/CEO at both Virgin Records America and Warner Bros. Records. Very notably, he orchestrated the North American marketing plan for the Spice Girls, who sold over 30 million copies of their debut disc worldwide. She works with branding and advertising legend Jim O’Mahony, former CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi’s, Australia, where he led the Agency to capture Agency of the Year; and visionary L. Joshua Eikov, Managing Director of Baron General Capital LLC, a merchant banking and corporate consultancy, who’s helped clients such as Target with interactive marketing solutions.
“VoxPop is an amazing company that bridges the gap between the user and the artist through new media platforms. As it grows, it will become one of the most trusted resources for discovery, and exposure, and I am very thankful to be a part of this amazing team.”
Recently, 440 teamed up with three-time Grammy winning producer Mikal Blue and “The Green Room,” to put on a showcase of its artists at the famous 2010 SXSW Music festival! The show was a huge success, and was held at the Lucky Lounge in downtown Austin!
“Many amazing people showed up to watch the show, and the feedback was amazing. We secured even more gigs for our current artists, and walked away with music licensing placements in negotiation that I wasn’t even expecting. We are definitely looking into doing a few more showcases this year in LA, and have recently secured new event sponsorships.”
Currently, Amy is also enjoying speaking on various panels that specialize in Social Media Marketing. She just finished speaking at “The Real Deal,” a once a year event put on by the HMMA, Hollywood Music and Media Awards, specializing in Music Marketing.
Amy’s latest accomplishment is her writing! She is now a published author, with her first book, “Social Media Marketing for Musicians the E-Book Bible.” It is available on Amazon in Kindle format and her company website as an E-Book PDF. To view the book click here.
Amy Houck is 26 years old and currently still lives in “the valley.” Her company headquarters are in Santa Monica. You can find her locally running around venues on Sunset and at her favorite restaurants. She highly recommends Casa Vega and Le Petite Four! Her family still lives on the East Coast, and she enjoys sneaking in surprise visit to them, often, including her one-and-only, all-time-favorite person; her niece.
In her own words…
“Dream. Never stop dreaming. Coming from where I’m from, people try to silently make you feel like there are limits on what you can do, and who you can be, but guess what… there’s not! There is a certain magic life presents us with… it’s called PASSION. We all have it. For some, it’s the backbone of their day-to-day existence, and they will not, and cannot do a job that they are not passionate about. I love people like this, because I am like this. I’d rather be surrounded by people strong enough to endure their circumstances chasing their deepest dreams, than those whose minds are engaged, but their hearts are not. When the dust settles, the difference is often faith, because when you believe what’s yours has always been yours, you don’t worry about taking a leap of faith and then falling, because you know; Either you will land on your feet, or you will be taught how to fly. I am a dreamer, and dreamers need no validation, other then the feeling in our chest when we are doing what we love. Here’s to wishing you all keep dreaming.
To keep up with Amy Houck visit her company: http://amyhouck.wpengine.com/
To read her poetry click here: http://amyhouckonline.com/
Join her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amy440
& Twitter: http://twitter.com/amylhouck
ARTICLE REFERENCE: http://mi2n.com/press.php3?press_nb=141568