Long gone are the days where talent need the traditional “paper and pen” type agencies to help provide the largest amount of visibility and exposure. With the prevalence of social media platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram serving as the breeding grounds to a new genre of talent, agencies need to rethink their internal and external branding infrastructures to incorporate the digital age into their client (and prospective client’s) success.
Launched in December last year by co-founders Tal Fishman (a.k.a. YouTube star Reaction Time), Warren Lentz, a former Fullscreen executive, Jason Wilhelm, Josh Richards, a TikTok star with over 13M followers, and Michael Gruen, former NBA agent and Fintech and DeFi entrepreneur, TalentX is a 360-degree talent development company that specializes on digital creators—such as your TikTok and YouTube stars.
Bringing TikTok’s Biggest Stars Together Under One Roof
With the company’s impressive growth rate, it recently added digital and branding content agent, Michael Senzer, as its head of business development to help build out the TikTok collective. Senzer spent the past five-years with Gersh Agency, which represents Hollywood stars like Mark Hamill and Dave Chappelle.
The Power of SWAY
Senzer will be working under Lentz, and operating out of the Sway house, a Los Angeles-based mansion that’s home to the TikTok creator collective TalentX put together back in January, which includes Richards (12.2M followers), Jadon Hossler (5.6M), Anthony Reeves (5.4M), Kio Cyr (4.3M), Bryce Hall (3M), and Griffin Johnson (2.9M).
By bringing together six of the top creators on TikTok, TalentX taking the concept of Impractical Jokers to an entirely new level—with Richards, Johnson, Reeves, Hall, Cyr, and Hossler “filming, dancing, and pranking each other,” as Billboard describes it, in a Bel Air mansion—while still managing to produce quality and valuable content.
We asked Gruen how these members, Cyr in particular, came to be with SWAY and TalentX.
“He signed with the company two months ago and came to visit us for a week…he never left,” Gruen explained.
“He then moved into our second house. He went from making $2,000 per month to close to six-figures, thanks to the power of SWAY.”
With 1M followers on Instagram, his engagement is roughly 330K likes per post—but the attraction he brings to SWAY and TalentX is his leadership when it comes to trend-setting. TikTok plays host to many creators, but very few really give their audience quality point-of-view (POV) content. Cyr does just that.
Taking Brand Partnerships to the Next Level with Michael Senzer
Grit Daily sat down with Senzer to see what he has in store for TalentX as 2020 continues to unleash more powerful creators onto our social media platforms.
GD: For the uninitiated, define “content curation” and digital management as you understand it to be today.
Michael Senzer: Content curation is really understanding how to provide engaging programming for an audience that you’ve organized and can scale.
In 2020, information can be processed so quickly, with so much distillation — you can’t get away with throwing content at the wall to see what sticks, which is exactly why digital management is more important than ever. Which is what brought me to the team at TalentX.
There needs to be a strategy, schedule, and a purpose behind what creators are doing and that’s our job as a management company…to provide that comprehensive plan.
Grit Daily: What about TalentX drew you to its doors, given your comprehensive background with digital content creation?
MS: It’s pretty simple, honestly. TalentX was the first mover in the TikTok space that was interested in scaling their business and building a vision for their company, beyond just the digital platforms. They understood the value in what we’re now building and are actually putting the resources behind it.
GD: How would you describe the power content curation has unleashed onto today’s “millennial” and future generations, given the sophistication of market-available technology?
MS: It really is a revolution of sorts. No longer do we have millennials nor Gen-Z to rely on anyone else for answers or feedback. We have seamless access to all the information and content we want. Even further, the whole idea of generating content, generating or probing a response…we’ve created a whole new idea of limbic resonance. We’re spending hours every single day on social media deciding for ourselves where to place value…the power we have is exponentially greater than any generation before, we’re all interconnected so there’s also a ripple effect.
GD: We are starting to see a transition away from traditional management companies and penetration into these “digital branding agencies.” In your opinion, what do you attribute to this shift and why do you think this is the future of talent representation?
MS: Why wouldn’t you want to get as close to your audience as possible? I mean, who better to create and curate messaging for a brand’s audience than someone who connects with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people on a daily basis. The penetration into these digital branding agencies makes so much sense as it eliminates the middleman and goes directly to the source…the creator.
Gen Z and Millennials can sniff out poor messaging in less than 10 seconds, so if you need to get their attention, why would you rely on anyone else but the actual creators and their creative team?
An audience of Gen Z and Millennials and future generations are putting more trust every day into their social media content and most brands don’t have the luxury to take huge risks so digital branding agencies are the best hedge against that risk as they vertically align to provide the most valuable products.
GD: Let’s talk about the Sway house. Seems like a new concept of putting a collective group of talent and content creators together…is it?
MS: I guess it would depend on your definition of “new”, but yeah, relatively new for sure. I think there’s a lot of value for our talent who live in the Sway house.
For them to not have to worry about the financial burden of rent and mobility (we help get them where they need to be for meetings etc) and to let them focus on creating the best content they can, editing, engaging with their audience, planning their strategy with the team we’ve built around them…it’s just a model that we are confident in right now as we’re building this out.
GD: If you could change one thing about the entertainment industry, from a management perspective, what would it be and why?
MS: I’d like to help in continuing to erode the existing industry model that so many of the companies synonymous with entertainment still run on. As a management company, our goal is to represent, create and produce the best talent and the best products, but that doesn’t mean there’s only one way to accomplish that goal.
I’d like the entertainment industry as a whole to embrace the new wave of creators and the current and future generations of audience they’re bringing with them. It’s vital for the industry as a whole to seek out the best content, I don’t care if it’s digital, streaming, linear, etc. The best content should win, every time.
With the addition of Senzer, TalentX hopes to move from its TikTok collective into brand partnerships, merchandising, live events, and television and film development, as well as product and intellectual property deals.