In September of 2016 I rarely listened to Dance Music unless I was out and it was a popular top 40 EDM Remix. I had never been to a festival or really experienced anything of the sort beyond Country Thunder some odd years back in College. Upon the completion of my baseball career and taking my first full time job in corporate sales i was invited to Mad Decent Block Party 2016 and followed that up with Global 2016. After Global 2016 I was hooked. I knew that night I wanted to work into the Music Industry for the rest of my life. After reaching out to a few different companies in the state about getting involved and even promoting at the ground level I never heard back from any of them. This left me with the only alternative. Start my own Company. We ran our first Party Bus Event Decadence 2016 under MVMNT Entertainment. After a falling out with my first Business Partner I decided to rebrand the Company and take a different route. OCTIV Entertainment became an LLC in August of 2017. This is when the real journey began and I embarked on a journey of complete uncertainty. Not being around Dance Music for more than a year I had a lot to learn. Especially if I was going to try to run my own Company. Along the way I have failed, and failed, and failed again. I can tell you 100 ways of how not to run an Entertainment Company in the Dance Music Industry. It’s been a bumpy road but the highs you experience in this industry are what give you the fire to continue pushing forward against all odds. Some of the Big moments from throwing parties with over 1000 attendees and booking artists that you used to sit in the crowd watching and being a fan of. I’ve met some of the most brilliant minds this industry has to offer and have loved nothing more than learning from them. I’m beyond fortunate to have had such a good core of mentor figures early on in my process of attempting something that is beyond difficult to attain. The Music industry is extremely competitive. Who you know has surpassed what you know but if you lack knowledge you’ll never be able to make the relationships with the people you need to. Relationships are everything. It’s a difficult circle to break into and have credibility in. I’ve learned a lot since I was that 24 year old kid filing an LLC at a wim with a crazy idea and a dream. Since then I’ve learned a few things…..
The Five Things I Learned Working in Dance Music
1.) When you give without expectation you can never be let down.
In a world full of needs and wants it’s easy to get caught up in our own egos. It’s human nature to focus on what we want and what will help OUR goals. When in reality if we could all simply reverse that thinking, imagine how much more our lives would benefit. When I think of business I think of giving value. For anyone to entertain your idea or your product you have to give them value first. When we focus on giving value to others first it’s amazing what the return can be. Every business deal I go into or deal with anyone for that matter I think how I can give them value toward what they are hoping to accomplish. When you give value to others you then become valuable. Albert Einstien said “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a Man of Value”. When you become a person of value success will soon follow and that’s one sure fire thing I’ve learned thus far.
2.) Fail Forward
Stepping into this realm is not for the faint of heart. There’s no book on how to start from nothing and make it in the Music industry. To be honest it requires tons of trial and error. Sometimes that trial an error may be weeks months or even years. What matters is what you learn from the failures and how you respond to them. Success starts with jumping from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm. I’ve been behind a stage of a block party with over a thousand in attendance and I’ve been in an empty bar on a weekday night with 5 friends toughing it out to support me. Either way there’s lessons that I’ve taken away from both experiences. There’s always room to improve or to tweak something. “To improve is to change, to perfect is to change often” Winston Churchill once said. That could not be more true working around Music. At the end of the day though you have to be able to deal with failure and failing in front of people who are watching you. You can’t take it to heart either otherwise you’ll be out of it faster than you started.
3.) It really is all about who you know
Networking is everything. What separates the people who are good in this Industry and who are great are the ones who have the ability to know when to speak and really know when to listen. Not only listen but actively listen. One great thing i realized about getting into dance music so late in my life was that I really didn’t know anything. This realization allowed me to approach everyone I’ve met in the music industry with the idea that I could learn so much from them. I’ve been fortunate to have met some of the biggest names behind the scenes in Dance Music from across the Country Artist’s, Managers, Agents, Festival Coordinators, Production crews, you name it. I’ve learned a little bit along the road from each of these people by simply knowing when to shut and let them speak. There’s a great deal of knowledge out there and meeting the right people, listening, and learning from them can change everything. Beyond that you may even make a new friend or connection in the process that will advance your career in some way. I have relationships I’ve built from 2 years ago when I was barely starting this that have circled back to play some of the biggest roles in my life. A few have even taken me under their wing and mentored me which I will forever be grateful for. Having the chance to learn from some of the best minds in my industry from Top Talent Buyers, Promoters, and Artist Managers helps you avoid a lot of the failures you would have otherwise had. “A smart man learns from his failures, a wise man learns from the failures of others.” Otto Von Bismarck once said. At the end of the day though you can work as hard as you want, but if the right people don’t want to help you or work with you you’ll never make it anywhere.
4.) Not Everything is PLUR
With the Music industry being highly desirable it brings a great deal of competition into the market. Dance Music especially. There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes that most people really don’t know about. It’s really hard finding a balance between staying in your lane and making an aggressive business decision when you need to get something done. There are a lot of deep rooted relationships, loyalty is a very big thing in the music industry that is until the dollar comes into play. At the end of the day the best practice is to just keep your head down and only focus on the things within your control. Many outside factors and influences will affect things like who you can book, what venue you can use, or days you can even throw shows. It’s easy to get discouraged but the real ones find a way to make it work by just focusing on the things that are within their control. Henry Ford said it best “The competitor to be feared is the one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time”.
5.) Start with WHY “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it” Simon Sinek said in his famous Ted Talk Start With Why. While music draws us all together it’s the community and the culture that make us stay I believe. The culture and the community has been a driving factor behind why OCTIV ever became a company. We believe in leveraging the platform of music and events to make a direct impact in our Community. We do this by volunteering our time to different non profit organizations in the Community and donating a portion of proceeds from every event we do. This belief and this community we have built around the Company is exactly why we exist. That basis and Team belief with our group is what has allowed us to to grow and connect with so many incredible people in many aspects even beyond shows and festivals. When you learn to start with why it’s not a skill you can learn from anyone else other than yourself. You have to truly believe in your cause behind why you are doing something and it has to be a cause greater yourself.
Though I’m still stumbling and finding my way down this crazy path. I have learned a great deal. I’ve failed, I’ve sacrificed, and most importantly I have learned. I look forward to my next failure, my next experience, and my next lesson. Most of al I look forward to playing a small part in World doing our best to make a difference with the people I care about most.