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Aliceanna Collective with Dan and Mike

Dan and Mike are taking the Aliceanna Collective to new heights at 13,000 feet. Their long-time friendship is one of the many aspects that make their business strong. Their passion for supporting veterans and local non-profits proves they are in this business for the people.

GUESTS

Daniel Strauch
Michael Marx-Gibbons

Co-founded by lifelong friends with over two decades of media production experience, our Veteran-owned company places a premium on collaboration. We get to know you and your project, selecting from top-tier creatives to help construct a unique and engaging experience for any type of media. We strive to harness the power of human connection to inspire creativity.

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TRANSCRIPT

Brittany Brown
It’s the Digitiv podcast with Rob and Brittany. And today we have Dan and Mike the owners and founders of the Aliceanna Collective. And they get pretty personal check out this clip from our episode.

Daniel Strauch
Hey, we’re about to hit 10,000 feet. And it hit me as I was driving in my feet and my hands started sweating profusely because I’m like looking out and it feels like we’re almost in space because there’s so much depth and I’m like, holy shit, holy shit.

Brittany Brown
I know, everyone’s dying to hear what happens at the end of the story. So let’s go ahead and jump in.

Rob Winters
Thanks for tuning in. Today, we are joined by the creative forces behind Aliceanna Collective Dan and Mike. Thanks, guys, for being with us today. Thanks so much for having us. Yeah, thank you. And before we start bombarding you with questions, which we definitely enjoy doing, I’m very impressed with one of you being here, because that sounds like you have a new addition to the family very impressed that you’re actually functional. I mean, having a newborn I imagine is a little tiring and stressful and all that good stuff.

Daniel Strauch
Thank you. Yeah, it is. So I have a five-and-a-half-year-old daughter. So you would think that I would be prepared for this, but you kind of forget after that long. Um, so sleep is what it is. I was up at five o’clock this morning, which is kind of normal. But you know, when you’re waking up four times a night to help it’s it is what it is. I love it. I’m happy. I love being a dad figuring it out. I’m on call 24 seven now, which I’m sure you guys are used to being in that creative field anyways, it’s just not Mike that’s calling. Normally she’s like, dude, go Stay Stay away. But now it’s good. It’s good to be back to work just because there’s so much exciting stuff happening. So Yep. Yep. I’m here we are. Congratulations. Thank you.

Brittany Brown
Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, let’s talk Aliceanna Collective talk to us about the name and the type of media that you guys produce.

Mike Marx-Gibbons
Why don’t you go for the name there, bud?

Daniel Strauch
Shoot. So this was how much am I going to age us? Yes, Mike and I are really close friends for 30 years plus now.

Mike Marx-Gibbons
Well, friends is a technical word.

Daniel Strauch
Acquaintance for part of that period of time. So we’ve known each other since elementary school. God, I don’t even know. I’m gonna go down a rabbit hole. I’ll be quick with it. We played in band together toured for a while Mike went off to the military to serve the country. I stayed in music, all kinds of drama happened in between that. And I ended up moving myself back to Baltimore just to go back to school because I was like, wow, I just dedicated a long time to music and I need to refresh in doing so. My project kind of got kick started again. And I reached out to Mike who is back from the service. At that point, I was like, hey, do you wanna play the drums in this band? And he was like, sure, the band ended up taking off and we ended up getting a record deal. And the name of the band at that point was Aliceanna

Mike Marx-Gibbons
After the street in Fells Point.

Daniel Strauch
Right. So long. story short, that’s where it came from. When we started this collective again, years later, it was hard for us to draw on any other name we probably had, we had a notebook list of like 60 names, and we kept going through them and nothing felt right except Aliceanna it represented Baltimore, where we come from how much we love. Yeah, and yeah, we just wanted something that meant something to us, you can brand a name based on the story behind it, not how it sounds phonetically. So that’s what we felt.

Rob Winters
Absolutely, that makes me feel a little bit better because we were talking about where we thought you guys got the name. I thought you had to be based on Aliceanna street over here. So that makes me feel a little bit better that I was just pulling stuff out of thin air.

