Well-known Israeli entertainment journalist, Yanir Dekel, now based in Los Angeles, has formed AbbaNibi.com, a new website set up primarily to promote Israeli artists and culture amongst the Jewish and American world.
Yanir Dekel was a publicist for top musical artists in Israel such as Shiri Maimon, Roni Superstar, Emily Karpel, Pablo Rozenberg at one of Israel’s top record labels, Helicon Records. Three years ago, Yanir moved to Los Angeles to work as a Hollywood entertainment correspondent for Israeli media outlets such as Ynet.com.il
I caught up with Yanir to ask him about AbbaNibi.com.
What is AbbaNibi.com?“AbbaNibi” is a service I created to highlight the dynamic and ever-evolving culture and media which emanate from Israelis and from Jews working around the world and throughout the Entertainment Industry. You know, they always say ‘Hollywood is run by Jews,’ so I thought I should lay it all out on a website, because many (including the Jewish people) don’t really know how cool Jews are, and how different and more vibrant Israeli entertainment and culture are from how they’re perceived.
Why did you choose the name Abbanibi?The late 70’s Israeli hit, “Aba-ni-bi,” is one of the earliest examples of Israeli pop culture which managed to cross borders and create a global recognition that Israel is – amongst so many ancient themes and ideas – also a modern, creative center. Israel won the Eurovision song contest for the first time in 1977 with this pop song sung by by Izhar Cohen and Alpha-beta. So much more entertainment and culture have emanated from Israel since then, but we named our service AbbaNibi in recognition of this early Israeli musical export.Does Abbanibi mean anything? “Abba-ni-bi” is a pseudo word created by using a popular game of playing around with Hebrew words and letters; it's an adaptation of the Hebrew word, “I,” (ani) taken from part of the sentence, “I love you.” What are your aims for AbbaNibi.com? I think that my biggest goal is to help Israeli artists emerge. There is so much talent in Israel, but I think that Israel is so disconnected from the world as far as entertainment goes, simply because of the language. Nobody here in America really knows what’s going on in Israeli culture, unless the Israeli English press picks up a story. It’s really important to me that people, especially Jewish people, connect to the material on the website in the most simple and efficient way. This is why I decided to go very mild with the ads and other distractions, to make it clean looking so that people can go over the homepage once a day, and be the most updated possible, just from reading a few titles.What encouraged you to set up a site like AbbaNibi.com?When I came to Los Angeles from Israel after working for 5 years at Helicon Records I made up my mind to try to help Israeli artists as much as I could. It was really sad for me to see musicians, even with successful careers, struggle with money, simply because people don’t buy records as much as before, and there aren’t enough venues to tour in order to actually make money. There’s only one big radio station in Israel, and it got to a point where if this station didn’t pick a certain song for its playlist, the album which includes the song would be more or less doomed to failure. So I thought if I could help make the Israeli artists’ audience wider, it might help the economic situation of this industry, and then I figured that the first people that would actually care about all of this, and would be patient enough to hear about a foreign artist from Israel, would be Jews around the world.What other ways are you trying to help Israeli artists?So I set up a special advertising program at AbbaNibi.com that encourages advertisers to “sponsor” an Israeli artist by advertising on their page. AbbaNibi will give 50% of the advertisement revenue for such sponsorships to the artist. So, in addition to fulfilling my hope to broaden their audience, I’m also excited about writing them checks!How is the site progressing? Are you getting any readers or followers?It’s going really well. We’re flattered by the rise in interest and statistics every month. We use mostly social media to spread the word, so that means Facebook and Twitter. More and more people are following us on Twitter, sharing our stories, etc. AbbaNibi wants to be a hub for all of this news and information, but we are thrilled to have the stories we feature pushed outward for user’s convenience.Besides SNS how else does the you promote the site?Of course at least as important as social networking is to us is the enthusiasm and support of artists and celebrities themselves. If Omri Casspi - who’s doing so well in the NBA, or Bar Refaeli - who has nearly 200k followers on Twitter, tweet a story from our website, we immediately see it in the statistics. Even Joan Rivers’ ‘Fashion Police’ started following us after listing Rivers’ as the second most influential Jewish woman in the industry. So I’m very optimistic.