(Original Photo By: Electric Zoo Staff)
We’ve all heard the phrase “hard work pays off”, but usually when we hear it, it comes in the form of advice. In this episode of Aspire to Inspire, CEO/Owner of Nocturnal Touring and After Dark Management, Mattie Evans, and Matthew Medney, a Tour Manager at Nocturnal Touring and Artist Manager at After Dark, give us the opportunity to show just how much truth can be found in the age-old sentiment.
Graduating from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2011, Matt Medney already knew that he wanted to be an entrepreneur. The idea of creating something for himself and working on his own was much more attractive than a position working for other people. After a series of internships and jobs with major companies like Apple and ESPN, Matt was able to construct a well-rounded background of experience in the business world that allowed him to move on to his own interests.
Medney first jumped into the business side of the music industry with a company known as YRS (Young Relentless Students). As the first company to mass manufacture and distribute diffraction glasses, he was able to find a solid market in the dance music scene, landing a contract with KottonZoo, the official merch provider for Life in Color, which was known as “Dayglow” at the time.
“We hit a couple of really big shows. We did the first Spring Awakening in Chicago and walked away with like $15,000 in profit. We did the last Nocturnal in Texas and walked away with an $8,000 profit. Things were going great and then the festival scene blew up in 2013. Then these shows that had an overhead of maybe $1,500 between products, transportation, and festival fees had all tripled to like $5,000. We lost $16,000 at Ultra that year and I had to drive in my Jeep Wrangler with a 12X12 U-Haul attached to the back from Miami to New York. That drive sucked, but it also built character. You lose 16 grand and then have to drive halfway across the country…you’re either mentally broken or you’re good to go. I had to really ask myself ‘do I really want to stay in this business or do I want to get a normal job with a normal life?’”
After spending a few months back at Apple to keep a steady income, Matt decided that it was time to take the plunge once again. This time, taking the Digital Marketing route with a company called D.O.G. Media (Dreams of Greatness Media). As things progressed, D.O.G. Media partnered with Matt’s old friend, KottonZoo. KottonZoo’s merchandise clients include Laidback Luke, R3HAB, and several other big name artists. Through this endeavor, Matt was able to build a relationship with none other than Tommie Sunshine.
“In 2014, I had met with Tommie a few times and at that point I said to Tommie, ‘let me manage you.’ I slowly stepped away from D.O.G. Media to let other people continue and I started managing Tommie. I did that for about nine months, and it was a great experience from which I learned a lot. In the end it wasn’t really the right fit, though. He needed someone with not necessarily more experience, but someone that was more moldable. That wasn’t really the style that I was looking to create for myself.”
From that point on, Matt’s career in the management business really started to take off. While managing Tommie Sunshine, Matt was able to meet Mattie Evans, Tour Manager for well-known artists like Knife Party, at Holy Ship in 2015.
Evans had already been in the music business for a long time, starting as an artist in a band. After some time and the band’s unfortunate break up, he was able to land a Tour Assistant position with a more successful band through a contact he had made over the years. Mattie was able to climb the ranks to Tour Manager of that same band, an uncommon occurrence at the time, and continued to grow from there.
Mattie: “I met Matt side stage at a Knife party show on top of a boat in the middle of the ocean. Normally I have a clear stage and not one for really having people near the band. People can’t behave and it’s just another thing to worry about. Matt seemed to understand and respect the rules and after the show we hung out with the band, him, and Paul Reed from Life in Color and they connected well. Matt was on a level and we had many mutual friends, so made it easy. think getting thrown into the deep end at such a level is a testament to a person’s personality and you either sink or swim. I had no other option other than to swim, as I had nothing to go back to. So that’s what I did. I think motivation comes from doing something you love and seeing what you have accomplished and wanting to continue that. The job I do is extremely stressful and has some highs and lows. However, after all the stress and strains and sleepless nights, you still look back and think, ‘I love what I do,’ because stress isn’t permanent but what you achieve and the memories you create last forever.”