Daniel Strauch 3:14
You nailed it.

Mike Marx-Gibbons 3:14
So it is funny listening to people try to pronounce it especially from Baltimore because Elise IANA is such a widely, you know, accepted pronunciation in Baltimore alone, but then you go anywhere else or like, oh, Aliceanna, what’s that guy’s sisters? Yeah.

Rob Winters 3:30
I mean, at least the piano sounds like the pinky-up version. If you’re like, really fancy. Yeah, I think we can get that. We got it. We gotta stick with Aliceanna.

Mike Marx-Gibbons 3:37
Yeah, we’re not that fancy. We want to be we’re just not there yet. Yeah. The name is always a good talking point, especially when you’re talking to people in Baltimore, cuz they’re always like, is that off the street? Yeah. And there’s your conversation.

Rob Winters 3:49
Absolutely. So wait, before we can’t go too far off of this. Before we circle back to the business talk the musical staff? Are you guys still doing that? Are you still performing together? Or are you touring or anything like that?

Mike Marx-Gibbons
When we founded the collective, it was actually after a couple different projects that we had worked on musically. And after I left the military, I went into the audio engineering side of things. And Dan had been working with a number of producers and talent in the DMV area. And so we had kind of like this pretty vast network of musicians and people that we just decided to make music with and when we first started, we were the Aliceanna music collective because we were going to be scoring documentaries and commercials and stuff like that,

Daniel Strauch
That we had already previously done,

Mike Marx-Gibbons
Right. And then a lot of our network was already in the video field. And that’s kind of how we evolved into the video side of things is through working with some of these cinematographers and directors. So yeah, that’s kind of how we started and that’s kind of our involvement with music still is we still write for different applications. They can be movies, documentaries, commercials, that kind of stuff. As far as playing out. haven’t done it in a while. Probably Is it right?

Daniel Strauch
Yeah, it was it we spent beauty of it is or at least for me, Mike in spurts, but I had almost 10 years on the road. So I’m good. again, going back to the introvert thing, I love writing, I love performing and being a singer, all that came with that, but I didn’t love being the center of attention, Michael attests to that all the time. And so like, I kind of served my time there for lack of a better word or phrase. And I’m really happy to be on the back end, as Mike mentioned, I worked for an independent record label in DC called house. And my goal was to offer artists in the independent world tools to grow their musical careers without having to rely on I got to make it I got to sign with a major label, etc. Because there are so many opportunities to do it on your own, or you just have to understand where those opportunities exist. And so that was a really fun thing for me. And I got really involved with the DC and Baltimore communities again. And yeah, that kind of just transitioned into some work. I was also doing some some video style campaigns with my company, because music and visual correlate, obviously. And that led us to a big project that actually launched the Aliceanna collective, we worked on musical production for a film called Bastards Road that we wrote and correspond to, I guess, military wise, Mike did anyways, and some of the original music and development of this documentary. And it was released in May of this of this year, and was number one on iTunes as an independent documentary for a month straight it went through prior to COVID. Because we all know what that did. It was we were out in Santa Barbara and at Sundance and slam dance, and it won like seven seven street awards, as you know, a feature doc. And so that was a really inspiring opportunity for us, because we just connected with people. And we really saw what opportunities existed to say, Hey, we love doing this. We’re now working with people we feel aligned with. And there’s a lot of synergies. Why don’t we do this on our own, because we had spent, you know, two plus decades combined growing our networks and audio visual works. So you know, Mike brought up the fact that we transitioned from, you know, audio to video, we had been doing both of those things and exploring both avenues. For years, honestly, we saw the greatest room for growth in being able to take care of the people in our network. On the video side. It’s not that we don’t love audio. But we really, we went down that avenue for a long time. And you kind of really learn where your opportunities are. And you know what the world is now, right? It’s video, everything. And we love stories. We’re just doing it more visually than audio. And so that was a really unique skill set that translated and translated to most of our network. And now here we are. So sorry, I get really long answers to questions.

