Like so many tweens in the late 2000s, Olivia rudensky was a huge fan of the hugely successful Disney Channel series Hannah montana, which propelled its lead actress, Miley Cyrus, to superstar rank. Unlike those other girls, she channeled her overwhelming love for the series and its main star into a true career after launching Cyrus’ first fan site – and later the Twitter account – at the age of 12. Just four years later, she was recruited by the star. herself to join her Rebel Management team in Los Angeles.
“I will never forget the first DM she sent me,” Rudensky said Billboard. “She said, ‘How did you make your website look so amazing? It’s better than mine.
This initial communication ultimately led to a multi-year working partnership with Cyrus, who early on recognized Rudensky’s early understanding of the often complex relationship between superstars and their fans. After taking a break from the Cyrus ecosystem to attend Syracuse University for two years, Rudensky, now 25, dropped out of college in her sophomore year to join the Cyrus leadership team, where she has spent the past four years leading creative partnerships. and fan engagement for the singer. Among his many accomplishments: leading the highly successful fan marketing campaign behind Cyrus’ 2020 album Plastic heart and executive producer of the singer’s Instagram Live talk show Bright Minded: Live with Miley, which has garnered over 10 billion digital impressions.
Now Rudensky is taking his superfandom knowledge to the next level with FANMADE, a newly launched fan engagement agency that counts Cyrus (who is also an investor) as his very first client. Using segmentation marketing – a more targeted approach to targeting fans that eschews traditional marketing campaigns that are largely built around basic categories like age, gender, and location – FANMADE will develop marketing strategies from high profile fans for artists and brands. Co-founders and fan engagement experts partnered with Rudensky as part of the business. Jaime Bilotti and Claudia Villarreal, who respectively serve as the company’s COO and CSO.
In addition to Cyrus, the agency’s client list at launch includes influencer Hailey Bieber (whom Rudensky first took on as a client in college) and video-sharing platform Lomotif. For the latter, FANMADE performed a special activation during the Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) last month in Las Vegas, securing Lil Nas X and The Kid LAROI for a surprise performance to promote the launch of the new entertainment network and Lomotif Lifestyle, LoMo TV.
FANMADE is also embarking on non-entertainment branded campaigns with clients like Levi’s and Pottery Barn. It may seem like a curious move for three women who got their start in fan marketing for music stars: Villareal launched her career running a One Direction fan account before landing a job with the former president of the group label, CEO of KYN Entertainment, Sonny takhar; while Bilotti held internship positions at the three major record companies before launching Fan To Band, a fan engagement company (and now a subsidiary of FANMADE) that creates virtual street teams for artists and helps to mentor young superfans who wish to work in the industry.
But Rudensky sees work with non-entertainment brands like Levi’s and Pottery Barn as a natural extension of his work with Cyrus. “I’ve always thought that way beyond the music industry and the entertainment industry, everything has superfans, whether it’s Delta Airlines, a product or a sport,” she says. “There are superfans for everything. We’re starting to see it more and more, with social media allowing everyone to step into their own niche environment. “
FANMADE comes at a pivotal time in the superfan space, with the so-called “stans” wielding greater power than ever before. To cite a recent example, Rudensky notes the inclusion of Taylor Swift’s 10-minute version of “All Too Well” on Red (Taylor version) following a massive push from Swift’s superfans to publish it. This week, the pressure paid off when the track debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the longest-running song ever to record at the longtime No. 1 on the chart. Sure, Swift is an anomaly – more than most performers, she’s always demonstrated a supernatural understanding of her own fans – but it’s a rarity in the music world, Rudensky says.
“The industry is really [doesn’t] understand the fandom, and there is no [other] company that can talk to superfans and know what they want, ”she says. “It’s such a missing market in this industry, because… everything in the entertainment industry is trying to serve the fans. And no one is spending enough time to figure this out.
Yet Rudensky has seen a change of late, with record companies diving deeper into the superfan space than ever before. For her, it is nothing less than a validation of her life’s work. “The word ‘fan’ has been stigmatized for a long time,” she said, adding, “Now every label, wherever you go in the entertainment industry, is like ‘Okay, what are our fans thinking?'”