“I think just being a person of integrity, more than anything from what I’ve learned from my mentors, is being a person of integrity, doing what you say you’re going to do, be there when you say you’re going to be there, and being present is the most important.”
Justin Garza – Music Industry Exec & Co-Founder of TRANSCEND.ENT; Navigating the industry; Staying balanced and centered; Having self-reflection; His relationship with Ty Dolla $ign; Connecting with the people and the artists; Managing expectations
Segment 1: (Length :04:00) – General Updates; Introduction to Justin Garza and his journey as an entrepreneur; His start in the music industry; Having a mentor; Starting music at a very young age; Choosing between sports and music.
Justin’s finer points:
“I think that on the surface the music industry is definitely pretty appealing, looks sexy. While that is true on the surface, everything underneath it is pretty difficult, it’s hard to navigate through it.”
“There’s a lot of barriers, a lot of hurdles to jump over in order to get to where you want to go. Don’t get me wrong, there’s been dozens of times along the way where I’ve just literally thought to myself what the hell am I doing? Am I in the right place? Which is fine, it’s okay to have those moments.”
For me, when I first got started with the Black Eyed Peas I had a mentor, like you mentioned before, who was the manager of the Black Eyed Peas, Will.i.am, Afrojack, many others, was just an unbelievable source of help for me in learning.
“We had some conversations, we worked on some projects together, we weren’t working together exclusively. But he saw something in me, took me under his wing. He hadn’t had anybody shadow him or was not a mentor to anyone at the time. He took me under his wing. I wasn’t getting paid anything for months, just really just tried to show that I had value, that I could work hard, that I would be present, and I would show up.'”
“That turned in to me being an executive assistant, then that turned into me being a day to day manager. Then it turned in to me signing my own clients. At some point along the line it just go the point where I felt like I wanted to be out on my own.”
“I felt like I reached my ceiling and I wanted to continue to grow. I had to take a leap of faith and bet on myself, and step out of the confines of my own comfort, and just jump out into the world, and be my own man.”
“Luckily around that time I had met an amazing music producer by the name of Develop, who is now my business partner, and a great, great friend more than anything. Our family’s go way back and we decided to start Transcendent together with a very clear vision in mind and mission in mind.”
“So be able to work in every genre of music to transcend about the norm of what our expectations were, to never really have a ceiling, to never really hit any type of plateau just to keep going, and to really break the confines of genres, and basically having no limitation when it comes to music and creation.”
“In conversation was had said we were trying to think of the name of our company and I remember specifically we were at a bar here in LA and I think I said, “I just feel like I want to transcend, I want to keep going, I want to keep moving. I don’t want there to be any limitations. That’s it, what about transcend, what about Transcendent?” That’s where it started. It was literally a conversation in a bar over I think a spicy margarita, so good things can happen over just little conversations.”
Music had always kind of been the central focus of my life from a young age. My dad was a drummer, saxophone player, I grew up with my dad playing drums in the house. When I was young I didn't really understand it. I didn't understand what he was doing I just thought it was a bunch of noise, it was actually kind of obnoxious from a young age. I ended up loving it.
“I remember specifically I heard when I was around eight or nine years old he was playing along, he’s in our family room, had the speakers turned on as loud as possible and he was playing along to Third Eye Blind’s self-titled album, which is like this red and black cover, still one of my favorite albums to this day. He was drumming along to that record and I was, “I want to play drums. My dad looks like a badass and that looks like a lot of fun.”
“That day I was like, “Dad, can you teach me how to play?” He’s like, “Yeah, sure, sit down, let’s jump in.”
“I’d already kind of been singing at that point. My mom threw me into choir at a young age, like around the age of five I was singing in church. It was something I really enjoyed but I was also embarrassed by it because I also really loved sports and they seemed conflicting.”
It almost seemed at a young age you had to choose one or the other and you're kind of a nerd if you were the guy singing in choir, but then you also wanted to go play football an hour later. I was definitely a walking contradiction in some ways, kind of like the more creative, but yet also a jock.
“I struggled with that my whole life and that theme continued all the way through college. I was always in bands growing up. In high school promote shows, put together shows on the weekends with the bands that I was in, play shows on the weekend, go back to studying, go back on the football field and struggled with that all throughout high school not really figuring out exactly what I loved more.”
