Forbes Archives - Mirrored Media

Forbes: Film Composer Hans Zimmer Gives BMW Electric Cars A Noteworthy Voice

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Inside the production studio where Oscar winner Hans Zimmer composes music
Hans Zimmer’s music studio in Santa Monica, CA
PHOTO BY DAVID BLOOM

David Bloom, Senior Contributor Forbes

Oscar-winning film composer Hans Zimmer (The Lion King), has a new side gig, curating the sounds of otherwise virtually silent electric vehicles made by his hometown automaker, BMW.

On the eve of the Los Angeles Auto Show’s opening (and of the announcement of Zimmer’s latest Grammy nomination, his 18th), BMW hauled a busload of mostly German journalists to Zimmer’s sprawling music-production compound tucked amid low-rise office buildings a mile east of downtown Santa Monica. There, Zimmer and BMW executives unveiled the initial results of a previously announced collaboration designed to give voice to cars that make virtually no sound.

Hans Zimmer with background TV image of BMW car
Oscar-winning film composer Hans Zimmer in his studio complex PHOTO BY DAVID BLOOM

“It’s the electric engine which is not delivering any sound at all,” said Jens Thiemer, Head of BMW Brand Management. “This is more and more going to be the way in the next decades. We had to think about what holistic sound experiences can we provide our drivers?”

As part of that future, Zimmer will have an ongoing role creating audio for BMW electric vehicles, starting with a sound that signals the start and stop of the cars. It will be part of next year’s BMW electric fleet.Today In: Business

On start, the sound swells from a single note into a full chord. And when the car is turned off, the sound is reversed, going from a chord to a single note.

Zimmer– who still has an apartment in Munich with a view of the BMW headquarters – said his work on the project was initially informed by the feeling of safety and security he had when he could pick out the sound of his mother’s returning car among the city’s street noise.

He also kept thinking what the world sounded like before the internal-combustion engine took over seemingly everything, but especially our auditory landscape.

“What did the world sound like before the internal-combustion engine,” Zimmer said. “Silence is an expensive commodity now. But we could make (the driving experience) more beautiful. There’s no limit to the sounds we could make” without engine sounds overwhelming everything.

The project taps into the same spirit of customization that led people to create their own cellphone ring-tones. As well, there’s a billion-dollar aftermarket for products that aficionados use to trick out even modest vehicles with internal and external running lights, high-end sound systems, custom paint jobs, and much else.

More recently, BMW competitor Daimler-Benz rolled out an entry-level sedan, the A 220, designed to appeal to a new market segment of tech-savvy younger buyers. Among the options is the ability to customize interior running lights with numerous colors or color combinations. It’s a small thing, but ridiculously pleasing for those who like to make a car more truly an expression of their personality.

And so, no doubt, will be the case for audio in the near-perfect listening conditions possible in a well-made electric vehicle. Though Zimmer and Renzo Vitale, who heads BMW’s music project, were circumspect about what additional sound creation the composer might do in his ongoing role, Zimmer several times mentioned that he already had numerous ideas for more work.

Composer Hans Zimmer and BMW executive Renzo Vitale
Hans Zimmer (l.) and BMW composer Renzo Vitale announcing Zimmer’s new role with the car companyPHOTO BY DAVID BLOOM

“The start-stop sound is a good first thing to be working on,” Vitale said. ‘Maybe it shows us a new way. More is to be revealed.”

Zimmer originally was commissioned to create a distinctive driving sound for a concept car, the Vision M Next, that BMW unveiled earlier this year.

That audio was built around what’s known in music circles as a Shepard tone, an audio effect that enlists a chord of tones separated by an octave each that shift in pitch and volume, said Vitale. It was designed to provide something of the visceral auditory thrill that a sports car’s revving engine can deliver to enthusiast drivers.

The Shepard tone tricks the ear into believing the sound is perpetually swelling in volume as different tones rise and fall within the overall chord. Zimmer said he used the effect in his Oscar-nominated soundtrack for Christopher Nolan’s Inception among other work.

