I'm With the Band

When an entrepreneur helps unknown bands find a place with TV and film producers, everybody wins.
Magazine Contributor
6 min read

This story appears in the November 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

What: A service that places songs from unknown bands in movies and commercials
Who: Luke Eddins of Luke Hits LLC
Where: Los Angeles
When: Started in March 2002

Luke Eddins always knew he wanted to make his living in the music industry. A longtime music lover, he enjoyed playing instruments and following the music of up-and-coming bands.

But instead of trying to make it as an artist or even start his own label, he took a wildly different route: Eddins, 27, launched Luke Hits, a service that matches the tunes of unknown bands with the musical needs of film and TV producers. Today, his business finds music to accompany a Miller Brewing Co. commercial, for instance, or background songs for films like The Ring and Kangaroo Jack.

His niche is finding music with a popular sound that producers can use-without having to pay the licensing fees of more established artists. For example, Eddins might hook up a producer with a group that sounds like U2 or Linkin Park at a fraction of the cost. "I ask [producers] what their needs are," says Eddins. He gets responses like, "I have an Avril Lavigne track in this scene. Can you find me something with the same energy, with a female vocalist?" The service not only benefits the film producers, who are able to stay within budget, but it also gives the unknown bands some great exposure and yields a nice placement fee for Eddins.

According to Eddins, his success depends partly on his willingness to be flexible and bend to the needs of the market. "I played it by ear," he says. "I was placing certain songs, and I would realize what was working and what wasn't. You have to have that fluidity to focus your efforts." With sales hovering around $40,000 in his first full year of business, Eddins is continuing to build contacts within the film and TV industries- even has some producers coming to him with requests now.

Under Cover

What: Colorful covers for satellite dishes
Who: Natalie Mathis of Dish Wraps
Where: Linville Falls, North Carolina
When: Started in June 2002

There's nothing like a gray, electronic satellite dish to sully the view of a lovely mountain abode. In fact, setting up one such device at her family's country cabin inspired Natalie Mathis to design Dish Wraps, a line of vibrant satellite dish covers that are similar in style to the decorative flags many people display outside their homes. Designs include hummingbirds, the sun and moon, and seasonal options (such as snowscapes for the holidays).

Mathis, 33, had a strong feeling that there would be a market for her Dish Wraps product in the home-improvement arena. The response has been positive, she says, though there is one challenge: "Convincing people that it won't interfere with their receiver signal."

Starting out small, Mathis sold her Dish Wraps at local festivals and eventually got the product into local boutique stores. She's currently in talks to supply Dish Wraps to major national retailers and also sells the product though her Web site (www.dishwraps.com). Although the business is currently a part-time venture for Mathis, who expects to gross about $25,000 this year, she plans to take the business full time early next year.

Love Connection

What: A Web site devoted to helping women find boyfriends who have the seal of approval from other women
Who: E. Jean Carroll and Cande Carroll of GreatBoyfriends.com
Where: Ithaca, New York
When: Started in November 2002

It's a godsend for single gals everywhere- Web site chock-full of profiles of eligible bachelors, each of whom comes with the stamped approval of another woman. It's GreatBoyfriends.com, the brainchild of Elle magazine advice columnist E. Jean Carroll and her sister Cande Carroll. After reading letter after letter from women seeking nice, datable men, E. Jean saw the need for a place where women could find romance without all the what-ifs of many online dating services.

E. Jean and Cande require each potential boyfriend to be recommended by a woman- it a friend, a sister or even an ex-girlfriend. After all, E. Jean received plenty of letters from women who had broken up with their really nice, successful boyfriends because the spark just wasn't there. "[It's about] women doing good deeds for womankind," says E. Jean of the service. "We knew we were going to help an awful lot of women here. We knew there were really great guys out there who were being overlooked."

The company's revenue comes from the monthly subscription fee women pay to be able to communicate with the guys- if a gal recommends a guy to the site, she gets one month free. The pair expect 2003 sales to hit more than $500,000.

Public reaction to the site has been explosive. Not yet open for a year, GreatBoyfriends.com has already received a ton of media attention- a spot on Oprah that inspired more than 3.5 million hits to the Web site. In February 2003, the sisters launched GreatGirlfriends.com, a place where guys can find the women of their dreams. In addition, the sisters plan to launch GreatGayFriends.com in the near future. Sounds like everybody's ready for love.

On a Shoestring

What: A U.S. Hispanic marketing company
Who: Linda Gonzalez of Viva Partnership Inc.
Where: Miami
When: Started in 1997
How much: $500

When Linda Gonzalez moved from San Antonio to Miami to open a new branch of the marketing agency she worked for, she was devastated to learn only six weeks later that the agency had decided to close the office and fire her. So she spoke to the head of CBS/Westinghouse, the big account she had helped the agency land in Miami, and bravely asserted: "I have 12 years of international experience; I'm the one who did the presentation. What you were getting before, you will still get from me." He accepted, and with $500 on Gonzalez's credit card, Viva Partnership Inc. was born.

Gonzalez was able to keep the office, but deferred the rent for a couple of months. She only bought a two-line phone from Target and a fax machine. A single mother, Gonzalez had to get by without payment from CBS/Westinghouse for 90 days. She remembers the difficult holiday season:

"I had one other credit card, Spiegel. I bought my kids their presents with that." Handling most aspects of the business herself, she outsourced work to creative directors and copywriters.

Gonzalez slowly started adding new accounts and now projects $22 million to $23 million in billings for 2003, boasting clients like FedEx (Latin America), Entenmann's and Verizon Wireless. Remarried and now with another child, Gonzales is happy both at home and with her business, viewing the near disaster as a blessing in disguise.

-April Y. Pennington
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