This dude rules. Moved up the ranks to run things. Check out Orange Amps.
I recall back in the day you answering the phones and transferring me to someone else but that’s not the case anymore. What’s your Orange story and what are your duties?
I was originally hired at Orange in 2005 as an intern straight out of college. I was stuffing sales packets (this was when hardly anyone knew who we were), cold-calling dealers, shipping packages, grabbing lunch for the entire office, etc. This went on for about 6 months until my girlfriend and I traveled to Europe for 3 weeks. Orange couldn’t take me back when I returned, so I went on to become the Executive Vice President of a web development out-sourcing company. It was a bunch of 20-somethings with no clue how to run a real company. I was salaried and had medical benefits, managed a team of 40 people (36 of which were in Ukraine), and dealt with shady Russian mafia figures on the daily. No joke. That fell apart 1 year later and Orange took me back as Inside Sales (glorified customer service).
I answered the phones, took orders, set up RMAs for customers, and did some general office work. One part of my job was transferring phone calls from artists to our artist relations manager. The problem was that he didn’t like taking phone calls. It became really frustrating for all of us, watching as bands like My Morning Jacket received no love. Eventually he was let go and I stepped up to the plate as Orange USA’s artist relations rep. Three years later and I now handle all of the marketing coordination for Orange on a global scale, as well as all of the artist relations for Orange USA.
My primary duties are deciding who gets endorsed and to what extent, helping artists with backline and ordering products, managing all print and online media in the US, coordinating print media worldwide, business development, planning tradeshows, and making sure our new-hires know how our processes work.
England and Atlanta… How did a British company make their US home in Atlanta?
The location is good for our UK shipments, which only have to cross the Atlantic and arrive at port in Savannah, GA. However, the big factors are Atlanta’s low tax rate, cheap rate of living, and inexpensive buildings.
An Orange is something a kid (or adult) will have to save up for. What is it about Orange that makes it a worthy investment? Are there any entry level products that you can talk about for the budget minded shopper that’s craving an Orange? Maybe a hat?
One of our big goals is to make Orange accessible to everyone. We have our Crush PiX line of solid state amps that have digital FX but great tone. Moving up in price we have the Tiny Terror range of bass and guitar amps. They’re small, moderately priced, but still totally giggable. And of course for the professional guitarist or bassist there are our UK range of amps. The fact of the matter is that our amps are still made with quality components and built to last. Not everyone is doing that these days. You really do pay for what you get.
Can you talk about cabinet construction? I worked with an artist that switched a brand because the wood of the cabinet was changed. How much does the construction of the cab (vs. the speakers used) play into the overall sound of the cabinet? You also exclusively use Celestians. Can you talk about that?
Our cabs are of the highest quality. We use 13 ply, 18 mm thick Baltic Birch. That’s never changed and I doubt it ever will. Heavy, bulky cabinets increase the bass response and project the sound straight out of the front of the cab. We don’t put casters on our cabs either. We use wooden skids that couple the cab to the stage, thus increasing bass response even more.
Celestian speakers are simply the jam and we have a great relationship with them. We prefer Vintage 30s. They have that great mix of vintage and modern tone. However, our bass cabs all have Eminence speakers. Cost isn’t the most important factor when deciding which speakers to use. We use what we think sounds the best.
There is an overall aesthetic about Orange. Everything seems very ‘arty’ and elegant if you will (very instagram too). I was particularly struck by the posters at this year’s NAMM – esp Geddy Lee and Mastodon. How much effort is put into the marketing and branding of Orange?
For the past 3 years I’ve been intent of making people realize that Orange is here, and here to stay. The major part of that branding strategy was to increase my support system for artists. Artists put the gear in front of people, cameras, and potential customers. Now we’re diversifying our strategy, moving towards garnering a social media base and a big email list, then rewarding those people for their loyalty with contests and giveaways. Online is where it’s at and we realize that. Also, we’re beginning to educate our consumer base more and more with videos, sound clips, etc., positioning ourselves within the market.
The next step is to begin doing more product-specific marketing. We’ve never really done a big product “roll out.” It’s always been “rush rush rush.” But that’s going to happen more and more once we get our product development and marketing in-line with one another.
In the end, it’s a learning experience for a relatively young company (Orange is 43 years old, but Orange USA is 9 years old and we’re still figuring out how to sell ourselves).
How many artists do you work with? Active artists: 200-300. Total in the last 3 years: 900-1000.
When it comes to supporting your endorsed artists, how far is your reach? Say a band is playing a show in Argentina or Tokyo, will they be able to play an Orange?
We have backline in 5 major US cities, as well as UK, Germany, Australia, and Japan. Most of our international touring artists have access to this backline pool. They can also purchase gear at reduced cost in all of these locations if necessary.
A band wants to be endorsed by Orange. What are your parameters for entry? What are some things that are important and what kinds of things can turn you off when someone emails you?
I get 30 requests a day for endorsement. I look at each and every one of them, but I hardly ever respond. In the beginning, I responded to them all. I was a real sucker. But the fact of the matter is that even though I feel bad not responding to all of them, I simply can’t.
A lot of them are from bands that don’t know WHY they want an endorsement. They just want to tell their friends “I am endorsed.” But an endorsement is not a promise of free gear and tons of exposure. It is the beginning of a relationship. If you put in the effort, I will do what I can to help reward you for your loyalty.
The most important thing I look for when considering endorsements is that the band regularly tours nationally and/or internationally (but internationally is preferred). Regional touring doesn’t cut it when you consider how many bands want an endorsement. I’m looking for exposure. My gear needs to be on stage every day, and in front of as many people as possible. I’m not worried about what kind of music you play. I don’t have to like your music. You just need to get my gear in front of potential customers, and you need to be willing to tell as many people as possible why you play it. I’m looking for team-players.
9. Bands also like free stuff. What can you say about that?
Not a whole lot. 99% of our artists pay for their gear. That’s the world we live in. That’s where the industry is at right now. Orange amps are not inexpensive when compared to the Chinese-made gear coming from many of our competitors. If you want to play Orange, then you will. And I’ll support you as much as I can because you deserve it.
10. You sent me an Orange shirt and I love it. Any plans to expand the line?
Many plans. Many, many plans