The sounds also are built around unexpected inspirations, taken from notable visual artists.

For instance, Vitale said the road sound for the concept car – designed to unfurl through four “rooms” of emotional response as a driver accelerated from 0 to 200 kilometers per hour (about 122 mph) – connects to the work of prominent Southern California artist James Turrell, a former MacArthur Fellow noted for his work with the Light and Space movement and Arizona’s Roden Crater naked-eye observatory.

In similar fashion, the start-stop sound was fueled by a sculptural piece from Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson that unfurls and furls through a cycle, Zimmer said.

More generally, Zimmer took a filmic, narrative approach, perhaps unsurprising given his body of work creating music for dozens of films, TV shows and video games, including Pirates of the Caribbean, Dunkirk, Gladiator, and The Dark Knight trilogy. He racked up another Grammy nomination today, for best score soundtrack for visual media, for this year’s live-action version of The Lion King.

“Every story is a journey,” Zimmer said. ‘The character starts somewhere and ends somewhere else. I thought how great it would be if the car would greet you. The on-off sound could be a delicious Beatles chord that makes you smile.”

It’s not the first time Zimmer has worked with BMW on projects. Three years ago, he was the first musician to work with BMW on a project tied to Coachella, the massive music festival held every spring in the desert three hours’ drive east of Los Angeles.

That first Road to Coachella project featured behind-the-scenes video of Zimmer preparing for his live performance, organizing the 100-person backing orchestra he brought along. The automaker since has partnered with Portugal. The Man and this year with Khalid, who today was nominated for a Record of the Year Grammy.

And BMW has been doing entertainment-connected projects for many years, beginning with the commissioning of Ridley Scott and other notable directors two decades ago to create short films featuring the vehicles.Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Read the entire article HERE at Forbes.com

Forbes: Q&A: Khalid On Cars, Coachella, Hanging With ‘The Rock,” Billie Eilish And More

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By: Steve Baltin, Contributor

It is quite a time to be Khaild. In the last two months, the 21-year-old has scored a No 1 album, Free Spirit; hobnobbed with Taylor Swift, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and many more at the Time 100, a gathering of those selected by the magazine as the most influential people; played Coachella and Lollapalooza shows in South America, and is getting ready to kick off his first arena tour.

So when I spoke with Khalid on a recent Friday afternoon as he got ready to play at Syracuse University that night there was a lot to discuss, from his BMW activation leading up to Coachella, to hanging with “The Rock,” his admiration for Billie Eilish and why he is still so grateful and appreciative of his fans.

Steve Baltin: Being at Time 100 were there those people for you outside of music you were excited to meet?

Khalid: I met “The Rock,” [Dwayne Johnson] had a personal conversation with him and it was super, super awesome. He was really nice. I kind of looked at it as us just meeting but then I saw he posted a picture of us on his Instagram story and he said that I have soul. I really appreciated that. I held that to my heart definitely.

Baltin: Because you do work with so many musicians it is almost more exotic and unique to meet people outside of music?

Khalid: In my life right now everything feels like a dream and it’s all unraveling in front of my own eyes. I’ve been really big on music, music has definitely been my forefront. It’s always super cool to step out of your element and go into a different world to see people that I’ve seen on TV cause I don’t know how it is to be an actor or to see people who are in politics or journalists. I don’t know how it is to be any of those things other than a musician, so it’s super cool. It really puts you into a different perspective because I’m like, “Wow, there’s so much talent in the world on every aspect.” Everyone deserves to be where they are, especially at the Time 100, everybody deserves their spot. I just happen to be acknowledging and appreciating the other 99. I was like, “Wow, I can’t believe I’m on the list myself.” It was definitely a blessing.

Baltin: I have found being at FORBES there are a lot of similarities in successful people, from business to athletes to musicians. Did you find talking with these people at Time 100 there was a lot in common?

