For the past two years, Greenville’s Brando Jones Films has been creating stylish, conceptual, high-quality music videos for Upstate musicians. From the hard-rockers Black River Rebels to the Latin pop group Phat Lip to acoustic singer/songwriter Rush Morgan, Brando Jones has provided all of them with memorable clips to share with their fans and venue owners.
Joshua Jones and Brandon Schnader, the co-founders and owners of Brando Jones, set up their business partially because they were both movie lovers and they’d both knocked around the music business. But they also knew there was a strong Upstate scene that needed to be promoted.
“We both went to high school together,” Jones says, “and I think around 2009 or ’10, we were next-door neighbors, and we’d get together and watch movies. We’d both dabbled in video, but around two years ago we thought, ‘Let’s spend some money, get some equipment and start making videos in this town.’”
“If we make this super-awesome video, and it blows up for Phat Lip, that goes twofold, and we blow up together. It’s this beautiful symbiotic relationship.”
Jones was not only an Upstate music scene veteran with his band The Jones Machine, he was a contestant on “American Idol” back in 2008. The duo learned how to make videos with help from their music industry connections and through an increasingly common go-to site for learning new things.
“They made this website that I’m not sure if you’re aware of called ‘YouTube,’” Schnader laughs, “and there are these tutorials, so self-teaching is not as hard as it was 20 years ago. It’s easy to learn when you love something.”
Once they reached the level of technical knowledge they needed, Jones and Schnader set out to bring Upstate musicians into the spotlight.
“Coming from a music scene background, we know a lot of these people, and we kind of wished there was a Brando Jones Films when we were in bands to help artists promote themselves in a different way,” Schnader says. “The days of artists knocking down radio station doors trying to get them to play your song are long gone. Now you have a captive audience on Facebook, and the video can really shine through.”
“I was told early on in this venture that there was no way that Brando Jones would be profitable if we only dealt with musicians,” Schnader adds, “and I’m here to tell them they were all wrong.”
Jones says he sees a lot of talented performers who need more attention, whether that means country-rock acts like Darby Wilcox & The Peep Show or hard-rockers like REdEFIND. In order to get them that attention, Brando Jones takes a comprehensive approach beyond just making videos.
“We also do social media management,” Schnader says. “It’s a cliché, but we’re a one-stop shop. Artists may need help after the video or have social media questions, and we want them to be successful, because it’s the perfect double-edged sword. If we make this super-awesome video, and it blows up for Phat Lip, that goes twofold, and we blow up together. It’s this beautiful symbiotic relationship.”
As for how Jones and Schnader actually make money with a clientele of local musicians, they say that the myth of the “broke musician” isn’t always true, and when it is true, they’re flexible.
“The one thing that gives us an edge in the music industry is that we know your money comes and goes,” Jones says. “That’s why we set up payment plans, and we don’t do contracts.”
“I was told early on in this venture that there was no way that Brando Jones would be profitable if we only dealt with musicians,” Schnader adds, “and I’m here to tell them they were all wrong. Musicians do make money because they usually work full-time jobs, too. We work with artists from age 16-55, we understand their economics and we care about them. We want to build an old-school family dynamic, and I think that shows in the return rate of our clients.”