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Happenings in the Royalty Realm


MAM Family: Ryan Wines of Marmoset

Working with Marmoset was an immediate labor of love for MAM. Even so, we still swooned when we saw Ryan Wines' TEDx talk two years ago.Here was the company's Co-Founder, CEO and Executive Producer extolling the hows and whys of the creative agency merry-go-round:

  • Join an awesome agency for up to three years,

  • Give your heart, soul, talent, and all hours of the day and night.

  • Burn out.

  • Freelance.

  • Get hungry.

  • Get lured by cool perks.

  • Repeat.

But what if that stopped (mostly)? What if you didn't rely on workplace gimmicks and truly treated your employees like a beloved tribe. Your own flesh and bone.

"Treat others how you imagine they DREAM of being treated," said Ryan of Marmoset's Golden Rule 2.0.Which completely makes sense if you know Ryan: his life orbits around his "family."

Work = Family. Home = Family. His Oregon-based community = definitely family. The world is Ryan's family.

And it's working for him. And Marmoset. Really, really well.

Their "family first" approach has become a crucial ingredient in the music house's rapidly rising success. Since firing up its musical hearth in 2010, it's become one of the Pacific Northwest's tastiest agencies to both work with and for.

Naturally, all that goodness includes Marmoset's unique flavor of music -- as distinctive as its "handcrafted" company culture -- wholehearted, fun, imaginatively raw, genuine, locally grown, with a flair for the unexpected. Okay... and yes, a hearty dose of flannel and beardcore.

Asked what makes their music feel so fresh-from-the-oven, Ryan quickly offers, "Innovation through deconstruction: we're constantly second-guessing ourselves. In a good way.

"If Marmoset was doing something night-and-day different in five years, it wouldn't surprise me a whole lot. We're constantly innovating as we go."

He also credits Marmoset's focus on value, impact and legacy within its surrounding communities."It's easy to show our reel, but there's a lot more we enjoy out of our work," he says. "After the work is gone, what will be remembered of us? We want to leave the world better.

"Throughout our organization, we’re very like-minded in having a deep-seeded desire to search for a greater meaning in what we do. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s just music. It's not like we're curing cancer or solving global warming.

"While we're very passionate about music, it's important for us to keep a bigger, broader perspective."

Case in point: Marmoset's new A/VEC screenings.

Once a month, Marmoset anonymously pairs a filmmaker with a musician. The filmmaker creates a 15-20 minute film "keeping music in mind." When the musician is handed the film, they have two weeks to arrange its score, to be performed live at A/VEC.

The film's screening becomes a really intense blind date in front of a crowd -- the dynamic duo won't meet until that night.

"It's raw, but intentionally so. Pairing music and picture while pushing boundaries," explains Ryan.

Other education initiatives have included presenting a music supervision workshop at SXSW this year, their blog's steady stream of in-depth artist Q&As, and Marmoset's quarterly Artist Education Events (next one: Thursday, Sept. 8th).

By the way, their agency has a zero attrition rate. (Annual Industry Average = 30%)

So what's it like to work at Marmoset? First you have to get in the door where none of the 36 full-time staff are likely to leave any time soon. Which definitely intensifies the interview process.

"It's kind of like dating," Ryan jokes. "It's an invitation that leads either to marriage or a break up."

Recruitment relies heavily on current relationships, plus and their stellar pool of paid interns.

There's also the Top 6 Virtues of Successful Marmosets (Ryan can recite these like the Pledge of Allegiance):

  1. Commitment (including trust in Marmoset's unique company culture)

  2. Fire in the Belly ("in it to win it")

  3. Humility (willing to do anything)

  4. Earnest and Sincere Desire to Listen, Learn and Grow

  5. High Potential

  6. Talent and Experience (purposely listed last)

"It makes it a lot easier when someone walks in the door, for us to see do they fit the target of whom we're looking to bring into this organization," says Ryan.

The Artist Education Events have also proven a great tool for the community.

"We're just trying to put more education out there, so artists can do what they do better."

It's working -- folks travel from Seattle, San Francisco, and beyond to attend (including our own fearless leader, Nan Wilson!).

These West Coast pilgrims journey to be a part of what Ryan and his growing tribe hold most dear: Community.

To break free from the digital world and sync with a more natural orbit. Actually meeting people face to face. Placing themselves within a space where hearts and minds can be touched in person.

There's no question that creating and placing music with moving images is still Marmoset's bread and butter. But you can't help but produce some awesome jams when your hearth is where over 500 indie musicians want to gather in Portland.

Put succinctly on Marmoset's website: "There is a rising tide and we are all floating up together."