Torrez Marketing & Productions

So 2018 is here! You’ve made more personal new year’s resolutions, and now you’re re-evaluating your professional goals; reassessing which ones you reached last year, and what changes you want to make for this year.

If one of those goals include starting your own business, expanding the company you already have, creating a secondary revenue stream, or turning that hobby into a source of income, then one of the things you’ll want to be sure not to overlook is your Marketing plan.

I often tell my music business students that it doesn’t matter how talented they are, how well they can sing, or how many songs they’ve written. If they don’t know how to promote and market themselves, then they won’t be able to sell their music, increase their fanbase, and grow their business. The same principle applies for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Let me introduce you to Gabe and Danielle Torrez and their company Torrez Marketing & Productions (TMP). Gabe and Danielle are storytellers from Nashville, TN. Driven by a desire to make your brand shine, TMP specializes in creating shareable content that your followers, friends and business contacts will want to watch and repost.

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Prior to creating TMP, Gabe Torrez worked on the creative team at Bethel World Outreach Church bringing messages to life through video and visuals. Danielle (Kimmey) Torrez formerly worked as Director of Marketing for eOne’s Worship division, and is best known for being one-third of the singing group Out of Eden.

Together, Gabe and Danielle take their shared industry knowledge and utilize it to create fascinating business branding videos, music videos, wedding videos, and much more.

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To contact TMP for more information and pricing packages, email Gabe Torrez at torreztmp@gmail.com or call 615.500.0596. Samples of their work can be found on Youtube at Torrez Marketing & Production.

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Where Education Meets Real Life!

As the calendar year winds to a close, I decided to take some time to think back over the last two academic semesters this year. This has been busy year, both in and outside the classroom.

I have always approached teaching in the Music Business program with the thought that Academia needs the Industry, as much as the Industry needs Academia. Educated graduates benefits everyone. So from day one, I’ve always looked beyond the textbook, choosing to incorporate guest speakers from the music and entertainment industry into the curriculum of every course I teach. In addition, I make it a personal practice to remain engaged in the industry, through organizational memberships, presentations at industry conferences, and attending industry events to maintain business relationships, and to continue learning and remaining current with what’s going on in the music business today. I do all that so that I’m always able to present my students not just with the knowledge of industry terms, definitions, and the basics of working in the business; which are all very important. But also in an effort to help them to be ready to walk across the commencement stage, right onto the stage of life; the real life of working, growing, and succeeding in their chosen field.

Bringing industry executives in to speak is always a real treat, as students have the opportunity to hear from Song Pluggers, Publishing Administrators, Booking Agents, Artist Managers, Entertainment Publicists, and Tour Managers.

We traveled down to Nashville for some industry showcases:

And again to Nashville to visit top Talent Agencies:

 

 

I also encourage my students to volunteer at various music conferences and attend networking events:

I’ll admit that my approach to teaching does require more of my energy, more creativity, and more out-of-the-classroom time, as I work to make every event tie-in to what we’re learning, and how to apply it to real world working. But it’s worth it as I watch some students listen more intently when they meet people who are doing what they want to do when they graduate. And pushing students out of their comfort zones, getting them to do some things they don’t want to do, or they didn’t think they could complete successfully. And then seeing the results of them making a connection, and getting that internship or job. Or getting email from former students who talk about how they didn’t realize just how much they were learning in class, until they had to apply that knowledge at work.

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An industry friend shared this graphic with a group of my students at a Tour Management Workshop.* I kept it because it applies to so much more; to life itself. It was a reminder to them that success (the iceberg) required a lot of sacrifice to achieve. Sometimes people only see what’s above the surface (the success), but they don’t take note of all of the hard work, persistence, discipline, rejection, courage, risks and other things required to achieve it. But that’s also why it’s important for people to surrounded themselves with good habits, passion, honesty, and dedication to maintain that success.

Education is important. But where education meets real life makes it even more worthwhile. Helps me to enjoy what I do even more. I can’t wait to get another year started!

