Brad Strouse is an Entertainment Consultant and Event Producer for EastCoast Entertainment at their office in Richmond, VA. With over 40 years of working with bands and events, ECE has established itself as the largest, full-service entertainment agency in the country.
We had the privilege of sitting down with Brad to learn more about him. During this interview, we talked about his early years, his life and career before ECE, and the advice he has for others in the business world.
Q: Where are you from?
A: I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio but my family moved to Montgomery, Alabama when I was in junior high. My wife is from Richmond though, so we have been living here for about seven years now.
Q: What are you passionate about in your personal life?
A: My family has always been into music. I was in drumline in high school and college, so I am very thankful to make a living doing what I love. I am also into athletics and endurance sports. I'm actually training for a marathon and a 50k right now. Of course, I also love spending time with my wife and three year old daughter, whether that's at the pool or taking her to her dance lessons.
Q: What college did you attend?
A: I went to Auburn University.
Q: What did you study in school?
A: Broadcast Journalism and Mass Communication. I had the opportunity to intern at the radio station where I had my own metal radio show.
Q: Tell me about your early career.
A: Right out of college, I started as a videographer for a news station. I was working from 4 am until noon and realized that was not what I wanted to do. Through friends I got on as an intern with a record label for about six months. I got connected to another guy through that and ended up at a booking agency on the Christian music side of things. I was working from home with that, but I am a people-person and missed having those face-to-face interactions which is why I came to ECE.
Q: What is EastCoast Entertainment?
A: As the match-maker between artists and events, we work as the liaison to find the right artists and bands for weddings, corporate events, and so on. We also help to develop artists' and bands' social media and image for their own growth in the industry. On top of that, we are a turn-key service. We handle the stage, lights, transportation, crew - you name it.
Q: How long have you been in business?
A: I've been in the music industry for over a decade. I've been with ECE for three and a half years.
Q: What have been the biggest challenges in growing within the business? What have you done differently as a result?
A: My biggest challenge has been my personal strategy. It's essentially a sales role, so I am responsible for generating leads which is much more relationship-oriented than my previous jobs. I have had to grow as a relationship-builder and client-oriented individual.
Q: Have you ever had instances in which clients were unhappy, and what do you do when something like that happens?
A: Definitely. I always email the weekend's past clients to check in, and it does happen occasionally where someone is unhappy. The biggest things that you can do are to be very open and honest in your explanations and to listen to them so that they feel heard.
Q: Do you have work / life balance? How have you managed to improve the joy and fulfillment in your life.
A: It's really tough to balance the two. This isn't a 9-5 job. I work a lot of nights and weekends, so I try to be very intentional about spending time with my family by blocking off time without phone calls or emails and being aware of when I am over-doing it with work. People are genuinely understanding when I am transparent with them about why I am unavailable at a certain time.
Q: What advice would you give other entrepreneurs / small business owners?
A: Find a way to integrate your passions into your career. Even if it's not as overt as mine, enjoy what you do. To be successful, you have to put in a lot of hard work and build those relationships. Be the first one at work and the last to leave, be available, and don't expect opportunities to land in your lap. Keep pushing and eventually you will start to create your own luck.
“How I Got Started...” is a blog series that spotlights the entrepreneurial and life journeys of various small business owners and professionals. The content of this blog was curated by members of the CreativeMktGroup team.