Everything We Do, We Do For Emo Night

 
The first I heard about Emo Night was from a girl on Tinder. When I showed up that month, I didn’t get in. The line was wrapping around the block. So, the next month my friends and I staked out a spot early. I wore a brand new pair of white Chuck Taylor’s. What happened that night isn’t something I’ll describe here. I’ll only say that it was the most fun I’ve ever had out in LA. It was unforgettable. It wasn’t a scene (or an arms race). There was no judgment. No who’s who. Just a bunch of people being honest about what they love and getting nostalgic for yesteryear. And there was TJ and his band of friends, on stage, leading the charge. That night, my Chuck Taylor’s got beat to shit...
— Nolan Goff, Creative Director

Everything We Do, We Do For Emo Night

 

 

T.J. PETRACCA

Who is the audience? You are the audience. If you aren’t passionate about what you’re doing, why should anyone else be? Four years ago, I had just graduated from college and moved to Los Angeles to work in the music industry. I landed my first job at an artist management company, where I was running social media accounts for their roster of 10 clients.

 

There’s a common misconception that this is an easy job (probably why I was able to get this gig right out of school). People think, “oh, you just type some shit on Twitter, hit post, and boom you’re done, you’re a social media expert!” To actually do the job effectively, you have to completely immerse yourself in the artist -– their history, their personality, their plans for their future, how they see themselves, and how they want to be seen. On top of this, you have to battle with the internal politics of the record labels, promoters, agents, and managers to keep the number of awful “check out our new record available now at Walmart” posts to a minimum while still somehow driving conversions. You can’t expect to reach the audience unless you become the audience.

 

I now own my own digital strategy/creative agency -- the Ride or Cry Collective. I’ve worked with some of my favorite artists and music festivals, some baby bands just starting out, some legendary legacy bands, and some bands and brands that I just didn’t understand. The one thing I’ve learned with all of these projects is that you can’t fake it. You can’t feign passion and you can’t pretend to be someone else. The audience sees right through it. You can’t expect to have a captive audience unless you yourself are captivated by what you are doing. It is so hard for me to do my job for my clients if I’m not a complete die-hard fan of what they are doing.

“You can’t expect to reach the audience unless you become the audience.”

There’s a popular meme floating around the internet that just says “everything happens so much.“ The digital landscape has changed so quickly over these past few years, but the thing that fascinates me the most is the audience’s hunger for transparency. Instagram has evolved from this app where you’d post grainy pictures of your lunch every couple of days to this machine that has replaced our subconscious and moments of boredom with an endless supply of visually stimulating images. It’s the one social media app that everyone spends the most time curating (and cropping and facetuning and calculating) how they are perceived).

“...if you are the audience, you know exactly what you want. You know when something feels real and when something feels faked. You have to be the audience, to build an audience.”

Enter Snapchat and Periscope. They both allow you to quite literally be transported to the palm of someone else’s hand, in real time. There’s no time for curation. No time for planning. It’s getting harder and harder to portray yourself on in a way that is not completely authentic and transparent. This is both an incredible and terrifying thing. It forces you to be accountable, honest, and true.

 

How can you expect to build an audience if you don’t truly love what you’re saying to them? Last year, my friends and I started throwing a party at a small dive bar in Echo Park called Emo Night. We had all moved out here to pursue careers that would allow us to get as close to music as possible but there was something passionless about the work we were doing. The monotony of the LA music scene’s Monday night residencies, flocked to by hopeful A&R’s and other young music industry up-and-comers like ourselves, lacked the original magic that had led us to follow this path in the first place. This party was for us.

 

There was something about it that struck a chord with a lot of other people in town. That first night, we had a line around the block. We weren’t Hollywood promoters. We had never done anything like this before -- but we believed in it. We loved it. We were passionate about it. After that first event, we had a captive group of people hungry for more. We put up our social media channels and soon that audience began congregating not only in that dive bar, but also in the digital space. Followers became a community. All of the training and strategy I had implemented and stressed over for so many clients in the past was effortless for Emo Night. We moved from that small dive bar to the 800-person capacity Echoplex, and after 9 months, we took over The Echo and The Echoplex (2000-person capacity) for our first year anniversary party. Our not-so-little-anymore party drew the attention and appreciation from some of the biggest artists in the genre -- Blink-182, The Used, Dashboard Confessional, and more.

 

The artists, like our community, saw that what we were doing was authentic and special and real and they wanted to be a part of ‘the audience’ themselves. Everything we do for Emo Night -- from crafting copy for our social posts to booking artists for our event -- we do it for ourselves. We’re the audience. And if you are the audience, you know exactly what you want. You know when something feels real and when something feels faked. You have to be the audience, to build an audience.