Out on a Limb . . . with Darryl Hurs - Creative Innovators with Gigi Johnson

Episode 8

Out on a Limb . . . with Darryl Hurs

Question: How can you build a rich creative life based on referrals and going out on a limb?

Guest: Darryl Hurs, Owner/CEO, Indie Week; Managing Director, Downtown Canada; Director, Market Development, Canada, CD Baby; Educator, Harris Institute

In this episode, Darryl Hurs shares his journey from studying music, working in retail at HMV, and being in a band to building a dynamic life in digital arts and music business through the reach of the people he has met and putting himself out there, even if he was uncomfortable.  His work of getting and giving work to others launched his own early work for Live Nation in launching VIPNATION.  His life ever since has all been about referrals and reaching out.  He built Indie Week from booking venues and creating discovery opportunities for new music.  He threads together stories of expanded risk-taking from one group of skills and people to bigger opportunities -- and how the referral is at the core of building his work in the world.


Bio

Darryl Hurs has a 25+ year history in the music business including launching and running Indie Week (one of Canada’s largest music showcase festivals and conferences). In the past two years, he has founded 3 new online conferences: Music Pro Summit, indie101, and SCREENxSCREEN. 


Darryl recently has been hired as the Managing Director for Downtown Music in Canada heading the Canadian operations for FUGA, Songtrust, Adrev, Found.ee, and CD Baby.


His past positions include design and branding/marketing for Live Nation as a freelancer (projects included a corporate rebrand and logo design, launching VIPNATION.com, work for U2, Nickelback, Madonna, Beyonce, Jay-Z and Dave Matthews), retail buyer at HMV, and booker for one of Toronto’s top live music venues (The Rivoli).


Links


Our Mission

Through our guests’ stories, we aim to inspire current and future change agents who are creatives, entrepreneurs, researchers, or community leaders who are seeking inspiration and support around creative innovation — changing the ways we create, collaborate, engage, change lives, and build communities.



Your Host: Gigi Johnson, EdD


I run transformative programs, speak/moderate, invest, advise, and produce multimedia on creativity and technology.  I taught for 22 years at UCLA, where I ran the Center for Music Innovation and the podcast "Innovating Music," built four industry-connecting programs, and taught undergraduates, MBAs, and executives about disruption in creative industries.  Before UCLA, I financed media M&A at Bank of America for ten years.


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Sponsored and Produced by the Maremel Institute

Transcript
Gigi Johnson:

Darryl, you are everywhere and everyone. I

Gigi Johnson:

really have been thrilled to pieces to be able to ride your

Gigi Johnson:

coattails for the past couple of years. Can you share with our

Gigi Johnson:

audience who's all over the world, what you do and where you

Gigi Johnson:

do it?

Darryl Hurs:

Thank you and I sometimes feel I'm riding your

Darryl Hurs:

coattails, so So thank you so much. Where and what and stuff?

Darryl Hurs:

Okay, here we go. I own a company called Indie Week. It's

Darryl Hurs:

in Canada. We do festivals and conferences normally, but due to

Darryl Hurs:

COVID, we've moved online. And we now do four conferences

Darryl Hurs:

online in the week in November, that's our flagship and our hub.

Darryl Hurs:

We launched Screen by Screen, which takes place in February

Darryl Hurs:

each year, and it is focused on music and tech. In May, it's

Darryl Hurs:

Indie 101, which is focused really on emerging artists and

Darryl Hurs:

people wanting to get into the business, on education, and

Darryl Hurs:

connections. And then Music Pro Summit is high level industry

Darryl Hurs:

discussions. And that's in September. We also have other

Darryl Hurs:

programs that we're working on. Every Tuesday, we've got indie,

Darryl Hurs:

weekly Online, and that's free. We talk shop music, mental

Darryl Hurs:

health, all sorts of current issues. And that one's really

Darryl Hurs:

great because it's free. And people join from all over the

Darryl Hurs:

world. And we've had people like David Bowie's manager, writers

Darryl Hurs:

for Billboard magazine, certain producers, it's been great. And

Darryl Hurs:

then we also have a podcast, which is basically basically

Darryl Hurs:

everything we do is recorded. So audio versions end up as a

Darryl Hurs:

podcast, and that's released every Thursday. You can go to

Darryl Hurs:

Indy week.com for basically all the info on all those. And then

Darryl Hurs:

we're working on new programs we are working on. All I can say

Darryl Hurs:

and this is the teaser part is we do have a new music festival

Darryl Hurs:

in the works. Coming in 2023 Hopefully, you know, working on,

Gigi Johnson:

this isn't your only day job though, right?

Gigi Johnson:

You've got to know I'm

Darryl Hurs:

getting through this one to get to the other

Darryl Hurs:

one. And then the other thing too is we also have an export

Darryl Hurs:

program that we're launching called Nation by Nation,

Darryl Hurs:

connecting conferences and festivals around the world. And

Darryl Hurs:

then yes, my other hat, which is really important, and it's been

Darryl Hurs:

great is the last three years I've been the repping candidate

Darryl Hurs:

for CD Baby. And new the announced fairly recently is

Darryl Hurs:

that I am now the downtown global team member in Canada. So

Darryl Hurs:

managing director in Canada for downtown. And that includes

Darryl Hurs:

brands, such as CD Baby, which is owned by Downtown, Songtrust,

Darryl Hurs:

FUGA, which distributes record labels and large catalogs,

Darryl Hurs:

Found.ee, which is if you need to do marketing, getting your

Darryl Hurs:

banner ads on sites like Live Nation and in their newsletters

Darryl Hurs:

and stuff like that billboard. And I know I missed a couple. Ad

Darryl Hurs:

Rev, which does YouTube Collection and a few others. But

Darryl Hurs:

yeah, Songtrust, FUGA, and CD Baby are sort of like our focus

Darryl Hurs:

points in all of that. But that's my

Gigi Johnson:

so and then. And then you sleep somewhere in

Gigi Johnson:

there and have like a real personal life and everything

Gigi Johnson:

else in the midst of doing two full time jobs.

Darryl Hurs:

Try Yeah, I sleep about three, four hours a night.

Darryl Hurs:

That's that's about what I get.

