Who hasn't dreamed of becoming a rock star 🎸 at one time or another? What if you could combine that with a "reliable" career and paycheck? 💲💲💲
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I’M WITH THE BAND
It started with a band called Parrot Dream from Santiago, Chile.
“They reached out to me and were, basically, like, ‘Hey, we’re moving to New York. We don’t know anybody in the music industry… Can you help us?’”
Until that time, Randy Ojeda had been managing hip-hop and rap producers. But he felt a connection with Parrot Dream. So he took the band on as a client. Cigar City Management, his talent management firm, became official.
INDUSTRY: Law, Entertainment
Cigar City Management, LLC – Spring 2015
Randy Ojeda Law – October 2021
Mother – Dominican
Father - Cuban
Loyola University – Juris Doctor of Law
University of South Florida – Bachelor’s degree in Psychology
DREAM JOB AS A KID: “It’s kind of silly, but I wanted to be a baseball manager… I wanted to manage a baseball team. That was always my dream.”
BIGGEST GOAL YET: “It’s a bit of an abstract goal. It’s hard to measure this. I just really want to be the go-to music lawyer for musicians in Tampa.”
“There’s so many great musicians here, and so many great artists, I want to at least have a conversation with them. Even if they don’t hire me, I want them to come to me before any other lawyer.”
THE ROCK VIBE
“I used to play bass in a band. So... rock music was more my vibe.”
Punk rock bands like The Clash, The Ramones and The Sex Pistols were his go-to favorites in middle school.
But he also had a soft spot for Latin music after growing up listening to his mom play Juan Luis Guerra and Celia Cruz in the house and in the car.
After Parrot Dream signed on with Ojeda, word spread and the list of bands he managed grew.
THE BUSINESS SIDE OF THINGS
Sure, he loved playing bass and had fun being on stage. But, “It just wasn’t the ‘end all’ for me. I really got into the business side of things.”
He’d already had good practice as the “de facto” manager for his own band.
“When you’re in a band, somebody in the band has to take the role of band manager… I would typically be the one who would help book gigs.”
The interesting thing is, Ojeda found himself drawn to the “business side of things” even as a kid playing baseball. His father was the manager of his Little League teams.
THE STRATEGIST – EVEN IN BASEBALL
“Rather than being out on the field playing, I would rather… be in the dugout helping my dad, you know, come up with a lineup or bring in a pinch-hitter – make strategic decisions.”
Clearly, making strategic decisions carried over into band management for Ojeda.
After going on some tours with bands as tour management, Ojeda realized, the business role really suited him.
“I’d rather sit in the background and be a little more anonymous and be at home with my wife and my dog and not – not have to be touring the world or the country.”
And then March 2020 happened. The coronavirus hit.
At the time, Ojeda had eleven or twelve artists on his roster and several hundred shows booked for festivals, concerts and tours.
SXSW, the huge music festival in Austin, was fast approaching. It was a big part of Ojeda's year and set the tone for the rest of his calendar.
Yet, the warning signs were flashing.
“It was the companies…that were sponsoring the shows [that] started to pull out.”
Then, Austin’s mayor made the announcement that hit hard, hit fast and had a profound impact: SXSW for 2020 had been canceled.
“I went from having a very, very full schedule to having a very, very empty schedule.”
At first, he thought they might be able to get back to touring in six months or so.
It ended up being much longer.
Many of the artists he represented had to go back to working more traditional day jobs.
FIGURING OUT THE FUTURE
Ojeda had to confront big questions about where his future was headed.
“What’s my mission? What’s my goal? What am I trying to do?”
Once again, he had to make some strategic decisions, even though there were still many unknowns.
“My mission from the very beginning was to support independent artists…There was a time period in the middle of the pandemic where I didn’t know if that was ever going to be the case. I didn’t know if we were ever going to have touring the way we do. I didn’t know if that would ever come back.”
So he asked himself how he could further his mission and further his goal of helping independent artists.
The answer materialized.
PLAN "B" WITH A TWIST
You see, when Ojeda had started Cigar City Management, he was actually in law school at Loyola University in Chicago.
Now, that decision about his education was coming into play – with a twist.
He reasoned, “Well, if all else fails, I can just take the bar and be a lawyer. It’s not a bad plan B.”
Ojeda had graduated law school. But since he never really had enough of a break in his schedule to properly study for the bar, Ojeda realized the pandemic was the perfect time to finally do it.
BLESSING IN DISGUISE
“In a way, it was a blessing in disguise because I had, you know, all this time to study and learn.” He was able to reach out to mentors and other attorneys and says he ended up getting a lot of support from the music community.
Those are the people that have come through for him, especially now that he’s opened his music and intellectual property law practice.
He’s planning to revive his weekly music podcast. Ojeda says 99% of his legal work involves music. He says he does some work in film and works with other entertainers, but music is still his bread and butter.
Ojeda is still doing a little bit of artist management and is working with a couple of bands. But the shift has paid off, allowing him to stay in the thick of things in the Tampa music scene.
Those strategy sessions when he was helping his dad figure out the Little League lineup as a kid have now manifested themselves with his other love, music.