Brittany Brown
No, you’re totally fine. How do you guys pick the projects that you’re going to work on? It sounds like you guys are very veteran focus. And those are kind of the documentaries that you guys want to work on. So how do you decide or determine what stories you guys want to tell and what you want to get involved in?

Mike Marx-Gibbons
I mean, that’s a really great question. Basically, we have two different vastly different backgrounds, when you know, it’s not talking media, as a hospitality guy. I’m coming from the military world. So basically, those are the two avenues that we really love to push harder to on the veteran side. And you could talk about the hospitality side. But any organization that’s veteran centric, that wants to hire veterans, help veterans, somehow push that story and get people to help that they need, we’re right, their budget, and all that kind of stuff becomes secondary. At that point, we look at companies for their mission, and how we might be able to fit into it, and really get their message, whatever their agenda is out there. to the world. That’s kind of our job. And to us, that’s kind of how we like to get back to the community. And so a lot of these organizations we engage with are nonprofits, we ended up end up having to travel a lot to get to them. And that really makes our world go round and fulfills kind of our needs as a company for supporting the community. Did you want to talk about hospitality a little bit?

Daniel Strauch
Yeah, I think you just nailed that. That’s the ultimate fulfillment work. And for me, being in the hospitality field, that was my support while I was a musician, because I was traveling so much. When I came back, I was involved in hospitality, and I ended up going to school for it. And I ended up working for a few different hospitality groups in developing programs for them. And I have such an affinity for people in the hospitality field. Because it’s the ultimate life lesson in terms of how to work with people, I don’t want to say provide therapy, but really just be able to be an ear for somebody, no matter what the scenario is. Hospitality is like the ultimate medium for that because people come in, and they want to be taken care of. And they also want to, you know, tell you about their life. And so I was passionate about that. I wanted to be able to help hospitality brands tell those stories in a more curated way. So we partnered up with a couple brands that our hospitality groups had worked with, and now we are growing that avenue and it’s a lot of fun. What Mike and I are doing and building this company is we are trying to provide expertise in fields that we were for lack of better term experts in because we know we’ll do it well and we’ll deliver for our clients. That’s a big part of it. Like we don’t want to try and work on projects that will do okay, just because we need the jobs because it’s not really serving anyone that’s our major focus is to grow, but to grow smartly. In terms of nailing it for the people we love working for.

Rob Winters
And I think what you kind of both said echoes a lot of the values that we hold when we’re looking at potential clients, we don’t go in budget. First we find clients that I think we can support the mission, or we have some connection to, and then we find a budget that works for them. For us, especially on the web development side into online marketing. It’s so competitive, and there’s always somebody out there that they’re going to do it cheaper, they’ll do it faster, they’ve got the angle, whatever. I’m curious, from the video side or the audio side, because it might be a little bit of a different arena. Is it very competitive? And is that space really crowded with people who are they’re not mission focused, they’re transaction focused, and they’ll come in, they’ll do it, they’ll produce it, they’ll get it done, and they just want their check, and they’re going to be on to the next.

Mike Marx-Gibbons
Absolutely. And I know that you’re gonna want to talk about the audio side a little bit, but coming from the video side, almost everybody’s got a camera these days and cell phones where they are some are shooting, and 5-6k. Now, you know, a common question is, why should we hire a video company, when we can just use a cell phone and produce high quality footage, and it’s really a lot of people can do that. But what they don’t do is spend the time necessary to get to know the client, get to know what their needs are, and really develop and identify the avenues that they need to take to be able to reach the clients that they’re looking for, or the audience that they’re looking for. So almost anybody can pick up a camera, you know, even cinema cameras are under $5,000. Now, so the market is a lot more available than it used to be. But you’re always going to need somebody that has a lot of experience with telling stories and developing them and coordinating people together and getting the talent to give you the performance that you need, just like on the music side to give you a product that’s really going to stand out and tell your story in an appropriate way. And you want to touch on the the audio side.