Gigi Johnson:

And you are in the beautiful city of Toronto or

Gigi Johnson:

near Toronto.

Darryl Hurs:

Near Toronto. Yeah. And it's really weird because

Darryl Hurs:

because of COVID. Now we're just globally online, internationally

Darryl Hurs:

all the time.

Gigi Johnson:

So you are doing such unique things and creating,

Gigi Johnson:

creating content and relationships and networks etc.

Gigi Johnson:

Have you always been a connector when you were a small person?

Gigi Johnson:

Did you make your friends play together and orchestrate

Gigi Johnson:

everybody? Were you that person? Or were you into music? What was

Gigi Johnson:

the gestation of the superpowers that you bring together?

Darryl Hurs:

So if you're saying when I was a small person as a

Darryl Hurs:

kid, I was probably the opposite of like, stick to myself, and

Darryl Hurs:

that kind of thing. Music was an outlet. Probably when I was 14

Darryl Hurs:

is when I started playing guitar. And I studied music in

Darryl Hurs:

college. Then went on the road and bands and stuff like that.

Darryl Hurs:

I'm, and when I moved to Toronto, I literally didn't know

Darryl Hurs:

anybody, not one person. I came here with a band, and then the

Darryl Hurs:

band broke up and they went back home. And I stayed. And I didn't

Darryl Hurs:

know, buddy. And so, it, it was really through meeting people.

Darryl Hurs:

And often they're connecting me with somebody. And it's kind of

Darryl Hurs:

like learning that the more people you know, the more reach

Darryl Hurs:

you have. And things get easier, because the people you know, and

Darryl Hurs:

so I've really focused on that probably the last 10 years on on

Darryl Hurs:

the importance of of connected, but I've been, I would say even

Darryl Hurs:

when I was in Edmonton, I was started working at HMV. And that

Darryl Hurs:

was kind of my start in the music business as well. And

Darryl Hurs:

learning what sales are and what marketing is and things like

Darryl Hurs:

that. I was always the indie guy, I started setting up indie

Darryl Hurs:

in stores. So at any touring bands, we would every Thursday

Darryl Hurs:

have a performance from an indie artist. And yeah, I've always

Darryl Hurs:

been sort of the, you know, sort of, how would you say it sort of

Darryl Hurs:

supporting the underdog and trying to help artists get to

Darryl Hurs:

next levels?

Gigi Johnson:

I'm gonna come I want to circle back in this

Gigi Johnson:

again, because as some folks who followed the show now, I've just

Gigi Johnson:

finished 22 years of teaching at UCLA and I have students in the

Gigi Johnson:

current era who go, but but do you have to be an extrovert and

Gigi Johnson:

you have to be outgoing to be in this industry? And it sounds

Gigi Johnson:

like you started out, maybe not being an extrovert is your

Gigi Johnson:

natural nature? Yeah. Because people think, Well, I have to be

Gigi Johnson:

out there. I have to be outgoing. I have to be meeting

Gigi Johnson:

people. But it doesn't have to be the core part of your DNA. It

Gigi Johnson:

sounds like it came from wanting to match make music and artists

Gigi Johnson:

who are indie folks, that was maybe the heartbeat and or it

Gigi Johnson:

not the I have to put the I have to put on a show I have to bring

Gigi Johnson:

people together.

Darryl Hurs:

That's a hard one. And it's funny when you said

Darryl Hurs:

that it's like my third hat is I am a teacher. I've been teaching

Darryl Hurs:

for over 20 years. So that's my other day job. You have? Yeah,

Darryl Hurs:

you have to you have to put on that face. And you know, it is

Darryl Hurs:

part of the role like that you have to talk to people, you have

Darryl Hurs:

to be willing, like, there's been so many, so many

Darryl Hurs:

opportunities where I was questioning, should I go talk to

Darryl Hurs:

that person. And if I didn't, I would have missed out on so much

Darryl Hurs:

that has happened as a result. And I could say, you know, sort

Darryl Hurs:

of on the top level side is getting John Densmore of The

Darryl Hurs:

Doors to come as a keynote speaker to Indie Week. I was

Darryl Hurs:

very apprehensive on going to meet him. And the way I met him

Darryl Hurs:

was at a book signing. And I'd previously emailed him. And then

Darryl Hurs:

I found out he's got a book signing in Toronto, while I

Darryl Hurs:

could literally stand in line, and when he's signing a book, I

Darryl Hurs:

could ask him about Indie Week, you know, because this second

Darryl Hurs:

third emails in he's getting slow to respond. And I was like,

Darryl Hurs:

I should just sit in my office and work, why would I go? And

Darryl Hurs:

maybe I shouldn't. I was really, inside my head, explaining all

Darryl Hurs:

the reasons why I shouldn't do this. And then I just started

Darryl Hurs:

that one. Well, maybe he does speak at Indy week. That's

Darryl Hurs:

enough for me to go. So I went and I literally, because I'd

Darryl Hurs:

waited, I was literally last in line, block length. And they cut

Darryl Hurs:

off the line after two people have joined after me. So I

Darryl Hurs:

almost missed the opportunity completely. And when I got

Darryl Hurs:

there, actually got a picture of me shaking his hand. And at the

Darryl Hurs:

point, I'm like, Hi, I'm the guy that emailed you about Indie

Darryl Hurs:

Week. And he's like, Oh, you didn't wait in line? Did you

Darryl Hurs:

know like, Yeah. And he's like, Oh, well, here's my card. Let's

Darryl Hurs:

go get a coffee, you know. And so, yeah, I followed up and went

Darryl Hurs:

for coffee a couple of days later with John Densmore, The

Darryl Hurs:

Doors and he said yes. And we had him as a keynote speaker.

Darryl Hurs:

And that's just one example of many that if I didn't put myself

Darryl Hurs:

out there, even when I was uncomfortable, I would have

Darryl Hurs:

missed out a large you know, opportunity and there's many

Darryl Hurs:

many stories like that. So

Gigi Johnson:

A lot of also story in your head right and

Gigi Johnson:

part of the story in your head that you're trying to say the

Gigi Johnson:

reasons you can't or shouldn't do stuff.

