This week, we go behind the selfie with Jon Savage, 'troublemaker for good' at InBroadcasting, a division of HaveYouHeard...
Jon Savage, 'troublemaker for good' at InBroadcasting, a division of HaveYouHeard
1. Where do you live, work and play?
Currently all three of these are done from the confines of my home – as does everyone on planet earth, but it suits me fine.
2. What’s your claim to fame?
I see fame sitting in my fridge, but I haven't claimed it yet.
3. Describe your career so far.
My career has been quite a rollercoaster to be honest. To outsiders looking in I think it looks chaotic and all over the place, but to me all these different projects are all part of the same thing. I've always been interested in making content. Films, music, videos, comedy, whatever. I started a film director when I was 19, until my rock band Cassette blew up and we spent the next six years touring the world. When that went pear-shaped, I became the music director for the SAMA Awards and was then offered a job hosting a radio show on 5FM. From there I created the 5FM Mashlab and that was a monstrous success that put me in the centre of a new space marrying the music industry with commercial content. I then abandoned that to make my feature film, Stone Cold Jane Austen (currently on Showmax) which took me to the Cannes Film Festival, where I eventually sold the film internationally in Hollywood. It got released but nobody watched it. So that was fun. Since then I've been working with InBroadcasting and HaveYouHeard creating radio stations for clients, technology such as Busqr and my proudest achievement, Ampd Studios by Old Mutual, a free culture hub for emerging artists. On a daily basis I help clients create powerful content strategies that push the boundaries and genuinely infiltrate culture in different ways, working with YouTubers and content creators and talented humans - I totally love what I do. Every day is an insane adventure.
I love my family first and foremost! They just completely rock. My kid is five and loves the Beastie Boys more than anything else on earth. My wife is an incredible artist. I also love my business partner, Carl, who is basically part of the family.
I have a podcast series called What’s Your Poison? (on Spotify), where I interview huge stars over a bottle of whiskey and we talk complete garbage. But after a few glasses, they get loose lipped and sometimes cry. This has no commercial appeal but I absolutely love it! It's so fun and I highly recommend you listen.
Vinyl records but not in a hipster kind of "look at me I collect records" type of way but also exactly in that type of way because I’m absolutely crazy about my records. I just love them and you should really see all my records.
5. What do you love about your industry?
I don’t love the industry. But I really love the company I work for and the people I work with. I never thought I’d work in advertising but HaveYouHeard are just unlike any other company I've ever seen. They move differently, they think differently, they are genuine and honest and fair people, they say what they mean and they follow through with what they intend. I think this business is going to make a significant mark on the world and I feel privileged to be part of what they do.
6. Describe your average workday, if such a thing exists.
Eina. This is going to sound cliché but when I say no two days are alike, I mean each day is like an entirely different TV series. In one day, I could be recording podcasts for one client, building new technology for another client, negotiating with global superstars for another client and doing a course on legal compliance for our Busqr business in the USA. The next day I'm building live streaming technology for one client, negotiating media space on MTV Base for another client, sitting in strategy meetings at HYH, programming new radio stations for another and talking at a seminar. Most days I truly don't know how I’m going to get to the end of the day. But it's fun, what can I say.
To me specifically, a lot of my tools are trying to look at current marketing and broadcasting problems from different perspectives and to find new ways of approaching a solution. This is tricky, because the industry and a lot of brands don't like change or new things. But this digital industry is evolving so fast. So, the tools are a) finding a better way to give more value to my clients and then b) attempting to make the clients feel comfortable with something that may not be tried and tested but could be infinitely more effective – I’m not so good at this part.
8. Who is getting it right in your industry?
Lots of people! But from my vantage point, it’s the content creators and the innovators and the guys in the trenches forging new ways of making content and media. People like Slikour, Mac G and Lasizwe or this guy Ayanda Makaya who is making soapies on Instagram in lockdown.
And also, what we are doing on the Eye Radio. This is where I look to for future trends because they’re pioneers of the industry of infiltrating culture with content. We are also very close with YouTube global and are developing a relationship with Spotify and other such forward-thinking brands that are sitting on a lot of data trends and information about users. Access to these stats give us a truly competitive advantage in how we approach our clients.
Jon Savage and Catherine Grenfell created their own radio "station", borne out of the sheer frustration for commercial radio and its confines. Now in its third year, they are starting to unleash its full potential...
9. List a few pain points the industry can improve on.
I'll be honest, the HaveYouHeard guys are on the cutting edge of what's happening in the industry. I’m a bit of an outsider. I'm in the trenches of content creation and platform development, constantly pivoting and trying to find better ways of making content and technology work in the industry. I’m very out of touch with industry trends and very in touch with what works on the ground.
10. What are you working on right now?
Right now, we are launching Busqr in the USA, which is very exciting, as well as working on a sponsored gaming tournament for one of our clients. We also run Sportscene Radio and have even managed to create a brand-new TV show (to be announced soon) for one of our best clients. There's a lot going on.
11. Tell us some of the buzzwords floating around in your industry at the moment, and some of the catchphrases you utter yourself.
Again, you are asking the wrong person. I'm all about the work and suck at catchphrases and buzzwords. Having said that, if I hear the term ‘new normal’ one more time, I might hurt myself.
12. Where and when do you have your best ideas?
I’m so sad, long showers were my premium thinking time where all my ideas happened - this was pre-water shortages! I've never quite managed to find a better spot yet but a walk is helpful, or very loud music.
13. What’s your secret talent/party trick?
I sometimes like to do actual magic at parties. It couldn’t be any lamer but I have one trick that’s so freaking good, I'm convinced it's worth the embarrassment! Not everyone agrees.
14. Are you a technophobe or a technophile?
15. What would we find if we scrolled through your phone?
Busqr codes and videos of my kid doing anything.
16. What advice would you give to newbies hoping to crack into the industry?
Follow your heart. It's a very painful journey and won't always work out, it will test you daily, but it’s the best thing you can do, and you'll get where you want to be eventually.
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