Daniel Strauch
I think that both of these things correlate very well right? Like at the end of the day, how do you stick out when there is so much content congestion? You can To me, it’s all audio, video, whatever, it’s relationships, part of what we do well is we’re lucky we have a network of people because we love people. That’s really where it starts if you can work with anybody, and they’re all offering relatively the same services. And they’re all just as good at it, what’s the differentiator and it’s the relationship. And that’s it, we look for people within our network who we know are going to appreciate us and what we do and say, Hey, if I’m going to pay X or Y, I’m going to be x because I like them, and I want to be around them. And I believe in what they’re doing. And I think that’s the ultimate differentiator in whatever field you’re talking about. Just because we have the choice now, right? There are so many options back in the day prior to the internet. And prior to really the you know, being able to afford all of the tools that are out there. Now, your options were limited based on the marketing ability of what was in front of you, and now you can navigate it yourself. So I think it’s just relationships. I think that’s what it is.

Rob Winters
Yeah, I completely agree with you, when you go into the organization. So say they bring you in, and they’re going to have you create some video content, maybe it’s going to be for social or you know, maybe they’re pushing out an ads campaign across Google or email, whatever they’re doing, how involved Do you all get? Are you writing scripts for them? Are you doing everything from nuts to bolts? Or are you kind of letting them take the role of they define the script and what they want to do? And then you come in and shoot it maybe with their EDI or something? Or, you know, what’s a typical day? in the life of doing all of this?

Mike Marx-Gibbons
That’s a really great question. And I guess the best way to answer that is everybody is different. Every client is different. We came out of a meeting a few days ago, where we barely got a word in because the client or you know, the organization had just wanted to hear themselves kind of speak. And sometimes that was okay, but yeah, and that’s and that’s fine. Some people really have a set idea of where they want to go. And you know, they’re just like, how do we action, this idea? Give me the road of path of least resistance there other clients, they’re like, you tell us what we don’t know. And for clients like that, yeah, we really do jump down into the weeds. We do all the script writing storyboarding, conceptualization, and we kind of every facet of the production we’re involved with. So it really just depends on you know, who we’re working with. But yeah, we are full service, we do everything from, you know, shaking hands to say hello to finishing the media off. And then even on the marketing side, we connect them with the right people to get that video out there.

Daniel Strauch
And actually, that’s what led me to you guys, as I was trying to get us out there into the networking world. Again, it’s like, man, we got to go out and just meet people, because it’s good for us. We get locked down in our studio, in our edit menus, etc. And you almost forget the outside world exists. But I was drawn to you guys, because we may do some services similarly, but we may do there are certain things that we need. We’re building our whole marketing partner Avenue, we have connected within the last month with several different marketing agencies who provide services that our clients need and what we believe in is taking our client and saying whatever they’re asking for, here’s how we can build it. Here’s how you can give it a roadmap to success. And let’s all work in unison to build the best plan instead of saying, All right now we’ve built this media and try to fit it on these mediums. Right And so our goal is to build marketing partners in that capacity, so we never had to leave our client without options. And that’s the really exciting part about how this business is growing is all of a sudden, that’s really started to ramp up. And clients who don’t have a plan, but know they need video are very accepting of that process, because I’ll just relate back to the music industry, you can write, and I’ve seen this tenfold in developing artists and writing songs etc, you can write a great song, if there is no if no one hears it, it doesn’t matter. And it’s a great song to who because music is subjective, right. But regardless of the fact, it has to have a way to get out there. So connecting with the Digitiv, how to work on a marketing campaign based on some content we built based on what you guys do really well is ideal. In my mind, I can’t wait to reach out to you guys to work. And I genuinely mean that only because one we’re connecting, and two, there’s going to be opportunities, because they’re happening so fast. And you know, if we’re all aligned in the fact that we want our clients to win, got to have all the pieces to make that happen, right, especially if you want to compete.

Rob Winters
I like that you guys thought right through my loaded question there. So that was all about timing, like, how do you feel about agencies.

