R.A.P. Interview: Scott Bourne

R.A.P.: Well, do you know what the talent at the radio stations would charge?
Scott: Zero. Boise is one of those terrible markets where those guys who work their butts off to try to do their best get paid nothing extra.

R.A.P.: Amazing. It's like the word "agency"...
Scott: ...gives you the right. And, you know, frankly, that's the whole reason I didn't work at a radio station. I was smart enough to see that if you called yourself an agency, people would pay you. I have incredible empathy for Production Directors and production assistants at radio stations across the country. Typically, they're working with poor equipment. Typically, they get no respect. Typically, they're low man on the pay totem pole. My wife and I would talk about my career in the early days, and I'd say, "Well, the good news is, I've got a career I love, and the bad news is, it doesn't pay anything."

One of the things she and I really learned is that marketing is everything. And amongst the guys who want to break out of radio stations or the guys who have and have started their own little side business, there's one little thing many of them forget. You can't just say, "Okay, now I'm a production house." You've got to go sell. By being an agency, we were able to get three hundred a spot. Now it's a lot better, of course. We're in Minneapolis and it's nine hundred a spot.

R.A.P.: And that would include voice talent and production time?
Scott: House voice talent, the copy, the studio time, and in some cases I'll even throw in some original music for that. And if they want a jingle, well, we're kind of spendy on jingles. The bare minimum for one cut is twelve fifty. That's just one mix-out. We go to like thirty-five hundred if they want twelve or fourteen remixes with doughnuts and such.

I've got two people available to sing my jingles who are particularly talented, and they need to get paid. Michael and Kerri Hodge. They used to be backup singers with Stevie Wonder. They happen now to be a Christian act. They're called Two Hearts, and they're played on almost every Christian radio station in America. They're husband and wife, and they live in Nashville.

But, jingles aren't a big part of what we do. Music itself is more of a part than jingles themselves. One of the ways I sell 30:60 Productions is to go to a client and say, "Look, if we're going to use a production library here, there's no way I can guarantee you that the bed we use will not be used by every other guy in town, maybe even your competitor. If you want some exclusivity here, one of the things I can do for you is I can create a bed that flows around the spot, and if there's a place where we need a hit or where we need to accentuate it, we can write it in as opposed to writing the copy around the bed. We can write the bed around the copy." That's one of the selling points we have; we can throw some original music down. Also, it's just cheaper than buying into these libraries.

And because of our ability to do sound effects from samplers, the drum machine, and the various synths we have, it gets real easy to create a bed real quick. For example, the telephone company down here in this part of Minneapolis is called Vista Telephone. One of the big ad agencies hired me to do a long form thing for them--kind of an audio brochure they wanted to send out. They couldn't find a music bed they liked, so I just kicked up the synthesizer, and as we were listening to the voice track, I just started fooling around with some sounds. The agency guy says, "That's great! What's that?" I said, "I'm just making it up as I go." They wanted it, paid me extra, and we used it. And that particular agency has now decided to use me exclusively.

R.A.P.: What libraries are you using?
Scott: For sound effects, we use the Hollywood Edge and some others. Actually, one of the libraries I use the most isn't necessarily the sharpest. It's this cheap little CBS library. It's available through Mix Magazine for like twenty-nine bucks. It's four CDs of the CBS Television sound effects archives, and it's really good. It's incredible. I use that thing all the time. The Omni Effects is my favorite sound effects library. I think it's by far the best. We use a lot of their effects. For music, we're using FirstCom and Network, but I'm kind of at a point where I want to rebel against that. It's getting kind of spendy. We're going away from the music libraries and starting to write our own.

R.A.P.: To what do you most attribute your success with 30:60?
Scott: Salesmanship. A lot of guys who are really talented musicians or talented copywriters or talented producers are not necessarily talented salesmen. So I made it my business to learn everything I could about selling.

And then there's this huge ad agency here in town that started using me because my wife met them at a conference in St. Louis, Missouri. This conference had nothing to do with radio and production. She happened to meet these people, and I don't know how the conversation ended up the way it went, but they needed a radio production house. It turns out they are exactly three miles away from my studio...and she met them in St. Louis!

Another thing we did along the lines of this salesmanship stuff is we started our own networking group. We knew networking groups were powerful, and we couldn't find one. So we started one. We just sent mailers to businesses all over town and went and rented a place for lunch. Every month we gathered this business building networking group. We invited small businesses to come to it. We had thirty or forty small businesses show up every month to have lunch, and we'd have a guest speaker. I was always real visible there because I was one of the ones who helped set it up, and I was typically the emcee. So, when it came down to anybody needing advertising, they always came to me, and I always sold them on the idea of radio and, "by the way, if you're going to buy a radio schedule, you need to step up and also pay for some production and make it stand out."

R.A.P.: For you, I get the feeling it's not all salesmanship. You obviously have some talent outside of your marketing skills. You're a talented musician, and your copywriting skills must be well above average, too.
Scott: I guess I'm more reticent to toot my own horn about my individual skills. It's easier to say I'm a good salesman and marketing guy, but obviously we do write some good copy. It helps that my wife is a writer. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Oregon, and she started out as a newspaper reporter. She's written for Gannet and USA Today a lot for the past ten years, and now she's a features writer for an agricultural magazine. Land O' Lakes, the butter people...they send this magazine to hundreds of thousands of farmers, and she writes for it. But she's involved in all kinds of writing, and she helps me with copy. She edits everything I write, and we bounce ideas off each other.

And I've got other creative guys that I work with, like Scott Combs. He and I co-write some stuff; we've worked on a few jobs. What's really interesting is that some of the ad agencies who typically would hire me as a button pusher, are now starting to involve me in the copywriting process as well, which is really fun.

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