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Today I’m joined by Brandon McEachern and Marcus Allen, the co-founders of Broccoli City. The music festival makes its return to Washington D.C. on May 7-8 with a stacked lineup that includes Gunna, Summer Walker, Wale, and plenty more stars from the world of hip-hop and R&B. The black-owned promotion had not one, but two events canceled in the past two years. During the forced downtime, festival co-founders Marcus Allen and Brandon McEachern made a conscious decision to not just return for 2022, but come back better than ever.
Specifically, the two wanted to leverage the Broccoli City platform to create black change. Since starting in 2013, the festival has always catered to black people first and foremost. But in 2022, it’s aiming to give its fans better resources well beyond the music grounds. The duo is accomplishing that in the form of an expo that’ll feature job/internship opportunities, health/wellness tools, financial support for small businesses, and forums on criminal justice issues, amongst other things. The expo is one component of what the festival organizers are calling BLK Change Weekend.
The world and the music festival industry have transformed plenty since Broccoli City’s last show in 2019. However, Brandon and Marcus are not just changing with the times — they’re creating it with new initiatives too. Here’s what we covered in this episode of the Trapital podcast:
[0:00] Broccoli City Returns For 2022
[3:10] The Optics Of Bringing Back Broccoli City After Two Years Of Cancellation
[6:34] Artists Charging More For One-Off Festival Than Tour Event
[12:25] Managing Egos When Creating Festival Flyers
[14:31] Changing Nature Of Agents With Talents
[19:05] Broccoli City’s Biggest Advantage Over Other Festivals
[23:15] Measuring Success For The Festival
[25:25] Anticipating Whether An Event Will Succeed Or Won’t
[27:15] How Loyal Are Customers To Certain Festivals?
[29:01] Ongoing Challenges Of Being Black Execs In Music Festival Scene
[31:15] Influence Of The Live Nation Partnership
[34:47] Lining Up The Festival With BLK Change Weekend
[41:39] What’s In Store For The 2022 Event?
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Host: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.co
Guests: Marcus Allen, Brandon McEachern
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Marcus Allen 00:00
Ain’t no better feeling to know coming into the event is going down like that, feeling that morning. Those mornings be like the best mornings because you really, there are two times it’s the day you drop in in the morning of the festival that is just there’s nothing like those two days coming into that time, and those are moments that you really appreciate and you cherish and we’ve had mornings that have felt good like that. And we may have some mornings and then feel bad because we always walked into the festival that morning, knowing it was about to be a win.
Dan Runcie 00:40
Hey, welcome to the Trapital Podcast. I’m your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from executives in music, media, entertainment, and more who are taking hip-hop culture to the next level. Today’s episode is with Brandon McKay Hearn and Marcus Allen. They’re the founders of Broccoli City. It’s a two-day music festival that’s based in DC that has headliners, Annie Lenox, Summer Walker, they have Lil Durk, Gunna, and a great lineup of some of the biggest names in hip hop and R&B. This festival is focused on celebrating Black culture more broadly with the entire weekend they have planned with the BLK change weekend, they have a 5K. And they have other community events that really speak to maybe the topics that be branded and Mark is talking about on this episode, we talk about what it was like for them to get this festival off the ground, given some of the challenges the past two years and how COVID set them back. We also talked about some of the challenges of dealing with particular artists. Some of you may remember, there was a pretty public complaint from Wale. He was one of the artists that we’re frustrated, but they were able to navigate some things with him. So we talked about what it’s like dealing with artists, some of their pushback, but also we talked a little bit about the broader Asia landscape. If you’ve been following Trapital, you know, I’ve talked about examples of the NBA, where you have an agent like Rich Paul and Klutch Sports and the influence that they’ve had making things happen for their stars, while the same thing happens in the music industry with some of these powerful agents that are trying to convince themselves and others that their stars deserve to have headlining spots everywhere. So we talked a little bit about that. We also talked about what it’s like for black music festival promoters, and how they are not just pushing this, but also some of the challenges they may have in this industry. We also talked about some of the other economics some of the decisions and what Brandon and Marcus are most excited about and how all that stays afloat. If you are interested at all in the music festival space, what it takes to put one on this is definitely the conversation for you. It was a great chat, it was great to reconnect with them both. Here’s my chat with Brandon and Marcus. All right, we got Brandon, Marcus co-founders of broccoli city, y’all are back. COVID set y’all back for a couple of years via y’all like “Nah, we’re gonna be here. We’re gonna make this happen.” So how does it feel?
Brandon McEachern 03:10
Man, it feels good. It feels good to be back. Happy that the world is opening up. You know, for a minute, dead. Damn, we thought that we were gonna be able to come back for 2021. But you know, COVID and the variant had a different plan in mind. Do you know what I mean? So, so that’s what we’re happy. We’re back this year, though. 2020 to two days. You know, we outside so it’s a good look.
Dan Runcie 03:32
Yeah, I mean, I feel like it must have been stressful because 2021, once everyone got vaccinated, I’m sure you probably thought the rest of the year was green light, right? Go Let’s go. But no, Mari I came through with that touch.
Brandon McEachern 03:46
And a couple of other festivals got off. You know what I mean? So that was the thing to kind of had to like, dang, you know, like Lollapalooza, the biggest festival, one of the best festivals out, shout out to them. They actually, “Oh, rolling loud.” Got to do this. Shout out to Matt Tyree like saying, “Yeah, we just got the short end of the stick on that side. But it’s all good.”