Darryl Hurs:

Yeah, and I've you know, I've read books about this

Darryl Hurs:

kind of stuff like the business books and stuff and you know, a

Darryl Hurs:

lot of them call it like, it's the radio voice, there's this

Darryl Hurs:

ongoing voice that's kind of going in your head and you got

Darryl Hurs:

to learn to shut it out and use start, take control and make the

Darryl Hurs:

decisions as opposed to it kind of telling you, oh, it's

Darryl Hurs:

probably going to be a waste of time, it's probably going to be

Darryl Hurs:

this, it's probably, like, shut that out, and you get control

Darryl Hurs:

and make the decisions. And, you know, the reality is, I, my

Darryl Hurs:

whole career is based on relationships and helping

Darryl Hurs:

others. And I've been basically I was broke out of work

Darryl Hurs:

musician, I just quit my job at HMV. In 1996, I believe it was,

Darryl Hurs:

or 97, I can't remember the exact year. And I found out the

Darryl Hurs:

government would pay for course, so I took a three and a half

Darryl Hurs:

month desktop publishing course. And this is pre internet

Darryl Hurs:

websites did not exist. So it was Photoshop, Quark Express

Darryl Hurs:

illustrator. Those are the programs we learned in three and

Darryl Hurs:

a half months. But during that time, I volunteered for a radio

Darryl Hurs:

show. Remember, I was broke musician, meaning hungry. And so

Darryl Hurs:

I volunteered for a talk show that was about restaurants. And

Darryl Hurs:

so once or twice a week, I really well for broke musician,

Darryl Hurs:

when at the show, where they actually cooked and talked about

Darryl Hurs:

it on air, and to during the week, we'd often go to a

Darryl Hurs:

restaurant opening. And those are really, if I hear I'm broke

Darryl Hurs:

musician, I'm at this high level restaurant eating really good

Darryl Hurs:

food. That's just through volunteering. And what would

Darryl Hurs:

happen is I'd be the one helping the guests and be in the green

Darryl Hurs:

room. And they'd ask, what do you do? I'm in school doing

Darryl Hurs:

desktop publishing. And they'd be like, oh, I need a new logo.

Darryl Hurs:

Can you do it for us? No, I don't know it yet. But give me

Darryl Hurs:

your business card. And I'll just be like, Could you do a

Darryl Hurs:

menu for us? Same thing, give me your business card. And Monday

Darryl Hurs:

morning, I'd go to the teacher and go, here's these cards,

Darryl Hurs:

they're potential clients, you could make money. Take it, and

Darryl Hurs:

they're like, you don't want to do it. I'm like, I don't know

Darryl Hurs:

it, go for it. And what happened was, at some point, after the,

Darryl Hurs:

the course was over, a couple of those students, I mean, teachers

Darryl Hurs:

came back to me with a job that they couldn't take on. And they

Darryl Hurs:

referred that work to me. So I got clients off of them. That

Darryl Hurs:

was worth more than the clients I gave them. And then the school

Darryl Hurs:

called me and said, Hey, there's somebody that needs help.

Darryl Hurs:

Potential gig so is about a month to month long gig, helping

Darryl Hurs:

out a company do their catalog. And then I got another call. And

Darryl Hurs:

it was from a different company that heard from this company

Darryl Hurs:

that I did this stuff. And I've been completely self employed

Darryl Hurs:

ever since. And it's all been off of referrals, 100%

Darryl Hurs:

referrals, my current gigs, so these these extra jobs I'm

Darryl Hurs:

doing, they're all off of referrals to and I've done

Darryl Hurs:

eight, nine years contract work for Live Nation in Canada helped

Darryl Hurs:

launch the Canadian Tire website, which is like the

Darryl Hurs:

biggest national, you know, retail outlet at that time. So

Darryl Hurs:

I've done some pretty big things, and it's all off

Darryl Hurs:

referrals. So I'm, I know that was ever really long answer, but

Darryl Hurs:

I just so an advocate of referrals. Like, that's it.

Gigi Johnson:

Have you ever wanted to work at a big company?

Gigi Johnson:

Have you ever felt that you were missing out by not working at a

Gigi Johnson:

major music or other creative company? Yeah,

Darryl Hurs:

but I am now so I'm okay. Yeah, like I, I, I think I

Darryl Hurs:

would have made a really good A&R Rep. Here to ground, finding

Darryl Hurs:

the bands, I would have done really well in that type of

Darryl Hurs:

role, but that role started fizzling out and not being what

Darryl Hurs:

it was. And so I think I kind of even just had missed the heyday

Darryl Hurs:

of A&R anyways. So it's not like I really missed out it just that

Darryl Hurs:

would have been a cool gig. And I think I would have done really

Darryl Hurs:

well at it. But that's kind of what I do now. For the role I'm

Darryl Hurs:

in anyway, so So I feel I'm in a great position. You know, I'm

Darryl Hurs:

one of the luckiest guys and if I complain it's, I shouldn't and

Darryl Hurs:

it's not warranted so

Gigi Johnson:

so what was the the the seedling of the idea to

Gigi Johnson:

create Indie Week? What was happening in the business and in

Gigi Johnson:

your head at that time?

Darryl Hurs:

The biggest part was simply a lot of the showcase

Darryl Hurs:

festivals were over looking really good local talent. And it

Darryl Hurs:

might kind of go back to what we said, you know, relationships

Darryl Hurs:

and such, a lot of artists are not good at creating

Darryl Hurs:

relationships, but they're really good at their art. And I

Darryl Hurs:

just felt a lot of them were being overlooked, including a

Darryl Hurs:

band I was in, like, we were selling out shows and always

Darryl Hurs:

good crowd, but like we would get overlooked. And a lot of it

Darryl Hurs:

is who you know. So we I just wanted to create festival that

Darryl Hurs:

showcase local local talent made sure industry was there to see

Darryl Hurs:

them. We used to do kind of a competition, where we're looking

Darryl Hurs:

for, like the best of the fest, and the really only purpose was,

Darryl Hurs:

we're going to put some industry in the room, that they'll start

Darryl Hurs:

like a you're being watched by industry, for sure. Because we

Darryl Hurs:

also know, you could travel to showcase festival and no

Darryl Hurs:

industry is in the room seeing you. So we want to make sure

Darryl Hurs:

some industry is there to see you. And, you know, we would be

Darryl Hurs:

able to provide feedback as well. And through that, you

Darryl Hurs:

know, some artists got signed and artists got producers and

Darryl Hurs:

managers and opportunities elsewhere. And it just sort of

Darryl Hurs:

kept growing from that. But, but that was the idea is just local

Darryl Hurs:

talent was getting overlooked. And we want to make sure there's

Darryl Hurs:

a local festival, indie week was really a hobby. It wasn't a

Darryl Hurs:

business. It was just let's have bands and bars that are local,

Darryl Hurs:

that are doing great that need to be recognized. And it's just

Darryl Hurs:

grown from there.

