Dan Larson - Traversing the Spectrum of Talent Buying and Promoting Shows from Okeechobee Festival, Performing Arts Centers, and Clubs

Get ready to go on the journey of many different worlds of a Talent Buyer. Dan Larson, Talent Buyer and Marketing Director for Okeeechobee Festival, covers several spectrums of promoting shows. He is an individual with big goals and big visions. His experience ranges from promoting concerts from small and mid-sized clubs to performing arts centers and to a major festival. His journey began with an angry letter to a performing arts center complaining about the talent they book (he shares this story in this podcast). Dan has built a career of giving back to local and independent artists, spreading positivity and seeing the best in people, and has truly made the music business a lifestyle.

To add a little context, we recorded this podcast at the Beacham in Downtown Orlando, FL. It was during sound check of a show Dan Larson was promoting there that day, Road to Okeechobee Fest, a Battle of the Bands for a slot at this major event. He covers the story behind this series of events in this conversation as well. You may hear a little bit or a lot of bass in the background from sound check. In this podcast, Dan Larson covers so many great stories from his journey, his philosophies and much more. This was the second time I met Dan, and him and his co-worker/friend, Carlos, were really great people to hang out with. The concert was a ton of fun; a band called Gary Lazer Eyes, won the round for Orlando, and will be representing my hometown at Okeechobee Fest in 2017.

About this Episode:
With this podcast conversation we feature episode 2 of our Talent Buyer series, and features Dan Larson. Dan is the Talent Buyer and Marketing Director for Okeechobee Festival located in Okeechobee, Florida. During the time of this interview in 2017, it was the second annual Okeechobee festival. A festival which they sold out in its inaugural year. The 2017 edition of the festival featured artists such as Kings of Leon, Usher with The Roots, Bassnectar, The Lumineers, Wiz Khalifa, and many more. Dan was the first Program Direct/Talent Buyer for Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center in Orlando, FL. He has also owned and run his own venue in St. Augustine. In this conversation we talk about how he got started in the music business, his journey, what you can expect out of Okeechobee Fest, insight on promoting concerts, and much more.

Highlights from this episode:
Journey to Okeechobee Festival (8:50)
What Okeechobee Festival is all about (15:10)
Dan’s journey (18:35)
Mentors in Dan’s life (23:24)
Advice for starting a venue (25:00)
Learning how to negotiate (27:30)
Battle of the bands explained (29:37)
First person who comes to mind when successful is mentioned (35:00)
Advice for the starving promoter (37:25)
Recommended conferences (39:35)
Dan’s journey to Dr. Phillips (42:55)
Challenges Dan Faces (45:15)
Dan’s most absurd moments as a talent buyer (47:25)
Lessons learned from obstacles (49:05)
Most inspiring moments (50:20)
Facebook questions from followers (53:00)
Favorite and first album Dan bought (57:20)
Advice to the aspiring student (57:45)
Dan’s biggest needs right now (59:40)
Making it to Dan (1:02:00)

Quotes from Dan Larson:
“I’m not saying go write nasty emails, but it worked for me.”
 “If there was a place for like minded people in the industry, who know more than I do, I would go and I would meet them.”
 “Network with people who are doing similar things and talk about artist.”
“Mentors are training wheels to these things.”
 “Do what you say, say what you’re gonna do.”
“Rather than quantity when you’re an indie promoter make it about quality.”
“When you build that relationship with that band, that band wants you to succeed because you helped them.” 
“When you’re the go to guy, you get the acts.”
“When you partner with someone you’re fucking married.”
 “If you can find a way to love music you can find a way to love each other.

Links to people places and things mentioned: 

Cliff Rosen
Steve Sybesma
Bill Graham
Paul Peck
Hall and Oates
My Morning Jacket
Alabama Shakes
R Kelly
Billy Idol
Johnathon Mayers
Kings of Leon
George Clinton
 Smashing Pumpkins
Whoopi Goldberg
Bob Dylan
Death Cab For Cutie
Dave Chappelle
Vampire Weekend
Modest Mouse
Band of Horses
Steve Janicky
 Kevin Stone
 Lil Dicky

Places and Things:
Okeechobee Festival
Okeechobee Line-Up
Bonnaroo Festival
The Rolling Stones
Live Nation
Outside Lands
St Augustine Amphitheater
Dr.  Phillips Center
Burning Man
Eastern Florida State College
Maxwell C. King Center
Foundation Presents
The Fillmore East
The Social
Jax Live
House of Blues

930 Club
Celebrity Access
Reverb Nation
The Beacham
Hard Rock Live
Ruth Eckered Hall
Billions Agency 

Get in touch with Dan Larson:

Dan Larson on Making It:
“Making it is finding a dream, pursuing that dream, and staying persistent until that dream is a reality.”