Marcus Allen 04:04
Yeah, I mean, I think the other part too, is is that of the festivals that got off, we were the only ones that was focusing in on people of color, right? And so there was a certain optic that was in the air that was like, as our people was the most effective. It was a decision like, you know, do we put all of our people in jeopardy, right? Do we create a big spreader event? And will the world accept this having a big spreader of like, how he makes up somebody else? And like Brandon and I’ve just decided it just weren’t worth it. It wasn’t worth the risk on anybody’s part.
Dan Runcie 04:33
So walk me through the steps of being able to put this back on right because I’m sure some of those same questions you’re talking about Marcus some of that trade off? Are people going to be comfortable if there’s a super spreader event when we’re putting this on? What was that decision process like?
Brandon McEachern 04:47
Man so um, I think it number one it was we decided we’re gonna push through like we came in at ‘22 saying it’s gonna take the world to pretty much be shut down for us not to come back right so I think that was number one. We got on the same page with our partners at Live Nation just in terms of what their plan was for COVID one to 22. And once they gave us the “Hey, listen, we’re all full steam ahead. We support and you guys fully. We were locked in.” Brandon, everybody affiliated and connected says Book and talent started booking talent. Man probably back in what November. And it took probably longer than it ever took us to book talent because so many shows were rescheduled for 22. So many people wanted to get back on tour, venues were booked and double booked. And so this year was everything about this year was very much different than what we ever ever had.
Dan Runcie 05:41
And on the side of trying to put the talent you mentioned, it took much longer than ever, what were some of those conversations, like, because I’m sure you had interest but was there more hesitancy because of their own discomfort about COVID or was it just their own uncertainty about their schedules? What was that like?
Brandon McEachern 05:58
I think that the COVID, the COVID side of it wasn’t necessarily the conversation. It was more so the busy runway, like everybody knew that everybody was coming back. So you may want to book artists, but they got to a four or five-city tour that they’re trying to push out, you know what I mean? So at the time, they not necessarily thinking about a festival, they trying to do their own, you know, single tour, so it was just having those conversations with agents. And obviously management as well say, hey, you know, this could be a part of your tour day, or whatever the case may be, but I think it was yet again, it really was just a runway, it was just so packed. It was so bad.
Dan Runcie 06:34
That makes sense. And I’m curious, what was it like from the price perspective? Because when you’re dealing with agents when you’re dealing with folks, whether it’s the artist or even the venue’s like where people item or what was there where they try to be like Fat Joe with the yesterday’s price is not today’s price.
Brandon McEachern 06:50
Yesterday’s price, today’s price you got to meet. So I don’t know if everybody was just trying to get a bread back from what they had last previously. You don’t I mean, those years that we were all, but yeah, prices have definitely went up like the game is crazy, especially when you say that F word. You know, I mean, as soon as you say festival, it changes the dichotomy of the other conversation you didn’t mean.
Marcus Allen 07:11
Agents was talking about inflation is like what was inflated in the price of people themselves? Like what I don’t get, how could there be inflation connected with booking talent?
Brandon McEachern 07:20
You know, is it true? Is it true? You know, that’s the cost of playdough, D. That’s what you got to do. You know what I mean? That’s the cost to play in this game. You know what I’m saying? It’s a big cost to so tell my young festival people about to get into this festival game. Just know, these cats is crazy out here.
Dan Runcie 07:36
You can you talk a bit more about that PC mention where once you make good Festival, the prices go up, or people’s eyes light up, you’re freaked out, like why is that? And how much higher are we talking?
Brandon McEachern 07:48
Yeah. Now granted, all this stuff has happened like pre-Marcus and Brandon, right? Like we are, I would say we were Allen Iverson before he got into organized ball. You know what I mean? Like, that was us for the longest time. We were independent. I mean, we actually still kind of are independent. But a club show that’s different than you know, than a festival day. You know what I mean? A one-off is different yet again, from a festival date. Because I think personally, they start looking at your pockets too.
Marcus Allen 08:16
Well, you know, what it is, is the most festivals, in a lot of cases, while there is a capacity, once you reach capacity, that number’s so big. That is crazy, right? So they’re thinking about hard cap. So you go play a film, or I can say specifically, we’re going to sell 1,500 tickets. When you’re in a festival ground, that’s 100,000 square feet, I might be able to sell 20,000 I might be able to sell 50,000 So they plan for that margin, is he gonna sell 20? Or is he gonna sell 50 they trying to get money like you’re gonna pay for 50? You know, I’m saying even if you know, you only got to sell to 20. But they ain’t trying to hear that.
Dan Runcie 08:52
That’s real. Because even some of these tours that take place in a theaters or outside venues, there’s still a capacity there. But I think people see the flexibility there. But then people obviously see when there’s too much flexibility. And there’s there could be logistical issues and things like that. The other piece that is a factor of festivals that I would assume is probably part of it, too, is because it’s more of a one-off event as opposed to touring. People want to up the price for that event, right. It’s almost like paying someone a per diem rate even though that per diem rate would never be their salary for if you normalize it out over a set period, right?
Brandon McEachern 09:29
I like the way you broke that down, D. Yeah, yeah, we get and they are, they’re in demand. So they can say what I mean, if you got a good album, if you pop in, you can kind of say whatever, you know, and to be honest, a lot of promoters have paid these artists that hefty hefty bag. So they like yo I’m not going back regardless of what your festival may mean to the community or whatever the case may be, you know, so get again you get you got to pay to play.
