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Why This Creative Agency Is Emphasizing Storytelling in the Competitive Live Space

todayFebruary 3, 2023

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Five years ago, award-winning electronic music DJ-producer Jesse Rose and hit songwriter-producer Jesse Rogg decided to launch a global agency to represent creative directors. “We just realized that there was no structure to the world of creative direction,” says Rogg. Having previously worked well in the studio together, Rose says they figured they would work just as well as business partners and, in 2018, formed the Original Creative Agency.

Today, OCA represents over 50 creative directors — or “architects,” as Rose and Rogg say — with clients including Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, Christina Aguilera, Tame Impala and Steve Lacy. And while the agency’s creatives work across mediums from music videos to styling to album art, looking at the year ahead, the pair predicts the live space will become a much bigger part of business. “Now people are coming to us and asking us to produce their tours, starting from the creative,” says Rose. “Which makes sense because our job is to make a story for a show.”


The two are confident that storytelling — both on and offstage — will be key to 2023’s most successful treks. Rose recalls speaking with Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker ahead of the band’s Slow Rush tour, initially planned in 2020, about how to make the outing feel fresh in 2022. Their solution was to build an entire campaign around the tour. Creative director Ryder Ripps came up with the idea for Rushium, a fictitious pharmaceutical company pushing “rush pills” that appeared on posters, merchandise and the sides of trucks. As for Lamar, the pair praises the way his 2022 Glastonbury headlining set (creative-directed by Mike Carson, along with Lamar and Dave Free) “told a story through movement rather than over-the-top stage design,” relying on two groups of dancers, says Rose. Most effective, he recalls, was the finale, during which Lamar chanted, “Godspeed for women’s rights,” as blood dripped from his thorny crown.

At a time when the live space is more competitive than ever, Rogg adds that such effective campaigning and messaging help set a tour apart — and cites a significant return on investment, too. Plus, adds Rose, the approach has recently helped OCA form relationships with nearly every major agency. “Artists and creatives — the great ones, at least — are always the ones coming up with what’s next,” says Rogg. “So we’re quite mindful of only representing the folks who are those trendsetters. They understand the bigger picture — and not just over one campaign, but across a whole career.”

This story will appear in the Feb. 4, 2023, issue of Billboard.

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todayFebruary 3, 2023

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