“That again, like I said, transferred into college. Went to Arizona State to play football, I had an invite walk on there. Jumped into a band when I was in college, started touring, started recording pretty heavily. I got to a point where I had to choose. I had to figure out where I wanted to put my effort, what my passion was.”
I just had a moment of realization and I had a moment of deep self-reflection to understand that the longevity was in music for me and that's what has been fueling me my whole life from a very young age. I knew that's where I wanted to be.
“Actually, my first year of college at Arizona State I was studying graphic design. I really loved design and as much as I did love it I didn’t get to speak to anyone for like a whole year. I was just sitting inside the design center on my laptop. I’m very conversational, I’m very social. It wasn’t fulfilling.”
“At that point was around the time I started to realize that I wanted to study business for a number of reasons. I knew music was going to be a part of my life forever, so let’s study music as well, let’s do both, let’s be an expert in both of those lanes acting like it could benefit me down the line. Sure enough it did. Somehow my major is actually applicable to what I do now for a living, which is rare. I’m glad I chose what I did.”
Segment 2: (Length :08:00) – Talking with Justin; His relationship with Ty Dolla $ign; Navigating the industry; Connecting with the people and the artists; Managing expectations.
Justin’s finer points:
“When I was working for the company that I was with called Grassroots Music at the time I was just serving more as an executive assistant. I just started signing.”
“If you like producers and things that I could still manage while I was fulfilling a full-time role as a staff member at part of a management company and started signing some producers, kept me busy creating my own name in the management world.”
“Ty is shooting a music video. I need you to be there and make sure that it goes smooth.” I was like, “All right, let’s go.” I go there, we just hit it off from the jump.”
“For whatever reason Ty just really gravitated towards me, I gravitated towards him and ended up just being assigned to the project altogether. My boss just put me in the driver’s seat even though at the time I’d never worked on a project to that capacity where I really had the power to navigate on my own.”
“A lot of things were done on the fly. A lot of things were my decisions were just strictly based off my intuition and just reaction based, reaction based but also with strategy. I had to sit there and think on my toes but also being thorough, so not being fully reactionary, but being able to sit there and think through my decisions within 10 seconds is this the right move to make, kind of putting myself in my bosses shoes, a more seasoned veteran who really knows the business, what would he do in this situation.”
We saw a lot, we did a lot, we overcame a lot. We had a lot of wins, there were a lot of frustrating moments, a lot of sleepless nights waking up in different cities having no clue where I was at all. Getting off the bus and somehow I'm in Norway just no idea, completely discombobulated from everything and waking up in a different city every day with him was quite a journey and I feel really blessed for that.
“It was truly an amazing year. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I really got a good understanding of being on the road and being in a management position with a pretty high level artist at a young age. It was really like my boss set me on fire and was like, “Hey, figure it out. Put yourself out.” I think there’s really no better way to learn than to just do that and submerse yourself in it fully.”
(On the Music Industry) “There is people out there that are going to say one thing, do another, will go behind your back, will try to get to where you’re going just because they know you’re going there as well and they look at you as competition.”
“At the same time, I really feel that, at least the people I surround myself with, I try to surround myself with extremely positive people. I’d like to think that I’m a product of my environment and I attract what I am.”
“I’ve actually felt like I’ve been very, very fortunate to have a lot of amazing people around me. I haven’t had too many snakes in my life, not to say that I haven’t been screwed over. I think everyone has in this industry. At some point you understand that it’s going to happen, it comes with the territory.”
Your skin grows thicker after a while, you're able to take more, you get shot and you keep walking, you just have to keep your head up, shake it off, keep moving. Like I said, it's just about surrounding yourself with the people that are like-minded as you.
“When I say I’m going to do something I try to execute on that immediately. If I say I’m going to deliver something by that evening I make it a point to make sure that I follow through. I think just being a person of integrity, more than anything from what I’ve learned from my mentors, is being a person of integrity, doing what you say you’re going to do, be there when you say you’re going to be there, and being present is the most important.”
“More than half the battle is being present. For me I think just being around hard work, persistence, consistency are all very, very key components into navigating through this business. I think that if you’re able to consistently implement those few things into your life in this business people take notice, people will understand who you are, and I understand what you stand for.”