Marcus Allen 09:56
And then the other part of that too is is that in the festival scene is so competitive with the big boys, that they need certain names to be able to headline those festivals. And so they really created a housing bubble. That’s really what we end right now. Right? There’s literally a bubble. And for only way for it to burst is that as a collective, the Live Nations, the AGs, they got to just simply say to the agents, nah, we not paying it no more, but they keep paying it. They keep paying it. Every time when an agent come with a wild number, somebody is paying it. So it’s really in the body…
Brandon McEachern 10:34
you make this clear that we’re not anti paying people what they were, you know, I mean, let me just say that right now. Like, it’s all good, we get it, you know what I mean? Your talents that God gave you that gift, you know, I just got through listening to you, whatever the case may be, I know what this money is doing for your family. You know what I mean? Because at the end of the day, a lot of these artists are getting a lot of a bread from shows, you know, me, I don’t know what the streaming stuff is, and all that. But we do understand that these festivals are a bulk of a lot of these artists’ income or whatever the case may be. So we definitely adhere to that. And we pay all of our artists very well. You know what I mean? I don’t think nobody would say Oh, broccoli city shortchanged us or anything of that nature, never at all. Never.
Dan Runcie 11:16
That housing market analogy, I think makes perfect sense, right? Because we’re seated now across the America, you have people with well-paying jobs do their thing. And then someone else giving out $100,000 above asking price cash off to go buy…
Brandon McEachern 11:30
you in the bay, you know what it is?
Dan Runcie 11:32
Exactly, exactly. And it’s like, I’m sure you probably see that well, where it’s like, even if you may not think and artists market rate, is it more than what you’re willing to give? Not like you said not they’re trying to shortchange everyone, but there’s a market for everyone, for sure. But then, if another festival just is willing to put everything behind it, that is the market and then it’s like, alright, well, you know, even if I may not agree with where that is, someone is willing to pay that price. So it does reset things. So I’m sure that’s probably difficult to some perspective to deal with. But I think another thing too, and maybe part of this is navigating artist’ emotions, or artist feelings is Ivan here. And more recently, there’s some artists that have started to complain about how be their David’s on that music festival poster or what font size they have and stuff like that. How much do y’all deal with that? Or how much did you deal with that either past years, or this year was brought.
Brandon McEachern 12:25
Man, we’ve actually never dealt with it before until this year, who dealt with it with somebody and much respect to that somebody as well. But you know, honestly, and it’s funny, because he had, again, these conversations weren’t had as much as they were had this year, just in terms of the billing placement. And I don’t know yet again, if that was something that happened during COVID. And folks was like, hey, you know, when I come back into this game, I want to make sure my joint is bigger than everybody’s name, whatever the case may be. But it’s actually something that’s done when we put the offer out, and we’re going back and forth with the agent, you know, they’ll say things or management, they’ll say, you know, top-line billing or, you know, I mean, like, they’ll make it a conversation piece, you know, and usually, we match our eye on that. And it’s not a problem that then sometimes the artists may not have been in communication with the management or the agent, and then certain things happen. And I don’t know, Dan, if you could put a clip up of what we talked about. Yeah, you know, saying, but definitely, to that tea.
Dan Runcie 13:25
Yeah. And I think on that front, you know, I know you’re not trying to put anybody on blast by any means. But I’m curious, though, is there some type of trade-off there where there’s an artist that is frustrated about something, they’re not communicating to you? They just want to put it out on Twitter, and then all of the blog aggregators that say, oh, you know, so and so is upset with Broccoli City, on one hand, it may be a negative thing, but on the other hand, now, you’ll have a bunch of press out there. It’s like, oh, yeah, well, Broccoli City’s back this year, let me go check that out. What was that? Like? Did you notice a bump in sales after that.
Brandon McEachern 13:59
Sales, to be honest with you, the sales is already in a very good place. But just in terms of the attention to your point, we definitely got a lot of tension off that. And it became a conversation outside of just our particular event, which I thought was super dope did at least cause conversation between folks in the industry is that to the third, and I think I could have swore I seen somebody else actually just do this. Like yesterday, a particular artist just got mad, I think at Lollapalooza, something about something. So yeah, I mean, they’re becoming really vocal about it. But we respect this.
Marcus Allen 14:31
The other thing too, Dan B’s has a more personal connection with the agents, right. So just as an outside person, to my degree, right, because I don’t really talk to him, but I get firsthand information. I see the emails, a part of it, I believe, is agents positioning themselves because the industry is changing. Right? COVID really made artists readdress how to teams in their business restructure right. You sit down, you’ve been paying people all this money, you had two years off a year and a half off, you now get a chance to really look at your books, you now get a chance to think about what are you paying people? What are they doing to be paid? And so I believe that folks tightened up their teams, which made a lot of agents on the outside. So obviously, cream rises, right. So the best agents are gonna still be the best agents, but they have to still show value, right? And we may all everybody may be still paying you agents gonna get you your fee, for the most part. So if you get in 100,000, you get 100,000. But if I’m an agent, and I say to you, Dan, listen, I’m gonna get you your bag. But I’m gonna also make sure you get topline billing on every festival. Now, you might know in your heart, hey, no topline billing. But if an agent tell me I can get you top line billing, and 200,000, who you gonna go with? That’s the new game, right? It’s about the value proposition of what the business is around these artists and how they’re thinking about it and the value proposition of each part of their business. You know, I mean, what’s the role of everybody? What are you bringing to the table for this fee? I’m paying you.
