Iranian-American pop duo Andy and Kouros brought the house down on Saturday night, August 27, 2016, as they reunited with fans, and eachother to perform some of their biggest hits at the iconic Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, California. The venue is quite significant since it was where the two of them launched one of their biggest selling albums “Balla,” 25 years ago and the success of the album in combination to the one prior, and the one after, sent this musical undertaking into the stratosphere of success.
As a multi-media producer and content creator here at Ian Media, I had the privilege of observing this journey both in person and from afar. What Andy & Kouros attempted became the foundation for other Persian acts who took a few pages from this playbook to nurture their own career.
Since the mid 1980s, Andy (full name Andranik Madadian, an Iranian with Armenian heritage) and Kouros (full name Kouros Shahmiri) have managed to establish a bankable brand and stay on top of the food chain that is the “Iranian music in exile.” Each of them has navigated successful solo careers through rough waters. Singing songs, mainly in their native tongue, and doing it outside Iran, in America, was an uncharted territory from day one. This seemingly impossible task was mainly the result of the 1978 Islamic Revolution in Iran, when hardliners came down against the exhibition of many art forms, including music and cinema, especially if that art form channeled the tiniest of Western influences. During this time, many Iranian singers, songwriters, actors, filmmakers, and other artists and intellectuals were among a horde of Iranians who left their birthplace for good, in hopes of beginning a new life in countries like the United States, which believed in freedom and equality for all mankind.
It was in America, an unfamiliar and perhaps unreasonable atmosphere where Andy & Kouros formed and promoted their band, and became the voice of a generation which found itself in the middle of a culture shock, and not yet assimilated into their new home or its surroundings.
The marketing and branding of Andy & Kouros: utilizing techniques from the Golden Era of Hollywood
In the 50’s and the 60’s many American bands and TV stars were given a mini-van, a map and a list of dates and places to visit to promote their upcoming projects and their names. The marketing strategy of Andy & Kouros is quite a similar story, minus the financial or team support from any established industry. Translation: they did most of the legwork themselves.
Recommendation: Read Hello Darlin’ Tall (and Absolutely True) Tales About My Life by actor Larry Hagman, and you will get an idea about stardom and self-promotion in the 60s Hollywood.
To achieve success and name recognition, Andy & Kouros relied on building relationships, winning fans and critics over, song by song, and doing it in person, with live performances of all sorts, and eye-contact with as many people as possible – not a task for today’s lazy celebrities who often make the mistake of doing it all on social media and forget about the most important connection of all; the human kind.
In the era of no cell phones, no social media, and no proven tactics to promote their special genre of music, Andy and Kouros did it by hitting the road, appearing in person and in real time. On the way, they spoke to every small town reporter, Cable TV producer serving the Iranian and international communities and any national TV news or publication that took interest in their music.
The fan base grew with the Iranian duo, as they all shared cultural and political experiences, and marked milestones. Live concerts were held in sync with Iranian and American celebrations and national holidays. Both singers sang songs in English and in Andy’s case, Armenian too. The unique bond formed through the thick-and-thin times in exile, benefited the musicians. They filled the gap, warmed hearts and cheered up many in need of that special something reminding them of the old country.
However, there was hardly anything old about their music. While re-booting “Niloufar,” an Iranian classic, in 1988, the two updated it with the latest bells and whistles and daringly cast a very American video vixen as the focal point of the video (directed by Alireza Amirghassemi). See the original 1980s music video below.
Nurturing a career, spanning 30 years, outside the native region is an accomplishment unlike many. Andy & Kouros did it outside Iran, without ever having the permission to perform in Iran, a wish they hold alive in their hearts like a burning fire and have done it with the support of loyal fans, local promoters and media personalities who believed in them and this unique and exciting experiment.
The reunion concert at the Palladium featured the two stars performing solo shows, with special guests, including Latoya Jackson performing a duet with Andy, in Farsi, and American singer, songwriter Shani Rigsbee who is also Andy’s wife. The finale brought the famous duo back on stage, like the ‘ol days, going thru a hit list of memorable songs they have made famous.
At Ian Media, we were thrilled to take the journey down memory lane and be back at the Hollywood Palladium where these two beloved artists took flight.