Multi-hyphenated creative entrepreneur Zack Bia works on so many projects in so many landscapes that it’s impossible to place him in any particular category of pop culture. What started as a meteoric rise – thanks to social media and the support of some well-known friends – has turned into the regular path of founding his own label, Field Trip Records. From finding the next great artist to DJing, Bia is ready to take their creative endeavors to the next level. We sat down with Bia in a quiet cafe down the street from his office in Los Angeles and chatted about his process and how he straddles the line between creative and manager.
Tell us a bit about your motivation to take your career to where it is today.
I think it’s interesting, on that note, to see how one thing leads to the next. What’s good about all the different things that I work on is that there is this underlying synergy. The biggest motivator was just being hard on myself. All real motivation has to come from within.
How did you manage to stay creative and inspired this year?
From a musical point of view, we have lived through a time when touring, which is one of the most important sources of income, has been phased out. One of the best ways to break artists is to go through shows and showcases, but now we are living in a time when the barrier to entry into the world of music is the lowest it has ever had. summer. Anyone can record a song from their living room and stream it. This over-saturation of music is a good thing. Now it has become “How do you break an artist digitally?” So there are all these new challenges that we never even thought about because the business has been running one way for so long.
Where do you hope it evolves?
Music, fashion, all these industries, gatekeeping almost broke down. Part of the reason we build our own record label is that we don’t have to stick to a traditional model. And I think this is the opportunity. We are not reinventing the wheel here. We still play music. But you can find these non-traditional ways of partnering with artists and empowering people in a way that you might not have thought of before, because it was so systematic, and so many people at the top were winning. so much money. Now that barrier has been broken.
There is no one who will be more in touch with what is common than the kids who actually do. And we have artists who are 17 years old and they are the most empowered people that I have ever seen. I signed this kid when he was 15, and he did it all by himself from his room.
What are you looking for when signing new artists?
It goes first and foremost through music. The music has to do something, make you feel something. And it must be refreshing. And there is an obvious talent there. The second part is really seeing someone do this on their own; being able to get streams, being able to network with people, having that hustle and bustle. I think being able to see someone who can go out and do it on their own â it makes our job really interesting because it’s clearly someone who has the vision and the energy to do it. All we have to do is come in and amplify it.
You went from creating playlists to signing artists and developing them. How did this experience go?
You end up taking a lot of jobs that you didn’t think were your job. To the right? You are part therapist, part Uber driver, part A&R, part marketing, you do everything. I think when you build an operation from scratch you have to be. You have to be practical with all facets. And, as with any business, scaling is difficult because when your business is in the hands of other people; there is enormous confidence there.
Tell us about Field Trip Records.
I was always in these different studios during these sessions, hanging out with artists, helping them with the merch, helping them with the music, whatever. And I got to a point where it was a few friends who were all doing amazing things in music. My main business partner took care of the entire management circuit. He had seen so many different sides of the business. I mean, he was 50 Cent’s assistant when he was 15. So he’s been in there. He said to me: “I will create my own management company.” Then we had our friend who is now senior vice president of A&R at Republic Records, he was coming into the A&R world. And I was doing what I was doing with the artists. Basically we were like, “Why don’t we get together, start our own thing?” Because the beauty is building it like our own thing. And he took his two weeks and we just started our business. This is how it all happened. We had a friend who was like a big brother to us and said, âYeah, I’m going to put the money in it. “So we say to ourselves:” Cool. Let’s go. “
Where does the name Field Trip Records come from?
I love the name, because obviously it’s a bit like thatâ¦ it’s adventure. But funny enough, two of our best friends, they lived together in this ruined house that hadn’t been demolished yet – so they had a good deal. They called it Field Trip Estates because it was like an adventure. We ran with the name. I think things come to life as you build them, don’t you? The ethos of a name, it coexists with what the company represents. As he grows up we have friends who call him “the trip” or “FTR” or whatever. He begins to forge his own identity.
At the end of the day, we are dealing with human beings here, and the daily struggles of human life are sometimes the most difficult part.
What part was the biggest challenge you encountered in getting this label off the ground?
The funny thing is, there are some things that you think are difficult and that are the easy part. Much of the music these days, especially this time we live now, depends on this digital push. Everybody worries so much about Spotify placements and Apples and playlists and stuff like that. There are a lot of corporate relationships that make your labels a whole, and that’s why they have such an important role. But then it’s like you realize these things are fun. Throwing songs and all that becomes second nature. At the end of the day, we are dealing with human beings here, and the daily struggles of human life are sometimes the most difficult part. There are things going on in the life of an artist. It becomes how maybe channeling a breakup or something into something creative?
What advice would you give when you are younger?
Five years ago, I couldn’t have imagined this. You must understand that each phase of your life is just that: one phase. It will move, it will change. As humans, we are constantly evolving. And I think what I would say to myself is that part of being an entrepreneur, part of being someone in creative fields, means you don’t have to be afraid to jump in the dark, knowing that you are going to land one way or another, or figure out how to fly on the way down. Make yourself sure that you know you are going to work hard. Also, don’t be discouraged if other people’s business is moving faster or slower or whatever. You cannot compare yourself to them.
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