By: Don Webber
“How could we rent a hearse?” rapper Marc Vincent is thinking aloud.
“Actually, if you show up at a funeral home, and tell them you’re doing a school project, they’ll sometimes let you use one of the rooms” someone adds. “Yeah, there isn’t always a casket in it. But sometimes there is. I don’t think you’re allowed to climb into it, though.”
We’re not making funeral arrangements, and we’re certainly not doing a school project. It’s 8:30 p.m. on a Saturday night in Corona Del Mar, California, an upscale suburb of Los Angeles. I’ve just arrived at the world headquarters of Top Group Media, where an impromptu music video storyboarding session has just broken in the office. This office also happens to be the living room of the five members who make up the TGM team. Naturally, I’ve been thrust directly into the action.
“I like the preacher idea” I add. “You can probably buy a priest outfit at a costume shop. And we could all wear black, and take some long shots of a funeral procession.”
So what’s the deal with the funeral talk?
Marc Vincent is a client of TGM, who has quite literally just stepped off the plane from Boston to Los Angeles. Vincent and the Top Group team have wasted no time in discussing an upcoming music video project for a brand-new song that the rapper has recently composed independently. One of the concepts we are talking through for the video involves the rapper reflecting on his life following his “death” through the lyrics of the song. Hence the morbid discussions of how to best represent this theme in a video.
“Or, wait a second” Vincent interjects, “we could do the whole video backwards. Like, I die in the opening shot. And then I arrive in LA in the second scene…” he trails off, mulling the concept over. The room murmurs universal approval of the idea. A gas-powered fire crackles in the fireplace. Someone is microwaving a hot pocket in the midst of our brainstorming session.
Tonight, several of the members of the TGM crew will be working their second jobs as bouncers at a local bar. Tomorrow morning, they’ll be on the opening shift at a local health smoothie place near their headquarters. For these guys, the work never stops. They live together, meet and discuss their company goals on daily basis, and work side jobs as a unit. As those who work in the media industry know, there are no such thing as “regular hours” when it comes to generating content for clients and brands.
All five of the TGM team members hail from Massachusetts. Six months ago, they decided to form their own media company in Los Angeles. Thus, Top Group Media was born.
The team has made strides and encountered healthy growing pains in their transition to LA. They’ve worked with mattress companies, solar power groups, rappers, reggae bands, yacht manufactures, dental practices, and a nonprofit organization that represents those who suffer from arthritis. Their eclectic list of clientele are representative of a media group that is willing to take on any client that wishes to grow their brand.
They build websites, make music videos, run social media channels, and offer various content and advertising services.
They connected with an independent record label that was recently featured in Complex Magazine as one of the best “future-forward independent labels out right now.” During my stay in LA, creative directors Andrew McGill and Evan Jackson of Top Group were sitting in an initial meeting with members of the LA-based label when a publicist burst through the door.
“Can you guys move your car?” she asked. “We’re heading to Jimmy right now.”
She was referring to Jimmy Kimmel. One of the labels artists would be appearing as the musical guests on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live that evening.
So, it appears the sky is the limit for Top Group Media. In my three-day stay at TGM HQ, there was seemingly no shortage of new business and creative prospects. On top of that, the dialogue never stopped between the team. At any given moment, someone might say: “what do you guys think about this?” and another brainstorming session would be in action. Almost symbolically, the gas-fueled fire in their living room seemed to burn with a perpetual flame, just like the company itself – if you’re into metaphors like that, anyways.
“The main thing is that we’re in it together” says Justin Donnini, one of the two more business-oriented minds in the group. “We have a common goal. And we’re grinding it out.”