The places where we are exposed to the music that shape us all can in many ways be just as important to us as the music itself. Festivals like Warped Tour, Lollapalooza, Coachella, and Bonnaroo are all significant to those who attend them year in and year out. Last year, however, we lost The Bamboozle Festival, a festival that has been integral to so many memories over the past ten years. There’s a story behind it’s downfall, and a man who has been waiting to explain it for over a year as he rebuilt a past love, Skate & Surf, and prepared to launch a new one, GameChanger.
Today, PropertyOfZack is incredibly excited to be posting a tell-all interview with Bamboozle, Skate & Surf, and GameChanger founder, John D. The interview is long, but the information and conversation is valuable, informative, and at points shocking. Skate & Surf makes its return with an incredible lineup this May and GameChanger will be launching this spring, so make sure to check out information on both following reading the tell-all interview below!
We’re at the GameChanger launch today with you, John D. You’ve been teasing it for a good part of a year…
Almost a year, yeah.
The launch of GameChanger coincides with Skate & Surf, which you’ve also been pushing for a year. Is this the perfect fresh start?
I think it is, because part of what went wrong in the Bamboozle world was the limitations on creativity. It’s like being in front of an offense that has so much power. Now, when you’re in a mobile space and in the live space, I believe that that’s what’s going to change it. I look at it like this: Raves are outselling concerts, badly. Like four to one. Why is that? Are the DJ’s better than the bands with their instruments? No, they’re not. But what is it? It’s the experience. So right now when you go to a show, you come in and the first band goes on. The first band’s on and it’s great, it’s great, then they’re off and the promoter plays bad music to get you go to the bar. Now you’re at the bar and the next band comes on and it’s like, “Oh, it’s great! It’s back up again!” Now that band’s off and the worst music in the world is coming on because the bars want you to spend the money.
The goal of a promoter is to take as much money off the table in those four hours of that show.
Now the headliner’s on and you’ve been on this roller coaster. Headliners last song… encore… “Wow! Great! Okay, go the fuck home.” So it’s like a roller coaster. But at a rave, when you go in, the music doesn’t stop, and it progressively goes up. So my goal in what I do is to try to bridge that gap; to let the kids have a better experience. And the only way to do that is to visually stimulate them. Right now, phones are taken and put above kids’ heads during the show. Distracting the band… but it’s good, it’s not bad. But we need to get the phones to be a tool. Not only a tool that the fans enjoy using, but at tool that helps add a revenue column, a much needed revenue column, to artists, especially the young ones. So being able to put a festival on and bring artists to their fans in a one-on-one gaming experience which is going on outside.
Today was the launch and it was the first day that we’re trying it. To see the reaction of the fans to come in and play Call Of Duty and to play against Buddy and to play against Anthony, that’s added value to it. That’s helping repair that roller coaster, so that experience isn’t just on and off. Fans aren’t a sponge. You can’t squeeze them for everything they have. I hope that what we do is to add more water.
Did GameChanger come out of your leaving Bamboozle and Live Nation? Or was it something that you had wanted to do that you weren’t allowed to do?
Nothing ever comes out of anything. But GameChanger… When we decided it was time to move on from Bamboozle, there was a rewards pot that we kind of built with BamboozleTwist where fans were rewarded for their amount of time. It was kind of boring and BoozleTwist and CrowdTwist could only take it so far. So we had to find a better vehicle for our conduit to take the vision. What’s better than a mobile game? An app that can change, can update.
The biggest thing is that artists are struggling every day because the average CD, when I was a kid, I paid 18 dollars for. In today’s world, if I was paying 18 dollars for a CD, it should be 30 dollars right now because that was 13 or 14 years ago. But, the average kid spends four dollars because he either steals it, or only buys one song. The average person that buys a record is far and few between the kids that are stealing it or the kids that are just buying it single. The average price has been pushed down to four dollars. How do we (you and I) get the 26 dollars back? How do the artists get it back? How do the record labels get it back? They can’t. You can’t charge more for a concert ticket; you can’t charge more for merch. There are only so many times a band can come through a market without hurting their worth in the market. How do you do all that? You have to create a new space. And the best way to take something from a kid (because I have two) is to game them. I believe that if the artists believe in what we’re doing, and make the right games, I think you’ve seen one today, we’re going to release the best games out there. The artists are developing them. You can see it in the room right now. T. Mills is sitting in there with a developer going over his game.
These are all beta models that we’re showing today. But when they’re ready for game play, they’re going to be fine-tuned and artist approved. It’s not like I’m slapping on a label, I work with the artists. I spend a lot of time; I work with them in concept and recruitment. It’s hard to sell somebody a dream. It’s hard to say hey, I’m making mobile games, just sign away with me. So I set out to get 20 bands. We have sixty right now. It’s big. It’s not a fence, but we don’t want the big bands. I don’t want Green Day, I don’t want blink-182, I don’t want Lil Wayne… Well I would… I’d take all of them, but right now it’s the bands that need it the most because they’re the ones that are going to tour the 200 days a year. They’re the ones that are going to be actively working. It’s like, nobody knows the name of the character in Call Of Duty, nobody knows the guy in Mortal Combat, nobody knows Angry Bird. You know Travis Mills. You know Anthony Raneri. You know Buddy Nielsen.
Is this something you’d like to continue with new bands over time?
Every day. Yeah. Every day I wake up and I’m like, “We’ve got to get this band today.” One of the best games that we have coming out isn’t even a game. Here’s how I explain GameChanger: GameChanger is a boardwalk. The artists are the ride. The gaming company that we’re building, the labs, is the electricty. So, the kids are going to come to the boardwalk to go on rides. It’s going to be a community. So the bands that are on the boardwalk with their rides, like Bayside, Senses Fail, T. Mills, they all want more bands to come because it’s more kids coming to the boardwalk to see their ride. Every time a kid pulls that lever, that’s a quarter going back to the band. Most bands don’t see a quarter in four record sales. So we’re trying to put the money back into the artists’ hands, but rewarding the fans. So every band that signs to GameChanger, gives us 300 prizes. So if I have 20 bands right now, I’ve got six thousand prizes to give out to the kids. So it’s not like you’re mayor of GameChanger. You aren’t mayor of anything, you actually get a T-shirt, you actually get a player card. We’re taking the gaming art and putting that as our rewards. You can’t buy it. My platform is dead the minute somebody sells something. And the games are free.