Dan Runcie 16:13
So this is fascinating, but it’s not surprising. And I say that because I think about what we see in the NBA, right? There’s been plenty polarizing opinions about the impact of Rich Paul and what he’s been doing with Klutch Sports. And you can literally insert Ben Simmons in the example that you just brought up, right. But the NBA is a bit more transparent about these things. People either love or hate what Rich Paul is doing. And it’s been very actively talked about. I don’t know if people outside of the industry music know that dynamic as much with regards to people in music, like who the agent is, that is the equivalent of the Rich Paul or the Klutch Sports in that way, where the client goes there because the client is like, hey, my way or the highway, we are getting you to the Los Angeles Lakers. Watch me do this, right, like, but I’m sure that even though those things aren’t public, that’s the kind of shit that y’all handling. Yeah, on that front with the headliner piece. You talked about that as well. I know that you’ve had different headliners each year. But is that something where that does become at least a conversation where let’s say you are dealing with a agent who had promised this to their artists, but you’re like, hey, we either don’t want to have that person as the headliner, or B, we already have it set. Does that, do those conversations stop? Is there continued negotiation there at least for you all, what is that piece of it been like?
Brandon McEachern 17:42
Usually Dan, if a person is a headliner, we want them as a headliner, like everybody know that they gonna be the headliner, you know, what I’m saying? Now, I will say for this year, was a little different, because we went the route of having two black women, headliners and Annie Lennox, and Summer Walker issue that we had with a particular somebody, it was a matter of who was more important in a particular area, particular city. It was longevity versus right now impact, right? He’s like that kind of deal. You know, I mean, it’s like I’ve been running this race longer. But in the short term, you’re bigger.
Dan Runcie 18:19
Right. And I mentioned that piece is probably interesting, too. I know conversations we’ve had offline about this, just given that you are very much wanting to have and celebrate an event that is pushing or promoting black music for black people, and that it doesn’t necessarily always 100% line up with festivals that are hip hop festivals that may be happening, although the artists themselves may be black. They aren’t necessarily selling or having guests there, or attendees who are black. I think we’ve seen plenty of examples of that. How does that dynamic and curation shape not just who you reach out to for headliners and others, but also how you think that shapes the makeup and the target audience for the festival?
Brandon McEachern 19:05
I mean, I think that I think we don’t necessarily go for what’s trendy, if that makes sense in terms on the booking side, because we actually do, we do know the culture, right? So if you look at Broccoli sitting in 2016, you know, we had Anderson Paak, you know what I mean? Like if you look at what was that March 2015. You know, we had Kaytranada you know what I mean? And this is yet again years before they become who they become because one of the things that we try to make sure that we do is we listen to the streets, listen to Little Sisters, listen to nieces, listen to…
Marcus Allen 19:38
Even better, go look at the 2020 Grammys, and then go look at the 2020 Brockton city festival lineup that got canceled.
Brandon McEachern 19:46
Yeah, you know, LS who does a cat was you know what I mean? We are a new dozer was and then as soon as I’m not gonna say as soon as we booked her, but you know, everybody’s starting to see her value. But we saw that way back I heard the streets Definitely like our rules. I knew what time it was with that young lady. And I think that that’s one of the things that broccoli city does a hell of a job at, you know, is just really listening and finding that talent early and being able to give them a shot before everybody kind of hops on the bandwagon of that particular person.
Dan Runcie 20:17
So that piece there listening, finding the talent and having a year before the mainstream does, how was that piece of change? Because, you know, y’all been doing this for a few years now. In 2015 16, there was no Tiktok, and there wasn’t some of these other things, but how has that played a factor in what you’re noticing or what you’re trying to pick up on where things are heading?
Brandon McEachern 20:38
I think it’s still the same. I think it’s still listening to the youth, you know what I mean? And we do know, when Tiktoks on that, you know, hours and hours and all that and we got money, you know, but he’s at the festival. So I think it’s just different avenues. At one point, it was all SoundCloud. You know what I mean? And that was kind of like your avenue to the music. So I think it’s really just kind of just staying above and making sure that you got an ear to the streets and and not thinking that you know, at all, I think sometimes we get in a space where we think like, oh, we know this, that to the third like no, there’s a 13, 14, 15, 16 year old, that’s way cooler than you. And that’s what you need to be listed.
Marcus Allen 21:14
I think also to some of it is time into right, because this is one thing to know the right artists, but if you book them off-season, you hustling backwards, right? So like in this example, we booked a lineup in 28, I guess in November, but we got Durk. Durk was out cycle in 2020. But right i mean 2021. But right now, he’s crazy. It looked we looked crazy. I was on a call listening to be talked to somebody and they asked him be How did you know? How did you know it was Durk? Because if you look at the festivals Durk do we know only festival that marks a major name right? And so we look be looking like, you know, like he like he perfect for dictate the future. But it was really just understanding that he was coming. Right and just believing that Durk is a strong artist, and he’s coming.
Dan Runcie 22:02
Yeah, I think so much of that insight is key, right? That is your job. At the end of the day, you’re trying to have these you want to create the memories for fans to be like, oh, yeah, remember, they were on Durk early, we have that. Because then that obviously builds audience and the people that come back year after year after year on that front. And that is something that I’ve begun to, especially with a festival like yours. Do you have stats or anything on how many of the people are repeat purchasers or the folks that come back as opposed to be able to try to bring the new audience in? And what is that? What are those two groups look like? Let’s take a quick break to hear a word from this week’s sponsor.