Gigi Johnson:

And this was the early. This is the early 2000s.

Darryl Hurs:

Yeah, like 2003, 2004?

Gigi Johnson:

How did you find? How did you? How'd you find it?

Darryl Hurs:

Well, in my mind, it didn't need to have too much

Darryl Hurs:

cash flow to get off the ground. I was booker of a venue, and I

Darryl Hurs:

knew all the venues. So I was able to easily book I think it

Darryl Hurs:

was like six venues to start. And there's no fees, like

Darryl Hurs:

there's no rentals or anything like that. Then I got backline

Darryl Hurs:

sponsored and through relationship with a local beer

Darryl Hurs:

company, at the bar that I worked at, was able to get

Darryl Hurs:

sponsor them as the official presenting sponsor, and just did

Darryl Hurs:

a call out to all the bands. I knew a lot of the bands because

Darryl Hurs:

I was booking. And it was actually quite easy to tell you

Darryl Hurs:

the truth. As it's like I booked shows all the time anyways, I'm

Darryl Hurs:

just doing six venues over four nights, it's wasn't that bad. I

Darryl Hurs:

think it was 40 bands the first year. So

Gigi Johnson:

So how did you know to do a second year? And at

Gigi Johnson:

what point in time did you go, Hey, this works. This is a

Gigi Johnson:

success.

Darryl Hurs:

Oh, is it a success? I don't know. Still?

Darryl Hurs:

No, just kidding. Well, it was funny because there was a venue

Darryl Hurs:

called The 360. And like that first year, we had a really

Darryl Hurs:

great launch, like great crowds. And this is when our also people

Darryl Hurs:

went out for music for the sake of music and discovery in

Darryl Hurs:

Toronto had Queen Street where all the venues are along one

Darryl Hurs:

street, you could walk easy to it. So it's very different than

Darryl Hurs:

it is now. And on the Saturday night, an agent friend, he

Darryl Hurs:

walked over to me, and remember, I was still in a band to myself.

Darryl Hurs:

And he walked over and he said, You know what you got to do now,

Darryl Hurs:

you got to decide whether you're one of them. And he pointed to

Darryl Hurs:

the stage or if you're one of us. And and and so he's kind of

Darryl Hurs:

saying, you know, where's your focus, being a musician or doing

Darryl Hurs:

the business. And, you know, I tried to do the band, I think

Darryl Hurs:

for a year after that. And I decided to do the business side

Darryl Hurs:

of it. And I was really heavy in Live Nation work at that time.

Darryl Hurs:

And as teaching Live Nation, booking a venue in a band and

Darryl Hurs:

then got rid of that and then in the week, so see I had five jobs

Darryl Hurs:

and two and it just was an exciting thing. You know, like,

Darryl Hurs:

here's a new project. It's exciting. And for launch is like

Darryl Hurs:

okay, that was really good. Can we add more bars next year? And

Darryl Hurs:

can we have 60 bands? Can we do 80 bands so so it was kind of a

Darryl Hurs:

challenge and it was an interest and it really kind of stayed a

Darryl Hurs:

hobby for the first 10 years. You know, like it wasn't meant

Darryl Hurs:

to be more than what it was and we started getting international

Darryl Hurs:

artists. I started managing bands actually the band that was

Darryl Hurs:

voted best band that year I managed for two and a half years

Darryl Hurs:

that a roster I think about six to eight had artists at one time

Darryl Hurs:

that I was managing. And I ended up managing a band from Ireland

Darryl Hurs:

called Vesta Varro, which they were amazing. So I ended up

Darryl Hurs:

spending time in Ireland, that we did an indie week in Ireland

Darryl Hurs:

that they helped put together. And so they're think, four

Darryl Hurs:

years, six years, and then ended up going moving it to like, as

Darryl Hurs:

things are growing, we thought UK was a bigger market. So it

Darryl Hurs:

moved, it moved into wheat from Ireland to the UK. And we had

Darryl Hurs:

done a few years in Manchester, then Brexit started happening,

Darryl Hurs:

and we're like, this is just going to be a mess. So being an

Darryl Hurs:

international or a sort of foreigner working in the UK and

Darryl Hurs:

all that. So we just pulled the plug on that side and focused on

Darryl Hurs:

Canada. And by that point, Canada grown. I think we were

Darryl Hurs:

doing 24 venues over the four nights and up to 240 artists

Darryl Hurs:

internationally. So it, it became a thing for sure. And,

Darryl Hurs:

and we needed to focus on it. And we had other contracts. Yep.

Darryl Hurs:

We Yeah, like Sony

Gigi Johnson:

tiny staff was half a dozen people have to take

Gigi Johnson:

to

Darryl Hurs:

put on four to six all the time. Yeah, it's about

Darryl Hurs:

four to six is of course staff. And it changes, you know, here

Darryl Hurs:

and there throughout the years. But yeah, it's, it's been about

Darryl Hurs:

four to six, and then we bring in contractors as we need, you

Darryl Hurs:

know, but it's overall, like I find a lot of this stuff

Darryl Hurs:

actually fairly easy. It's just volume of work. But a lot of

Darryl Hurs:

it's really easy work. And I'm being my digital with my digital

Darryl Hurs:

background, I use a lot of tools to automate and try to work on

Darryl Hurs:

efficiencies as much as I can, so that we're kind of getting

Darryl Hurs:

stuff done in 25% of the time, that usually others might take

Darryl Hurs:

100% of their time. So, so really trying to be as efficient

Darryl Hurs:

as possible.

