Kiel Berry @ Bruin Entrepreneurs Weekly Nights — 05/28
On Tuesday, Kiel Berry, EVP of the Machine Shop, walked into the UCLA James Wooden Center and gave one of the most interesting talks that the crowd had ever heard. He was engaging, interactive, and informative- the perfect trio. By walking through his own career path, the transformation of the entertainment industry, and most importantly, the growth trajectory of Machine Shop, Kiel enlightened the crowd about how to think differently in the new entertainment industry.
Kiel Berry started out at JP Morgan’s Investment Banking Division in New York. Building on his international upbringing, he moved to several different countries for the company. After 4 years of life in corporation, he left Morgan to join Team Epiphany, a NYC-based influencer and public relations agency. While at Epiphany, he helped the company grow from a team of 8 people to one of 35 people, earning $15mm a year. In 2013, he became the Executive VP of Machine Shop, the well known rock band Linkin Park’s proprietary company. Recently, in 2015, Kiel helped launch Machine Shop Ventures,a venture capital fund that invests in early-to-growth startup companies with a global scope. Machine shop is now known as Linkin Park’s creative think-tank, record label and VC fund.
With such an amazing background, Kiel was bound to leave his mark on the crowd. And so he did. He carefully described the importance of the core; the importance of having answers to questions like “Who are we? What are we about? What do we stand for?”. He also described the importance of thinking differently in this world where single and album downloads are down and where streaming hardly generates any revenue for the artists.
The environment is changing and one has to adapt to survive. Vice, for example, shows that what started off as a government funded magazine could turn into an extremely popular news channel. Kiel interestingly used this example as a platform to describe the importance of adapting one’s content according to their audience. If you’re talking to musicians, talk to them using sound. If you’re talking to artists, colors are your weapons.
Stressing the importance of core, Kiel explained the importance of sticking to one’s brand identity. After all, Redbull can’t suddenly start selling kids clothes. But having said that, he also added that going into a new industry isn’t a wrong thing if its done properly. And that’s got to start from the ground up; that’s got to start from the bottom.
“Innovation lies at the intersection of tech and pop culture with the left brain and right brain aligned.”
Linkin Park played it smart with their advertising. Kiel described that on the nearing the release date for their album one time, they partnered with 55+ fans and 19 different markets across the nation to come up with a clothing line specifically for that album and then released both of them together. And the best part- the clothes were custom made. Now what could be better than a custom made Linkin Park album shirt?
But all good things must come to an end. Kiel concluded his talk with some information about Machine Shop Ventures (MSV) and why they do what they do. MSV is about bringing something outside the dollars. It’s about investing in companies to which they can add value, whether it terms of their marketing prowess, design capabilities or machine shop innovation. Kiel stressed that investing is a big decision but MSV supports the businesses that want to change the world, profit or non-profit. For MSV, entrepreneurs’ main product is the team; perfect that and you will have a perfect product.