Marcus Allen 22:41
We got a super high super high turnover rate. And I will say not only the super high turnover rate of people who attend the one tear connection to people who went right. So like, Oh, I saw my cousin went two years ago. Now I want to go right. And so I think it’s very close to that as well. Like, it’s almost like I wasn’t ready for it three years ago. Now. I’m ready right now I get it.
Dan Runcie 23:03
Right. That makes sense. That makes sense. And for both y’all. What does success look like? So when you’re looking back after the festival, of course, there’s things like tickets and revenue, but from a high level, what does success look like?
Brandon McEachern 23:15
I mean, for me and get again, Marcus, I probably have a different answer because I connect to the world a little different than he does. But for me, it’s the stories. It’s the stories, obviously, bottom line stuff, right, we’ll make sure we hit on my bottom line and chip was good financially, but it’s the stories man, like when I hear the stories of be me and my home girl was out there. And did it look like to me that or another thing that is artists having a good time, too. You know what I mean? Like going back to Anderson Paak story, Fox story, I remember him saying that this was the first time he performed in front of this many black people, you know what I mean? Which I thought was crazy and dope at the same time. So it was those type of things for me, they’ve really claim success on myself.
Marcus Allen 23:57
And I love markets.
Brandon McEachern 23:59
Now, I mean, it ain’t no better feeling like the money always got to be right. Let’s just be clear, right? Like, I mean, that’s what we’re here for Dan, we’re here to make money. But it ain’t no better feeling to know, coming into the event is going down like that feeling that morning. Those mornings be like the best mornings because you really, there’s two times it’s the day you drop it in the morning of the festival. That is just there’s nothing like those two days coming into that time. And those are moments that you really appreciate and you cherish and we’ve had mornings that have felt good like that. And we have some mornings that and feel bad because we always walked into the festival that morning, knowing it was about to be a win. So when you know it’s gonna be a win, you really, really appreciate that you really appreciate it. And then once everybody get home safely, and you get back to that hotel, you can look at your partner in the eye and be like, Yeah, that’s a great feeling, man. That’s it is a great show.
Dan Runcie 24:58
That’s special. I hear that. Can you talk more about that, actually. So those mornings that for past festivals where maybe you woke up and you weren’t sure how it was going to go where you had less certainty? What was it about the planning or leading up to it that made you feel that? And then on the flip side, what is it about those festivals where you’re like, Yes, this is going to be the best one yet? What was it about that feeling the morning that made you have that memory.
Marcus Allen 25:25
So this is wild, Dan, because, and Brandon, you might even feel differently about this. But after doing it for enough years, either the people want it or they don’t, there’s not much that you can do to market it to a sellout. You can make sure it stays in front of people, but when they want it, and if they don’t, they don’t. And so you spend four months, five months, just talking about what the flyer gonna look like the names gonna be on it. So it’s like somebody dropping an album, you know, I’m saying and cats ain’t messing with it. That’s like, it’s hard to accept it. Because you don’t like so and slow and slow and slow. Just kidding me, right? And you like, man, we go put these marketing plans together, we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna do that. But then you get to the point where you realize they just ain’t messing with it. They just ain’t messing with it. And so it’s like, you know, when you see somebody drop an album, they sell 100,000, the first week, and the second week, they sold 5,000 10,000. Because that nobody wanted to tell nobody, people wasn’t talking about it. And so it just dies off.
Dan Runcie 26:25
Hmm, that makes sense. Brandon, anything you want to add?
Brandon McEachern 26:28
No, I think he hit it right on the head. You gotta mean like, you put a lot of time and effort in this thing. But they don’t want it. They don’t want it. You got to eat that. You got to eat.
Dan Runcie 26:39
it’s fascinating. Because obviously, so much of that is dependent on the line of that you have and how people are feeling about the lineup. And I’m sure this affects every festival people buy tickets because they want to see them. But I’m sure you probably have people that will go to Broccoli City regardless because they just enjoy the vibe of it. And in your opinion, do you think any festival in the country has that benefit where it is if they have whoever is the headliner, just because it’s that name? And just because it’s that vibe, they will have a dedicated audience or do you think this is something that every festival promoter has to navigate?
Brandon McEachern 27:15
I mean, I personally think that there are some festivals out there that just have that right like yet again, the Lollapalooza the world, possibly even like the bottle rocks, you know what I’m saying? Like, and if you notice, I’m not naming any, any urban land festivals, you don’t say black land festivals, I would love to see more of that within our communities, in all honesty, like, you know, just kind of loyal to the work that you know, your people are putting in to kind of put something together but you know, that’s you just cry. You know, I mean, you preaching to the choir at that point. Right. So it is what it is. But I do think that there are some staple brands, like I said, the Lollapalooza of the world, BottleRock, Marc, I’m pretty sure you got some.
Marcus Allen 27:54
Maybe in terms of black maybe, Only Essence. Oh, yeah, that’s for sure. I think it’s probably Only Essence that I would say from a black perspective, actually has real draw.
Brandon McEachern 28:05
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And that’s something that we working on, right. Like you want to keep giving people you know, it’s like, man, we’ve been doing this for 10 years. Are you gonna trust us? At some point? You know what I mean? So, yeah, but it’s just an interesting thing, Dan, just in terms of the urban saw.