“At the end of the day my passion is people, to be honest. I love people. I love people’s stories, I’ve taken genuine interest in people, and I want to see everyone win, I genuinely do. If I have the tools to help people get to the finish line faster I’m willing to pull all those tools out of the tool shed and give them everything that they need to succeed.”
“At the same time, with creatives it’s a sensitive thing to be honest and transparent because it’s their art, it’s their creation. It’s as if trying to tell someone that their kid is not well behaved, that’s their creation, that’s something that came from them, something that came from within.”
“You have to be sensitive on how you approach those things. At the same time I feel like transparency is the best way to lead every conversation, particularly with my clients and the people that I work with. I think that even if people don’t like it at the beginning, then hearing the absolute truth of what you think they respect it a lot later and they appreciate that transparency.”
I tried to be as transparent as possible in every conversation. It's really easy to get caught up in the hype and I'm guilty of it as well. I think everyone's guilty of it in the industry of overselling and not being realistic.
“I really tried to make a promise to myself this year about being as realistic as possible with what my capabilities are, what my team’s capabilities are because at the end of the day there’s no guarantees.”
“It’s hard to make concrete promises. You can make broad promises about I’m going to keep working until we hit this goal, which it’s a possible promise to make. You can actually fulfill that if you continue to go. But to be so specific as to say, “Hey listen, I’m going to turn you into a millionaire in six months,” that’s probably not the best promise to make. You have to be realistic about what your intention is. You have to manage expectations for these people.”
“That’s really what it comes down to as far as my career goes as managing the expectations of my clients and the people that I work with so that everyone’s on the same page, so that everyone clearly understands this is what our intention is, here’s the road map.”
If the road and the road map changes a little bit that's fine, we might divert to the right, we might divert to the left, we might change the course, but this is still the end goal and this is where things are at along the way, let's be transparent about it, let's be honest.
“My passion is what fuels me in my professional and personal life and that’s just genuinely the people in my life that I’m passionate about, that I believe in. I believe in their art, I believe in them as people.”
“When I try to summarize what I do I kind of say I’m somewhat of a dream adopter in a sense. I take my clients, and my colleagues, and my peers ideas and dreams and I adopt them as my own fully. That’s the only way that I feel that I can help them succeed is by adopting those dreams and making them my own. When they win, I win. I don’t need the credit for them winning, but I love seeing their expression.”
Segment 3: (Length :10:00) – Staying balanced and centered; Setting time aside for yourself; Having self-reflection.
Justin’s finer points:
“I struggled to find balance. The more I was listening to podcasts, the more I was listening to people that I was really influenced by in the industry or maybe not even my industry, just any industry, any entrepreneurial spirit that I felt embodied the same morals and values as I did, just taking pages from their book.”
“I remember specifically there was one interview with music manager Scooter Braun and he was talking about how in this industry it’s easy to be consumed by everything that we have going on and we’re so stuck in those moments sometimes that it’s hard to make time for yourself.”
“It’s hard to make time for family but at the end of the day that’s like our true currency is our family, our family, and our loved ones, and our health. He’s like, “We need to make time for that.You have to be able to give those people in your life the time that they deserve.”
Something that he said he started integrating into his life was having his assistant block out certain times of his day for meditation. Put that in the calendar as if you are meeting with the CEO of Universal Music Group. It's just as important, it holds just as high of a level of importance in your life as a meeting with whoever it may be. It could be Elon Musk, it's just as valuable. Your time with your kids is just as valuable.
“For me I try to compartmentalize that into my life as well. I’ve been doing that now for about a year and it’s drastically changed my happiness, and my structure, and my mental well-being from scheduling in my time at the gym, which to me is absolutely therapy, it’s a moment for me to check out where there’s nothing else going on in my mind but just decompressing, taking a chance to just be by myself.”
“I can have those self-reflective moments, but at the same time, I’m not thinking about, “Oh shoot, I need to get on this call,” or, “I need to schedule this,” or, “I need to follow up with this guy.” I have that moment of just clarity to where it’s my time, it’s a me moment.”
“The same thing goes for meditation and a few other things. As I was telling Matt, I have a few daily non-negotiables that I do every single day that are integral to my being, and integral to who I am. That helped create happiness for me so that I’m able to do my job well. Without those things, if I do for some reason miss a day of integrating those things into my life it seems as though something’s off. I try to schedule everything accordingly and hold it to … I try to keep it on the same level of importance as anything that I schedule in my work life.”
