When Brandon McEachern was working as a production assistant at MTV in Santa Monica, he often enjoyed the healthy lifestyle choices within walking distance from the office. However, neighboring cities in South Central Los Angeles had limited or no healthy options available.
In 2010, Brandon and his partner, Marcus Allen, threw an Earth Day-centered event (eventually dubbed Broccoli City Festival) in Los Angeles, using hip-hop, and a performance from a then-relatively unknown Kendrick Lamar, as a vehicle to promote health and wellness in urban communities.
With time and consistency, the festival expanded beyond neighborhoods and eventually moved its initiative to Washington D.C. In recent years, Broccoli City Festival has boosted its attendance to 35,000 people, with headliners such as Childish Gambino, Lil Wayne, Migos, Solange and Cardi B.
For The Students asked Brandon to share what he believes have been the main pillars behind building a successful festival business.
Be The First One To Provide Value
“It’s not always about asking all the time. It’s about how can my thing elevate what you’re doing. How can you become a platform or some sort of incubator for your other friends who are trying to do amazing things?”
Be Transparent About Your Struggles
“Being honest and being transparent is a magnificent thing. If I could go back, I would have been way more honest in terms of the struggles to raise capital. I would have been more upfront about that. I probably could have used people in my network a little better. Sometimes that’s challenging when we come from the backgrounds that we come from because there’s nobody really in your network who can help you out when you’re trying to do something like [throwing a festival].”
“People respect your journey. Sometimes we get lost thinking that people are gonna respect the fact that we’re just ‘on’ when really, people respect how long it took you to get there. They may not say it, but they respect it.”
“It’s about breaking down and shedding that ego. At some point the ego must go on somewhere – I ain’t gonna say die – but it’s gotta take a back-burner real quick.”
Identify And Speak To Your Audience
“When doing a festival or whatever type of event you’re doing, don’t try to appease everybody because then you’re going to appease no one. It’s ok to be niche. It’s okay to [say], ‘This is going to be an all R&B festival for women under 24 who love Solange’ and push that until the wheels fall off.”
“You should focus on your crowd. I’ve made that mistake of getting out of my box and booking an artist because I felt like that artist will bring in another crowd instead of just being true to what I like. At the end of the day, Broccoli City was created for those who follow the movement. It’s for who it’s for.”
Monetize Your Craft By Thinking Outside The Box
“Break down your value propositions. When you sit back and you look at a concert venue, you have the stage, the entrance, the website – there are so many things you can turn into financial [gains]. You can sell your stage – your stage can have branding on it. A lot of people don’t necessarily think about that. Or they just think about the stage and they don’t think about someone coming in and sponsoring their food village. For anybody planning to do this, re-evaluate your value propositions. There are so many things that you can sell.”
Being Kind Goes A Long Way
“I think a lot of my relationships that have come through Broccoli City have come from me being a good dude, and being honest. If I say I’m gonna call you back, I’m gonna call you back.”
“Being nice has really become underrated. I think people really think that being fake busy is the wave. Be intentional with your moves. Have a call to action. Don’t just do things blindly. Gain perspective and have hope.”