Dan Runcie 28:18
Yeah, definitely. I feel like essence definitely has that annual Black homecoming vibe to it, that makes it the search for the draw it is. And I think for you, what a lot of your peers who are also black festival promoters in urban music are also in that same boat wanting to build that up as well. And, Brad, I know, we talked a little bit about this, but what has it been like from your perspective? Because obviously, you see that so much of the music from this community is what is making these festivals that money, but you as a both the all as black promoters in this space are likely still experiencing challenges pushing so much of this even though it is your music that is making this entire ecosystem what it is,
Brandon McEachern 29:01
Yeah, no, I mean, it’s really just a trip. And at the end of the day, you know, shout out to folks like you, right, that give us somewhat of a platform to kind of, you know, just speak so people just kind of know what we got, I don’t even think that people leaving, they don’t even think about it, you know, like, maybe those who are in kind of a creative space. Think about it, but I know there’s been people who have, you know, man talk shit to me or something at some point, right? But then they start planning something big, and they’ll text me like, you know what, be my bad bro. My bad man cuz now I see what you were going through. When I thought that it was just kind of a walleye kind of thing. You know what I’m saying? But it takes a lot of hard work. And it’s interesting yet again, going back to dealing with agents from our side on the urban side, and how they may treat me versus how they may treat you know, Jordan and those folks from governors ball you don’t I mean, like the tone of the voice. You know, we talked about this a little bit earlier. They’re not saying they talk to you crazy, but I don’t have some wild conversations with some of these agents. You got to me even going back to the artists, right, and our particular artists that we were speaking of my question is, I wonder what the comrade, I wonder, would he have done that on another festival? You get what I’m saying? Do you feel like you can do that? Because we’re so close in terms of camaraderie. It’s like, you know how your friends treat you versus somebody who don’t know you treat you if that makes sense.
Dan Runcie 30:24
It’s a fair question, right? Like, because I’m sure you probably wondered, oh, would they have done that if it was Coachella, one and two, how would people respond? If they were trying to say something about? Yeah, on festival like Coachella,
Brandon McEachern 30:39
It may be as forgiving. I suppose you know what I mean? Or try to get to the bottom of the issue or just snip you. You know, I think we saw that last year, or the year before last with artists saying a certain thing and every festival followed suit, and snip snip,
Dan Runcie 30:54
right. It doesn’t take much for Word to travel and people to just see how the dynamic is. I know one of the changes for you over the years with this festival has been the partnership with Live Nation urban and what you’ve been able to do with them. How has it been working with them? And what influence have they had for you all in the more recent years with the festival?
Brandon McEachern 31:13
More, more, want to take that?
Marcus Allen 31:15
Yeah, I mean, I mean, I think the number one thing that they’ve been able to do is take some of the financial risk off of Brandon and I to be able to operate the festival in much more of a business and not a annual, write with every year, we got to figure out how to get back in position to raise capital to find an investor to you know, me, it’s just like a consistent cycle. You can’t grow a brand, having to do that every single year, because you’re starting from scratch every time. Right. And when you’re doing that one loss is devastated. You know, me as devastated and as independent. Where, I mean, you think they think they’ve been in a Lollapalooza been going on for 25, 40, 30 years, you know, I mean, you think they don’t want every year, you know, I’m saying like, it’s an ebb and flow, like you’re gonna lose some years. And so that’s what Live Nation gives you the ability to do is have some years to just be normal, right? And not make $2 million at the gate, right? Like, just be normal. Like, yo, we lost money this time. Alright, we’re gonna be back next year, and we know we gonna be back. So that’s huge.
Brandon McEachern 32:21
And I would say, you know, shout out to our partner, Shan Ji, who is, you know, who’s been in the game, you know what I mean? And it’s rare that you meet, you know, other people that’s been through what you’ve been through, you know, what I mean? So just big shout out to him and his vision and everything that he’s built…
Marcus Allen 32:35
And let us working to. He lay his work, yeah, let me let us work he don’t play to you know, micromanage, he let us work. He wants to see stuff when it goes out. He want to make sure he got some merch, you know, I mean, he want to know who the lineup is he want to help add value in terms of setting the right talent, you know, I mean, he want to make it easy for us, and use his experience, you know, to make it easier for us, you know, as we navigate through this whole thing,
Brandon McEachern 32:59
on top of relationships as well, because yet again, this industry is superduper small and like a Dan, right? Like, we know, Dan already from from from back in the day a little bit, even though it was like a year, and I’m trying to go but just imagine Sean and the relationships that he built over the years and to be able to introduce markets into markets and nine to different folds that, you know, makes sense that he has, you know, strong relationships with and then us doing the same, because his folks on the street is different events that he don’t know about that maybe we introduced him to. So it’s been a fantastic relationship.
Dan Runcie 33:31
Yeah, it makes perfect sense. Because at the end of the day, most festivals, even the ones that are household names today lose money in the first few years. So when you’re starting from scratch, so much of it depends on who you could get money from investors, how you can get secured, you know, deals in place for all of these things. And unfortunately, it can be harder for folks that look like you to be able to do that here and in this country, right. So when you look at that being able to have the support of a company that has gone through to the fact that they have a division geared towards this, the partnership makes perfect sense. It gives you all the room to do what you could do to build this up, because you know that something is here. And I think that if we just let’s say it like it wasn’t there, if we just let the festivals that can maintain get to where they are, then there’s so much left as an opportunity or not even as an opportunity. There’s so much left that isn’t given the opportunity because of that. So it’s one of those partnerships that I do think makes a ton of sense, at least from the outside for my perspective.
Marcus Allen 34:31
for sure. So shout out to Ellen, you for sure. Yeah.
Dan Runcie 34:35
The other thing too, with this year, you lined it up with the blockchain, we get that I know that was part of the promotional push for this. How has that shaped your event planning and what you hope is in store for this weekend?
