Chad Fellers and his company, Wasted Potential, thrive off being seen. Before he provided Bryson Tiller and Logic with premier lighting designs and furnished Khalid with stage production for his late-night television appearance, Chad was a college baseball player, unsure about what life had in store beyond the field.
After transferring to Columbia College, Chad fell in love with camerawork. His degree plan focused on film, but he and a friend often roamed around the Chicago area looking to shoot music videos with local talent. Eager to get his hands on anything music-related, he stumbled into the role of a concert promoter after connecting with the manager of rapper Mike Stud, who was looking to book a show in the area.
“I reached out to him, blatantly lying by saying me and my friend threw shows all the time,” Chad said, laughing.
His inexperience was evident. He was able to secure Reggies as the venue, but scheduled the show for 2 pm on a Sunday. Still, Chad and his business partners encouraged all of their friends to buy tickets and help spread the word. Despite the awkward show time, Mike Stud’s manager admitted that it was the most well-attended show for his client at the time.
Concert promotion became Chad’s new interest. He evolved from throwing shows for fun in Chicago to booking in multiple markets and turning a profit. But his time spent in the music industry was negatively impacting his ability to focus on school.
“I had to make the decision to either drop out or pursue school and stop the things we were doing,” he said. “I dropped out and my grandma said, ‘You’re wasting your potential.’”
Whether it was true or not, it made for a great company name. But the thrill of marketing and promoting shows was drifting away. After overseeing a few dates for then-up-and-coming singer/songwriter SoMo, Chad assumed the role of temporary tour manager. The two developed a friendship and Chad officially took the lead on the road.
Over time, he developed his skills by putting the lighting packages together for SoMo and other artist’s performances. His offerings, branded under WastedPotential, eventually expanded into merchandise designs, video programming, and virtually every other touring need an artist might have. His company quickly became a go-to within the industry and is now complete with a full staff. Still, Chad lends his success to becoming a jack of all trades early in his career.
“There’s no book that teaches you how to tour,” he said. “There are so many different components to touring. You’re dealing with personalities, egos, and technical stuff, so there’s no school or book you can read that makes you good at it. You have to be open to everything and try to learn a little bit of everything.”
Nearly a decade ago, Chad was a baseball-playing college kid with a knack for following his gut. Despite his grandmother’s scolding, he created an in-demand business that has years of accomplishments left on its horizon.
“I used to look at success like ‘the year we gross $100,000, we’re successful.’ Then you do it and you’re like alright, now what? I don’t like to have that mentality of monetary success. I look at success now as building something that we can put people in place to succeed in their own terms of succeeding.”