Mike Marx-Gibbons
The agencies are extremely important, especially because we can come up with concepts all day. And the problem is, without some sort of, you know, marketing direction there, there’s no way that just like what he was talking about in the in the music industry, you can give people the most shiny, beautiful videos, best concepts, funny, engaging, all that kind of stuff. And then you get 64 views on YouTube, or Facebook or whatever, and that any dies right there. And we’re marketing comes into play, and people that are just like, give me your money. And we’ll try to figure it out. And like actually get involved in the process like he’s describing is really where it’s at these days, or else because there’s so much content out there, or else it just stays, that mountain of content never never comes to the top.

Daniel Strauch
And something we also try to do is balance, we understand how important data is right? So data, especially now is really driving campaigns. But there has to be some emotional intelligence involved with that, not just the data aspect of it. So that’s why the relationship between all the parties is so important, because, hey, cool, you’re doing this business. And we see that it hits on these metrics with this target audience. Let’s plug it in. And let’s roll. And something always gets left behind in my mind when that’s the process. So how do you create these emotional connections that provide a little bit more emotion in the product itself, and allow people to attach themselves to it? Like, where’s the authenticity? And I think it takes all parties involved to create it with the authentic message that your client is giving. So yeah, we could talk about this stuff all day long.

Brittany Brown
Yeah. I feel like that’s where the magic happens is when there’s multiple people collaborating, instead of just one person’s idea on the straight and narrow, I felt like that’s where all the ideas come together. And the magic kind of happened. So that’s really exciting. I do have to ask you, you guys are going to Keystone from what I hear. I mean, as long as everything is normal Keystone is one of my favorite places, just so you guys know.

Daniel Strauch
Yeah, so we’re nice. You have experienced with the Rockies last time we were out there in May. And the minute we flew in, and we had been there numerous times touring, but a decade ago, we flew in, gotten our rental and I was like dude, what are we doing anywhere else in our lives? Like, why would you not? It’s so yeah

Mike Marx-Gibbons
Why don’t we just move here? Yeah.

Daniel Strauch
The culture, the the amount of activity, of course, you talk to locals, and they’ll give you kind of the things to look out for. But in general, it’s an incredible place. So yeah, we’re going to Keystone at the end of August, we are flying out there. We are showcasing a short documentary we created for a nonprofit called No Barriers, who does incredible work with disabled veterans, we went up to 14,000 foot summit and followed up, there was like a group of 20 of us featured on a bike with backpacks full of the cameras, but you know, we were able to help tell a story for this organization. And now we’re going out there to showcase it. And they do this annual summit every last year alone. I think they had 80,000 people virtually, but they get it you know, the past few years, they’ve had x ambassadors and a lot of big different musical acts come out magic giants playing this year. We are very excited. We’re just happy to be a part of it. But it really is like it’s the ultimate networking opportunity. We get to show something we did for somebody we really care about, and then we get to talk about it. So yeah, we’ll try not to screw that up.

Mike Marx-Gibbons
It’ll be a much easier trip

Brittany Brown
Don’t forget your spare oxygen that you can pump you know.

Mike Marx-Gibbons
Well, it’s funny you bring that up. Because when we got to the very top of that mountain, Mount Evans there, I turned to him and I was like, I feel like I’ve been drinking for like five straight days. My brain just was in a fog and you know, they’re all kind of laughing at us as Oh, you guys are a bit above the tree line before and I’m like there’s a tree line. So yeah, it was it was definitely an experience and looking forward to going back.

Daniel Strauch
I was gonna say I’ll give you Mike hates it when I tell the story, but I enjoy it just because it gives a little bit of color to what the experience was like. I am deathly afraid of heights, but I knew going to this I like being attached right rollercoasters all day long up a mountain on 13,000 feet on basically on the side of whatever you want to call it. We were driving up there to get ready. I want to say the summit started about 10,000 feet. And we are driving up there. And as we got to about 9000 feet, there was three of us what the cinematographer Tim in the back. He’s like, Hey, we’re about to hit 10,000 feet. And it hit me as I was driving in my feet, and my hands started sweating profusely, because I’m like, looking out and it feels like we’re almost in space, because there’s so much depth and I’m like, holy shit, holy shit. This is real. I’m about to get on a bike and go even higher. And Tim’s like, Dude, what is that smell? And I was sweating so badly my hands that it fits, smelled up the car,

Mike Marx-Gibbons
Like a locker room in the car,

Daniel Strauch
Right? It happened almost instantaneously. So I’m sorry for sharing that. But it was so real in that moment, that again, it was actually felt a little bit safer on a bike. And we also had electric bikes.