ALL ABOUT THE TALENT
“My greatest skill, I think, is recognizing talent.” And, now, he’s helping talent – just in a different way.
“When I was in middle school, all I wanted to do was work in music… So I think 'middle school me' would be pretty stoked and pretty excited to see me doing this now…I definitely would say that I’m living the dream. And I legitimately am.”
THE TIP JAR (tips passed out courtesy of Randy Ojeda, Esq.)
STARTING OUT: “Can I say, hire an attorney?”
Ok, besides that…
“Make a list of your short-term and long-term goals and figure out steps to achieve those goals.”
“Just find somebody that’s doing what you want to do and talk to them.”
STEEPED IN SKILLS (mid-career): “I’d say, go for it – 100%!”
I don’t think it’s ever too late to pivot or to change careers or start something new. So, if you have an idea and there’s something you want to do, then do it.
Note: Ojeda had just turned 30 when he pivoted to becoming a music and intellectual property lawyer.
STARTING OVER: “Life’s too short to do something you don’t love. As soon as you have the opportunity to do something you love, you should take that opportunity.”
“When you’re just starting out, the money is super important because it’s hard to… get things started when you’re starting from nothing. But, if you already have a career and you have some money saved up, try to… let the goals be the focus.”
BONUS TIP (FOR ALL STAGES): “There’s an author – he’s actually an attorney, as well – named Donald Passman, who wrote the book, All You Need to Know About the Music Business.”
Ojeda says the book is spot-on when it comes to describing the music industry and calls it the best resource out there. He says it covers every topic you need to know, including various jobs and responsibilities and who’s who in terms of an artist’s team. Ojeda says he bought the book in its 4th edition, and he has bought every edition since (the book is now in its 10th edition).
I’LL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN: “Don’t wait to get things on paper… This happens a lot of times with people when they go into business with… their friends. They assume, oh, we’re buddies. So everything is going to be fine all the time. But when you’re friends with somebody is when you want to put a contract together… It’s easier to agree on things when you’re friends than when you’re fighting.”
BEST ADVICE FROM “LA CASA”/BEST “HOUSE” ADVICE: “No le busque la quinta pata al gato.” This memorable quote comes from Ojeda’s Tio Eddy (Uncle Eddy).
TRANSLATION: Don’t give the cat five legs when it’s only got four.
OJEDA’S APPLICATION: "Don’t question things to a degree that you ruin it… Sometimes, you just have to sort of take what the universe gives to you… You gotta just work with what you have.”
NO NEED TO GO IT ALONE
HELP ON THE OUTSIDE...because we can all use a helping hand:
CREATE YOUR WEBSITE: 3 KEY PAGES
Sometimes, the hardest thing is to start. If this is what’s keeping you from creating your own website, take heart. Here’s help: This online webinar is designed to give you best practices for creating your website. The workshop presenter is Ken Countess, a marketer, trainer and accredited email and social media marketing guru. According to the course description, you’ll walk away with the confidence to create the must-have pages for your website. Here’s how to register:
THE NATIONAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP CENTER & SCORE (SERVICE CORPS OF RETIRED EXECUTIVES)
Tuesday, November 30, 2021
7 p.m. – 8 p.m. EST
WORKING ON THE INSIDE...because we know our culture has a hard time asking for help:
HOLIDAY STRESS + SELF-CARE
Is anyone already experiencing holiday stress? I’m with you on this one! Mindspring Mental Health Alliance is offering a free webinar on dealing with this stressful time of the year. You’ll get practical pointers on how to not only take care of your mental health during the holidays, but you'll also advice for self-care and resources you can turn to for support. The Eventbrite event description says the goal is to bring “peace and joy” back. Finally, someone who gets it! 😍
You never know what kind of curveballs life is going to throw at you. The pandemic made many of us rethink our priorities, our careers and our lives.
With the coronavirus and the supersonic pace of technology changing what jobs and skills are in demand, it’s critical to be flexible. You have to be able to adapt.
This story intrigued me because no one wants to be a one-trick pony. Why do you have to confine yourself to working in the field of law only – or working in the music industry exclusively?
Exactly. You don’t have to, as Ojeda shows. You don’t have to be boxed into one thing.
If you can combine something you love with something that will pay the bills, even better.
I also found it interesting that Randy Ojeda liked the behind-the-scenes business responsibilities while in a band and learned them well enough to build up a business. I was especially amused that he preferred strategizing in the dugout than being out on the baseball diamond as a kid.
So many times, people want to be front and center. They don’t see the value of being in charge behind-the-scenes. And, yet, sometimes, that’s where the real power lies.
Ojeda says he realized he was never going to be a pro baseball player and enjoyed supporting others.
Talk about self-awareness.
I think that could go either way. After all, sometimes, you have to be driven enough to not believe the naysayers, whether they're the people around you or your inner voice sabotaging you.
But, it’s also good to level with yourself about what your strengths and weaknesses are.
In the end, I just love this example of a Latino who found a way to stay connected to his passion and is still making a go of it as an entrepreneur.
And in case you’re wondering, Ojeda’s dream artist to represent is – Taylor Swift!
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