Meeting Mattie entirely by chance on the side of the stage caused one of the biggest spikes in Medney’s career. Mattie had started the company Nocturnal Touring when he felt that there needed to be a change in the way the touring business was being executed. Creating a company that offered tour management as well as production management seemed like the next big step in the industry. Since Nocturnal’s start, the company has looked after artists like Knife Party, Pete Tong, Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, Pegboard Nerds, and many more.
Since Medney’s partnership with Mattie and Nocturnal began, Medney has been able to work with major artists as well as up-and-coming DJ/producers like Kandy. After Mattie hired Medney at Nocturnal for tour management, it only made sense to ask Mattie if he believed in Kevin [Kandy] the same way he did. With Medney on the road more frequently, there would need to be someone looking after the rest of his affairs. Fortunately, Mattie saw the same potential in Kandy, which led to Kevin and Medney both finding a place at After Dark as well as Nocturnal.
“There is no better Tour/Production Manager in the game than Mattie Evans, hands down. To see the way he works and how he is guiding me and giving me positive feedback on how I’m progressing is an amazing feeling of accomplishment throughout these five years, even through my entire life and how I’ve been able to really navigate to this point. What’s even cooler is how we started off. We met when I was still managing Tommie. So at first it was like ‘oh okay maybe you can come in and do our social media.’ And then it was ‘well maybe we should talk about having you tour manage,’ and then in summer of 2015 it became more official. I had done back-to-back weekends at Mad Decent Block Party and Moonrise Festival with Mattie and Knife Party. When we were having dinner Sunday night with Gareth, 1/2 of Knife Party, he was like ‘you should hire this kid,” and Mattie was like “yeah I know, I already did.” So that kind of feedback was really cool to receive.”
At the age of seven, Medney was put in a position that demanded him to care for his little sister, as his parents got divorced. That meant everything from making sure she got her schoolwork done on time, to getting meals on the table. Ever since then, Medney has made doing what needs to be done the first priority.
“When I lived in the house with my sister who was like four at the time, My mom had a nine-to-five job so I had to make sure my sister ate and finished her homework. That was just always something that was innate in me – organizing schedules and making sure people completed everything on time.”
Though it’s no secret that Matt has had that same work ethic throughout his career and gathered so much experience in different areas of both the business and music industries, he is the first to attribute a lot of his success to the bond he has with his boss and mentor, Mattie Evans.
“The really cool part is that we’ll have conversations about work, but then we’ll talk about him getting work done on his tattoo and other things brothers or friends would talk about together…like how I want to get a sleeve and he has two. I only have a younger sister, so I get to have that family dynamic with someone that I not only respect, but who is truly an older brother figure to me. No money that I could be making at a regular day job could ever replace that feeling of accomplishment or the type of relationship that I have with someone like Mattie Evans.”
When we asked Mattie how he felt about Medney’s work ethic and view of their relationship, this is what he had to share:
“I wouldn’t say mentor. I just try to be honest and help people who clearly want to be in the industry. I didn’t have that person to lean on when I first started and had to do a lot of learning from mistakes, which is sometimes the best way to learn. But if someone can help you before you make mistakes then it’s always a bit easier. There have been so many people who say they want to be in the industry, but they never really prove it. I think Matt emailed me every week for over five months. That’s someone that really wants to accomplish something and I respected that dedication.
Matt has so much determination and it reminds me of myself when I was trying to get to where I wanted to be. I’m still not there, but if you don’t have goals and ambition then there is no point in doing anything.
I think you can tell from first meeting Matt how much he loves the scene. He is constantly out at events and networking and brainstorming ideas. Sometimes I can’t even keep up!!! But that dedication and relentless perseverance to get to where you want to be, or become who, or what you want to become is what makes it a reality.”
In an industry as volatile as the music business, it’s not everyday that you come across a relationship like the one between Matthew Medney and Mattie Evans. This relationship demonstrates a balance between their personal and professional lives whilst still maintaining a strong friendship, an accomplishment too few and far between. As Mattie Evans shared, dedication and pushing oneself to reach their goals in life will make them a reality. Doing so will help you find like-minded people along the way. In other words, hard work really does pay off.