A Seaver College alumnus launches an experiential marketing company that bridges the gap between music labels, artist, and fans.
Justin Lefkovitch (’09) was working on his bachelor’s degree in business administration when he composed a business model for a marketing company and submitted it to the Business Plan Competition, a contest presented by the Graziadio School of Business and Management in collaboration with Seaver College. When his submission was selected as a finalist, he knew it was worth further pursuit.
While pursuing his degree, Lefkovitch began managing local singer-songwriter Ray Kennedy, admittedly his first encounter with professional music production and management. With special insights into the music industry, Lefkovitch noticed gaps in communication and satisfaction among artists, labels, and consumers. After speaking with several artists, Lefkovitch began to think about possible ways to bridge this gap that would benefit all three parties as they participate in the branding and marketing processes together.
Two years after graduating from Pepperdine, with solid real-world business experience through Ray Kennedy’s ventures, funding from angel investor Vaden Saunders, and a partnership with music production mogul Steve Kofsky, Lefkovitch launched Mirrored Media, an experiential marketing company based in Santa Monica, California.
Since opening its doors in 2011, Mirrored Media has generated an impressive list of high-profile clients, including Acura, Universal Pictures, Syfy, Fox, and Google Play. The company has also been featured in numerous publications, such as Forbes, the New York Times, AdWeek, and Event Marketer, the magazine that placed Mirrored Media on its Top 100 Event Agencies “It List.”
Lefkovitch sat down with Pepperdine Magazine to explain the concept behind Mirrored Media and share what he’s learned on his professional journey thus far.
Pepperdine Magazine: How did working with Ray Kennedy influence the development of Mirrored Media?
Justin Lefkovitch: While working with Ray, I had the pleasure of meeting and working with countless talented artists. During this time, the music industry was going through dramatic shifts, both in the artist deal structures within major labels, as well as in the way consumers perceived and valued music.
My interest in marketing and advertising, and a desire to create additional revenue streams for artists in the ever-changing environment, led to an idea of creating organic brand campaigns that would not only benefit artists financially, but also meet their goals. I saw what projects were being executed within the space and how many lacked the artist’s unique voice and brand identity. Many campaigns were perceived as contrived by the fans. My approach was to create a win-win scenario for brands and talent.
PM: How did you discover the music industry ’s pain points?
JL: By having many conversations with artists I was working alongside at the time. I noticed that there was a strong breakdown of communication between talent and marketing executives. Each camp spoke a different language, with very different campaign goals and interests in mind. In addition, the music industry can be perceived as intimidating, due to the complexities around publishing and licensing. Some might even perceive it as risky.
This attitude, coupled with the fickle fan perspective of branded content and campaigns, laid the foundation for my idea. I strongly believed that mutually beneficial experiences could be created to produce a successful marketing campaign—and we have now proven that.
PM: What exactly is “experiential marketing?”
JL: For me, experiential marketing is messaging that you can touch, feel, view, and engage with within the physical or digital space—basically, any experience that moves you and makes you want to share it with your friends. While traditional advertising concentrates on verbally and visually communicating the brand message through radio, print, and television, experiential marketing can encompass a variety of mediums focusing on creating an experience that immerses the consumer in the brand message with a more high-touch but low-pressure approach.
PM: What sets Mirrored Media apart from other marketing companies?
JL: Mirrored Media concentrates on creating high-impact and enduring lifestyle campaigns that specialize in music and entertainment. Each member of my team has extensive experience working in the music and entertainment world, as well as the traditional marketing landscape.
From previous artist managers and tour managers, to marketing directors and art designers, I am fortunate to have an incredible team that understands the needs of both the brand client, as well as the influencer partner who could be a band, artist, or social media star. I believe Mirrored Media’s strength comes from our approach and close relationships with our influencer partners, coupled with our strong creative ideas that continuously challenge the notion of what’s possible and push the creative needle over the edge.
Our executive team is made up of millennials who can continuously evolve our capabilities and creative to meet the needs of the market. Ultimately, every one of our brands and partners experience transformational results through each campaign.
PM: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
JL: When I first came up with the idea for Mirrored Media, Gary Mallaber—who most famously composed for Steve Miller Band and drummed for Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, The Beach Boys, John Lennon, and many others—once told me that if I could bring humanity back to the industry, we would have a line of artists and brands wanting to work with us. That always stuck with me and I tried to do exactly that.