A Q&A with Mirrored Media founder and CEO Justin Lefkovitch. The Santa Monica, California–based company was founded in 2010 and closed a $500K funding round in mid-December led by Angel investor Vaden Saunders.
SUB: Please describe Mirrored Media and your value proposition.
Lefkovitch: Mirrored Media is an alternative recording label and experiential music marketing firm that creates high impact, enduring lifestyle campaigns fusing together marquee bands with Fortune 500 brands. We help give brands the ability to better reach their target market in a unique way that engages fans and develops lasting relationships between the brand, artist, and fan. Mirrored Media specializes in giving brands an authentic voice through music while supporting artists and giving them the opportunity to gain significant reach and exposure. Our value proposition comes in a three-fold approach by providing services for brands/ad agencies, musicians/labels, and the fans directly.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Lefkovitch: Our target market is major brands, advertising agencies, musicians and music labels. We create a unique relationship between the music partner and brand partner in order for both parties to achieve their goals. We have the unique pleasure of working directly with brands as well as teaming up with some of the largest advertising agencies to help create lifestyle music campaigns. Similarly, we work directly with artists and their management team as well as major record labels and their music catalogues. We have the opportunity to collaborate with virtually any brand or music partner out there.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Lefkovitch: There are several experiential agencies that have been around much longer than we have. However, when looking at our direct competitors there is no other company quite like us. Our specialty lies in music experimental marketing where we benefit both the artist and brand equally. We focus less on promoting our brand and more on building the music platforms of our clients.
SUB: What differentiates Mirrored Media from the competition?
Lefkovitch: By no means did we invent the idea of music brand partnership. We have seen brands and bands team up many times in the past. However, these deals often turn out to be one-sided. Meaning, either the band or the brand are getting more out of the deal while the other is left shorted. During these deals there is rarely a third party to mediate and guide the process along. Through Mirrored Media, we have developed a process to create long lasting partnerships that are equally beneficial for all parties involved. Additionally, unlike other experiential marketing companies, we also have an in-house music department including an award winning A&R team and music catalogue. Thus, giving us the ability to better serve our clients with unique music opportunities without needing to outsource to outside music companies or pull from only one catalogue of musicians. Additionally, it puts us in a unique position to join in participation rights of our artist partners and build our own label catalogue.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Lefkovitch: The company was officially founded in 2010 after working to build on my idea for several years. I invested time validating the idea both with advertising agencies and brands direct as well as with artists and major labels. I sat down with the most influential minds in the industry and gained invaluable knowledge that helped in our positioning and value proposition.
In college, when developing the company, I was incredibly blessed and lucky to spend time talking to industry leaders and even more honored to call several of them mentors. Both Steve Mcbeth, former Disney executive and founding President of Disney Interactive, and Steve Kofsky, of RCI Global LLC and business partner of world renowned academy and Grammy award winning film composer Hans Zimmer, stepped in to give me an unparalleled mentor experience. I gained valuable knowledge in business, research tools, as well as an expanded rolodex. In the steps leading up to officially launching the company, I developed relationships with several other partnering companies to ensure our launch was successful. Allen Klevens at Prescriptive music, a custom music background branding company, invested a great deal of time in teaching me infinite details of music branding, and helped me to create our pitch and other tools instrumental to a successful launch and client acquisition. I am eternally grateful to those who believed in a twenty one year old with a simple idea and helped me to turn that idea into a sustainable company reaching millions of people.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Mirrored Media? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Lefkovitch: The inspiration for Mirrored Media was more of a gradual development, rather than a light bulb moment. My connection to the music industry began when my father introduced me to singer songwriter Ray Kennedy. You may recall Ray Kennedy as the co-writer of one of the Beach Boys’ major hits, ‘Sail on Sailor’. Ray was in need of some business and marketing guidance involving several high profile projects. At just 20-years-old and with almost no experience under my belt, I began working with Ray.
It was while working with Ray that I fell in love with the business of music and really found my calling. Working with some of the industry’s biggest musicians and influences, I was able to see first-hand the collapse of the music industry from the inside. I was shocked to witness the music take a back seat to business deals and ego-centered contracts. I wanted to somehow restore humanity back into the industry and give control back to the artists.
Through many conversations with these innovative music professionals, paralleled with my own entrepreneurial drive, the idea for Mirrored Media was born. However, it wasn’t until after I submitted my business concept to the Business Plan Competition at the Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business and received great acclaim that I realized I might actually have a viable and sustainable model. It was then that I decided to make this vision come to life.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Lefkovitch: To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. I remember spending time trying to come up with the best name that captured all that the company was. I loved the idea that we mirrored both the brands’ ideals while keeping true to the artist’s vision. ‘Mirrored Media’ popped into my head one day and just stuck.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Lefkovitch: If it was easy, it wouldn’t be any fun. There have been many obstacles thus far, the two most significant have been building my team and scaling the business. Our team has some of the most brilliant minds in business and entertainment—the most talented group of people I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Naturally, it was enormously difficult to find them all and get them under the same roof.
As a young professional there is only so much school can teach you. While I obviously believed in the longevity of my company, we have all been pleasantly surprised by the speed and demand for growth. Keeping up with the demand from the market has forced us to grow much quicker than expected. Learning, planning and facilitating scale has been an exciting obstacle to work through. I look forward to continuing to grow as a company and manager.
SUB: You recently raised $500K in funding. What are your plans for the funds?
Lefkovitch: The funding is being used to open a second Mirrored Media location in Seattle. Additionally, the funding has allowed us to expand our team with new key executive hires to better serve our clients. These hires include Brian Hirsh, chief creative officer, and Tobin Watkinson, vice president of music.
SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise funding?
Lefkovitch: Our idea and capabilities were proven this last year. Prior to this round of investment, we were simply bootstrapping the company: channeling all profits to fund business development and cover our overhead. This year was essentially our first real year of business and through the acquisition of multiple accounts and collecting revenues in the seven figures, we proved our concept and our value in the market. We knew that in order to keep up with demand we needed additional funding. Luckily our Seed investor was pleased with our growth and reinvested in Mirrored Media.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Lefkovitch: We have multiple sources of revenue. Our most common revenue generator is in the development and management of our multifaceted lifestyle music campaigns. We are hired by either the brand directly or we work in coordination with a brand’s advertising agency to help create a music platform, campaign, and/or activations. In this case, we would collect revenue from the brand. In other models, we work directly for the musician or music label. Doubling as an alternative music label, we also share in royalties from our music and video catalogue or any profit sharing we have with artists.
SUB: What are your goals for Mirrored Media over the next year or so?
Lefkovitch: We just opened our new office in Seattle and expanded our Santa Monica office. Over the next year or so our goal is to continue to grow. At this point we are trying to expand to meet the demand of the market. I plan to continue the growth of our music catalogue and expand further into emerging projects with our partnering companies, especially in content development. Many exciting ventures this year.
Mirrored Media – www.mirroredmedia.com