Music Business

Dave Allen On Making His Way Into Advertising After Playing In Gang of Four

Dave-allen-atnorthFormer Gang of Four bassist Dave Allen eventually left performing to work on digital music licensing for the web and then transitioned into advertising and interactive marketing. He is now Director, Interactive Strategy at NORTH in Portland, a brand agency that works quite a bit with music. Allen recently discussed his move from post-punk rock into advertising and why it benefits agencies to include staff without traditional ad school training.

From Gang of Four to the World of Business

Dave Allen's early claim to fame was with Gang of Four in the late 70s and early 80s. Though he played with other bands he told AdAge's Rupal Parekh that he gradually began exploring the Internet which ultimately led to a job at in the late 90s. There he believes he "became more renowned in the business world than in music."

According to his LinkedIn profile, Allen was General Manager of business development at running a "business development team that was responsible for licensing as much music content as possible."

He then did related work at Intel as Director, Business Development where he "negotiated license deals with the major record companies and Internet services such as MusicMatch, Full Audio and Launch."

In his AdAge interview, Dave Allen says the "Intel thing really surprised people" including both his old friends and new business associates. After Intel Allen started working with ad agencies in 2002 and eventually made his way to NORTH.

The Importance of the Web Browser

Allen partially explained his ability to move from making music to music licensing and interactive marketing with the invention of the web browser:

"As a post-punk musician, the defining moment was 1993 and advent of the web browser. Suddenly the internet was as punk as punk rock — it was affecting society, culture and really affecting business. I was interested in all three legs of the stool."

In 2010 Allen joined NORTH in Portland where he is now Director, Interactive Strategy.

Why Ad Agencies Need Teams With Diverse Backgrounds

While he hesitated to compare the creative processes of band and agency teams, he did discuss the benefits of including staff from other backgrounds than ad school training in agnecies:

"You need a mix — which is what North has, there are some people who have spent their careers in advertising and people who come from a background with no experience in advertising like myself."

"It starts to become philosophical, actually. What in 2013 does 'advertising' even mean? Agencies need more information about real people more than ever before…you need different mindsets and different brainpower when we have all these different platforms to apply ideas to. Today it's about asking bigger questions than the next campaign, or next TV commercial or next microsite — and perhaps people from other disciplines can be good at that."

Keep up with Dave Allen via Twitter.

Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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