How did you get your start in the music business? What was your initial inspiration to drive you to work in this field?
I grew up in the business, so I guess you can say it’s in my blood. My father has been working in the music products industry for 40 years, and held creative marketing and communications positions at companies like Fender, Peavey, Roland, Guitar Center, and NAMM, and has created non-profit charitable organizations supporting music in all levels of education with The Robert Johnson Foundation and The Museum of Making Music. My inspiration 100% comes from my Dad. I can remember being 4 years old and sitting in our home studio listening to records from front to back – such as The Beatles or Harry Nilsson, and he would explain the lyrics to me as best he could while I held the vinyl covers in my hands and looked at the artwork – I can still remember the smell of the cardboard paper and glue from those covers.
Everything in my life has been centered around music, and I can’t imagine being passionate about anything else in life like I am about music. I first started working in the industry in high-school at used and independent record and CD stores in Southern California and was living that “High Fidelity” life. Eventually in college I started with Sony Music as a College Marketing Rep, and things progressed from there. I’ve done marketing and A&R at major and indie labels, tour management, and discovered that live music is what I enjoyed most, which leads me to current day as in independent talent buyer and Promoter as well as running a successful electronic music blog – all under the Beautiful Buzzz name. I can remember the day I knew talent buying was for me – I was at a festival in SoCal watching a young DJ named Goldroom, and I said to myself, “I WILL do a show with him!” and the rest is history.
What are your musical preferences? Do you feel your work is a reflection of the music that you love?
I love most genres of music … most! My educations is in blues and blues based rock plus a solid dose of jazz. Growing up I had to find my own voice and have gone through the typical growth pattern; spending my pre-teen years loving New Kids On The Block, evolving into grunge in the late 80’s and early 90’s, to then finding Phish and all of the fun and excitement of that world. I had to search a bit deeper outside my parental upbringing for things like Joy Division and Bauhaus and all things new wave, into electro rock and goth, into Americana like Ryan Adams and Wilco – I took it all in and love all of it in my own way. I never thought I would ever be into electronic music and hip hop, but it actually makes sense coming from a jam band world – in theory they are so closely related through commonalities of rhythm and dance. Now I am loving electronic music and just getting my feet wet with hip hop through my love for electronic.
I love how music has no boundaries, and you can always grow and discover new things constantly. My passion for electronic music is definitely reflected in my work – I really think about the kinds of shows I put together and the artists I write about on the blog. I am not the kind of promoter who stands behind the velvet rope at the door only letting in the beautiful people, I’m not trying to sell you a bottle, I don’t run a guest list, and I don’t let girls in for free. I curate nights with incredibly talented artists and put together a line-up that brings people to the door, along with exposing up-and-coming artists who I believe are going to make big moves in the industry. Quality over quantity — I have the highest respect for the artists I work with — I’m not about a fast buck, I’m about creating an experience for people to enjoy … while shaking their butts!
What were some early pitfalls or challenges you were faced with? How did you overcome these obstacles?
The hardest thing to overcome when starting out as a promoter and talent buyer is getting artists agents to work with you! I had an agent tell me last year that his job would be so easy if every promoter was like me: friendly, reliable, responsible, made deposits and payments on time, working out all details in contracts, providing great hospitality, quality production, and I like to personally get to know the artists which usually ends up establishing really incredible friendships. Some promoters have been known to cut corners to save on budget costs, and I have seen how some new promoters, and even owners of festivals can get in over their heads and not be able to cover production costs or make artists fees. I’ve heard horror stories from artists how some prompters don’t even take the time to introduce themselves or not show up at the shows at all, and I think that’s awful. When agents find quality promoters, they usually stay with those promoters because they know their artists will be in good hands.
The way I overcame this challenge was to just be myself, never give up even when I heard the word NO 100 times a day, and crush the shows I did get. Eventually there were a few agents who I worked with consistently, and because of their positive feedback about me and my business, I have been able to come up pretty quickly and move into large rooms and buy for festivals. As for the blog, I never wanted to be a blogger and it’s a bit of a fluke that has definitely taken on a life of it’s own. At first it was hard to get premieres or artists guest mixes, but I just kept at it and stayed true to myself – and once I got on Hype Machine everything changed. I think overall – being honest and friendly has helped me most. It’s made networking and making connections so much easier. I’ve been told by some that I am too sweet for this part of the industry because of the cutthroat nature and machismo personalities (and lack of women), but I don’t care – I love what I do and that’s all that matters.
San Francisco is known for being an epicenter of culture and music. Would you consider Beautiful Buzzz reflects the vibe of one of the most beautiful cities in the world?
