Creative Allies founder Greg Lucas on how his background in music paved the way for building his company.
I got my start in the music business back in 2004. Living in the small, bohemian town of Asheville, North Carolina, I got a job working for a cutting-edge music manager, Steve Cohen.
Steve worked with artists that mixed music, art, performance, spoken word, and video into unique forms of performances. Some of those artists include DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid from New York and King Britt. He also worked with the DJ of the Digable Planets from Philadelphia, and Vijay Iyer, a jazz piano player who is from New York City and now teaches at Harvard.
Finding the Gap and Figuring Out How To Bridge It
The tremendous creative talent on the music side and on the design side weren’t able to find each other.
Working with Steve, I got to know a lot of the music business in and around Asheville. One of the players that I came in contact with was a man named Sean O’Connell. After a few years working in the management space, Sean and I saw a shift occurring in the merchandising space towards e-commerce and buying merchandise online.
That really excited us, because the music merchandise industry, even to this day, remains one that hasn’t changed or been disrupted by technology in the way that listening to music has by the advent of streaming services.
If You Build Them a Platform, They Will Come
Soon after, we concocted an idea to empower people to connect with musicians they love around art. After working together on a business plan and forming a team, we launched Creative Allies in 2009. To this day, music merchandise still represents a huge opportunity. Artists can leverage their fans to create, design, and vote, before deciding what they want to go to print with.
Back then, we sensed the tremendous need for a means to facilitate the connections between art and music. There was an opportunity to create a platform for music and art to intersect. This was especially true around graphic design which could be put online and used for social media purposes or for merchandising. Thanks to huge amounts of support and a lot of hard work, Creative Allies has become the go-to platform for doing so.