Seth Combs is one of those people you will never forget meeting; his mind moves at a calculated 175 BPM staying with you but always a thought or two ahead of you, no matter how hard you try to keep up. He rarely stops working, grinding it out at a pace that would cause most humans to break down on the side of the road. Having been one of the original marketing guys at Beats By Dre and co-founder of SOL REPUBLIC, he is no stranger to the world of music and content marketing, and now he's on his most significant journey yet. Combs is out to dominate the mobile gaming market with Beat Fever, a highly addictive rhythm game that is also launching artists with its massive ecosystem of players. We caught up with Combs to learn a little bit more about his journey in music marketing.
How did you start your career in your industry?
All of it was luck. I graduated with a degree in business and finance, but nothing sparked my interest. Somehow, I came upon an ad for a marketing
conference and decided to check it out. Within 24 hours of the conference, my mind completely exploded! I started reading a marketing or copywriting book every week, got accepted to Miami Ad School in San Francisco, and started calling on every friend to ask about marketing.
Along the way, I got introduced to Kevin Lee, whose father founded Monster Cable. After months of asking him marketing questions, Kevin offered me a job. Within a year, I went from helping market HDMI cables to helping launch Beats by Dre. That was my first peek into the music industry.
Fast forward a couple of years, and the headphones business was booming, but there was a gap in affordable headphones that sounded incredible. Kevin and I started discussing this void and SOL REPUBLIC was born. We spent most of our time working with DJs, Producers and the Electronic Music Industry until it was sold in 2015.
I was planning on taking some time off in 2015 until a friend introduced me to the CEO of a mobile gaming company. We talked for music for two hours straight and haven't stopped since. What we're doing at Beat Fever is something special and can't wait to launch the new app this year.
What is the best part of your job in your industry?
Building incredible relationships with artists, managers, and labels is the best part of my job. We work together on building an artist brand, launching new songs and promoting upcoming tours in 150+ countries.
What are the biggest challenges of getting into your industry, how did you navigate it all?
The biggest challenge of getting into the industry is just the enormity of it all, across all genres. From managers to artists, labels to publishers, learning how to navigate is still a challenge. At Beat Fever, we pay to license music, pay to promote music, and pay to market behind the artist, so it's easier to illustrate the benefits versus the days of headphones.
What career advice would you recommend to someone just starting off?
Get out there, meet as many people as you can, and continue to follow up. This is an industry where ideas win, innovation wins.
As the Electronic Music culture continues to grow, what do you think the secrets to longevity in this business will be?
Seeing each artist as a brand. From the name, logo, persona, even the helmet (for some), all of it matters. You have to know how to stand out and how to build your own audience. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram are great as media channels, but you don't own the relationship with your fans. We try to help artists build direct connections with their fans, from email lists to mobile marketing.
What cities/regions do you think electronic dance music is best thriving?
Some stats recently came out showing a decline in the genre YoY, however, I think electronic dance music continues to thrive worldwide. You have to look at it over multiple years, even a decade to see the massive growth. At Beat Fever, we see Mexico as one of the major countries to continue to love electronic dance music amongst gamers.
Where do you see the most innovation in the electronic music industry (i.e., music, experience, nightclubs, behind the scenes, etc.) and why?
Live streaming is going to be massive for the electronic music industry in the coming years. Electronic music is so participatory and engaging for fans. As the next generation comes up on mobile phones and in virtual communities, music fans from all edges of the world will be able to take in a set from their device. The YouTube stream of Coachella saw a massive increase YoY and that trend will only continue across all festivals, all shows and soon all artists.