San Francisco is losing a bit of her creative and cultural sparkle to the tech industry I’m afraid. It’s a catch 22 because the tech industry brings us all the fancy technology right to the palm of our hands, and they also buy lots of tickets to my shows, but it’s made the cost of living in the city so high that many of the artists and musicians have moved out – leaving a big hole in the local music scene that used to be so forward thinking and thriving. I myself do not live in the city because of the cost of living, and even the east bay and Oakland are starting to be unaffordable. However, the one thing I can say – the soul of San Francisco can be found during late night parties inside her clubs and venues within the people.
The San Francisco crowds are like none other – always high energy and pretty carefree. The people here are about togetherness and having fun, they are genuine and nice to each other, it’s not an extreme fashion show or coolness cast system, it’s just one hell of a good time! Beautiful Buzzz reflects that vibe by never taking things too seriously, welcoming anyone to our shows, and projecting love a positivity for a few hours of a night into the wee hours of the morning. Same with the blog – I am nowhere close to a music journalist. Most of the time my posts are talking about past times with artists at my shows, or comparing tracks to things I like in life, like tacos or mouth kissing. I put a personal twist on everything – you will always see a little of me in everything I do, just like San Francisco’s signature look and scintillating reputation.
Where do you see Beautiful Buzzz evolving to in the coming years?
I see the Beautiful Buzzz blog becoming more of a household name. Up until about 6 months ago it was definitely an industry heavy watched blog. I have agents, managers and labels call me all the time to talk about artists they see me post, or they check to see if I have posted about them when a new artist name comes across their desk. I like that industry likes what I have to say, which is why I am pretty selective when it comes to picking which tracks I put up. We are starting to get a much wider public reach now, and I see that continuing to grow in the future. As far as live shows, I’d like to continue to move into bigger rooms. Currently I stick at 1000 cap to 2000 cap shows, but I would like to do more mini festivals in SF, and maybe start to branch out into other markets and work with other great brands! Buying for events is really what I love doing the most, so the more I can do the better!
How does branding come into play within your company? Do you view branding as a crucial element to success in the music industry?
I think branding comes into play in 2 ways. First, with live shows it more about the quality of the show than how often I have them. I usually do one Beautiful Buzzz show a month in San Francisco, and that show is going to be built in a very specific way with great artists who reflect my brand on a fantastic line-up. If I can’t put together something that I believe will be a knockout show, I won’t have one. This way when people see it’s a Beautiful Buzzz show, they know it’s going to be a great time and will continue to come. I am all about exposing young artists as well, so I always include a fresh up-and-comer who I have been chatting about on the blog, to get them in front of a larger audience and and to have that audience hopefully become fans. Second, with the blog, having a specific aesthetic and sticking to it is crucial – something original and simple, but every time someone sees something Beautiful Buzzz – they know exactly what it is. Other brands come close to mimicking my aesthetic look, and people thought their shows were my shows, etc – which is why it’s important to have your own recognizable voice to make your mark. I think that is what will separate a brand in this industry apart from the rest.
Who are some acts you think the world should know about?
This is always the toughest question because there are so many to talk about, but first to my mind is Prince Fox. He’s doing some very exciting things in dance music, and it could not be happening to a more sweet and awesome guy. Next on my list would be WDL – he’s pretty much blowing my mind with all things he’s putting into the world. A young Canadian producer named On Planets is killing it, oh and Joyryde is insanely good. Others to note are SteLouse, Melvv, OSHI, MOONZz, Illenium, Unlike Pluto, Tobtok, Carmada, Louis Futon, Graves, Chet Porter, Halogen, Jerry Folk, PLS&TY, Titus, Hotel Garuda, Y2K, Lil Aaron, Mark Johns, JayKode….. I could go on and on here! Last one is this Canadian duo who have recently become my favorite thing ever – 1DAFUL – you have to check it out!
What would you say to any aspiring individuals looking to enter a career in music business or as an artist?
I would say get ready for a wild ride, because this industry will bring out the best and the worst in people. You have to love what you do because there is no room for slackers, complainers, or wayfarers. It’s aggressive, it’s cut throat, and it will be the most fun you will ever have. You will meet the most amazing people and the biggest d-bags, and you will constantly be let down only to be picked right back up. Build a tough skin without becoming a jerk, and don’t be afraid to speak your mind. It’s not just an industry … it’s a lifestyle. A special note to the ladies: stay true to yourself and take care of each other – we have a much tougher plight in this industry, and we have so much talent to bring to the table and we can play the game by using our skills and minds … never except less than what you are worth.