MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Talent management agency NYMA has its finger on the pulse of content creation and social media, and with the Silicon Valley experience of its Head of Talent Kat Bautista, the agency is poised to launch its shining stars into the global spotlight. A couple of the remarkable talents managed by NYMA are TikTok star and visual artist Raco Ruiz; content creator and founder of online community Home Buddies Frances Cabatuando, also known as Mayora Frances; actress, director, and singer Kristel Fulgar; and singer and producer dubbed as “Asia’s Phoenix” Morissette.
We continued our conversation with Kat, this time on what she has in store for the future of NYMA and its content creators, how the agency supports its talents in their fields, and what content trends she thinks will be popular for the year.
The first thing is openness. We want our talents to be open with us in terms of communication, what we recommend, and what they like and don’t like. That’s super important.
Number two is having a keen sense of who they are. I don’t want somebody that’s just willing to do everything because the brand will not be authentic. You have to have a captured audience that you’re able to reach, and content that’s easily replicated over and over again because it’s authentic to you.
Another thing is having a unique niche that hasn’t been tapped yet. Think about Mayora Frances — she’s young, cute, and highly intelligent. Combining that with being Marie Kondo, a stellar combination. We look for that sort of unique niche. Kristel Fulgar has it as well with how she’s captured her audience that shares her love for Korean culture. Morissette is in a league of her own in terms of singing, and being able to get that message out there through her performances and songwriting. And Raco Ruiz is this funny guy who’s also an incredible artist. So, when you look at them, they’re not just somebody that’s cut out of a mold and can be copied and pasted. They’re very unique. That’s what I look for.
The last is the “balahibo test.” I look at their content, so when I talk to them, and I hear them talk about their craft, I look at what product they’re producing. It’s kind of like dating: “Do I feel it in my gut? Is the hair on my arm standing up?” That “X factor” is not something that you can buy. It’s not something you can train or replicate — it’s a gift, it’s a talent.
It’s not necessarily trends, per se, but it’s in the framework that we’re doing so that talents can continue to be authentic. It’s brand responsibility, transparency, and authenticity. I think people really love it when talents or artists are vulnerable or honest with them. “They’re just like us.” That’s one thing that we intend to bring out — more authenticity behind all of the greatness, all of their talents and achievements, what makes them real, and what makes them tick. It’s not a trend, but it’s kind of a strategic pillar for us.
The second is short-form content. Bite-sized content really is what sells and what captures people. We’ll be working on a lot of short-form content this year for all of our talents. And I think another thing that people don’t realize is how valuable micro- and nano-influencers are to increase engagement with brands. Mega-influencers are amazing; they get a big message out there very quickly. But if you’re looking for retention, loyalty, engagement, and conversion rate, that’s for your micro- and your nano-influencers and you might intend to spend a lot of time cultivating that. There are a lot of brands out there today that you’ll see are already very adaptive to it.
We have a couple of things that I can’t say yet, but we are planning to produce content for every single screen. We want to make sure that while short-form content is our focus, there’s also an opportunity for our artists to be featured in different types of content. At KROMA, we have ANIMA which does multi-awarded films and series, and Secret Menu for short-form content as well. We also have podcasts you can expect, and there’ll be a lot of collaborations between us, Secret Menu, and ANIMA. There will also be collaborations with our events and activations arm LiveMNL, as well as our digital publication business, Kroma Pub Co which is home to media brands Wonder, FreebieMNL, and Complex Philippines, And of course PIE Channel — our multi-screen broadcast platform.
One of the things that Raco does really well is he segments his content. He has comedy on TikTok, a specific Instagram account dedicated to his art and illustrations, another for his production work behind the scenes, and a personal one just for himself. I really like what he’s done there. I think it allows you to kind of see the different sides of Raco. What you can expect from him this year are more multisensory media. You’re watching his art unfold, but he’s taking you on the auditory and visual journey as it’s unfolding. People don’t realize how challenging it is to make the kind of art he does and we want to take his fans on that journey with him.
With Frances, she’s incredibly inspiring and brilliant, and there’s so much to learn from her. Frances is young, but she has such wisdom when she speaks. And even when I talk to her, I’m floored. I’m constantly learning from her. So, I think you can continue to expect Frances to share her knowledge. She was on a couple of panels last year like Digicon. We sent her to Singapore, and she did a bunch of talks and even hosted an impromptu get-together over there. She just put out a post and said, “Mga kapitbahay sa Singapore, who wants to meet up?” And many Pinoys from Singapore came.
Her other community Hangout Buddies came from expanding her brand. She saw that people really trusted her views on different spaces. So, she built Hangout Buddies that talks about the best vacation rentals to go to. It’s an honest review. “What is this space? What are the price points?” So with that, there’s also a lot of collaborations for her this year. We hope to expand into different channels with partnerships, maybe something tangible to tease you guys! The members have also posted about their own travel experiences, sharing tips, recommendations, hacks and DIYs, especially now that everyone is itching to getaway.
I think for these ladies, they have done a lot of PGC (professionally-generated content) because that’s the industry they grew up with. And now they’re both stepping into the UGC (user-generated content) era of their careers. With Kristel, she directed and produced her own series, which is available on YouTube, called Love From Home. She filmed that during the pandemic with Korean actors; she did the entire thing herself. Kristel is really transitioning into directing, and that’s why her vlogs are so addictive — because she really has a story to tell. You can expect a lot more content on the UGC side from her, which she’s really been exploring.
For Morissette, she spent a lot of time in 2022 growing her vlog channel and writing, releasing and producing her own music. She’s brought viewers and listeners into a side of her life and shown what it’s like on good days, and sometimes not-so-good days as an artist. Her vlogs take you through her Threelogy tours which were all across the US, her day-to-days, what life is like for her as a newly married woman, and even life as a fur mom. Her original music takes you on a journey from her Bisaya roots, to exploring new sounds, and even showcasing her dance moves. Morissette in the last few years really opened up that intimate side of her life, which I think is great and her fans love it.
Since everyone is following trends, how do you go about making your talents trendsetters?
I think pushing to go viral is probably not the right way. If your intent is always to go viral, you’ll lose the organic effect of why your followers follow you. Remember, the goal is for user-generated content to always take care and nurture your audience. But once in a while, if there’s a trend that aligns with what the talent is doing, or they just want to do it because they think, “Parang ang fun naman nito,” then let’s do it! Let’s jump on it. I think that’s the reason why our talents — I wouldn’t use the word “trendsetters,” — have people keep coming back and why their content does so well. It doesn’t try to beg for views; it’s just honest. It’s who they are.
I think the important part is to not take yourself too seriously. Have some humor, throw it in. If you want to do a challenge, do it. Always know your brand, take care of your audience, and always continue to adhere to that. The moment you deviate, that’s when things start to change.
A true pioneer in the present-day field of talent management and as supportive tiger parents to the artists, the NYMA team and its Head of Talent Kat Bautista exert all efforts to encourage their talents in their respective niches, and even open up new paths for them to take on the digital realm. The agency plays to the strengths of its artists by displaying their genuineness, and proactively strategizing content to organically increase audience engagement.
With this, we can expect NYMA and its formidable band of talents to go beyond traditional stardom, and light the way to tradigital success.