East Sacramento’s Niche Media generates hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue by organizing conferences that educate publishers of small magazines. Owner Carl Landau describes himself as simply an opportunist but his official title is grand poobah.
Landau started his career working for a trade magazine known as World Mining. Its sister publication had a much sexier title, he said, World Coal. He had a short stint there and at other small magazines. At age 26, he and a partner raised $50,000 to start one of their own, Computer Language. Within a year, they had tripled their investors’ money and paid them off.
He eventually sold the magazine for “lots of money,” but before he did, he got his first taste of organizing an event with a conference called Software Development. “Our first keynote was a guy named Bill Gates. You have to understand this is, like, the early ’80s,” Landau said.
He left the Bay Area in 1994 and settled in Davis. There, he started magazines for brew-your-own-beer enthusiasts, amateur winemakers and brewpub owners. For the latter, he established a popular trade show but by 2000, he was ready to end his days as a publisher so he sold his titles. Recognizing Landau’s expertise with events, the buyer of WineMaker called upon him to help launch what is now known as the world’s biggest competition for hobby winemakers.
“Events are where it’s at,” said Landau, now an east Sacramento resident. “We’re starting a whole workshop for people on putting together their first events. We’ve done surveys of our publishers, and it’s like 70 to 80 percent of magazine publishers also put on events and, in fact, a lot of them make more money on events than they do on publishing.”
Landau said he’s managing fewer people and having a lot more fun then he did as a publisher. No ties are allowed at Niche Media events, and the grand poobah dresses up in wacky costumes. At one conference, held in the 2008 election year, his staff put his face on a giant banner that mimicked street artist Shepard Fairey’s Barack Obama “Hope” poster.
Next week in Charleston, S.C., 250 publishers will be expecting to hear creative business strategies for generating revenue at one of four Niche Media conferences held yearly. The price of admission is $1,100, and Landau also sells corporate sponsorships.
Landau has a theory about why events are so hot: “It’s a backlash from social media. ... When we do these events, you can’t pull these people apart.”
He’s game for NBC spots
Fair Oaks’ Chris Rice is voicing a new branding campaign for NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network that is airing during Olympics coverage.
Rice is the Sacramento-area radio deejay who bailed out of the industry in 2008 amid a wave of downsizing. He began freelancing as a voice-over artist. He created an audio production studio in his home and posted audition tapes at sites such as Voices.com and Voice123.com. He recently pulled in a whale of a client.
“NBC had hired a New York ad agency to do a new campaign and the agency was looking for a new voice, one that hadn’t been on a lot of TV stuff,” Rice told me. “They posted an ad on Voice123.com ... and I sent my audition tapes. When they submitted it to NBC, they liked my sound and they decided to use me for NBC Sports ... and their new cable channel, NBC Sports Network. That’s where they’ve aired so far. I haven’t seen any air on NBC yet but I’ve seen them all over NBC Sports Network.”
Rice’s voice can not only be heard on ads for NBC Sports Network, now called NBCSN, but also for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s new circus tour. Want to see and hear Rice’s NBCSN ads? Visit www.sacbee.com/anderson.
Axis Gallery to move
Axis Gallery will relocate to a new space in June at the remodeled Verge Center for the Arts, 625 S St., in Sacramento.
Phil Amrhein, president of the Axis Gallery artists cooperative, said he and his fellow artists weighed the move from 1517 19th St. for about six months before making the decision to leave.
“We’ve been there for eight years,” Amrhein said, “and it’s a great location and we’re right next door to the Center for Contemporary Art. Things are going well. We really like the space.”
“It’s just that ... Verge is a big arts center now and they have lots of big plans,” he said. “They have 40-plus studio spaces there that artists rent. They’re planning on having a really big exhibition space themselves and they’re going to curate shows. They’re going to have classrooms there.”
Axis will be leasing 1,900 square feet of space from Verge, nearly four times the room in the current location. “With a big show, it kind of got a little cramped in there,” Amrhein said, “and receptions were really crowded.”
The new space will come with a bigger lease payment so the 25-year-old Axis cooperative is accepting applications for new members. The last show at 1517 19th St. will be works by Janice Nakashima in April and the first show after opening at Verge will be a members show in June.