Paul Peck is the Co-Founder of Okeechobee Music Festival, having served as Chief Creative Officer and Head of Programming. A Music Industry Veteran, Paul has an extensive Media Production background as Superfly and Bonnaroo's Creative Director of Original Media where he was responsible for the Production of Broadcast and Streaming Media Content.
He also happens to be the Co-Founder of L1NEUP DIGITAL, an entertainment digital marketing agency. I took on the opportunity to share some behind the scenes secrets that goes on to produce some of your favorite music festivals. I also interviewed the other co-founders of L1NEUP DIGITAL, where I speak to Ross Gassman and Julio Marin about the current and future states of the music industry.
What inspired you to work for the music industry?
I was living in New Orleans as a college student where I thought I had a good understanding of what I liked in terms of music and food. Living in New Orleans had me realize that there was a lot I hadn't experienced yet. I started to learn a lot more about myself from what I enjoy eating to what kind of music I like to listen to. Their culture is such a diverse community full of flavor and an inspiring musical atmosphere. These many different styles of music really opened my eyes as to what I find appealing and the colors of life. I started to realize that there was a lot more that I wanted to learn from their music.
What was your favorite project and why?
I did a super special show with Skrillex many years ago where I had a vision that Skrillex would do a live show with a collaboration with a live band. The idea came from Skrillex's artistry and where it was all inspired from. So I really enjoyed working on this project with him to bring together artists that Skrillex was influenced by in order to produce a more meaningful experience. This way, Skrillex gets the opportunity to take his audience on a tour. The music of Skrillex is such a complex tapestry of different styles and flavors. He's such a musical visionary and a unique mix, which is where I wanted this project to develop from. Skrillex has so many elements like rap, reggae, dance, punk, disco, rock, soul and hip hop. So we had a whole live band together behind Skrillex with bass, guitar, horns, vocalists played by high-profile artists like Thundercat, Mike Inez, Matt Shultz, Damian Marley, Janelle Monáe, Zedd, Lauryn Hill, ASAP Ferg, and many more!
What is the rundown of what a day in the life of your job looks like right now compared to what it usually is like (before COVID)?
I've been very focused on having my efforts be non-profit oriented. The mission statement of my career hasn't changed; it's only evolved. My mission statement is to inspire people, bring people together, and put good energy to the world. As long as I can check those boxes in every project I do then that means I'm on the right track. I'm working with good talented people on impactful projects that I believe in. We are working on moving forward whether that's IRL or digital on how we are going to reconnect with each other. All my projects are about how we can inspire each other and push things forward to have memorable moments. I'm pretty much working all day with people with different expertise to create new adventures and formulate the strategies/executions to deliver for people who are in need. There's been a lot less of enjoying the energy of working together in proximity and traveling to get to meetings, but now there is more time for time management that increases productivity.
Business is now being conducted all in one place. Before the pandemic I had a couple projects out of NY where I was in LA producing a Grammy party for Bob Marley's 80th birthday party then I was in New Orleans for Mardi Gras for Trombone Shorty called Shorty Gras. Then a couple weeks later the pandemic hit and I was home talking to everyone through my screens. Everything shifted so I decided to create a variety show where I worked on it with many talented people to raise money for a local charity to benefit ongoing events for music and comedy. Then a week later we had our first episode and my work schedule got really intense again. I like movement. I need to move.
What is your biggest takeaway from COVID, how did COVID affect or will change the industry?
People will be more conditioned for virtual experiences and connecting virtually. There will definitely be more excitement for when live concerts return. On the business industry side there will probably be a reevaluation of the need for physical office spaces and how much work can be done remotely. I'm already used to working with teams that are spread out all over the country and all over the world. I'm comfortable with seeing some people in person some days and virtually on other days. After COVID I only see people virtually and I've noticed my time spent on commuting has shifted to the time I can spend on my work. I do not think that COVID has affected our levels of productivity in my field. I think that productivity is just as great as ever. I think that it has opened up time that we can spend to finetune our organization, our physical health, our mental health, the time we can spend on meditation. People are going to rethink their need of having an office because all those hours and flights spent on commuting could've been spent on productivity even for ourselves.
What music festivals are you currently working on whether it's live, virtual streaming or being planned for the future?
I have several projects that I'm working on that I cannot discuss at the moment. We are continuing to evolve from 2020.
What piece of advice would you offer to someone who is entering into the music industry that college doesn't teach about.
I think the most important thing to do is to take the initiative to go out and introduce yourself to people where you can form relationships. I think by connecting with other people where the intention is to grow and learn together is the most positive thing you can do for yourself. Developing those relationships with people you can work with and bring value to can allow you to bring things to a higher level. The best way to go about this is by doing internships. You may think that interning is meaningless or frivolous but everything you do is very significant. Even I had a job where I was getting coffee, putting together emails and promotion materials, which was a very important step in my career. This is because it helps you understand the elements of the field and the level of detail that is required in order to evolve. Especially when it comes to how you treat the small things that somebody is trusting in you to prioritize where you do a really good job, that person will give you even more things to do. It's also a fun habit to see everything you do and do it well!
The next endeavor may be more challenging, but with the habit of always trying to do everything well you know you will get the job done. You will soon be able to do more than you imagined and be efficient at doing industrialized tasks. You should always separate good work from bad work even while you're on the path of doing really well for yourself. If you continue to do good work and continue to deliver to people who put trust in you it allows you to bring good energy into your work. You also end up becoming a person who is easy to work with where people will start to bring more opportunities. You'll even start to understand how people can get the most out of you and how to get the most out of your clients to do an amazing job. This is how you grow professionally.
How has the pandemic allowed these skills to shine through? & what can people do during the pandemic to sharpen these skills?
Don't be afraid to ask questions and don't be afraid to reach out to other people. You may not always get an answer, but most of the time you will! Understanding the direction and path you are on is key so always pay attention to detail, take your work seriously, and be easy to work with. Nurture your relationships within your work environment and try to always bring new ideas. Review your notes and take your time.
What do you love most about working in the music industry?
I love seeing the relationships I've had between people and artists grow throughout time is very gratifying to me. Especially when working with artists and seeing them develop throughout their careers where they develop their power and their voice. The best part about this process is that you end up growing a shorthand with these artists, especially bands, that you work with the most as in there is this nonverbal communication and I know what they're thinking most of the time. I love working with a high functioning team where we can put a talented group of people into a challenging situation and seeing what's going to come out from that. That's where the magic happens.