Yeah, it's super important. It's important for me as well just to put my thoughts ... Sometimes I try to give myself half an hour even before bed to reflect on the day, sit down, write how you feel, what were the highs, what were the lows, what did I learn that day, what did I do well that day, what did I fail miserably at that day, and how do I learn, and how do I correct that for the day forward and for the days forward.
“Having that self-reflection is everything for me, that’s how I learn, that’s how I grow, and that’s how I reset. Those all things I think are so specifically something that I need. I don’t know if that’s necessarily what everyone needs but I think it’s worth a shot. It’s definitely worth exploring and something worth trying.”
“I actually spoke about this pretty recently in an interview I did with my buddy Mark Mendoza who has, actually funny enough, has a series called “The Passion Series” where he interviews people about their passion and how they’ve turned it into a career. We specifically spoke about this and I talked to him about how I feel music is kind of like the least cerebral of all the art forms and is probably the most social of all the forms of expression and it really, truly gets inside of us, gets inside our body’s senses.”
If you can get in there and get in the soul, get in the hot button, and this translates to any business out there. If you can get to the person's problem or passion point and get to the right core of it by you investigating with your questions, then you make that relationship between you and that person so solid that you are so credible that it's going to be very, very hard to break that.
“It’s an intimate and personal experience, but it also lends itself very naturally as being a transforming, socializing vehicle. It’s our shared experiences with music are some of the most primal activities that we have. People can be brought together through a powerful collective that is music. It’s something that we can all share. To me it’s the great unifier of our being and something that we all share, and something we all have in common.”
“Segment 4: (Length :03:00) – Hustler Thought of the Day:
The true beauty of music is that it connects people. It carries a message, and we, the musicians, are the messengers. – Roy Ayers
Justin Garza – Co-Founder of TRANSCEND.ENT
At only 28 years old, the Bay area native is already a music business veteran. In his early teens, he fronted a band and became a regular at Vans Warped Tour.
In college at Arizona State University, Justin earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Music, all while playing safety for the Sun Devil’s Division 1 football team. After graduating, Justin moved to Los Angeles, the music industry’s creative center, to further his budding career.
Within a couple of years, he was already working with successful artists such as The Black Eyed Peas & Will.i.Am, and given responsibilities usually allocated to much older and experienced music vets. Such jobs included heading production for an overseas, 18,000 capacity show for Will.i.Am, Nicole Scherzinger, LMFAO
Justin then set his goals in helping launch the careers of up and coming artists. His first management role, for independent artist Kendall K, put him in charge of her debut, independent released single, which sold 50,000 units its first week. Finding success in talent management, Justin began growing his clientele, working with Columbia Records pop duo, MKTO; Grammy award winning producer, DVLP; and VMA winner Ty Dolla $ign, where he served as his day to day manager, touring all over the world
For the multi-platinum DJ and producer Afrojack, Justin co-wrote the music video treatment and script for 4 times platinum single “Hey” featuring Fais. The video went on to garner over 100 million views in under 10 months, earning Justin a VEVO certified award.
As young as Justin is, he understands the music business in way that takes years of experience to master. That’s why, along with his client, DVLP, he launched an independent music production and management company venture entitled TRANSCEND.ENT. In less than a year, the company has already produced number 1 hit records such as “Ay Mi Dios” for Pitbull, Yandel, Chacal and DJ Chino (#1 on Billboard and certified Platinum); “Si Ella Quisiera” by J Quiles (certified Gold); and three records on J Balvin’s massively successful (28 times Platinum worldwide) album, “Energia
The album earned TRANSCEND.ENT a Latin Grammy for Best Urban Album of the Year. In October of 2016, the company joined forces with Universal Music Group for a joint venture label deal. The first projects from the new venture were released in early 2017. While this young music mogul doesn’t care to boast of his accolades, it should be no surprise to hear that Justin has been nominated by his peers as a Forbes 30 under 30 candidate for the past two consecutive years.
His tech portfolio is increasingly a source for inspiration and new ideas. For the past few years, he’s served as advisor for the real-time collaboration music platform, Looplabs. And in 2015, he began working alongside young tech entrepreneur, Mike Williams, as Head of Marketing for the creative agency ThinkBox.io, launching the buzz-worthy app StudioTime.io —the AirBnb for music studios.
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