Amber: Hi I’m Amber Ambrose and this is BusinessMakers USA brought to you by Insperity, inspiring business performance. And we’re here coming to you from Nashville with my guest John Boyd of LabeLive, he’s the President and Creative Director, so welcome to the show.
John: Thanks for having me Amber.
Amber: So our first question John is always what is LabeLive?
John: LabeLive is a live events production company but we focus on working with a client or an artist to make their vision or their dream for the show or the event come true.
Amber: So you work directly with artists?
John: We do; we work with a lot of different people but our primary focus is to work directly with the artist.
Amber: Hence why you’re located in Nashville, Tennessee.
John: We are, yes.
Amber: It’s a good place to be.
John: It is, it is.
Amber: But you haven’t have an approach that’s different from most I guess traditional production companies in that it’s not just the technical, you start somewhere different when you plan something.
John: Absolutely. The company started 4 years ago now; we had gear and we also had some really good people with good relationships and as we started connecting with mainly production managers or people that are involved on the technical side of things, people would come to us with a list of equipment and they go and set it up at a rehearsal place here in Nashville and then the artist would show up. And often what we saw was the artist would go yeah, this looks good but I was kind of thinking that we could do this and why are those lights there? Maybe they could be down here and how much is this costing me?
And so we saw this trend happening and we thought why don’t we meet directly with the artist first and let’s find out what their vision is. Let’s see what they’ve already done in the creation of the album. Let’s see what their social media design, album cover design is like and let’s take all these elements that have already been created; let’s not reinvent the wheel and let’s make their live show feel cohesive across all their banding.
Amber: So you’re integrating all these elements.
Amber: That was sort of the missing ingredient.
John: Absolutely and I think that a lot of this comes from people will protect an artist; they’ll say they don’t have time for it. My argument is that they don’t have time not to do this. We live in a day and age now where most artists make 90% of their income comes from touring. So we began to ask questions like how long do you spend on creating an album. Well, we might spend 6 months writing and then another month or two recording. And it’s like great, okay that’s awesome, then when you go on tour how long do you spend rehearsing? Maybe 3 days. And so our question was why would you spend 6, 7 months on 10% of your income and only 3 days on the 90%?
Amber: So you’re changing the perception of how they approach it as a business.
John: Yeah, absolutely. We don’t want any of our clients to go under.
Amber: Right? That’s right for anybody.
John: Absolutely, so we don’t just take the money and run and just do one show or one tour, we want to build with them. So a lot of the clients that we work with have been with us since the beginning.
Amber: Are you at liberty to say some of who your clients are?
John: I am but I’m not going to and this is all to do with our company culture. A lot of people in the industry love to say well we work with blah, blah, blah and this person and this person.
Amber: Name dropping.
John: Name drop all the time and so if you go to our website it doesn’t mention any of the people that we work with. And that’s because we don’t want to build our business on the backs of someone else’s career. How we’ve grown as a company is 100% by word of mouth; we don’t advertise, we don’t do any marketing. We did learn the hard way once when we did name drop during the first year of business and it did come back to bite us. And we really questioned why we did it and it was because we were a new company.
Amber: What place was it coming from really?
John: It was coming from we were really excited that we were growing and so it was during the interview and we told people what we were doing and the artist was like why are you using my name to build your company? It wasn’t coming from a place of arrogance or anything.
Amber: No, I totally understand.
John: So now we’re like we will elevate the client and the artist. By doing that it’s caused our company to grow.
Amber: That’s great. I think word of mouth is probably the most powerful form of marketing.
Amber: You talked a little bit about company culture and I know that is a big focus of LabeLive, please expand on that.
John: So a lot of people talk about return on investment, we talk a lot about return on life. And so we want our work environment to be a great experience for employees. We talk about it’s about the experience.
Amber: On all fronts.
John: We want it to be a great experience for our employees. We want it to be a great experience for the artist and most important we want it to be a great experience for the ticket buyer; for the people attending these events. If it wasn’t for the ticket buyer I would not have a job. None of us in the music industry would have jobs. So we are seeing differently a trend where it’s give the artist what they want; just throw stuff at it and we like to ask a lot of questions. I think there’s a lot of power in asking really good questions.
And so when people come to us and they want certain things, even employees, we’re asking why. Why should we buy that piece of equipment? Why should we expand our premises? Why should we take on another employee? And so we want to have a plan in place; we have a plan for everything we do and sometimes it can be quite annoying for people. I’ve been in that place where it’s like this is taking forever.
Amber: Like you’re just ready to act on it.
John: Yeah, absolutely. But we want to be really smart with our money because it’s not just us, we’ve got 20 fulltime employees and we hire about 75 seasonal people as well. They’re families, it’s their livelihoods at stake and so we have to be really careful with the decisions that we make because it affects a lot of people. And so the culture plays into that where we want them to have a fun place that they come to where they work. We have these creative suites that are all themed out like different guitar amplifiers.
Amber: On theme with what you do.
John: Yeah. We have an onsite, fully functional café and venue that people so events at, it’s called Showcase.
Amber: And this is all at your facility in Franklin?
John: Yep, down in Franklin and so people love coming to work, getting the coffee and just hanging out. We do cool team building exercises and it’s a really fun place to work.
Amber: And you have three tenets that you like to hire people by.
John: We do, yes. So when we’re hiring we look at humble, hungry and smart. So we want to know a person, are they humble, are they a team player? Are they prepared to lift up the team? Are they prepared to fall on the sword for the team? I realize that a lot of people in this industry want the credit and no one wants the responsibility, so we’re looking for people that are prepared to take the responsibility for their actions. Hungry; do they want to work? Are they out there working to get the job done? We talk about we play hard and we work hard.
So when the tours are on we’re working hard and when they’re out on the road and we’ve got some time off we’ll take some time off. And then smart, and that is not knowledgeable about the industry – although that’s obviously a big part of it – the smart is how they interact with people; their people skills. This is sort of my big key area as the President of the company is that communication is key; how we communicate in email, texts, over the phone that we treat everybody as human beings.
Amber: A level playing field.
Amber: Well thank you for the wise words of advice John.
John: Comes from making a lot of mistakes.
Amber: I know the feeling, it’s okay. Once again, this is BusinessMakers USA, I’m Amber Ambrose and this was our interview with John Boyd of LabeLive here in Nashville.
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