Behind “Beats On The Beach”- Q&A With Event Founders Don Di Napoli and J Hatch
From October 9th-11th, producers who are serious about making it in the music business will be down in Miami attending iStandard’s Beats on the Beach producer showcase. The event, which is literally three days of non-stop panel discussions, showcases, beat battles, and networking while basking in the beautiful Florida sun, will be attended by some serious industry heads. By the end of the weekend, some lives will definitely be changed.
I recently had the opportunity to chop it up with Don Di Napoli and J Hatch, two seasoned professionals in the showcase business, who were instrumental in conducting a similar type of event along with Sha Money and his One Stop Shop producer conference. Ask around, and folks have nothing but great things to say about these two guys. They are really ambassadors for producers and want to help as much as possible.
Scratch: For people who aren’t familiar with you, briefly give us a little background on who you are, what you do, your respective companies, and any additional information you’d like folks to know about you
Don: Well, to start off, my name is Don Di Napoli, I just turned 29, I’m from North New Jersey, and I like long walks in the park and gourmet dining. I started out in the music biz because music is my life. I love everything from Jay-Z to Kings of Leon to Outkast. So this was my only option in life, since I can’t sing and never really had the patience to master an instrument. I interned at various record labels, big and upstart management companies, hung out in studios, however I could be close to music. I started my own company Prototype Entertainment in late 2004, around the same time I met J Hatch. J and his former company, All Is One Entertainment, were doing the best artist showcases in NYC, and I had an idea to do a producer showcase, so J was the first person I knew could really help make it happen. We sat down at NYC’s world-famous Katz Deli, and learned that we had brought almost identical blueprints to how the iStandard Producer Showcase should go…We wanted to do something where producers could be face-to-face with those necessary contacts needed in this almost impenetrable game, as opposed to a beat battle where it was more about “who could flip a sample in 10 seconds”, etc. First show we did in March of 2005 was jam-packed, and 8 cities and almost 4 years later, we are still going stronger and stronger
Scratch: You guys have both been on the showcase circuit for some time now, what was the motivation for doing something producer-related?
Don: Flat out, I am a beat head. I love the tracks almost more than I love the lyrics, and there really weren’t many people doing it RIGHY at the time. So J and I took that lane, and it worked! I really only did about 3 showcases with Prototype Entertainment, and they were more “genre-spliced”, with artists in Hip Hop/Pop/R&B/Rock and more…they were successful, but besides iStandard, I really don’t have aspirations to do showcases. The circuit is filled with way too many phonies and people that promise you the world, and I don’t want to be grouped with those events. Those same people are now trying to do their own producer showcases, and sometimes I want to tell them– 4 years too late buddy!
Scratch: Talk to me a little bit about how Beach on the Beats was conceptualized, the motivation for it, and what your goals are for it.
Don: Beats on the Beach was originally supposed to be just an iStandard Producer Showcase in Miami. J and I met our partner w/BotB Alex Borrero while doing our event as part of Sha Money’s One Stop Shop in Phoenix in ’07. He was like, “You guys need to bring this to Miami, it’d be huge, and we have nothing like that here!” We then put all of our heads together, and decided to make this thing more of an experience, not just limited to producers, but open for artists, labels, managers, attorneys, and more. Our goal in one sentence– “Provide an unforgettable experience in a resort like area where people in the biz come together to educate, entertain, network, and party!
Scratch: What’s the experience been like trying to coordinate the event- has it been frustrating in any way, a learning experience, a pain in the ass, or a walk in the park?
Don: Man, we have put A LOT of time and money into this thing. When you are dealing with so many intricate details, it would to most be overwhelming. That’s why at the beginning, we all set our roles, understood who is held accountable for what, and have continued to execute for almost a year. J Hatch is a great organizer, so he’s taken the role of project manager– making sure all the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted. I have taken more of a marketing/corporate sponsorship/creative director role. Alex has Miami on lock. It’s been a lotta work but well worth it
Scratch: What do you think the most rewarding or most valuable aspect of the event will be for aspiring producers?
Don: When a producer comes up to me and says, “Since I met you guys or attended Beats on the Beach, I have gained a wealth of contacts and am now working with ‘so and so.'” People like that become lifetime clients, and a lot of times also friends. And word of mouth spreads quickly, so it benefits everything we do.
Scratch: How is the event also valuable for established producers… like, what can they get out of it?
Don: Most established producers now-a-days take new producers under their wing, whether it’s thru management, signing them to their production companies, etc. So an established [producer] may find a diamond in the ruff that could grow their production company, and maybe teach THEM a thing or two! Plus no matter how established you are, networking with the various other tastemakers can really prove valuable in the long run
Scratch: What are some success stories that have happened at the hands of your producer events?
Don: Besides the COUNTLESS independent collaborations that have occurred, producers that have been in our show have worked with the likes of 50 Cent, Fabolous, The Clipse, Jill Scott, Shawty Lo, Method Man, Snoop Dogg, and many more. Plus almost 40 producers have received Viacom licensing deals via our show, and we all know that Film/TV money can be pretty serious.
We never claim that “if you get into our show, you will get a placement.” Because that’d be selling dreams. We provide the platform for you, whether it’s at the actual events themselves or on iStandardProducers.com; bottom line is it’s up to you to deliver the goods and have the determination to follow-up, build, then nurture relationships
Scratch: What are the perks of attending Beats on the Beach?
J Hatch- Being able to walk up and hand your CD to someone who is extremely influential in the music industry cutting out all the red tape. The networking opportunities alone are worth that trip to the beach.
Scratch: Though you were involved in it, how does something like Beats on the Beach differ, if at all, from something like Sha Money’s One Stop Shop Producer Conference in Arizona?
Don: Well, we market, consult, promote, and do our iStandard Producer Showcase as part of Sha Money’s One Stop Shop. So we are all family. We just see our event as an East Coast brother to OSS…
J Hatch: Beats on The Beach also creates a different atmosphere for networking.
Scratch: Why do you think it’s essential for all producers to be at Beats on the Beach, and how many times should a beatmaker kick himself in the head for not going?
J Hatch: He or she should kick themselves in the head every time there alone in their room making beats for no one to hear them. They may knock themselves out, literally.