Brandon McEachern 34:47
Yeah, I mean, we’re kind of we’ve always kind of been on that. Right, Dan? So when we talk about when we talk about broccoli city as a whole, right, you know, to say that broccoli City is a music festival. It’s kind of disrespectful, right? When you think about Everything that we have done leading up into this point like in 2017, US launching, you know, Broccoli cod, you know, like, I don’t know, any other festivals that you can go to that you have a networking opportunity, a chance to maybe hear a Dan talk or hear Bosman St. John talk, you know what I mean? Like, I don’t know, no other festivals with that. And if I do, I know them after we started the whole conference outlook, right? And then when you think about a 5k, ruin, right, like, I don’t know, any other festivals that’s doing 5k. But I think they are something to do do that stuff now. But yet again, it was always a black chain weekend, we think about it, you know what I mean? And yet again, I know that we’re one of the only festivals if you think about on a wide scale of them all that gears, the talent, gears, the experience, the host, the music, the all that geared with African Americans, black people of color in mind, first, you know what I’m saying? Like, our people aren’t the afterthought, which I think is some of these other events. We may be the afterthought, you know, So yet again, with Blackshades weekend, and really just kind of putting that word out there, it really hasn’t changed much of what we already have been doing. And honestly, I think it was important for us to put a name to it, though. So I’m glad that you mentioned that, Dan. And Marc, I don’t know if you have any statements on that, please.
Marcus Allen 36:15
Yeah. Now just gonna say that it was important for us to say what it is right, like coming out of COVID, we made a conscious decision that we wanted to use our platform that are right. And at the core, what that meant was we wanted to create black change for black folks. We knew we had corporate partners, we knew we had different folks who’ve been looking to touch this demo with our sponsorship and partners have always been strong. But now it was time to say like, alright, well, you’ve been cutting broccoli city a check, how can we do a better job of providing resources opportunities to these attendees? Oh, you want a better platform to do? So you need an expo? Okay, we’re going to add an expo to the conference. You know, I mean, like, Oh, you want to talk about health and wellness? Okay, we’re gonna add another component to the five cake. Right. So I think, for us, it was always there. But we needed to be attentional going in between to about that.
Brandon McEachern 37:09
And to add on the Marcus’s point, Dan, not afraid to say black, right. Like, I think a lot of us get to a certain level. And I even said it earlier, right? Like POC like people of color, like, you know, I mean, which is cool, don’t get me wrong. But Marcus and I wasn’t afraid to say Yo, we really want to do this for black folks. And I don’t think it’s nothing wrong with that at all. You know what I mean? Like there are specific festivals that may be geared toward the Hispanic consumer, which is completely fine. I don’t mean, you’ll see no black person there.
Marcus Allen 37:37
But I think the key about black the conversation around black chains is that for black chains to happen, it takes more than black people. Right? So let’s be clear, right, like black chains happens internally with black people. But you need some white folks, some Spanish folks, some Asian folks to participate right? In some change happening. So this isn’t necessarily just a black event. It’s just that we focus in on creating change for black people.
Dan Runcie 38:03
That’s an important distinction. And I think that to your point, right, there is a great opportunity to celebrate this and not be afraid to call it what it is and have that there are many festivals that hit different groups for that reason, but the fact that you all know your audience know the opportunity you’re going to create and in the region that you’re doing it it makes perfect sense.
Marcus Allen 38:23
Absolutely. Absolutely. And you know what to think on that even if we check out if everybody checks out the quest love documentary to summer soul, and you know what I mean? Everybody didn’t get us on that. But it’s like, Yo, this shit going on right now too. So, come to broccoli city is see somewhere solid? Actually, there’s well, you know,
Dan Runcie 38:41
exactly, exactly. Alright, well, before we let you go for the listeners, give us a sense of how you’re feeling now going into it. Of course the festivals coming up and you talked a little bit about some of those years. You’re feeling good some of those years you’re not How are you feeling right now?
Brandon McEachern 38:57
feel great. I feel good. You know, say I’m pretty sure Marcus feels great too. I mean, it’s lit up you know, I mean, everything from whiz kid to summer Walker to Tim’s to Rico nasty to Young Jeezy to snow man like Don Oliver, like what the fuck are we talking about? You know what I mean? Like is split up 2121 dirt? I mean, come on mate, Gunner like come on man. And on top of that, there’s so many things going on that weekend black chains weekend and it’s in DC I’m feeling Mac you know what I mean? Like it’s phenomenal. So I’m super excited. I don’t know Mark got anything to add.
Marcus Allen 39:31
I feel super excited. It’s funny because not that BS job is done. But the bulk of his core ship is on the front end. So now like he like do my job you know me, “What’s up now” like so now it’s like I’m all back to back production calls experience call venue calls and so speak.
Brandon McEachern 39:52
On that though it, me and Marc have had this conversation. It’s one of the things that I respect about my partner so much is that Marc hates it when we go somewhere. We’re at an event No, like, Oh, this is okay for black of it. You know what I mean? Like, and I love for you to just speak on how you trying to heighten our experience and how you know me, like how you heighten the experience. He’s already heightened experience for other LNU properties as well.