Gigi Johnson:

So when you look to take on a new thing, I mean,

Gigi Johnson:

you've you've given the example of going to Ireland and UK,

Gigi Johnson:

cutting back, extending your reach with the things you're

Gigi Johnson:

doing the CD Baby and etc. How do you how do you look at risk?

Gigi Johnson:

How do you take a look at? Is this worth stepping out toward?

Gigi Johnson:

Do you adopt risk? Easily? Or do you really hedge and think

Gigi Johnson:

should I be doing this? And how do I measure it? Because you're

Gigi Johnson:

you're taking an existing area of business and putting your

Gigi Johnson:

time into it. And I'm assuming financial risk.

Darryl Hurs:

I've always been a risk taker, I'm always been just

Darryl Hurs:

go for it. A lot of times, you know. And I really, like that's

Darryl Hurs:

near make me think because it's like that in music. I've always

Darryl Hurs:

sort of just said, Let's do it, go for it. And you know, to kind

Darryl Hurs:

of if I could share a story, for instance, when I was in college

Darryl Hurs:

for two years, I remember before college, I was telling my mom

Darryl Hurs:

like, I'm out, I'm going on the road. And she she was really

Darryl Hurs:

like, No, you're going to school. And I had to convince

Darryl Hurs:

her I'm going to music school because she wanted me to like of

Darryl Hurs:

course the accountant, doctor, lawyer kind of stuff. And

Darryl Hurs:

literally the day that course finished, I'm like, Great, I'm

Darryl Hurs:

out going on the road see kind of thing. And it literally took

Darryl Hurs:

me only two weeks of less than two weeks even of that course

Darryl Hurs:

finishing to get into a band and on the road. It took me no time

Darryl Hurs:

at all. That was my main goal from high school. And that was

Darryl Hurs:

it. Now I'm free. I'm out. But just to give you example, is

Darryl Hurs:

that I had put a posting in a music store guitarist available.

Darryl Hurs:

They called we talked great. And then they were going to come

Darryl Hurs:

pick me up, they're already on the road. They were going to

Darryl Hurs:

come pick me up and we're going to go to the gig. And I'm

Darryl Hurs:

waiting and no one shows up. And so I call like actually, this is

Darryl Hurs:

dating myself, I actually had to look in the phone book. And in

Darryl Hurs:

the city that we're supposed to be playing at to call the hotel

Darryl Hurs:

where the bar was in and be like, Hey, could you put one of

Darryl Hurs:

the bad guys on the phone kind of deal and turned out? Classic

Darryl Hurs:

bad story the bus broke down. And if they had come dipped into

Darryl Hurs:

Edmonton to pick me up, they wouldn't have made it to the gig

Darryl Hurs:

in time so I had to drive straight to the gig. This is

Darryl Hurs:

before cell phones so they had no way to call me Uh, so I

Darryl Hurs:

called the hotel, which went down into the bar found somebody

Darryl Hurs:

that looked like a musician. It was the drummer. And he told me

Darryl Hurs:

that story. I said, Cool. I hung up, picked my guitars up small

Darryl Hurs:

bag, and I went to the Greyhound station, hopped on the

Darryl Hurs:

Greyhound, and literally went to the city and had not met this

Darryl Hurs:

band before. And as I the cab dropped me off, I saw a couple

Darryl Hurs:

guys unloading gear out of a school bus. And I just said,

Darryl Hurs:

Hey, I'm your new guitarist, so I hadn't even met them. And

Darryl Hurs:

ended up being on the road for I think, six, eight months with

Darryl Hurs:

them. And that's where I first cut my teeth on the road. But

Darryl Hurs:

that's even the case like then fast forwarding the band I was

Darryl Hurs:

in and the singer said, Hey, I'm moving to Toronto. I'm like,

Darryl Hurs:

Cool, I'll go. And just like she's like a Sure, yeah, no

Darryl Hurs:

problem. Like, no thought, no hesitation. And I've really felt

Darryl Hurs:

anytime I've done that kind of leap. It's always been for the

Darryl Hurs:

better, almost always. So I've got a attitude of just go for

Darryl Hurs:

it. And and I feel there's going to be mistakes. And I know that

Darryl Hurs:

like within a week, we've made so many mistakes and all that

Darryl Hurs:

kind of stuff. But in saying yes and going for it, you're already

Darryl Hurs:

going faster than your competition. And I often find

Darryl Hurs:

the competition is slow moving. And oh, should we I don't know,

Darryl Hurs:

you've already got blown past them. And so that kind of

Darryl Hurs:

attitude. And we can fast forward to COVID. And we're

Darryl Hurs:

like, Can we do this online? Maybe we pause for a few months.

Darryl Hurs:

And it was really scary. Like we're looking to close shop

Darryl Hurs:

completely. But when we made that decision, we were full on.

Darryl Hurs:

We launched a weekly, we launched a mentorship, we

Darryl Hurs:

launched a conference online, when we finished the conference

Darryl Hurs:

and saw success, we launched three more conferences online.

Darryl Hurs:

So now we're doing four conferences, a weekly session,

Darryl Hurs:

the audio is turned into a podcast. And so being that

Gigi Johnson:

much more global, very global, much more global.

Darryl Hurs:

Yeah, than ever before. And so it's it's having

Darryl Hurs:

that ability to be nimble and agile and be reactionary to the

Darryl Hurs:

market. And that that's what I found to be very key is that I

Darryl Hurs:

think a lot of companies can't react quickly enough to what the

Darryl Hurs:

demands are. And I think that's where our strengths lie right

Darryl Hurs:

now.

Gigi Johnson:

biggest risk you've ever taken.

Darryl Hurs:

Oh, man, biggest risk. It might have been the

Darryl Hurs:

move to Toronto without any plan, other than being in a band

Darryl Hurs:

that knew nobody or nothing here that that's one. During the new

Darryl Hurs:

weeks in, in foreign countries, that's a big risk. It's hard to

Darryl Hurs:

say what the biggest risk is tell you the truth. Because

Darryl Hurs:

they're all risks. They're all pretty big.

Gigi Johnson:

And then of all the things you're doing what

Gigi Johnson:

gives you the most satisfaction?

