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If you’re involved with radio imaging, chances are you’ve met or heard of Andreas Sannemann. I met Andy a few years ago but never REALLY knew what made him tick. Until now. Let’s find out together, shall we?

Andy at Broadcast Asia in Singapore

Inspire Me: Andreas Sannemann

By KellyKellyKelly of The Imaging House

What is your title?
CEO @Benztown

Where did Benztown come from? How was it created? And tell us about the name.
This could be a very long and boring story, so I’ll try to keep it short 🙂

Benztown is the nickname of the city where I was born and raised- Stuttgart, Germany.

Benztown was born in 2008 with an idea to scale great content used by multiple clients. We love radio and just wanted our craft out there to be used, manipulated and tweaked by as many people as possible. My personal dream when I worked in radio was always having a tool kit where I can find all types of work parts to create great imaging. So we created that for ourselves, scratched our own itch.

Benztown has always been very strong on the work part sections like beds, fx, stagers, music etc…That is the reason why.

To create a platform, we also have been inspired by Max Krasny at Westwood One, who proposed that to Chachi, Oli and me when we discussed Jingles, Custom Imaging etc. in 2008.

What are your responsibilities?

Know the philosophy, know the details and ignore everything in-between while I’m doing the work 🙂

Robotics, AI and VR venue in Munich. Andy & his robot friend.

What has been the biggest struggle for you in your career? How did you get through it?

Leaving my full-time radio gig… the station I loved and built from the ground up. Starting something totally new, because I felt I had to. No safety net. No magic trick. I am a very persistent person- I pulled through, fell and got up again. I knew I was on a path and didn’t listen to people telling me I could fail. I’ve always been involved with competitive sports and know failing is an option, but it’s also short-termed. The next game starts soon. Also, I have been super lucky and things timed out great.

Describe the feeling of hearing your first piece of production on the air.

Wow, I was so proud and knew immediately that I wanted to do more!!!

Was there a moment in your childhood foreshadowing things to come?

I always loved music and sports. As I realized my soccer kills were not pro-level worthy, I knew I wanted to do something creative with writing and/or music.

Masa, Chris, Andy, Stefan, and Scott. The Benztown crew in Las Vegas.

Did anyone ever doubt your creative ability?

Not really, I was supported from day one by all the bosses I had been working with in radio. On the business side of things- doubts had been there. When we founded Benztown, people told me I would never make it and that there was no room because of big players already existing in the audio branding and jingle world. This was my fuel to prove them wrong. However, a lot of people believed in our skill set and work ethic which I will always be grateful for.

Have you failed? Or not accomplished a goal you set for yourself? What did you learn?

I have a lot of crazy ideas in my head all the time. I failed sometimes but always had the capability to get back on my feet and try again. I never lost the belief that the things I aim for are possible. Sport is a great training ground, in my opinion.

Benztown has grown tremendously within the past 2-3 years. How far will you go internationally?

I’m lucky to report we have been growing tremendously since we started and don’t see any slowdown yet. Being based in Europe, international growth is really important to me. I’m a fan of working with different people, cultures, radio formats, media houses, etc. It gives me so much joy hearing new ideas and input. Everyone at Benztown loves that and I think being based all over the world with all the great contributors, clients and people we work with has really made a massive difference to the company, the culture and the sound. That’s why we’re different than any other company in our field as we fostered that culture from day one, far beyond everyone else.

I’m the luckiest person in the world to be able to work with extraordinary talent everywhere. It’s crazy to have a call with an Aussie imaging super star like Chris Davis or Sidey in the morning, then chat with Scott about Dubai, speak to Jan and Alex about the latest imaging or projects in my office, our crew in the UK, a jingle package in France and close the day with a chat with Kevin or Matt in the LA office while Chachi and the crew start to rock our most important and biggest market.

We’ve also been so lucky to attend events as well as being coaches in Africa, India, Thailand and all these fantastic places. It just adds so much about how we feel about radio, our customers and the future of radio which is tough to predict. I personally feel it depends on the part of the world, the cultural connection to radio and broadcasting. There is and will always be space for great audio content. I imagine the entire industry to be more segmented on the content side and bigger hubs on the delivery side. The micro and the macro is what every company needs to address now. For Benztown this means creating the best possible product on the micro level, piece by piece, product by product and element by element. On the macro- strong alliances, sales channels and distribution hubs.

Vocal recordings with Oli Klenk (partner Benztown)

What has been the biggest challenge of your career?

When I had to be brave enough to realize I can’t do it all myself and needed to let some things go.

Tell me who you are as a person.

That is a tough one, as I assume others can give you a better understanding of how I am as a person. I always try to be the best version of myself without changing my approach to life, values and the things that are most important to me as a human being. I want to be true to myself and to the people I’m responsible for.

Late Night after Europa Plus vocal recordings in Moscow, Winter 2014.

The 10 million-dollar question: How do you get yourself out of a creative block/rut?

I try to change perspective, situation and physiology.

When the situation allows it, I sit down and meditate or get in a good workout as often as I can when feeling overwhelmed or blocked.

Tell me about people you lean on to support you on the creativity challenged days.

My wife supported me from day one, which I will always be grateful for. She was always there, not actively getting involved, but I knew I could rely on her 100%. My kids have been a big factor, too. They make the challenging days easier, as I know at the end of the day- I do this for them.

With Sidey from Triple M Australia, former Iron Imager Champ In Hollywood, 2017

What’s next for you creatively?

More time to read, learn new things and spend time with my family and friends. All of those are a massive source of creativity for me and seem to come into play somehow. That’s how it’s always been for me.

Management style- How do you inspire a creative team? If that doesn’t apply- How should management treat creatives? What’s the magic approach?

To me it’s all about being real. Demand a lot, but also care a lot. And be yourself no matter what. If there’s any magic in it, it’s making the tough choices and still being a good person.

I’m always learning more by talking to people I respect who have much more experience than I do. In my opinion- you need to treat people with respect, always! It doesn’t matter what their skill level or position is. Serve them and try to develop a culture where they can shine and be responsible for their own doing. To me, being a great leader or manager is about authenticity, empowerment and compassion. A leader who will take real responsibility will always be respected by his people. If anybody could be all that, I’d say we have a real winner!

Close the book of life and open it 10 years later- where are you?

Sitting on the beach watching my kids play soccer in the sand all year 🙂

What’s your ‘crutch’?

Never being 100% happy. Always wanting to do better. Spending too much time on details.

Dave Bethell, Rick Allen, Masa Patterson, Andy and Dave ‘Chachi’ Denes hangin’ out at Paty’s in Burbank

What has been the biggest accomplishment, so far, in your career?

I’m happy we could build so many super stars in our crew who, sometimes, came from a very different profession. Seeing my guys succeed and creating awesome imaging is the best accomplishment for me.

What would you tell your younger self today?

Take it easy, train harder, eat better and treat people well even in tough times or challenging circumstances.

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