 

  • Success graphic provided by Eric Kilby, Director of Touring for Compassion Productions

My Trip to China: An Educational Journey

So I survived! I made it to and back from Beijing, China! I have to say I had a wonderful time. It’s not that I thought I wouldn’t. I guess I never really gave it much thought because it all happened so fast. But once everything came together, it was a really great experience, and I’m glad I accepted the invitation to go.

The journey began on Halloween, departing Nashville on that Tuesday morning, then the 14-hour flight out of Chicago, straight into Beijing. In addition to the long flight, the 13 hour time difference made for quite the shock to the system when we landed at 4 PM on Wednesday afternoon. Fortunately the only thing on the agenda was dinner and rest! And at dinner we met one of the other professors from Liverpool, UK.

Thursday morning the three of us set off for a little sightseeing with three students from the Communication University of China (CUC), the host school who invited us to speak at the Fourth Music Industry Forum. We managed to be able to go to two places before we had to get back to prepare for the evening. We toured the Forbidden City, but because of how huge it was, we only walked through about half the place. I honestly can’t even imagine what it must have been like to live there all those hundreds of years ago. I would have probably used a horse to get from one end of the palace to the other! Then again, it was the Emperor’s palace, so I wouldn’t have been moving about anyway.  Ha!

After that we went to Tiananmen Square, which is located in the center of Beijing. I quickly learned that what we (the western world) talk about, in terms of what happened there in 1989, is not the same that the Chinese people or government talk about. So I’ll choose not to discuss it here.

Thursday evening the three of us walked across the street from the hotel to the CUC and taught our courses to a group of music business students, some of whom we had previously met when a group of them came to MTSU in July. They had a beautiful campus, and the students’ attendance to our lectures was optional. That made speaking in the class even better; knowing we were teaching students who really wanted to learn more about the music industry in America.

The conference on Friday was all day. The morning portion consisted of several keynote addresses, including from members of the government. We were able to understand what was being said because we had translation devices. At times I felt like I was sitting in the UN, listening to Chinese in one ear and English in the other. It really was quite the learning experience being able to hear what was going on. It was even nicer that the conference organizers had taken the time to create separate folders for the few of us, less than a dozen English speaking American, British and Australian guest speakers.

All of the afternoon and evening sessions were breakout sessions. I was part of a mixed panel and presentation format, which was pretty cool, I think. It was definitely different than what I’m used to. But it gave us a chance to interact with the audience (they also had translation devices), as we talked about changes in the music business landscape.

Throughout the day, I had a chance to learn more about some of the challenges in the music industry in China. There’s a lot of work still be done there for them to even come close to where we are in western countries; especially regarding copyright laws and live entertainment. But being able to hear about some of the things they are working on and trying to do helped to make this whole experience well worth the flight.

Never stop learning. Never stop sharing.

My Midterm Exam — A Trip to China!

It’s the middle of the semester, and nearing the end of another year! And what a busy year this one has been. I saved one of the best part of my summer review for now, because it connects with what the rest of the year has to offer!

I had the pleasure of teaching a group of Chinese students in July; part of the Confucius Institute’s exchange program with the Communication University of China. I had a fun time sharing with them about the Live Entertainment business in America. And I learned from them as well. So I took it as a compliment when the students gleefully shared how much they enjoyed me and my class. But I wasn’t quite sure how to take the verbal invitation from their two professors for me to come to China.

“I’d love to come visit some time,” I responded. “Perhaps one summer when I don’t have classes.”

“Oh no, it must be in November, ” I heard one of them remark.

What I thought in my head was “Do you really think we’re all rich and can just pick up and fly to another part of the world on a whim?” But before I could explain that there was school, and finances, and other things to consider before planning a trip to another country, they continued.

“You must come speak at the Forth Conference.”

The what? I thought loud enough for them to see the look on my face. Fortunately for both of us, their team leader from my school explained that there is an annual music conference held in Beijing in November, and that they were inviting me to come speak at that event. He went on to say what an honor it would be, and that I would enjoy going to China.

I hardly had time to wrap my head around a trip like that before I found myself preparing for the new semester, and wondering if they were really serious, since there had been no follow up email with a formal invitation five weeks later when our classes started.