Darryl Hurs:

Well, it's combined everything in the sense that a

Darryl Hurs:

lot of the same motivation for me working with Downtown, and

Darryl Hurs:

the way we look at it downtown is we have all these services

Darryl Hurs:

that help artists at whatever level their career is. Within

Darryl Hurs:

the week, it's helping artists get education, and make

Darryl Hurs:

connections to help with their career. And the teaching is

Darryl Hurs:

helping students. So really, it's knowing you've helped

Darryl Hurs:

somebody I think is the is really the thing, you know, I've

Darryl Hurs:

got a, I know, this dates, this recording, but I've got a dinner

Darryl Hurs:

meeting with a producer. And we were out on Monday at an artist

Darryl Hurs:

showcase. And he's now working with an indigenous record label

Darryl Hurs:

producing Indigenous artists as a result of connecting at Indy

Darryl Hurs:

week. And so there's a lot of different stories out there that

Darryl Hurs:

I don't hear until after the fact I have no idea that this

Darryl Hurs:

happened. And this started two years ago. And he's already been

Darryl Hurs:

up north a number of times. So so there's there's a lot of

Darryl Hurs:

things that have happened as a result of what we're doing. And

Darryl Hurs:

ultimately, I just think helping people is a good thing. So

Darryl Hurs:

that's the main motivator and I'm not hearing it I

Gigi Johnson:

gotta say two stories. Please.

Darryl Hurs:

I was just gonna say And truthfully money wasn't

Darryl Hurs:

really the main motivator at all for like, it's as we've got

Darryl Hurs:

bills covered. We're like, it wasn't like, a get rich, quick

Darryl Hurs:

scheme and things like that. It's, we often take whatever

Darryl Hurs:

money we make and reinvest it in other places of what we're

Darryl Hurs:

doing.

Gigi Johnson:

How about stories, current stories of Darryl, the

Gigi Johnson:

musician? Are you continuing to have your own creative work in

Gigi Johnson:

the mix?

Darryl Hurs:

No, as I said, my friend said, you have to decide

Darryl Hurs:

and I made a decision. And literally, at that point, yeah,

Darryl Hurs:

I'm, that's one thing is I'm pretty hardcore. When I make up

Darryl Hurs:

my mind about something. That's it. And yeah, I made that

Darryl Hurs:

choice. I think I've played guitar maybe 510 times since

Darryl Hurs:

over the last 20 years. Publicly, three times out of

Darryl Hurs:

that. So yeah,

Gigi Johnson:

wow.

Darryl Hurs:

Four times four times, once was Ireland that

Darryl Hurs:

forgot the Ireland. Yeah, but ya know, it's pretty hardcore. And

Darryl Hurs:

you're gonna make decisions yet.

Gigi Johnson:

What's the one thing you have not yet done,

Gigi Johnson:

you'd like to do

Darryl Hurs:

live in another country and learn the language

Darryl Hurs:

and culture. I, I'm very fortunate in my job, and this is

Darryl Hurs:

a big motivator of the work has been, I get to travel all over

Darryl Hurs:

the world to these conferences, and I get that little snapshot

Darryl Hurs:

of the culture, the food, the music, the people, and have,

Darryl Hurs:

I've been very rich in meeting great people and have friends in

Darryl Hurs:

many different territories of the world. But it would be a

Darryl Hurs:

great experience to actually live for a length lengthy period

Darryl Hurs:

of time in one of these areas where I will learn the language

Darryl Hurs:

and culture. But yeah, I've I've been very, you know, through the

Darryl Hurs:

hard times, like like within the week we've dealt with like, I

Darryl Hurs:

kind of was joking during COVID. In Ireland, I had to deal with a

Darryl Hurs:

volcano in Iceland that stranded us there for a week. That's not

Darryl Hurs:

easy on the budget. Also in Ireland, we've had a bomb scare.

Darryl Hurs:

in Belfast. We had the Queen show up in Dublin and that close

Darryl Hurs:

the roads and nobody could get to the venue's. We had a flood

Darryl Hurs:

in Dublin, which Dublin if you've ever been it's split with

Darryl Hurs:

the Liffey. And so in the Liffey, floods, no one could get

Darryl Hurs:

from either side to the other, so volunteers couldn't get to

Darryl Hurs:

the side, artists couldn't get to the site, I couldn't get to

Darryl Hurs:

the other, like, we've dealt with a lot of things. And that's

Darryl Hurs:

been really good experience. And then when COVID hit, you know, I

Darryl Hurs:

think that also sort of helped us keep our heads about

Darryl Hurs:

ourselves not panic, and, you know, start clearing the way as

Darryl Hurs:

to what direction we need to go in. But a lot of the motivation

Darryl Hurs:

has been throughout the years is the people we meet, that it's

Darryl Hurs:

been an experience that you can't get in any other job

Darryl Hurs:

truthfully. You know, it's, it's been so amazing. The food, the

Darryl Hurs:

music, the cultures, that's been sort of like the the motivator a

Darryl Hurs:

lot of the times, I guess, because it's, it's, to me,

Darryl Hurs:

that's you feel very rich, and it's inexperienced with that.

Gigi Johnson:

And it's from you putting puzzle pieces and people

Gigi Johnson:

together. So it's not given to you it's you've assembled all of

Gigi Johnson:

these Legos into what is your diverse businesses based on your

Gigi Johnson:

superpowers?

Darryl Hurs:

Well, it's its results, you know, and you don't

Darryl Hurs:

know where it's gonna come. Like, for instance, right now,

Darryl Hurs:

I've gotten an invite to Bulgaria in a month and a half

Darryl Hurs:

to be at a conference there. And it's their first edition of the

Darryl Hurs:

conference. I just got a call about a new conference that's

Darryl Hurs:

growing that works with the Asian market. You know, in to

Darryl Hurs:

me, you know, again, money isn't necessarily the motivator, like,

Darryl Hurs:

we only have one life, and I'm going to try to pack mine as

Darryl Hurs:

full as I can. While I'm here, so I've got partnerships in

Darryl Hurs:

Brazil, Peru. Before COVID I was going to Brazil three, four

Darryl Hurs:

times a year and I can hardly wait to get back there in

Darryl Hurs:

August. So yeah, it's it's pretty cool.