Khalid: It was cool talking to Gayle [King] as well, me and “The Rock” and Gayle, we even took a selfie together. But before we took the selfie we had a conversation and she asked me and “The Rock,” “Where were you when you got that call? What were you guys doing and how did you feel?” And it was super interesting to hear, we all have different routines, to hear Gayle’s routine and to hear “The Rock”‘s routine. And then for me to be like, “Well, when I found out I was laying on the couch and I get a call. I called my mom immediately and I talked to her.” It was something that was super, super amazing, but that’s only three people out of 100 who all were given the Time 100. I don’t know how all of the people felt about what they received and how they held it to their hearts, but I could tell the energy of the room was genuine. Everyone was gracious, everyone was appreciative and they were all supportive because when I sang for everybody I was so nervous. But they showed me so much [love] because everybody has all been there, different levels. I haven’t been making music that long; I wrote my first song in 2015. A lot of the people who were in the room have been working for decades. So they’ve all been there, they’ve all been in my place, even having a conversation with Taylor Swift, this is her second time being on the list. And her first time, she told me, she was exactly where I was. I was a dreamer, we were all dreamers. We just so happened to accomplish our dreams and I think that’s beautiful.

Baltin: What was it about the Coachella activation and working with BMW that excited you?

Khalid: The activation I did with BMW and Coachella was something I was super interested in because I love BMW. Living in Germany for six years, my mom owned a three series and that’s the car I would say, sitting in the backseat as a 12-year-old, “I can’t wait to get in the front and drive.” When I bought my own car my car was also a BMW, a four series. Then I traded that in, now I have a M6 and I’m definitely gonna get another BMW. So I feel like it made the process easier for me business wise. I was so open to it because it was something I was extremely interested in and wanted to be a part of. I think across the board that’s the dream. Dreaming of having a car, dreaming of performing at Coachella, being on that stage. Cars are something I love so much; I’ve always been a fan of cars growing up. So it was really cool to see my little Free Spirit cars riding around town, seeing people from like Paris Hilton to whoever driving these cars.

Baltin: Since all of this is still so new for you as well and you can remember being a fan so recently, I imagine it’s even more important to interact with the fans as you did in this activation.

Khalid: Yeah, that’s why I do it. I was a fan first, I’m always a fan of music. I’m a fan to this day of so many different people and there are so many artists to this day who I would still love to meet and I would geek over. So it’s cool to know I have the relationship I do have with my fans. I feel like it’s very strong. I give it up to my fans because they make the time, dedicate time to travel hours sometimes to come and see me wherever I am, stop what they’re doing, leave work early, leave school early, whatever it is for a couple of minutes. So I make sure that every meeting I have with a fan I talk with them and give them what they deserve. That’s a personal conversation because we’re all humans. So to work with a business or activation that is very fan-driven, that is strictly for the fans, that is something I am so geared to because if I can show them my appreciation, whatever way I have to, that’s what I want to do. I always want me fans to feel they are appreciated by me. They’re the reason why, in 2017 I was doing 1,000 or 2,000-person rooms and now I’m going on an arena tour. That’s not because of me by myself, that’s because of the fans.

Baltin: The lead singer of Portugal The Man once told me a story of getting to listen to Led Zeppelin in a Cadillac with Neil Young at Bonnaroo. In honor of that who is the one band you would want to listen to and with which artist in a BMW?

Khalid: Oh my god (laughs), definitely I would want to listen to Fleetwood Mac with Kid Cudi. That would be the trippiest, most free spirited car ride ever. I feel like it would be euphoric.

Baltin: How is the album changing as you play it live?

Khalid: Coachella was already unbelievable and tonight I have a show in Syracuse and I am playing a couple of songs from the album live for the first time in a closed environment, something that is not festival like. And I’m actually really anxious, I’m nervous cause like you said, the fans control the album and they receive it whatever they want to. And I really hope that they sing the words as loud as they possibly can because then it’s going to change my perception of the music as well. It’s one thing to live with an album in a recording studio, but when you live with an album as you’re performing it live every night or other night the songs start to change meaning, they start to hold different messages, you start to see what songs resonate with fans. And when you’re in America or go to Europe or Asia all the songs end up creating their own energy and that’s what I love the most about it. I love recording the songs, that’s definitely a fun process. But performing the songs live, you can’t recreate that feeling, especially having my dancers on the stage with me. We always have a good time and it’s always the best, the music feels way better.

