“I know how it feels to wake up f****d up
Pockets broke as hell, another rock to sell
People look at you like you're the user
Selling drugs to all the losers mad Buddha abuser
But they don't know about the stress-filled day
Baby on the way mad bills to pay”
– Notorious B.I.G.
Hip hop might be the first music culture to talk about it so openly, but the marriage between entrepreneurship and music has deep roots that transcend genre. It was four guys from Liverpool who sang, “It's been a hard day's night / and I've been workin' like a dog,” and tell me if this sounds familiar: young hustler on the make, charming ladies and hitting the scene hard, trying to convince the money men to back his next big hit to be dropped on the masses to provoke mass hysteria and international acclaim? It should sound familiar; that's Mozart, Beethoven, and every other dude with funny hair whose head is now a marble bust.
“Either you slangin’ crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot”
“Slangin’ crack rock” is the freemium model most mobile and Internet startups leverage to attract free users only to convert them to paying customers later. “Wicked jump shot” applies equally to the talent it takes to be a great musician or a successful founder.
The intersections of the music and startup worlds are uncanny.
Startups have VCs. Musicians have labels.
First you have to form your best team. Get the band together. Then you have to get funded (signed). Then gain traction (downloads, airplay). Finally, airplane money (concerts, soundtrack to the new VW commercial).
The game is the same. So is the pain.
The convergence of startups and music was made literal by the original SXSW. Tech Cocktail Celebrate has taken this convergence and built upon it – much like any great startup founder or musician would. It’s like George Thorogood covering, and improving upon, John Lee Hooker's “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” which covered Amos Milburn's original 1953 version. Or like Friendster inventing social networking, MySpace making it better, and Facebook coming in and making their version the one everybody nods their heads to.
Tech Cocktail has taken the hottest startups from more than 25 cities and invited them to a battle royale to determine the capo di tutti capi of startup founders. To sweeten the deal, they've joined forces with the Life is Beautiful music festival for five days of awesomeness.
The lineup includes the likes of The Killers, Beck, Kings of Leon, Vampire Weekend, Imagine Dragons, Pretty Lights, Jurassic 5, and many, many more. Joey Bada$$ just got announced? What?! Dawes? SICK! Frankly I’d be psyched for this alone. Merging the two events together is genius. Did I think of this? Perhaps. Let's pretend I did.
It’s gonna be awesome. A more civilized and less annoying SXSW, if you will.
I’m looking forward to attending for a number of reasons. First, I won the SXSW Tech Cocktail Pitch contest and I hope to defend my title and take home a new cocktail glass trophy for the mantle.
In case you missed it, I won the SXSW Pitch Jam by promising that if I won, my cofounder would get his ass tattooed in Austin…My co-founder John is in his 40s, looks like the nutty professor, is a Berkeley MBA, was tattooless, and did not agree to this beforehand (how could he have, when I just made it up?)
And he did it! It was awesome! My mouth wrote a check that my cofounder's ass had to cash!
It made the papers. (The pictures are the best part).
I’ll be bringing my “A Game” to Vegas for Celebrate and I refuse to come home without another cocktail glass trophy.
I don’t want to give away too much this early in the game, but here are some early thoughts on winning tactics I just may deploy:
- Tech Cocktail's martini glass logo would make a great ass tattoo. I'm just saying…
- Rap my pitch to the beat of Notorious B.I.G’s hit “Juicy”
- Pitch like Ben Affleck’s character in the only scene anybody remembers from Boiler Room
- Make someone streak downtown Vegas
- Steal Mike Tyson’s Tiger?
The possibilities are endless. I’m already booked. It’s going to be epic. And when I get on stage, it'll either be the best pitch you’ve ever seen or the worst train wreck on earth. Either way: entertaining and with booze after, so WIN!
See you soon. In the meantime, start hydrating – and practicing, if that's your thing. Personally, I like to wing it.