No More Middlemen: Living the New Media Movement
‘YouTube was such a dirty word.’
Jordan Rason tells me, as he finishes a job on his laptop. Born and bred in London, he started out in old media advertising before finding himself at the forefront of the new media movement.
‘Influencing was still a very weird topic too.’
Danny Lomas, sat opposite Jordan, is Yorkshire through and through, famous for his sartorial style, thick accent, and inexhaustible bank of bad jokes. Sat in Danny’s East London flat, they both reflect on the last six years of working together.
These two have seen a lot of change in the media world; changes which, in some cases, they helped usher in. ‘I used to sit in these advertising meetings and listen to people say: “YouTube? It’s not a thing, it’s not gonna translate to sales…”’ Jordan shares. ‘That changed when they saw the numbers you could pull in.’
Jordan was the creative and partnerships director behind the online series PAQ which pitched four young hosts, Danny amongst them, into a series of fashion related briefs and challenges. Within months of launching, the show’s figures surpassed established broadcasting companies’ online offerings, and the hosts found dizzying fame. ‘We were told by two broadcasters if our first episode had gone out with them, they would have commissioned us for a second series on the spot,’ Jordan tells me, ‘the statistics were crazy.’
Within months of launching, the show’s figures surpassed established broadcasting companies’ online offerings
‘YouTube deals then were just an advert, rather than content that promoted a product through partnership,’ adds Danny, ‘Instagram also wasn’t being used by influencers yet. You just had travel bloggers and people posting portfolios.’ PAQ, and the team behind it at production company Kyra, proved that online shows and accounts could have just as much (if not more) impact as the old broadcasting companies, with a refreshing approach to endorsement deals. They demonstrated that social media platforms, such as YouTube, were powerful tools.
After the show ended, Jordan and Danny transferred their talents to the next budding medium. ‘We’re the number 1 rated fashion podcast in the UK now!’, Jordan says. With the help of ex-Kyra producer Matt Brown, who has been grafting away at a computer whilst we talk, these two have soared to the top. Again. Their podcast, Dansplaining, brings guests from the fashion industry to speak to Danny and Jordan, often sharing things they couldn’t elsewhere.
Our conversation gets sidelined as a whopping bag of takeaway arrives at the flat. The three of them tear into the food. It’s been a busy day of events, recordings, and admin; this is their first breather of the day. It’s 4.30pm.
‘It’s not just creator-to-consumer anymore’, says Danny, taking a break to avoid indigestion, ‘it’s consumer-to-creator. For instance, on our podcast, every guest we have on we stick on our Instagram with “ask the guest anything”, and our audience get an honest answer. There’s no need for a middleman.’
Jordan, inspired by this remark, expands, ‘Back in the day, in the 1990s and early 2000s, if anyone had a new thing they wanted to talk about, or sell, they’d go to a magazine. They don’t need to now. Where you had a publisher and a celebrity; you now have a celebrity who’s also a publisher. It’s got to a point now where publications genuinely won’t give coverage of our podcast because they see us as competition.’
Where you had a publisher and a celebrity; you now have a celebrity who’s also a publisher.
As personality, publisher and brand, there’s a lot to juggle for Danny. The forward-facing aspect of his work makes him seem always reachable. He learnt ‘if you’re O.T.T. then it can really pile up on you because you always have to play a character. I think being authentic is so important, otherwise it’s hard to switch off.’
Danny continues, ‘Being authentic also means we can do an interview that’s not traditional, without set questions and PR answers. Our guests can be human and personal because that’s what they know us for.’ Jordan chimes in, ‘If you look at all those magazines and publications who’ve made it clear we’re their new competition, they’ve tried to put their staff front and centre… but realised readers care about the staff more than the publication itself, which makes them obsolete. Audiences don’t like big faceless businesses telling them how it is anymore.’
The mood shifts in the room, and they take stock. Danny, looking satisfied and somewhat vacant after the takeaway, smiles and adds, ‘We’re fortunate enough to have amazing guests on; we ask them questions about stuff we care about, and we enjoy it – love it – and we learn a lot.’
It’s not every day a young man from rural East Yorkshire with ‘terrible skills on a sewing machine’ ends up making a life in fashion. Danny proved to a lot of people, as well as himself, that that needn’t be the case.
‘I literally work with two of my best friends doing stupid stuff that I love,’ he finishes. All three of them titter as Jordan says, ‘and that’s what’s great about all this: you can make that into a career.’ This remark sums up their whole outlook.
Jordan moves some stuff over to the table where they record the podcast. Matt works away on a desktop. Danny sighs, he doesn’t look quite right after the food.
These three characters are what big publishing houses and broadcasters are worried about. They seem pretty nonchalant about that. Anyway, there’s more pressing matters at hand: an event at 8.00pm, and a comatose Danny to address.
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