Stewart, instead, wants to build an extension of his “idea factory” in Music City. Known to the general public as one-half of Eurythmics, Stewart has spent decades as a music producer, artist manager, businessman and all-around idea guy, having been one of the first artists to embrace the World Wide Web, and create the first bank dedicated to artists and their fans.
Having been involved with everything from directing music videos to launching marketing campaigns to publishing his book “The Business Playground,” Stewart doesn’t see a Nashville office for Dave Stewart Entertainment simply as a chance to tap into the burgeoning market. Instead, “I’m really looking forward to start doing some ‘world-building’ in Nashville,” Stewart told Pollstar.
“It’s about what I call the ‘Intel Inside’,” he said. “It’s been used since the dawn of time to sell advertising and, then, slowly it’s become worse and worse at selling itself.” Stewart says the old days of “analog to monolog” – i.e., the routine of recording an album, marketing it, touring it then going back to the studio for the next round – is over. Instead, it’s about building a world that can be unique to the artist, much like how kids would identify themselves with their favorite artist through the “world” created by album artwork.
One of the components Stewart wants to inject into Nashville is the marketing opportunities of TalentHouse, which is part of the initiative of First Artist Ventures, which also includes the First Artist Bank. Stewart is the common element in all of these ventures. He has been creating First Artist Bank alongside former Credit Suisse Europe CEO Michael Philipp.
It will be the first social networking bank and include management of digital assets and intellectual property for artists – and tutor them on how to make smart business decisions.
Stewart says banking is broken and needs to focus on a community. “We are ‘FAB’ and we are harnessing a global creative economy of $1.6 trillion.”
The bank invested in TalentHouse, where Stewart is creative director. TalentHouse, which has more than 6 million participants, is an intellectual community participating in artistic ventures, which leads to an example involving Nashville.
Stewart has produced six albums in Nashville, one of them being Stevie Nicks‘ latest effort, Songs From The Vault. To market the album, Stewart tapped creative campaigns on his own and through TalentHouse. On his own, Stewart organized an art exhibit of old Polaroid photos Nicks had in a shoebox.
They were turned into poster-sized, museum-quality exhibition pieces and were also a moneymaker. The 24 photos were produced 20 times each and sold at $2,500 to $10,000 a pop. “It got a massive amount of press. Then we did a marketing campaign with Stevie’s album using Instagram and tiny sections of the Polaroids and 15-second snippets of music. It did millions of dollars in photographic sales and was a traveling exhibition.” On TalentHouse, artists were asked to design a shawl that Nicks would wear onstage during the Fleetwood Mac tour when she sang “Rhiannon.” “The girl who designed the winning shawl nearly had a heart attack,” Stewart said.
Meanwhile, Stewart has become close friends with Martina and John McBride, and the Nashville office will be staffed by their eldest daughter, Delaney McBride.
“She’s training to be office manager and will go back, in the first week of December, to open up the office, which is above the Blackbird Academy, a school for recording and sound created by John McBride, which is adjoined by Blackbird Studios,” Stewart said. “We’ll be above a lot of creative kids going to the Academy, and we’re 10 minutes from various areas of Nashville where great stuff is going on, and we’ll be next to where a lot of great recordings are happening. We’re right in the thick of it.
“Then we’ll be explaining to various people, from artists to management companies, to whatever, who we are and what we are.”
Just in case anyone thinks Stewart still has too much free time, he added he is launching a television show, which will be about music and announced sometime before Christmas but will not be about “finding a singer.”
It should be noted that Stewart has separated what was once known as Weapons of Mass Entertainment. That nomenclature is now dedicated to the production side of his business, and Dave Stewart Entertainment is the parent company that handles artist management and creative content. Turns out “Weapons of Mass Entertainment” caught the attention of the TSA.
“People kept ringing us up about Uzis and things like this,” he said. “And then all our luggage – camera equipment and everything – has ‘Weapons of Mass Entertainment’ sprayed on the cases. Every time we’d go through airports we were pulled out, with them saying, ‘Hey! What’s that?’”