RBE's Amanda Levine on the Beauty of Music Collabs at Their Most Authentic
Amanda Levine is a seasoned brand and sponsorship executive with a quarter century of experience in the entertainment, brand, agency and events industries. The CEO of Ruler Branded Entertainment (RBE), Levine is known as an audience-agnostic, forward-thinking marketer with an expertise in brand integration and a sixth sense for attention grabbing, multi-platform sponsorships and partnerships.
She comes by that reputation honestly: After a dozen years in various capacities in the music industry (Atlantic Records, Jive Records, Wind-Up Records), Levine jumped to the marketing (GMR Marketing, Colangelo Synergy Marketing) and media (Billboard) worlds before founding RBE in 2012. The New York City firm's client list includes a who's who of recognizable clients.
Amanda is a seasoned professional who has immense passion, determination, energy and enthusiasm, which is contagious. We caught up with her for our Liner Notes series to learn more about her musical tastes and journey through the years, as well as recent work she's proud of and admired.
Amanda, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
I am born and raised right here in Manhattan. Still live here and will never leave full-time. This will be my home for forever. I LOVE my city, even though at the moment, we have been in a much better place as a city.
Your earliest musical memory.
I went to my first concert at the age of 4, my choice. It was Barry Manilow at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. I had the biggest crush on him, and he sang "Mandy," of course. But in all honesty, I have so many memories of music far earlier than that. My parents recording me on tape singing "Please, Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)" when I was a little over a year old lol.
Your favorite bands/musicians.
Otis Redding, so much so that I named my all-time favorite dog after him. I love EVERYTHING about Otis. E V E R Y T H I N G!!! Allman Brothers Band. I mean come on, the musicianship, the music, the cross genre love there, the live shows!!! Finally, A Tribe Called Quest. They have defined everything for me with regard to crossed music genres, hip-hop, jazz, production, flow, my admiration and continued learning about culture and social diversity and what GREAT hip-hop is and should be, and they are Queens.
How you get your music these days.
Mainly my nieces and nephews and anyone who is listing to something I hear and like. Obviously streaming services.
Your favorite place to see a concert.
The Beacon Theatre. I grew up down the block and would sneak in frequently or my dad would pay a bouncer at the back door to let me in and grab me a seat. Those were the days! I love that theater, the old marquee, the sound, the architecture, the guys who used to work there. The memories I have of seeing everything there, especially Peakin' At the Beacon/March Madness Allman Brother shows. I would try to go to every single one each year. Sometimes 14 shows in a row lol.
Your favorite music video.
Ha, I remember seeing "Thriller" for the first time ever and I was jaw opened, glued to the TV. We actually ended up buying it on video so I could watch it over and over again
A recent project you're proud of.
Each project or client I work with is so different, and I find the fun in ways I work with them. I love what I do!
Someone else's project that you admired recently.
Strategic partnerships are everywhere now. Some record labels have really gone above and beyond to create beautiful and very thoughtful, authentic partnerships with their talent and brands. The gaming and music world have taken this to another level. As a whole, I think Lil Nas X and his management and label team have done extraordinary things together. AND Lizzo!! Holy moly, she and her music have beautiful brand relationships everywhere.
How musicians should approach working with brands.
I think social media postings are mostly inauthentic. Pay to play, really. Instead of radio days, it is now social. There should be true synergy between consumer, fan, brand and artist. Fans and consumers are much more aware than they were let's say 15 years ago. They can see through the bullshit, but more importantly BUY INTO the bullshit. You really should want to create a relationship between artist and brand, cultivate and harness that. Grow it into something special. I wish that some artists would not just look at how much they ask/get paid to work with a brand, but does it actually make sense and is it something that they really want to do? Of course they should get paid to use their image, voice, socials, etc., but it should not ALL be based on that, and I come across that more often than I should.
How brands should approach working with musicians.
Wow, this is a tough one. Brands should really learn about the talent they are working with and not just count on the social numbers and name. They as a brand should not just rely on their agency for recommendations, ideas and insight into that talent. Truly think about who you want to work with, why, how it will align, what their consumer and the fan of the talent will think, and what that will look like long term.
What music can do that nothing else can.
Music digs right into your soul and brings out every single emotion. It can make you cry like a baby, sit up and scream from deep down in your gut, laugh so hard it hurts, and smile so bright it blinds. EVERYONE loves music. It is the one common factor that makes us all alike. You may not like the same music, but I can't imagine there is anyone out there that does not like some form of it.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in the music world.
I would work with animals. :-) Animals make my life happier, more fulfilled. I wish I could help save all of them.
Liner Notes is our weekly interview series, publishing every Monday, 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.