Gigi Johnson:

Well, we've covered the calendar, we've

Gigi Johnson:

covered the world here.

Gigi Johnson:

Anything you'd like to mention as we wrap up in addition to

Gigi Johnson:

your great conferences coming up, but anything else that we

Gigi Johnson:

haven't talked about? You'd want to mention?

Darryl Hurs:

I think If there's any kind of advice, yeah,

Darryl Hurs:

connecting others, it's almost like when you help someone else.

Darryl Hurs:

And this goes back to that story of when I was a student in

Darryl Hurs:

helping, like, go into teachers, here's clients, and they would

Darryl Hurs:

go, don't you want to cut not just take it especially like at

Darryl Hurs:

that level, like, it wasn't huge money. But say there was four

Darryl Hurs:

teachers. And then there's a teaching assistant, I would also

Darryl Hurs:

give to him. So that's five people, that if they got an

Darryl Hurs:

opportunity that they can't cover, I want to be the first on

Darryl Hurs:

their Dial List as to who they're going to call. So now

Darryl Hurs:

I've got five sales agents out there. And, you know, it turned

Darryl Hurs:

into the teaching assistant, he called me and he said, I'm

Darryl Hurs:

quitting at 930. On Monday, you should be outside the office at

Darryl Hurs:

931. Because I'll walk out, you could walk in and basically take

Darryl Hurs:

my job, which I did. And that led to teaching. And I'm still

Darryl Hurs:

teaching. That was my introduction to that. And that

Darryl Hurs:

was a really good wage at that time, I ended up for a while

Darryl Hurs:

taking over the entire curriculum. And I was teaching

Darryl Hurs:

three hours in the morning, three hours in the afternoon,

Darryl Hurs:

three hours at night, nine hours a day, making really good money.

Darryl Hurs:

And that was offered just giving a business card. And that

Darryl Hurs:

changed my life. And through that more connections came. And

Darryl Hurs:

I always share this one story, it's really funny is that I

Darryl Hurs:

share this like I am the worst. Interviewer for a job, like the

Darryl Hurs:

worst. I don't have a resume. I don't have a portfolio. I don't

Darryl Hurs:

keep track and nothing of that. I don't have time. I'm so busy

Darryl Hurs:

with everything. And I got a call on a Monday afternoon.

Darryl Hurs:

Where it's like, I hear you do web and Photoshop. Yeah. Do you

Darryl Hurs:

have a resume? No. Do you have a portfolio? No. I'm too busy. And

Darryl Hurs:

I you know, do you have a website? No, it, I'd have to

Darryl Hurs:

update it. And it was all old stuff. So I took it down. Really

Darryl Hurs:

terrible interview. And he's like, but you can do this. Yeah.

Darryl Hurs:

And then he said, Well, what's your availability? Like? Because

Darryl Hurs:

it's due tomorrow? like, Sure, no problem. I'll do it. So he

Darryl Hurs:

goes, and this is early days. There's no real Google Drive, or

Darryl Hurs:

docks or things like that. So he's like, I'll get off the

Darryl Hurs:

phone, and I'll start sending you files. And then once I've

Darryl Hurs:

done sending them, I'll call you again. And I'm sitting here

Darryl Hurs:

downloading the files. And there's like, photos of David

Darryl Hurs:

Bowie, J. Lo, Rolling Stones and the like and I'm like, I think

Darryl Hurs:

this is Live Nation. And he calls me Sure enough, he goes,

Darryl Hurs:

you probably guess this is Live Nation stuff. And I'm like,

Darryl Hurs:

Yeah. And he's like, okay, so it's due tomorrow. And it was a

Darryl Hurs:

so you remember fan clubs. So this was designing the fan club

Darryl Hurs:

card for these artists to be sold through Walmart. And the

Darryl Hurs:

options need to be presented tomorrow morning. Yeah. Crazy,

Darryl Hurs:

right? Worst interview ever.

Gigi Johnson:

This person get in that bad spot? Yeah. Working in

Gigi Johnson:

this area at the time. So I'm finding this fascinating.

Darryl Hurs:

Yeah, well, and then. So he's like, You can do

Darryl Hurs:

this? All right, like you Sure. Like, yeah, no problem. So the

Darryl Hurs:

another way I tend to think is, if I do, not just a good job.

Darryl Hurs:

But I do a great job, I will get more jobs. And really, that's

Darryl Hurs:

the, to me, that's the secret of getting jobs is to a great job,

Darryl Hurs:

you get more jobs. And so I worked hard that day, because I

Darryl Hurs:

had to do three options for each one, front and back and all that

Darryl Hurs:

stuff. And I sent a link to him. And the next day, he calls me

Darryl Hurs:

kind of freaking out. He's like, where's the files? What's the I

Darryl Hurs:

said, I sent you a link, click it. And remember, this is web

Darryl Hurs:

still kind of knew back then. And he's like, okay, it clicks

Darryl Hurs:

it. He's like, Wait, did you build a website to show the

Darryl Hurs:

options? I'm like, Yeah, you click on it, it pops up, you put

Darryl Hurs:

your mouse over it, it flips. You can see the front and back

Darryl Hurs:

and it fans out to the other options and all that stuff. He's

Darryl Hurs:

like, You did that in a day? Yeah. Because I want all the

Darryl Hurs:

jobs like, I want them off. Right? And so he's like, they're

Darryl Hurs:

gonna really like this. So I made him look good. Because he's

Darryl Hurs:

not just sending files to present it. He's sending them a

Darryl Hurs:

website to present it. And I did it on two Time, right? And so he

Darryl Hurs:

calls me after he's like, so now they want you to can you do the

Darryl Hurs:

microsite for Walmart to sell the fanclub cards? Yeah. So I

Darryl Hurs:

did that. So I did the cards. And then now we've got the

Darryl Hurs:

microsite version to do as well. And they're really happy with

Darryl Hurs:

the way it worked. And then I got this call that we've got

Darryl Hurs:

that conference call with LA and India, eight o'clock. And I'm

Darryl Hurs:

like, okay, and I'm still new to like this working for Live

Darryl Hurs:

Nation world and stuff. And so that turned into a conference

Darryl Hurs:

call with that heavies in La plus programmers in India,

Darryl Hurs:

hence, at eight o'clock at night. And they're like, talking

Darryl Hurs:

about a really big web project. And they want me to head it. And

Darryl Hurs:

so that turned into launching VIP Nation.com. And so I did the

Darryl Hurs:

first version of VIP Nation.com. And that was a really heavy,

Darryl Hurs:

crazy project. And then while that was happening, different

Darryl Hurs:

departments started sending us stuff. So I ended up doing like

Darryl Hurs:

the ads for, like, say, hits magazine, Billboard, Viet, some

Darryl Hurs:

VIP passes, a lot of the event marketing assets, like there was

Darryl Hurs:

front of the line access through American Express. So did that.

