Industry Focus: Christopher Smith (Om Records, Up All Night, Monarch SF)

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Welcome to Magnetic’s Industry Focus, a series where we highlight the major players working behind the scenes of the EDM biz. These are the folks running the record labels, representing the artists, promoting the shows and just getting it done. They may not get the shine of the DJs on stage, but they work just as hard making sure the parties are packed, the music is perfect and that the artists are where they need to be. We’ve decided to shine the light on the behind the scenes movers and shakers.

Christopher Smith

Meet Christopher Smith - Founder of Up All Night, Monarch and Om Records.

How did you begin your career in the music industry?
I became interested in electronic music when I was 13. My friend’s older brother had a digital sampler and I saw him record a vocal then play it back on the keyboard. This completely blew my mind. I got my first keyboard, sequencer and drum machine when I was 14. This set me down a path of music creation and DJing that set the stage for my career. When I moved to San Francisco in 1995 the house music scene was on fire. Other sounds like trip hop and acid jazz were also a major force. My then partner Steve Gray and myself had the idea to start a label to explore all these different sounds and combine it with multi media.

You founded Om Records in 1995, which has notable names such as Kaskade, Wolfgang Gartner and Bassnectar, on top of multiple sub labels and club nights at the most infamous venues in the world (Mansion, Fabric, Pacha) – could you tell us a bit about that journey?
I’ll do my best to be brief. It’s been an absolute roller coaster and an incredible ride. Running an independent label is tough. There’s never enough money and the struggle is real. When you finally achieve some success with an artist another bigger label will usually come along and snatch them up. It’s just how it goes. However, the music is always enough to keep you going and pushing ahead. We’ve worked with so many great artists and amazing tracks. When I look back on all the wild events we’ve produced…hundreds of them from SF to LA to Ibiza to Dubai to everywhere…it’s a bit of an ecstatic blur but what an amazing ride.

You’ve introduced San Fan to the app Up All Night, which provides subscribers access in real time to live events – some on an exclusive basis. Did you recognize a hole in the market to come about this idea?
The need for Up All Night became apparent through my work as a promoter and the club I co-own in SF called Monarch. What’s clear is the only online platform that really moves the needle for marketing events in the US is Facebook. As a promoter it’s a constant game of trying to get more people “attending” your FB event. If you want to actually reach the FB fans you built you need to run more FB ads or boosted posts. We wanted to create a social mobile/web platform that was designed for promoters pull their fans in and actually communicate with them. We’re still refining the platform here in SF and are about to launch in LA in late summer. We also launched Up All Night Gold, where members pay $25 per month to go to a bunch of premium events. They also get a nightlife concierge to help plan their night and get them into parties. We’re really just experimenting still and refining the experience.

Aside from launching labels and apps, you also have a hand in Monarch. What is it like shaping the face of nightlife in San Francisco?
Launching and running a club is a beast in any city. Fortunately I have some great partners and together we have a ton of nightlife & management experience and that’s made all the difference. The focus of Monarch has always been quality music, top sound and great vibes in a creative environment. I have to say it’s been a REALLY fun experience that has only increased my passion for dance music and the amazing people it attracts.

What are the most exciting aspects of your job?
My job and life are exciting because I’m working on so many different things…yet they all tie together! Music Produciton, DJing, running the Om label, Monarch and Up All Night. It’s a complete whirlwind but it keeps me inspired and engaged.

What are the biggest challenges?
Juggling so many things can be crazy. It’s all about planning and trying to stay balanced…which can be hard in this scene. The key is not taking yourself too seriously and making lots of time to have fun and be creative.

If you could offer advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
If you truly love music and think you have the chops, don’t hold back. Go for it and give it 100%.

Christopher also finds time to produce under the name Shiny Objects and will be releasing a "groove heavy" 7 track EP on June 16th. To say he has a refined ear would be an understatement. Be sure to pre-order the EP here.