Meet The Disruptors: Keith Gelman Of Talent Partnership Advisors On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry
An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
There’s enough money to go around. A younger version of me was stressing over another company winning a business pitch. My boss said, don’t sweat it; we will get the next one; there’s enough money to go around. This has stuck with me in so many forms when I get frustrated that things aren’t going right. Money and opportunity are plentiful, so if one thing doesn’t go your way, don’t lose track of your overall plan.
As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Keith Gelman, Founder and CEO of Talent Partnerships Advisors.
Keith Gelman is a highly-specialized entertainment, sports, music and culture marketing leader with over 20 years of experience.
He has built an impressive Rolodex, having directly represented the brand and talent sides with a keen focus on co-creating sponsorships and partnerships across multiple integrated global campaigns between brands and entertainment properties leveraging traditional marketing techniques, social media and streaming.
Talent Partnerships Advisors was born out of his love for fueling fresh perspectives, learning to listen for the big idea while channeling creativity and fresh storytelling into the brand’s program that feels real and makes sense for today’s consumer.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
A $10 an hour internship led to the opportunity to find former Chicago White Sox All-Star Magglio Ordonez a car trade deal with a local car dealership. I loved it — when I was 23 and thought it was the coolest barter deal ever. I then got other White Sox and local Chicago stars free cars… then cell phones… then I got a $250 gift certificate for a dinner out. I invited my two best friends — the bill came to $350.
Fast forward a few years later, I got the opportunity to represent top sports players on endorsements directly, brands and talent while at Live Nation and now Talent Partnership Advisors.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
The work TPA is doing is disruptive because we stop, listen and look around to what is happening in pop culture. Many of our brand clients look for relevant opportunities and moments — this doesn’t always need to be a revolutionary breakthrough. Still, it is as simple as identifying that perfect talent whose show just ended, the talent had a baby, or there is an anniversary. A lot of times, it’s not necessary to spend on the A-List talent, some celebrities that aren’t household names per se but are fresh enough that the media wants to talk to them. We find the angles, create the narrative, and when it all comes together, it tees up opportunities for the brand to strike.
For an agency like TPA, there’s never been a better time to offer brands, agencies, and PR professionals a robust Rolodex of industry connections and an approach of responsiveness, fresh perspective, creative storytelling, and realness.
If coming up with the winning idea for the celebrity or brand isn’t enough, TPA’s specialty is cost savings to the brand of upwards of 28% by understanding how deals should be structured. We have a process to review talent at fair market value and create efficiencies by saving agency hours in talent research, proposal development and the little things like TPA’s knowledge on back-end deal points that typically impact budgets. This is a game-changer.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you first started? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I haven’t thought about this for 15 years… but I was working with a top sports star who was presented with a Vitamin Water equity offer. This specific star was getting six-figure offers, and our team was focused on the big payday and didn’t take the time to research the equity play properly.
What did I learn? Well, we all know how that turned out for 50 Cent and others… lesson learned. Look at the long game.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who has been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
Shoutout to Jerry Weintraub. Although I never met this man, I was reading his book “When I stop talking, you will know that i’m dead” at one of the most important points in my career. Irving Azoff had brought be on as a consultant to help get the talent-managed brand deals. Shortly after, he resigned as Chairman of the Board at Live Nation and left FrontLine Management. With a lot of dust that needed to settle on the state of the union at Live Nation, I was left in a predicament on my next steps. Jerry’s stories in the book gave me the confidence to keep working on a certain project that led me to a full-time job as VP, Artist Partnerships of Artist Nation (formerly Frontline Management).
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
Disrupting isn’t always good — Every few years, a new trend disrupts the talent partnership space. Think dot-com era or now, the web 3/NFT/Crypto boom. Brands that you never heard of are getting investment dollars and start spending on celebrities in a way that is not sustainable. Celebrities get in their head that overnight, they are worth, for example, $10M for the brand partnership, while realistically, that’s not the case for the average brand looking to work with that talent. Brands like these are throwing around money, and this ‘disrupts’ the everyday workflow for companies that play in the partnerships and endorsements space and end up hurting the talent in the long run as they miss out on fruitful strategic opportunities in the hope of the next big payday. It’s a trickle effect — once one celebrity hears that their friend got ‘paid,’ they expect it too… it’s a lose-lose outside of that one big payday.
Can you share five of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
I wouldn’t be a true disruptor if I didn’t push for these six best words — There’s enough money to go around. A younger version of me was stressing over another company winning a business pitch. My boss said, don’t sweat it; we will get the next one; there’s enough money to go around. This has stuck with me in so many forms when I get frustrated that things aren’t going right. Money and opportunity are plentiful, so if one thing doesn’t go your way, don’t lose track of your overall plan.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
I have never been more excited to say, “I don’t know.” I genuinely don’t! I know that TPA has so much momentum behind them right as the new shop is on the scene, and we are free from the confines of a bigger organization that we are poised to win.
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
Want to get inspired to pound the pavement and reach goals? Then the book, as mentioned earlier, “When I stop talking, you will know that I’m dead,” by Jerry Weintraub.
How can our readers follow you online?
Check us out on Instagram @ talentpartnerships or on LinkedIn.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Meet The Disruptors: Keith Gelman Of Talent Partnership Advisors On The Five Things You Need To… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.