The iStandard Producer Showcase started ten years ago as a small competition in New York City. Nowadays, they are the premier live event for music producers to showcase their music in over 20 markets and their website has gained the attention of the industry’s elite as well as millions of viewers from over 100 countries around the world. So how did they become the premier event of its kind? As some of Eventjoy’s most prolific event organizers, I simply had to chat with Co-Founders Don Di Napoli (aka Thrill Collins), Jason Hadshian (aka J Hatch), and Senior V.P. Courtney Carroll (aka Ciz) to find out their secrets to taking an event to the next level.
Michael: So let’s start from the beginning, how and where did the iStandard Producer Showcase get started?
Don: A little over ten years ago, I was working at different studios and some producers that I was working with asked for help distributing their music, but the traditional methods of submitting beat CDs and mailing them and wasn’t working. So I had researched a bunch of different events and I came across my partner, J, and his artist showcases really stood above the other ones that we had done before. Others felt like they were just trying to take your money, the events weren’t organized well, and they promised different judges that wouldn’t show. Jay’s shows, on the other hand, were run really professionally, the guest judges he promoted were actually there, and he personally hosted the events. So I approached him and said, “Hey, I really want to put together something where the producers can really thrive and gain mentors and get good feedback.”
We had our first event in New York and it went really really well. People throughout nearby cities started to travel to see it and eventually more and more people were requesting it in their cities. Ciz was one of the first people to approach us in Philly and then we started growing this event in different locations. We were really empowering people to take a stronghold of certain cities and help run the earlier shows and that’s really how we’ve grown by having a really devoted, passionate team.
Michael: So as you’re receiving all of these requests for your event to spread from one city to the next, how did you take the event to the next level and go nationwide?
Don: We started a ‘New City Manual’ and identified what the requirements for our shows would be. It’s not a particularly difficult event to run production-wise, but we had to make sure that each venue worked within our parameters. Then we would reach out to people who felt empowered by the event, ask them to spread the word, and reach out through our social media for submissions in requested areas. Once enough submissions from certain cities roll in we would set up a date, reach out to judges, and start planning production specifics.
Michael: So was it just you guys traveling the country?
Don: Oh yeah, hotel to hotel, airplane to airplane, rental car to rental car. We’ve learned over time that we can’t spread ourselves too thin, so sometimes we’ll have specific members in different cities. Ciz is in Atlanta, J is down in Tampa, Florida, and I’m in New York. We handle events on a regional level sometimes. so we may go one at a time. It’s convenient to have a team that is already spread throughout different regions. It’s a lot at first, but you have to put in the effort for high results.
J: It’s important to have criteria for a certain level of quality. We have a pretty large staff because we have a lot of different things lined up. We’ve diversified ourselves over the last few years as we get bigger and bigger.
Michael: How do you ensure that the event runs smoothly on the day of?
Don: Get everybody involved to the venue early. We always ask everyone to show up two hours early just to test everything out so it all flows right. Once you get everyone there, get them to start talking to each other and network. You’ll never know who that person next to you is going to become, so we think it’s a great time for the talent to make those connections. Over 95% of the time our events go relatively seamlessly, but we’re prepared to handle anything.
J: Most of the process goes through a week before, so we have a very thorough process with how we communicate with everybody. So yeah we are all about making sure that people have as much information as possible prior to the event itself.
Michael: Well it seems like a successful strategy now that you’re the leading Producer Showcase competition out there. So what advice would you give to others that are trying to take their event to the next level?
Ciz: I’d say the number one thing that you have to have is a quality event. Professionalism is a lost art. We go to tons of other people’s events, and the one thing that usually separates us from them and the one thing that drew myself and Don to J’s event was the professionalism of his events. It’s not about trying to put on a huge production from the get-go. It’s about putting on a quality event that runs smoothly, and people will be really impressed by that. Once you can do that, then you get to build relationships, because people will see the quality of the work that you’re doing, and then you will notice that you have more legs to stand on and will want to be involved with you. That’s the best way to get growth.
J: As a brand, the three of us will go above and beyond what we offer. We try to make sure that no one ever leaves one of our events saying, “Wow, these guys didn’t deliver the experience that they said they would give.” When we first started doing this, none of us ever thought that we’d be throwing the most successful producer event in the world ten years later.
To check out when the next Producer Showcase is heading to a city near you, check out their events page.
And be sure to follow their Twitter for links to some of their hottest producers.