Perhaps I was trying too hard to convince myself it wasn’t real, which contributed to me delaying the renewal of my passport, but a month later, the invitation came. And life for me has been somewhat of a blur ever sense — expediting a passport renewal (after taking a new photo), taking care of the paperwork for a Chinese visa (which also had to be expedited), and trying hard to get more details of exactly what the conference was, what they wanted my role to be, and who else would be attending, speaking, and participating!

Today marks exactly one week before my departure. And only now have I received a little more clarification about what I’ll be speaking on. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of professional and personal experiences await me on this new journey.

For now. I only have five days to put two presentations together and send for the translation. I’ll somehow figure out how to squeeze that into my already crazy schedule, and LIFE!

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What Happened to Summer?

IMG_4300Wait what?!! Is it time for school already? Where did the last three months go?! Maybe I say that every year, but I don’t think I’ve had a summer quite as busy as this one. Funny thing is that while most people think teachers and professors “get summers off,” they don’t realize how much work we’re involved in during those months — research, writing, presenting, prepping classes with fresh material — and that’s not even taking into consideration that sometimes that includes teaching summer school classes. Teaching summer school wasn’t in the cards for me this year, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a packed year filled with plenty of school/work related projects filling up those weeks.

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Was there anything else happening around the country this summer?  EclipseMTSU had its own official viewing event, including artists from our record label, astronomers and other scientists from our university, and a great place to view the historic totality event.

My job that day was to help transport the student artists to and from the stage and the “make-shift ” backstage green room area — a room in the College of Media & Entertainment! The music was presented by several artists, and me always being in the PR mindset wherever I go, I used every opportunity to also try to get them in front of any of the reporters on campus with a microphone and the time for an interview! 

At the end of the day, the event didn’t disappoint. And so it was more fun than work!

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Before the Eclipse, there was LA

The time I spent in the library working on a paper in June paid off when I had the opportunity to present that paper two months later at the MIRA conference (Music Industry Research Association) in Los Angeles. I was excited most about this opportunity because the association included a number of people from outside the music industry. MIRA’s goal is to bring together experts from different disciplines who are doing research about music and the music industry. I had the chance to meet and later speak to other academics, including some from Business Schools, as well as researchers from music platforms, like Pandora, and other music industry professionals.

 

Women in Film and Television

I also managed to squeeze in another speaking engagement, this time with the ladies of the Nashville chapter of WiFT. The topic was on how to engage students and academia into independent projects. I have enjoyed the chance to connect with other people and non-academic organizations this summer; expanding my network.

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One of the first things I say to my students during the first week of school is that while they might be enrolled in the Music Business program of a Recording Industry Department, today’s music industry is as much about the bigger picture of the Entertainment industry — music, film, television, video, sports — as it is just about songwriting, recording, and performing live music! You have to get out and meet and mingle with other people doing things that might influence — directly or indirectly — what you do, and expand your network to keep creativity at the forefront.

Looking forward to what this new academic school year will bring; new faces, mostly open minds, with their own dreams of making it in this Music Business!

Corner of Danny & Kansas Avenue

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Happy Anniversary to Danny and Kansas Fergen! Ten years of marriage is definitely something to celebrate! It’s even more so as our country and culture have watched more and more couples choosing not to ever get married; and many who do, even within the church, still ending up in divorce just a few years into their marriage.

But wait. Why am I sending congratulatory remarks to some couple on my entertainment blog?

Well, this is no ordinary couple; at least not to me. And while I’m sure the word extraordinary would not be appropriate, they are definitely two people making a huge difference in the world today, just by living out their lives the way they feel God is directing them to do.

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I first met Kansas Calkhoven before she became Mrs. Fergen, when she was part of a Christian sister pop group TruEmotion. The oldest of six girls, she and four of her sisters made up the music group who I represented. There’s an incredible story to tell, not so much about how the group was formed, but rather how their family of six girls was made. But that’s another great story for another time.

For now, let’s talk about when Kansas met Danny. Or better yet, what they have been doing since marrying on June 11, 2007.

