Going for It: Woman Warrior

The environment of success

ArtistData is an information syndication platform for bands that allows them to enter information once and have it sent out to numerous social networking sites and other relevant platforms.  I know several artists who use the service and consider it very helpful. I first met Brenden Mulligan, founder and CEO of ArtistData, at the CMJ Music Marathon last October.  At the time, he was debating whether to remain in Chicago and grow his company there or move elsewhere.  

Around the time that I moved to San Diego, I saw that Brenden decided to move to the Bay Area. Interested in how he came to this decision, how he handled the logistics of moving while running a company and the impact he thought it would have on his success, I asked if he would answer a few questions for this blog:  

1. You recently relocated to San Francisco. What impact do you think that will have on the success of your company?

"If I was seeking venture capital, I think it'd have a great impact. But I'm not, and I've always allowed ArtistData to be more of a virtual company, so I don't think it will have a huge impact in the short term. However, as I learn more, meet new people, and learn what other companies are working on, I have a feeling the partnership and business development opportunities that present themselves will be on an entirely different scale than they would be if I didn't live here."

2. What ultimately made you decide to go ahead with your move? How did you make that decision?

"The culture and community in SF is generally better for what I want to do and how much I want to learn. Chicago was an amazing place to live, but it doesn't have the vibrant startup ecosystem that exists out here. I felt like after a while, I didn't have an opportunity to grow in that community. Here I feel like a tiny fish in a giant, noisy pond, but I think that activity and energy will push me to do better in the long run. Plus, it's nice to be in a place with a higher risk tolerance, a better funding environment, and generally, more interesting conversations to be had."

3. Generally speaking, what impact do you think environment and community have on success?

"That depends on a million different factors, but I think the right company placed in the right environment will do better (of course). ArtistData would be a bigger and stronger company if I'd been running it from San Francisco or Los Angeles for the past few years. I don't doubt that for a second, because being in a richer environment would have accelerated a lot of what it's taken me a few years to do. That being said, the cost of living in Chicago is considerably less, which has allowed me to stay more flexible. So it's a trade off. But I'll say this .. I think my next project will have a much larger chance of success being in San Francisco than in Chicago, simply because of the network here is more excited to help startups along. That will result in better advice, introductions, funding opportunities, etc."

4. Do you think the same thing applies to the artists/musicians you work with? Like those who want to move to New York or L.A. because they are more "music" cities?

"Absolutely. I managed an artist in Chicago for 2 years who was a folk rock / alt country act. The first time we ever met, I asked if they'd move to Nashville. I'd lived in Nashville for 4 years and knew the community there was more conducive to what they wanted to do than Chicago. It took them 2 years to take my advice, and now they say they're happier than ever. And it's not because they've gotten popular. It's because they're in a community with like-minded peers who are genuinely interested in what they do. They've found that in addition to trying to get famous, they spend their time songwriting with other artists, meeting successful musicians, and accessing a vibrant community of people who love what they love.

"Overall, here's what I always say. Whether you are an artist or a startup, if you're good at what you do, you can make it work in any place. I made it work in Chicago. But if you are in a city with a community who loves what you do, then overall, I think you can have a higher level of success."

5. Moving can be distracting and a bit unsettling.  Any tips or tricks for staying focused and keeping your company moving forward in that context?

"Fortunately, I feel like if you are moving to the right place, its exciting and invigorating, not distracting or unsettling. Actually, the 3 weeks since I got here have brought opportunities that will probably be the most significant in the company's life, as well as my entrepreneurial career.

"As far as tips and tricks, it's all about preparation. We've been preparing for this move for a while, so I knew that the day I'd arrive I'd have internet access, a phone, and scheduled meetings. Had I not prepared, it would have been overwhelming."

Alexis Rodich

 |  March 30, 2010; 9:07 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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