Primary Wave's Joshua Rothstein on Why Musicians Aren't Like Other Influencers
This edition of Liner Notes is paid content presented by Primary Wave Entertainment, a supporting partner of the Clio Awards.
Currently the partnership marketing manager at Primary Wave Entertainment, Joshua Rothstein has brokered well over seven-figures worth of brand deals for a variety of artists including Olivia Newton-John, Styx, Alice Cooper, Aly & AJ, Cypress Hill, Melissa Etheridge, Fantasia, Skip Marley, Skid Row and Jefferson Starship.
Joshua has toured with country superstar Luke Bryan and platinum artist MAX, booked and promoted sold-out shows with artists such as Galantis, Charli XCX, John Oates and Chelsea Cutler, and has previously spent time at Downtown Records, Knitting Factory Management and Atlantic Records. He is a lifelong Knicks and Mets fan and enjoys eating ice cream for dinner.
We caught up with Joshua for our Liner Notes series to learn more about his musical tastes and journey through the years, as well as recent work he's proud of and admired.
Joshua, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
I was born, raised, and currently reside on the Upper East Side of Manhattan!
Your earliest musical memory.
Going to see Raffi in concert. The Wiggles opened the show, and to this day it might be the greatest lineup of all time.
Your first concert.
Besides the transformative experience I had with Raffi and the Wiggles, the first concert I really remember going to was Eminem and Jay-Z at Yankee Stadium during their Home and Home Tour.
Your favorite bands/musicians.
Billy Joel, Elton John, the Who, U2, Quinn XCII, Jon Bellion, Chelsea Cutler, Theo Kandel, MAX, Aly & AJ.
How you get your music these days.
Spotify and TikTok are great, but I'm old school. Word of mouth is big for me. I constantly want to know what my friends are listening to and love stopping by random venues to check out bands at shows that I didn't know were happening.
Your favorite place to see a concert.
Central Park Summerstage!
Your favorite music video.
Billy Joel, "Uptown Girl."
Your favorite music-focused TV show and/or podcast.
A recent project you're proud of.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Olivia Newton-John's iconic single "Physical," Primary Wave partnered with Crunch Fitness, ThirdLove and Olivia to set the Guinness World Record for the most people performing lying lateral leg raises simultaneously (multiple venues) in homage to the legendary "Physical" music video. 150 Crunch locations joined us, from the U.S. to Australia and beyond, and over 5,000 participants took part all over the world. We had over 2,000 user generated videos on our TikTok challenge, the "Physical" re-release reached No. 3 on the Amazon Pop Chart—behind two versions of the new Adele album—and hit No. 33 on Apple Music's All Genres chart. We earned over $5.7 million worth of media value with great support from the Today show, Entertainment Tonight, Extra, The Talk and CNN, among many others. Physical streams rose 600 percent during our campaign, our vinyl went No. 1 at Walmart and No. 8 at Target, and we raised over $50,000 for the incredible Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund.
Someone else's project that you admired recently.
Tate McRae's debut album rollout. She has absolutely mastered TikTok—every song she teases goes viral, she constantly puts out captivating content, and the album is fantastic
How musicians should approach working with brands.
All brand partnerships begin with the same thing: authenticity. Artists should only work with brands they genuinely believe in, and I've found the more involved the artist gets, the better. It's impossible to fake passion, and fans can smell out a phony deal immediately.
For Primary Wave, the perfect brand deal will achieve three goals:
- Generate income for the artist and our company
- Use our artist's music
- Improve the artist's market positioning
Not every deal we do hits on all three of these goals, and that's OK. But it's important for artists to realize that, beyond the money, brands can help them in other ways. They can publicize their tours, expose their music to a new audience, and especially for our iconic and legendary artists, re-position them in a cooler, more contemporary way.
How brands should approach working with musicians.
Brands need to understand that musicians are artists, not influencers. They are well known for their music, not necessarily for selling products or their lifestyles. Artists often have large platforms, but brands must treat them differently than other influencers. If you are relying on an artist to simply sell your brand's product to their fanbase, you are both setting the campaign up to fail from the start and are missing a larger opportunity to tell a great story through music and content.
What music can do that nothing else can.
Besides the health benefits of listening to music—reducing anxiety and blood pressure, improving one's mental alertness and quality of sleep, etc.—music is the great unifier. Music heals when all else fails. There's something so special about a group of people who will never be together ever again gathering and uniting over a shared love of an artist and song.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in the music world.
Show me the money! Following my Jerry Maguire dreams as a sports agent.
Liner Notes is our interview series where we chat with folks in the music industry about their creative inspirations, their favorite bands and musicians, and generally what music means to them. For more about Liner Notes, and our Clio Music program, please get in touch.