Baltin: Are there particular songs that really stand out to you to do live?

Khalid: I did “Out Of My Head” this past weekend for Coachella and that was amazing, and “Twenty One,” which is also one of my favorite songs off the album. These are songs that I feel like when I was in the studio I strictly wrote for performing them live. I am so excited to perform them live and I feel like those songs are going to change for me. And hopefully the fans like them because I can’t wait for this tour. This tour is gonna be my favorite, the best tour I have ever done. It’s gonna be an amazing journey and I can’t wait to see the fans.

Baltin: Are there artists you’ve watched grow and you admire their evolution?

Khalid: I saw one of Billie Eilish’s first performances a couple of years back and it was at this venue where you had to be a certain age, either 18 up or 21 up and she was like 15 or 16 at the time, it was super interesting to see all these people who were adults, some of them well into their adulthood, and they’re watching this 15-year-old girl. You could see the star power, but you could see how shy she was, how new everything was. And then I saw her at Coachella, I went both weekends. I saw the energy both crowds had, I saw the energy she brought to both crowds, I saw how she controlled the crowd by completely being the true inspiration of herself in the moment. I could see the youth, it was almost radiating off her, just her jumps, how care free she was. She looked free and I can’t wait to see her on tour because she’s definitely one of my favorite shows that I’ve been to.

Mirrored Media was proud to produce BMW’s #RoadtoCoachella campaign for the third year, with Khalid as the featured artist of 2019.

Check out the whole article at Forbes.com.

Forbes Feature: How Big Brands Are Reaching New Audiences At Coachella

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By Yola Robert, Contributor

Coachella
Coachella CHRISTOPHER POLK FOR TEEN VOGUE.

Coachella has become one of the biggest festivals in the country with over 125,000 attendees each weekend this past year which does not include the number of people that travel to the area for the parties or activations. It is estimated that Golden Voices’ Coachella and Stagecoach generate approximately $900 million in economic activity around the Coachella Valley area. With the majority of attendees contributing to the almost billion dollars in economic activity consisting of Gen Z and millennials, major brands have the opportunity to build relationships with new audiences that they would not typically interact with otherwise.

“For brands, identifying influencers is easy. Paying them to post is easier. Building a trusting relationship where both sides can add value to the other (without feeling used) is the ultimate challenge. ‘Return On Influence’ is the new ROI,” says Christopher Rockwell of LOVE, a brand strategist who helps companies like Audi, Fendi, and Google. 

Revolve has proven that activating at Coachella is a must for brands looking to boost revenues while staying culturally relevant. But Revolve isn’t the only brand that shines its presence in the desert; Express, BMW, American Express, Create & Cultivate, Rachel Zoe, Levi’s and Neon Carnival have all invested in creating an experience to connect with existing customers while reaching a new audience.

BMW

Kahlid next to the Khalid designed BMW i8 for #roachtocoachella.
Khalid next to the Khalid designed BMW i8 for #roadtocoachella. BMW

BMW returned to the desert for #roadtocoachella produced by Mirrored Media with Khalid as their 2019 artist. Khalid designed the art for a fleet of BMW i8’s to be driven down to the popup by influencers and celebrities. At the popup, fans got to meet Khalid, shop the collab merch and test out the i8’s. BMW has taken an unconventional approach in making its activation more about a lifestyle rather than a car.

“As the world´s most vibrant music and art festival, Coachella is an ideal match from a brand perspective. At BMW, joy is in our DNA, and with experiences like #roadtocoachella, we are able to connect authentically, yet unconventionally with young (at heart) people in a very emotional way. Coachella broadens our community from an automotive company to a more accessible & inspiring lifestyle mobility brand.”  Stefan Ponikva head of BMW events and BMW group shows.

