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. Today we highlight Jonathan Schwartz, Founding Partner of Strategic Group
Strategic helped nurture the “EDM” scene in Manhattan, can you recall precisely when you transitioned into booking djs years ago? Did you feel there was a risk with this?
I believe Strategic helped nurture the EDM scene in Manhattan. Prior to Lavo and Marquee, there were many people booking great shows such as: Live nation, Pacha, and Webster Hall for the 18+ and 19+ crowds. We noticed an opportunity to create shows that have the high end energy, lighting, & sound systems that make for a great show, but with a focus of the general admissions guest’s experience in addition to the table service route. I think we, Strategic, broadened the range of guests in Manhattan who would consider going to an EDM show. Marquee NY has been booking EDM shows for over 10 year, including AVICII, Bob Sinclar, Steve Aoki, Cedric Gervais and many more who are now regarded as some of the best in the world!
There was a risk going the EDM route as we were the first “club” to do this for the 21+ market, however we are very close with our guests and felt the demand was there. We are confident it was the right move at the right time. Our management team just returned from our annual trip to HARVARD where we sat in two HBS classes (Harvard Business School) and listened and interacted with students regarding the HBS Case study “MARQUEE: reinventing the Business of nightlife” taught by Anita Elberse. The case speaks to our early movement into EDM as a follow up to the original case study “MARQUEE: the Business of Nightlife” that detailed the business involved with nightclubs and staying relevant. It was clear after sitting with 180 students in class that they shared our vision and deemed us a successful business model.
What is the best part of Strategic Group?
The best part of strategic Hospitality Group is that we are a family and we equally work hard. Everyone supports one another; a culture set by Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss, allowing everyone to be successful and grow (partners to new hires). Growth for the company and individuals are key, some of our best people here started as interns.
What are the biggest challenges?
The biggest challenge for me, is to keep getting better. Each day, we are only as good as today in the hospitality business. Our challenge is to be great at all times. If it snows outside in NYC, we need to be the venues that are still busy, no excuses. One additional challenge is to lead by example and encourage the entire team to be successful, not just one individual.
What career advice would you recommend to someone just starting off?
The best career advice I would give someone entering the hospitality community is simple, find your niche, own it and work harder then any one else in your niche.
As nightlife continues to evolve, what do you think the secrets to longevity in this business will be?
I think the secret to longevity in nightlife will be forecasting and acting on trends we notice in the market place. Putting in the time and work, taking the right future projects and maintaining a great team will be the keys for Strategic Hospitality Groups longevity.
In the days before Strategic Group, where would you frequent for an evening out?
Before the days of Strategic, I would frequent the night clubs I was over seeing such as ARENA, MANOR, and others. I would attend every music show event, or travel to Miami for new years. During these years where a built most of my network and foundation for my Hospitality career.
If you weren’t in the industry, what would you be doing?
I can’t picture myself not in the Hospitality Industry. If I were not, I’d imagine being an entrepreneur taking on different projects and having my large network get behind ideas and/or products I thought were innovative and game changing. I have always thought of taking a product, and seeing how I could move the needle on it whether it is as simple as a hat or a T-shirt line, or in the APP world. I do think I have an audience and one day would like to try this. So many opportunities get sent my way, I’m sure one day I will see one I love and give it a shot!