From early on in their relationship, they knew they wanted to grow their family in a non-traditional way. Both agreed that adoption was God’s plan for them before trying to pursue having children biologically. They began the adoption process a few months into their marriage, thinking it would take a few years before they had placement of a child. But, God had a different plan. Just a year after they were married, they got “the call” that would change their lives forever. They welcomed a nine month old baby boy into their forever family. It was that choice, that call, and that child that paved the way for how God would continue to work in their hearts and orchestrate their family for the years to come.

“I fell into motherhood really fast at the age of 23, to a nine month old baby boy and two months later we found out we were expecting.” — Kansas Fergen

Every day people fall in love, they get married, they talk about how they plan to grow their family, and they move forward towards those goal. So what makes Danny and Kansas’ story a special one? Well, for one, I have never met a young twenty-something year old couple who sets out to become parents by adoption first, so early in their marriage. But more than just having children — biologically and through adoption — it is how they are raising them, and what God is doing through their kids, as much as with them as a family unit, that caught my attention.

Now, ten years into their marriage, Danny and Kansas are already the parents to five beautiful, creatively different, loving children, ranging from a toddler to two tweens.

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“Not every family is meant to look the same, but every life matters. Our family is built on the faithfulness of God through both biological & adopted children.”

Danny and Kansas aren’t just growing their family; they’re building a ministry while they’re at it. And I’d like to introduce you to different parts of that, a little piece at a time.

So come back here as I continue to share with you more about The Fergens over the next several weeks, and see why you will enjoy getting to know who they are, what they’re doing, and what’s next in God’s plan for their family’s life! And who knows? Music just might be a part of what’s to come in the future!

So Happy Anniversary Fergens! Here’s to 10+10+10+10+10 more!

What Most Writer’s Have in Common

“When David Pepin first dreamed of killing his wife, he didn’t kill her himself. He dreamed convenient acts of God.”

That is the opening two sentences that start a new book, Mr Peanut, I picked up yesterday at a Writer’s Conference. I had not planned to purchase any books this year. It was my third year attending the Writer’s Loft at MTSU, and each year I’d come home with a book that I never got around to opening and actually reading. But after hearing the author, Adam Ross, share as the keynote speaker, I felt compelled to pick up a copy of the novel.  I think what struck me most while listening to his humorous look at his journey into making a living at being a Writer, was how long it took Adam to get published; how many years passed from when he started his first novel, until when he actually finished it; and how determined he was to finish what he started, in spite of the aspect of not knowing if anything would ever get published.

Adam was the father of girls,  and shared that he wanted his daughters to know from example, the importance of finishing what you start. It hit an interesting chord with me this year that previous years hadn’t particularly done. Like Adam, I have multiple short stories and novels started, but set aside (“then you get to the middle…”); and stacks of unedited poetry and prose in drawers, boxes, and folders all over my office. They have traveled safely with me from house to house; especially over the past 10 years, but I haven’t taken a serious look at them in more than a while. I’ve convinced myself that I don’t have the kind of time I need to get back to it; to finish it. But yesterday, as I heard one writer after another talk about the reality that everyone who wants to be a writer, can and should find the time to write, I accepted the fact that I was making excuses.

I’ve said to others, more times than I can remember, that you find the time to do what’s most important to do.

What I need isn’t convincing. I need action. I need to stop finding the times when writer’s block discourages me, and utilize more times when I sit still and push through; work through the creative blocks by fighting back.  

If I’m honest, I can’t say I’ve worked hard at engaging in the very craft I claim to enjoy so much.

One of the mentors of the program made an interesting comparison at the start of the conference. She asked two questions. Why do we want to get Published? And why do we Write?

Publishing, she argued, is for the acclaimation of the value of our work; or for the money or to build a resume. But when we speak of why Writers write, we have to first look at what motivates you to write? Is it to entertain? To explore a particular theme? To revisit history and walk in someone else’s shoes for a moment.

What motivates me to write? What am I trying to accomplish when I write? What’s keeping me from writing; from completing the many projects I’ve started?

“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” — Thomas Mann