Marcus Allen 40:14
Honestly, Dan made me you know what it is right? We met at probably one of the most immaculate fundraisers of person could go to, right? Like, let’s be honest, right? Like, we saw some stuff right there front of us that was like, Oh, is this happening in real life, like, I gotta go back and watch the video to confirm, I’m watching this with my own eyes. And at the end of the day, like, there’s a stigma out there that if you just have the talent, that’s enough, and in a love, Coachella spin to $10 million little art, that’s more than that’s more than festivals hold talent budgets. But that’s why to our conversation earlier, why they dropped that lineup with no names, and it’d be sold out. Because people know that there’s an experience value associated with that brand. And a lot of our people aren’t willing to invest that $10 million, because it may not come back to you year one, that’s an amortized cost over 10 years, for you to see that value in that art to spending. And so I think that’s what we’re getting into now. Right. And that’s what the partner show ln gives us the ability to do is to go spend big money on experience, right? And push partners to say, like, “Nah, you can’t do that little 10 by 10 Cent,” na, na, if you want to be on site with us, you got to step it up. You got to get your agency’s up, like you got to get it right.
Brandon McEachern 41:39
And we want to give that experience to our people. Yet again, if this is Black change weekend, it needs to be beautiful. We aren’t a culture, we you know what I mean? So even if there’s any sponsors, listen to this, any, you know what I mean? Like, get at us. So we can make this experience great, because these are the same people that make your products what it is, these are the same people that make whatever artist that is on top. It was Sinead good to Nika and Rahim that made that artists pot, period, period, you know what I mean? And those are the folks that go to broccoli city, you know what I mean? Even if we talk about ticket prices and things of that nature, Dan, like, come on, bro. We give him folks. 10, 12 phenomenal acts, and our prices ain’t nowhere near anyway, I don’t even want to get there. That’s a whole nother conversation. And we’ve done that by choice because we want to make sure that we give our people the experience. I had a girl tell me one time, the, I never been to Disney World. But I’ve been to Broccoli City, though. And I appreciate you for that. You know what I mean? Because we the only festival that maybe she can afford, you know, so I don’t know is this such a bigger conversation than what we can do in this 30 to 40 minutes, but it’s a real thing. And yet again, I just commend I commend my partner Republican in front of the whole whoever listening, you know, to me for really sticking on that shit, like, not be like, we got to make sure this shit right, bro. And I respect that wholeheartedly because anybody can book artists, if you got the bread, you can go out there and get them. That’s fine. You know, now I do hop through hoops to sit and do what I do, you know, I mean, to give myself a pat on the shoulder. But factors, in what way in terms of what we try to do for this experiences is key. And we just want our people to have a magnificent time. So anyway, shout out to that today’s experience.
Dan Runcie 43:21
So it’s a perfect way to complement both your skill sets where you see the space. And yeah, I mean, Marc, I hear you be already has his work done. He could get excited about stuff. And I know you got a lot on your plate. But I think that you have it in store, you have the partners and like you said, you know, there’s an opportunity here, we’re no different than a company investing in a startup or investing in artists, many of these festivals did that, you know, level of support do and I think that’s where it can happen, especially with something that has the proven audience that you all do, for sure.
Marcus Allen 43:52
For sure. Now, a lot have you got a ticket now even be in DC because we got these VIPs on the ice for you waiting when you get here?
Dan Runcie 43:59
For sure, John, appreciate y’all. Thank you.
Brandon McEachern 44:02
And yet again, Dan, thank you, D man for highlighting what’s going on on this side. You know what I mean? From the Chitlin Circuit there right now, you know what I mean? Like, it’s been a whole bunch of us pushing and curating our culture and making sure that that we are responsible for getting our artists out there and getting their music out there. You know, I mean, and yet again, I don’t want to keep tooting my own horn. But I mean, we had to Willow and Jaden back in the day, you know, I’m saying like we had come over the salons isn’t like, tattoos gotta stop. It’s me. No, you know what I mean? All these cats that a lot of people were just taking note too, like, we’ve been pushing these folks out and not for any other reason. And they’ve been using their gifts, and we want to make sure that we use our platform to get their gifts to the world. You know if that makes sense. So it’s a blessing. Appreciate you.
Dan Runcie 44:50
A 100%, 100%. Alright, then yeah, anyone else that is listening, you already know about the concert. Make sure go to the website. Y’all want to give a quick plug. Make sure that People listening nowhere to go check it out.
Brandon McEachern 45:01
Man go to BCfestival.com. Broccoli City. I’m pretty sure you heard of it. Your cousin heard of it, you know, so make sure you out there. Yeah, make sure you out there because you don’t want to see them pitches. You don’t want to be on Instagram that day you’re not there. That’s just not something you want to do.
Marcus Allen 45:18
For sure, man, appreciate you again. Damn it. It’s love man. This is great. Just to connect with you. Big fan of the podcast. Stay on the Twitter. I’ll be back to comment on some of your stuff. But I’d be like yeah, let me chill you know me some of them comments be crazy. But nice is love though. I really appreciate this man. I love the growth that you build in the USA with your platform it and the brand growth man stay down. Anything we could do, man you already know.
Brandon McEachern 45:44
And yet again, and I sorry, do you know me? I’m gonna go on a tangent, but we let go. But that’s the ecosystem, right? Yeah. Right. Black Journalists, right? Black curated events, like we all you know what I mean? So we have to do a way better job black executives that you’ve interviewed before, black agents that you’ve interviewed before, we got to find a way to make it work, because they’re finding out a way to make it work. In all due respect. You know what I mean? So we got to figure it out. But pretty say to Brother, I’m gonna get off my shoe
Dan Runcie 46:12
For sure. No, that’s a great note to end on. Appreciate you both man.
Marcus Allen 46:17
Appreciate appreciate you man.
Dan Runcie 46:20
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