We recently caught up with entrepreneurs Sophie and Ben, Founders of Musicalize, offering amazing live music events headlined by some of the best artists in the world supported by the best breakthrough and unsigned artists who are currently doing great things in the industry.
We’ve heard a lot about Musicalize… Could you tell us more about it and how it works?
Sophie – Having initially launched as an unsigned live music showcase, Musicalize has now become the No.1 recognised live music event featuring established UK and US headline artists supported by breakthrough and unsigned UK talent, with our events typically running from 7-11pm with a live DJ & resident host in between acts.
How did Musicalize start and how has it developed?
Sophie – Our first show was in April 2011 at a Soho nightclub. We really had no idea what we were doing! We invited every person we’d met over the past 6 months including every artist, manager, agent, radio contact and media person and hoped for the best! It was the Royal Wedding Bank Holiday weekend and somehow we managed to get 400 people turn up and we had about 12 artists on the bill ranging from a Grime MC (Ghetts) with a full live band (as the headline act) to an acoustic singer from Leeds (Hannah Trigwell) and then an RnB artist (Mike Hough) and others. It was very diverse but it kind of worked! Most of our guests turned up (we found out later that a lot of industry people just couldn’t work out how we’d got clearance for a Grime MC to perform in a posh Soho nightclub so they came down out of curiosity). Following that show we did a couple of smaller shows at 400-550 capacity at Cargo, XOYO with unsigned acts headlined by artists that were breaking through (June 2011 – Bluey Robinson and October 2011 – Lioness).
What sparked your interest in the Music industry?
Ben – We genuinely both love live music and used to attend lots of smaller intimate concerts (500 cap) and larger concerts at arenas like The O2. But we realised that there wasn’t really anything happening regularly in between these size of events. We also found the awkward silences in between acts at concerts really annoying as you have a captive audience that just want to hear music whilst they wait for the main headline act and we knew that there was lots of amazing unsigned / up and coming talent that would love the exposure.
Who or what has been your biggest inspiration?
Ben – I often look for inspiration from other young entrepreneurs who have created businesses from their passions and the success that they are having. The best example in the music / media industry is probably Jamal Edwards, CEO of SB.TV. His story is inspiring because he took something that other people were probably doing and put his own spin on it and became the best in the business.
Sophie – Ben and I are always referred to as the ‘couple that took over the urban UK scene with no experience’ and we quite like the thought that people became aware of us overnight, especially as we had no clue what we were doing in the beginning and it was all hard work and passion that made it happen. I’m inspired by musicians that do this in their field. Artists like Macklemore who went on to chart worldwide without a label backing him and even in London artists like Krept and Konan who had a top 20 album with no label input, purely building a fan-base, promotion and passion about their music which has now lead on to them being house hold named, being included on festival lineups this year and landing a record deal with Virgin EMI.
What was the most exciting part of the journey?
Sophie: Definitely having Ed Sheeran & Wretch 32 headline our fourth ever show at Proud 2 (now Building Six), The O2. We describe this as the show that made Musicalize because before this we were relatively unknown and a lot of artist managers and agents never used to take us seriously when we called and emailed them to book their artists for our shows; but after this sold-out show people started to pay attention.
Ben: In addition to the show that Sophie mentioned, I think it was when we met our investor (and now Chairman) Steve Rosenbaum. It was crazy to meet someone who understood the vision that we had and that challenged us from the very first meeting to be bigger than we already were. His expertise in growing businesses is something that helped to take Musicalize to the next level in 2013 and has set the foundation for everything we’re going to do going forward.
What advice would you give to an entrepreneur starting out today?
Ben: If you want something, just go for it! I often think back to the day I just told my old boss that I was resigning (I had a good managerial role at Lloyds Banking Group) and I genuinely believe that if I’d thought about it too much I would have talked myself out of doing it but there is no way we would have been able to make the progress we did if I stayed in full time employment in Birmingham.
Sophie: First and foremost, know your audience. Set yourself short term and long term goals and have ways of measuring them along the way. That said, don’t be afraid to try new things if new opportunities arise and it makes financial sense to do them.
What is the toughest part of being an entrepreneur?
Ben: Keeping motivated 100% of the time especially when working in an industry that is dictated by others (in our case agents and managers). When we are trying to make bookings and agents don’t bother to reply or just shut us down without even taking the time to listen to the concept of our shows and why it will be good for their artists, that can be disheartening, but we play the game of averages and the more emails we send or phone calls we make the better chance we have of securing the artists that we want.
Sophie: Accepting that things will sometimes go wrong and not beating yourself up for these “failures”. The key is to learn from these mistakes and turn things around.
What is your definition of success?
Ben: Being the best that you can possibly be in your chosen field
Sophie: Seeing goals that you have set for yourself being achieved and surpassing the expectations of what you can achieve.
What are you most excited about at the moment?
Ben: I’m really excited at the prospect of doing concerts in the US and Canada. It’s crazy to think that something we just started on a small level in London has now attracted the attention of artists in the US and they want us to do concerts with them in their home countries.
Sophie: I’m really excited about doing arena size multi-act concerts in the UK. We’ve always been about progression and even just having the conversations that we are having with certain artists at this stage of the business is incredible.
When you look back on your life, what would you like to be remembered for?
The couple that did what they loved and were pretty damn good at it!
If you could be stuck in an elevator with anybody, who would it be?
Ben: Jay Z & Beyonce. I’m so intrigued by their ‘power couple’ status and I’d love to talk to them about what we do. I’d try my best to convince them to let Musicalize promote the ‘Mr & Mrs Carter World Tour’
Sophie: Scooter Braun. Just from looking at his roster of artists you can tell that he has an ear for talent and he knows how to turn them into global stars. I reckon I could convince him to let Justin Bieber headline a Musicalize event!