Darryl Hurs:

And then it led to rebranding the entire company. So we

Darryl Hurs:

actually did the whole brand of the company, and so many

Darryl Hurs:

different jobs and stuff through it all. And the whole time. My

Darryl Hurs:

contact Bruce, it's really about always making the other person

Darryl Hurs:

look good. Right. And his job is to make his contact look good.

Darryl Hurs:

Meaning we deliver on time ahead of time we over deliver, as as

Darryl Hurs:

little back and forth as possible, there's going to be

Darryl Hurs:

times where that happens. But I know another long story. But if

Darryl Hurs:

you think back, it's just turned into like is this from a phone

Darryl Hurs:

call, which is the worst job interview? And where I really

Darryl Hurs:

kind of equated it to is who gave that referral. And so,

Darryl Hurs:

Bruce, trust, not me, he trusts his friend that said, I could do

Darryl Hurs:

this. So that's the power of the referral is like who is saying

Darryl Hurs:

it? Right. So like, if Wayne Gretzky, for instance, said this

Darryl Hurs:

kid can play hockey, you're probably going to trust Wayne

Darryl Hurs:

Gretzky's opinion on it. But if I said, this kid can play

Darryl Hurs:

hockey, maybe not, you know. So it was the power of the person

Darryl Hurs:

that gave the referral. And me not having a resume or portfolio

Darryl Hurs:

website, they believe that person. So to

Gigi Johnson:

wrap it player effect, because let's say you

Gigi Johnson:

don't wait, though, for then the next thing to happen is that you

Gigi Johnson:

then move forward and make the next thing happen, which then

Gigi Johnson:

becomes a multiplier effect of delivering what you say you're

Gigi Johnson:

going to do. And beyond that. So you've been able to do that

Gigi Johnson:

final layer, cake it out on almost everything you've done.

Gigi Johnson:

And so people would like to participate in the next part of

Gigi Johnson:

the layer cake. How can they get a hold of you? And what do you

Gigi Johnson:

need next?

Darryl Hurs:

Well, if I could just wrap on that last bit, is

Darryl Hurs:

that the more people giving Referrals Out there, the less

Darryl Hurs:

legwork you got to do. You don't have to look for a thing, it all

Darryl Hurs:

comes back to you. So that's why the power of connection is

Darryl Hurs:

really important when you connect to people. And there's

Darryl Hurs:

something that happens now you potentially have two sales

Darryl Hurs:

agents out there talking on your behalf. Right. So it all comes

Darryl Hurs:

together with when you're connecting people, it also turns

Darryl Hurs:

into sales agents and sales agents. All I'm saying is that

Darryl Hurs:

they make the referrals. You know, and when example of that

Darryl Hurs:

Canadian Tire website, it was a former student who took like a

Darryl Hurs:

weekend Photoshop course with me, who's a photographer that

Darryl Hurs:

did product shots for Canadian Tire that suggested me, right?

Darryl Hurs:

So again, it's it's another way of like helping somebody and

Darryl Hurs:

it's turned into profit. Right. And that's been my whole career

Darryl Hurs:

ever since I left my last retail job at HMV. over 25 years ago or

Darryl Hurs:

so. I've been completely self employed and every every single

Darryl Hurs:

thing has been a referral, every single thing. And that's worked

Darryl Hurs:

for me, and it's out on a limb the whole time. I had no plan

Darryl Hurs:

nothing i It just helped others and it worked. And I'm very

Darryl Hurs:

lucky. But next, I would say go to indie week.com. You can find

Darryl Hurs:

all our stuff there. And I'm on socials, Darryl hars, you can

Darryl Hurs:

find me anywhere and ask me anything, anytime I'm most

Darryl Hurs:

active on Instagram, that's probably the better place to

Darryl Hurs:

find me. But in the week, you could also contact we'll put

Gigi Johnson:

all of this in the show notes. And you also can

Gigi Johnson:

find all of your weekly adventures and everything else.

Gigi Johnson:

So lots of places to drink at the well of Darryl and Daryl

Gigi Johnson:

team. So Darryl, thank you for joining us. And it's been it's

Gigi Johnson:

been wonderful connecting with you a lot over the past two

Gigi Johnson:

years of the pandemic with amplify music and all of those

Gigi Johnson:

adventures. So I'm excited to see where you go next with your

Gigi Johnson:

team and all of the things you're doing. Thank you for

Gigi Johnson:

being on the show.

Darryl Hurs:

Thank you. And likewise, I'm always excited to

Darryl Hurs:

know what you're doing. And if we can, I'm always like, if we

Darryl Hurs:

can help in any way just let us know.

About the Podcast

Show artwork for Creative Innovators with Gigi Johnson
Creative Innovators with Gigi Johnson
Creative industry change agents who build and create against the grain and with inspired ideas join us to inspire and amaze.

About your host

Profile picture for Gigi Johnson

Gigi Johnson

Gigi Johnson founded Maremel, which runs transformative programs, invests, advises, and produces multimedia on creativity and technology. Her current initiatives include the Amplify Music conferences, podcast, channel, and research with 45 organizations; books on technology and creative work; events on local creative startups; and a new creative industries skills training program. She taught for 22 years at UCLA, where she ran the Center for Music Innovation, built four industry-connecting programs, and taught undergraduates, MBAs, and executives about disruption in creative industries. Before UCLA, she financed media M&A at Bank of America for ten years. She holds a doctorate in educational leadership for change from Fielding Graduate University, an MBA from UCLA Anderson, and a BA in film/TV production from USC.