Check out the full article HERE on Forbes.com

FORBES: Meet Justin Lefkovitch: The Mirrored Media Founder Transforming Experiential Marketing

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In 2011, Justin Lefkovitch founded Mirrored Media, a leading experiential marketing company that specializes in creating high impact, enduring lifestyle campaigns that unite marquee artists with influential brands. The 28-year-old and his tight-knit team of skilled young forward-thinkers help brands connect with their target demographic through crafting organic music experiences.

The ever-evolving convergence of marketing, entertainment, technology and culture has reached an exciting turning point. With the advertising industry transitioning into the new entertainment business, more brands are expanding into the lifestyle space in unconventional ways. Brands are discovering the deeper value in partnering with various artists and influencers to craft content and campaigns that solidify their position within pop culture. Understanding the seamless merger of music and digital media, brands and marketers are collaborating to create products, platforms, and experiences that authentically engage a millennial audience.

While advertisers continue investing the bulk of their attention and resources into developing mobile-focused digital videos and cutting edge social programs, there’s an evident gold mine emerging in the realm of live events and experiential marketing. In an era where festivals stand as the thriving pulse of music, touring is more frequent than ever, and brands seek to participate at each stage of the consumer journey, experiential marketing offers the perfect opportunity to experiment with truly cutting edge concepts. With a foresight of the changing landscape, Justin Lefkovitch set out to build a company that would provide the blueprint for how brands and artists collaborate to not only achieve their goals, but also enhance and advance their art form in the process.

Justin Mirrored 1

While a student at Pepperdine University, Justin began managing renowned singer/songwriter Ray Kennedy, stepping in to handle various aspects of his career. Serving as his first introduction to the music business, Lefkovitch learned the dynamics of the industry, while further discovering the deficiencies and frustrations that artists endured. One particular issue that stood out was the evident disconnect between brands and artists, with neither side able to identify the shared values required to forge healthy, authentic partnerships. “I looked at what was happening in other aspects of entertainment, in sports and in movies, where brands had really figured out how to market in that space and evolve the art form through product placements that were organic and authentic,” Lefkovitch told Forbes. “At that time, brands, music and entertainment working together seemed like selling out, but I knew there was a way to make it work authentically.”

 Taking his learned knowledge and innate instincts; Justin developed a business plan and submitted to a contest held by the University. Making it to the finals, Lefkovitch gained the spark and confirmation needed to fully believe in his idea. His passion and vision attracted the attention of Grammy Award Winning composer Steven Kofsky, who became Justin’s first investor and business partner. From there, through diligence and tireless work, Mirrored Media was born and quickly rose to prominence. “He had a lot of passion for what he was doing, and to me, he had a very good idea,” Kofsky told Forbes. “He believed in his idea, and the concept of how he wanted to execute the idea, but his passion was the key — he was ahead of his years.”

Today, his growing roster of global clients includes Google GOOGL +2.19%, Acura, TuneCore, Mophie, Fullscreen, Awesomeness TV, and Crave Online. From prominent festivals and premiere conferences, to nationwide tours and disruptive pop up activations – Mirrored Media is widely credited with delivering massively successful live events that drive awareness, engagement, influence and capital for each brand partner. Receiving recognition for their groundbreaking work and innovative approach to developing interactive branded entertainment experiences, Mirrored Media earned a coveted spot on Event Marketer’s 2015 It List of Top 100 Event Agencies.

With a growing group of smart and savvy employees representing richly diverse perspectives and a broad scope of industry experience extending across music, media and marketing, Mirrored Media embodies the ethos and vision of today’s generation, reflecting a rapidly emerging trend of fearless, creative millennials on a mission to transform the attitude and framework of modern marketing. “I think we’re very lucky, because we’re in a position to pick our clients and pick the projects we want to be a part of,” stated Lefkovitch. “We work with clients that we really vibe well with, clients we can be a positive influence on, that listen to what we have to say, and want to truly create something really dope and creative.”

I visited the Mirrored Media headquarters in Santa Monica, California and spoke with Justin about the road to launching his company, what gives his team an edge in the experiential space and how their winning streak will carry into 2016 and beyond. Watch above or view the full interview here.

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