Kevin Lyman - A Journey of Serial Entrepreneurship, Longevity, Creating Powerful Brands, Philanthropy, and Passion for the Next Generation with the Founder of Vans Warped Tour

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Kevin Lyman is the founder of Vans Warped Tour and 4Fini. From his days in college he got involved in helping with and organizing events and live concerts. He’s built such a name for himself in the late 80’s and early 90’s that got him to a point where he was working over 300 shows per year. That eventually led to him working the first four years of Lollapalooza.

Throughout his journey he’s met and bonded with several artists, and after working Lollapalooza, he was inspired to start a festival that does it in a different way. That was when he started Vans Warped Tour in 1995. It actually wasn’t till he was 33 years old when he started his business, but he brought 13 years worth of experience and relationships along with him. Today in 2017, Vans Warped Tour is the longest running music festival and tour in the world.

Kevin Lyman has put on many other successful festivals and events such as Taste of Chaos. He’s also a serial entrepreneur from having run and sold a Brewery, Hair Dye Company with Hayley Williams from Paramore, a coconut water company, and much more. He’s someone that’s passionate about giving back to the community and empowering young people. We talk about branding, longevity, entrepreneurship, the future of our next generation, and much more.

Meeting Kevin Lyman was very inspiring. He’s been traveling and doing promotion for this upcoming Vans Warped Tour for several weeks now. During this campaign, he’s visited several universities, festivals, and many other press opportunities. It was a huge honor for him to take the time for this conversation for our show. Not only did he take the time for this podcast, but also afterwards he had a meeting with a student from UCF that wanted to talk to him about the music industry. He’s not only someone who preaches philanthropy and giving back, but he lives it every day. It’s the things we do behind closed doors that really define us. If I hadn’t asked the student what she was meeting him for, I would’ve thought it was another press interview.

Not only has he done many inspiring things, and build the longest running festival in the country, but he’s also just a really good person. It’s a breath of fresh air to see people with such success to be so down to earth and giving back to others. As promised, below are not only the show notes, but also a list of research I conducted for this conversation. My goal was to ask Kevin Lyman some new questions and try to get him to talk about things I haven’t heard him talk about before. Hopefully I’ve done him justice, and have delivered all of our listeners, Warped Tour fans, and Kevin Lyman supporters a great interview. I hope you enjoy this conversation with Kevin Lyman.

Highlights from this Episode
Kevin’s time at Florida Music Fest (09:50)
Kevin’s future aspirations (10:30)
First album and concert (11:25)
Warped’s collaboration with Vans (12:35)
How Warped Tour decides partnerships (13:50)
How to cater to the festival’s market (14:55)
How Kevin provided Longevity to Warped Tour (17:25)
Top 5 branding rules from Kevin (19:45)
How a band gets on Warped tour (20:45)
How Kevin would produce a club show (23:00)
Lessons learned from Warped applied in new endeavors (23:40)
How Kevin manages his time (26:05)
Booking shows without the internet (29:05)
How Kevin overcomes being discouraged (30:15)
What should a band look for in a manager (33:35)
Bad Advice given to young artist (34:25)
Lessons learned from mistakes (35:40)
Warped’s new program (37:25)
Impact of VR (38:29)
Entrepreneur Bucket List (40:10)
Philanthropy and Warped Tour’s experience (42:35)
Changes Kevin would like to see in the education system (46:00)
Music Business and Entertainment Business Improvements (48:50)
Generation Z’s wants and needs (50:00)
Influencer recommendation (52:10)
3 Values of Life (54:15)
Facebook Questions (54:55)
-Country Throwdown
-Warped Expansions
-Side 1 Dummie
Rapid Fire Questions (59:35)

Quotes from Kevin Lyman
“No one should be disrespecting each other but it’s life and we have to talk through it. “
“They’re a shoe company and I produce music festivals.”
“Sponsorship has always been a thing of if it’s cool or not, but you really don’t survive without it.”
“Coachella is driven by more than music. It’s driven by the location and the celebrities.” 
“We tweak things inside for where the market has gone.”
“Musically it tweaks each year. Some of it is dictated by the environment, the other is by what is available.”
“Consistency, A more designable image, Do what you say you’re going to do, Fulfill your requirements, Stay true.”
“I try to find someone who has a plan.”
“A lot of thought went into the Full Sail Stage.”
“Create more of an atmosphere around the show.”
“Bring a thread to all the brands so they can compliment each other.”
“You have to have people who are driving the company for you.”
“I try to be an active investor. You don’t want to be a passive investor.”
“I don’t want to disappoint them but I gotta look out for myself.”
“When you’re starting out and someone reaches out to you, you should grab on to their arm and let them pull you up.”
“When I’m demotivated now I go plant more plants in my backyard.”
“Do research, it’s so each to research people now a day’s.”
“Don’t get sucked in at the bar, take their card and do your research.”
“Don’t sign something with your first manager. Have a trail period with goals.”
“I try to focus on things that have personal potential.”
“I don’t like bucket lists.”
“I’ve been saving a little bit since I was 20.”
“I had experience that allowed me to fail and people supported me a second time.”
“Be nice to people.”
“If you have something, share something.”
“When you have nothing it’s easy to give.”
“When you have a little, give a little.”
“When everyone gives a little it adds up to 460,000 pounds of food that we did last year, and that fed a lot of people.”
“It takes a village to raise a child, and I think that village has been depleted. Kid’s need help.”
“You have to be on your brand each and everyday to stay current.”
“If you start questioning things at an early age that’s okay.”
“Try to put yourself in the other people shoes.”
“Don’t date a guitar player.”

Links to people, places, and things mentioned
People

Van Morrison
Diana Ross
Beebs and Her Money Makers
Hayley Williams
Rob Zombie
Matt Halper

Places & Things
Florida Music Fest
Van’s Warped Tour
Coachella
Simon and Garfunkel’s greatest hits
Vans
Urban Outfitters
Skull Candy
Good Dye Young
Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival
Live Nation
Modern Baseball
13 Reasons Why
[BOOK] Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
A Colony in a Nation
Country Throwdown
Florida Georgia Line
Sixth Man Cruise

Get in Touch with Kevin Lyman
Twitter
http://www.4fini.com/
http://vanswarpedtour.com/ 

Kevin Lyman’s Definition of Making It
“Sometimes having the time to have a great BBQ with your friends.”

References:
These are some resources I used to help me come up with the questions for this interview. If you want to learn more about Kevin Lyman and his backstory, and all the cool things he's doing, check these out. 

1. Forbes Magazine Article: Warped Tour Founder Kevin Lyman on the Business of Punk Rock
2. The Jasta Show (Podcast Interview) - Episode 237 Kevin Lyman (Warped Tour) 
3. Promoter 101 (Podcast Interview) - #20 - The Van's Warped Tour's Kevin Lyman
4. RAD Parenting (Podcast Interview) - Episode 42: Inside the World of Teens on Vans Warped Tour (with Kevin Lyman)
5. TED Talk: The Walmartization of Music Festivals | Kevin Lyman | TEDxCPP
6.TED Talk: When You Music Festival is Older Than Your Customers | Kevin Lyman | TEDxBroadway
7. Interview at Full Sail University: Full Sail On Air Welcomes: Kevin Lyman Founder, Vans Warped Tour and President 4Fini, Inc.