'Live’ From Austin
Homegrown music show holds its own
By Jim Finkle -- Broadcasting & Cable, 3/27/2005 7:00:00 PM
In the world of syndication, Gigi Greco stands alone. A publicist, video producer and Little League mom, she is also the executive producer of All Access Live, a half-hour syndicated music show filmed in Austin, Texas. The program runs on barter in 30 markets and covers 26% of the U.S., mostly in weekend late-night slots.
Besides creating and producing the show, Greco also sells it directly to stations and oversees distribution. The show is delivered via satellite. Her husband, Dave Drapen, and his business partner, Rob Jacobsen, edit the show. Acts have included 2005 Grammy winners: Los Lonely Boys, a band that won a Grammy for hit single “Heaven,” and Maroon 5, which won for best new artist. Both performed gratis, partly to boost exposure and partly because Greco is well-connected in music circles.
It’s tough to determine how the show is received. Greco only gets a sampling of ratings data from clients who pass on information from their local markets. Ratings generally run between 1.5 and 4.0.
Greco stumbled into syndication by accident. She initially planned to produce a live music show for a local music channel in Austin. “But then we thought, 'If we’re going to spend all this money, let’s do major bands,’” she says. The show took off after the WB affiliate in Austin asked her for 26 episodes to run on a 50-50 barter basis. To date, Greco has produced 13 episodes, which stations started running at the end of 2003. It is now in repeats in most markets.
The next season won’t kick off until Greco finds sponsors to help foot the bill. (She plans to shoot in HD, so production costs will rise.) She’s hoping to entice advertisers with product placements, which must be planned prior to shooting.
To produce, market and distribute 13 episodes of Access Live cost Greco $50,000. Although it’s a tiny fraction of what a typical syndicator pays, she has just hit a break-even point on her investment. She garners ad revenue through an ad service that carries direct-response ads for chat lines, Time-Life music compilations and other “as seen on TV” products. A 30-second spot brings in from $125 to more than $1,000.
Greco’s marketing approach is low-keyed. She makes cold calls over the telephone and sends bulk mailings to prospective clients. A postcard was enough to interest Stella Montoya, programming director at WHIZ Los Angeles, an independent station that broadcasts the show to some 2.5 million households. “I thought I’d give it a shot,” Montoya says.
Now that Greco has gained momentum in lining up stations, she wants to grow her ad base. Her biggest obstacle is getting through the door to pitch her show. “If we could get right to the companies and past the sentinels,” she says, “we could get somewhere.”
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