Troy Carter is one incredibly interesting guy. As Lady Gaga’s manager, a tech company co-founder, and an investor in companies like Uber, Votizen, and Summly, he sits in a particular unique seat at the crossroads of Hollywood and the Silicon Valley.
Troy shared all kinds of knowledge in an interview at Disrupt NY 2013 this morning, largely focusing on one belief: if your product is no good, getting a celebrity involved won’t help anyone.
This comes, of course, as the trend of getting celebrities involved in tech projects (either as investors or featured users) is at an all-time high. Will.i.am invested in Airtime. Justin Timberlake is trying to fix Myspace. Ashton Kutcher has put cash into dozens of companies. The list goes on and on (and on).
Here’s the gist of what Troy had to say on the topic:
When people started coming to us about getting involved, they started by just asking ‘Can you get your client to tweet about this?’
Thats the wrong approach. A celebrity can’t add rocket fuel to a bad product.
Troy isn’t saying that celebrity involvement is inherently bad, of course. You just need to pair carefully, and play to the strengths of both the startup and the celeb:
You can’t just use a celebrity for the sake of celebrity. You have to have a clear strategy for the product, and know exactly what sort of audience you want to reach
As for what Troy says celebrities can actually bring to the table: it’s all about the audience. In fact, the differing types of audiences between actors and musicians leads Troy to think that musicians might actually be better to bring on board:
This dedicated audience is one of the things that musicians have that differs from actors. Actors play different characters, so you have to build a new base around each new movie — with few exceptions, most actors don’t have a fan base that just follows them around. With musicians, the fan base just goes everywhere they go.