Mike Marx-Gibbons
Yeah. Because we had to pass up their electric assist. Yeah. Yeah. So it was good experience.

Daniel Strauch
Sorry, Mike.

Rob Winters
Yeah. I can appreciate that the height scare the hell out of me. So I’m right there with you. I’ll stick at sea level. We have hit on nonprofits a lot. One last question. I did want to ask because we did obviously do our due diligence and explore your website and stalk you extensively online. But you both support specific organizations, and we like to give them a call out. So we thought you might want to share which organizations you support. So that does or can be featured in the podcast.

Mike Marx-Gibbons
Cool. Yeah, absolutely. Nonprofit wise, we’d definitely love to mention the Babe Ruth Museum, right there in Baltimore. It’s a long flyball for Memorial Park in Camden Yards. They kind of took us in and, you know, said, tell our story, and we love them to death. You want to touch on some of the other stuff?

Daniel Strauch
Yeah, I mean, we started conversations with Helping Up Missions, which is an addiction and recovery center in Baltimore, my late brother actually went there and had probably the best experience of his life, which brought us into what that environment was like. And for anybody that’s, you know, dealt with a family member or personally with addiction, you understand the rigors of the Rehab Treatment and how many times over that happens before you find find success. And that place was spectacular, being non agenda driven. And I wanted to give back to what they gave my brother. So that was a big point for us to get involved. And that’s why we started working with helping missions again in Baltimore. Incredible establishment. Yeah, there’s we’re involved with a lot of nonprofits. But those are a few that we are right.

Mike Marx-Gibbons
And lastly, we’d like to thank Barcs as well, right there in the city, great things that they’re doing with pet adoption. And you know, getting animals off the street and into homes is incredible. We got to work with over the holidays last year, and we’re exploring a future video with them right now. So anything we can do for anybody that’s out there, nonprofit sector that needs some help, give us a call.

Rob Winters
I like it, I appreciate that.

Brittany Brown
You guys are awesome. Dan, Mike, if people are looking for some video production in their life, where is the best place for them to check you guys out?

Daniel Strauch
Yeah, Aliceannacollective.com you can check out our Instagram and Facebook as well, which is just backslash, whatever. Or just type it in on the good old Google machine. But yeah, you can check us out. Shoot us a message Mike do you want me to give your number out on this.

Mike Marx-Gibbons
No

Daniel Strauch
Yeah, you know, we look forward to any in conversation. Anybody wants to talk about media. And if there’s synergy, and we can help, we’re excited for it. But I want to say thank you to you guys for having us on here.

Mike Marx-Gibbons
And putting on such a great event.

Daniel Strauch
Yeah, and even like the podcast stuff, and helping to tell other creative stories and stuff. You know, we’re excited to see where this relationship leads with you guys. You’re such hospitable people, which obviously something we care about. But even in this experience right here, they’re just really great energy. So we’re excited to see where this leads and support you guys and in terms of what you’re doing, and hopefully we can turn it into partnership opportunities. That’s the idea that let’s build this community together, show off Baltimore and make everybody else jealous of how awesome Baltimore is.

Mike Marx-Gibbons
Right.

Rob Winters
Right. And we’ll be sure to send your more fancy customers to aliceannacollective.com.

Daniel Strauch
Nice, Mike, we’ll be taking those calls

Mike Marx-Gibbons
I was going to say give them Dan’s email.

Brittany Brown
Well, if you’re fancy, they’re going to fight over who’s going to take your calls. On that note, we will wrap it up here. Please listen, like and subscribe and we will see you all next week.

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