Editor’s Note: A few weeks ago we published an article that highlighted Peerless Group, a team of respected and innovative event makers based in Southern California. The response to the article was so tremendous that we invited them to contribute a piece that goes into more detail about who they are, what they do, and why they’re so passionate about events.
By Dave Tab, Peerless Group
First off, when it comes to throwing an impactful event, everyone involved should have the same creative vision and end goal. As a team, we strongly share the same drive to make these events as original and cool as they are. Most everyone at Peerless originally stems from artist backgrounds, so we all have an innate love for events.
Lucas comes from a background of touring in bands and has worked with a number of lifestyle brands, most notably, Skullcandy Headphones. During Luke’s stint at Skullcandy, he helped build the Music Marketing and Events departments and activated some of their largest events: Identity Fest, US Open Of Surf, Warped Tour, and a large amount of other activations and campaigns. While working at Skullcandy, Luke met Tyler Kalin, another owner of Peerless who was with Honest Tea at the time. I’ve known Tyler since we were kids as we were coming up in the music, motocross, surf, and skate culture together. Knowing Luke’s band, Ivy League, and my band Mad Tab had similar styles, we met up to jam. With my background of being in bands, booking gigs, marketing, and managing, I started working at Silverback Artist Management. I was marketing for Fishbone and ended up tour managing, working a lot with respected bands in the Reggae, Funk, and Punk Rock worlds like The Aggrolites, Pimps of Joytime, Fishbone, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe and others. Once the timing made sense, Lucas and Tyler peeled away from Skullcandy to start Peerless Group, where I joined them a couple years later.
Being that we originally came from an artist background before the business aspect was ever in the picture, we found a commonality in our understanding of the entertaining aspect of events. With that, we’re able to create a memorable vibe and experience, not just a monetary focused event or activation.
For example, our annual Peerless Rampage during Electric Daisy Carnival aims to do exactly that, empowering everyone involved. We take a handful of headliners performing at EDC, some brands we enjoy working with, social media celebrities and athletes out for the day. Participants are invited to enjoy shooting fully automatic firearms, sniper rifles, blowing up cars, racing off-road vehicles, skydiving, BBQing and more. Essentially, it’s an industry mixer but also becomes a bucket-list experience for most of the people invited. It’s something that we, and everyone involved, look forward to every year... and every year, we aim at going bigger and better. This kind of specialty event isn’t one of our larger ticketed events but in some ways, it’s one of the most challenging and rewarding. We’re dealing with multiple crazy activities and EDC headliners who may have had a long night the night before that just want to sleep when we’re all getting ready to head out. It’s always an interesting, varying dynamic, but every participant that decides to go has an absolute blast. This year we have a pretty unique twist in mind to help alleviate that dynamic. It’s really fun creating something that’s so different from every other event. It’s almost more enjoyable seeing the response of others when they watch the recap of it and look back at you with a look on their face that says “these guys are crazy”.
Most people, when attending an event, have no idea how much blood, sweat, and tears goes into properly executing events like the Safe In Sound Festival we activated in Salt Lake City, in which we worked with SpinGo, who helped make it an awesome backstage experience for all the DJ’s. Every aspect has to be on point and you have to know that something unexpected will always happen... nothing ever goes completely according to plan. It really is a step-by-step process that has a number of processes built into each one.
First off you need a budget. Next you need a venue and an artist, which you’ll have to find promoters or go through an artist’s booking agent until the booking agent and the artist management agree on a negotiated price with the buyer. Depending on the venue/event location, you may also need to get approval from city or county officials. They have specific zoning laws and codes you must abide by or your event may not happen, you could be fined, or even worse, not get approval to throw events in the area on your next go at it. After that, you need to find a production company, sound company, lighting company, insurance, security, a team to handle all artist hospitality and tech needs, publicity, great creative social media marketing content, guerilla marketing, paid advertising, radio ads, contests/incentives, graphic designers for consistent and engaging promotional art, spark demand creation, and once the day of show comes you need to make sure that absolutely everybody on the team knows exactly what their roles and duties are so each individual can play their part in operating the large scale machine that is your event. And as mentioned, each of these focal points have their own systems and processes. The more you do it, it becomes a routine and more enjoyable because you can’t teach experience.
There’s a certain type of focus, almost adrenaline, that coincides with executing successful events that makes imprints on an industry that’s fueled by events. Each time we execute events, we really aim to always add some unique or original aspect that the attendees love while leaving a Peerless stamp on it. So far I’d say they’ve all been successful with different obstacles and purposes, giving us a different feeling of accomplishment. One of my favorite parts of doing events and activations is the moment the event is over and you finally have the time to sit back and reflect on how it went. You exhale a deep breath and fully realize how killer the event was, kind of like another notch on the belt. I love being involved in events that have the potential to spark creativity in someone else to go and do some cool shit that might spark an idea in another person.
That’s why we love doing what we do. Even with trade shows for clients, we do whatever we can to truly make us stand out. For example, we just got back from CAMEX, a college book store tradeshow in Atlanta, GA. We were helping with activation for one of our clients, Aircom Audio. Instead of going the conventional route of displaying Aircom’s headphones in the booth and talking with potential buyers, we took a completely alternative route. We made a TV wall as the backdrop for the booth, which looped a behind the scenes video of our Aircom photo shoot, an Aircom Launch Party video and our Peerless Rampage videos, which Aircom was a main sponsor at. Then we had two floor displays so buyers could see what the product would look like in their stores. The thing that set us apart was that we showcased Aircom’s headphones by using Samsung’s version of the Oculus Rift, which is an incredible Virtual Reality technology that takes you out of your normal reality for the time you’re wearing the VR goggles. We did this to not only have an attraction that stood out from all the other booths, but boldly showed how much body and fullness there was in the sound of the headphones. Other booths weren’t as interactive so by the start of day two, we had small crowds around the booth throughout the day. By the end of the trade show, Aircom had been a hit. As small as these details may seem at trade shows, it was the one-of-a-kind experience that set us apart, going back to our commitment in making event different in their own way.
Although events are an exceptionally important part of Peerless Group, we also offer a whole bank of services depending on what our clientele is looking for. It’s interesting meeting people who have only heard of us through one facet of Peerless and letting them know we have so much more to offer. Others, at times, don’t necessarily know what exactly we do because we do so much. I think it’s great because we can be utilized as a one-stop-shop for clients or potential clients who would otherwise have to hire other businesses for the separate services. Peerless Events is a division we are aiming to create so events can be even more consistent in our brand, allowing us to execute unique events for anyone out there that wants to throw events but might not be a pre-existing client or somebody utilizing the rest of our services. I think we’re all pretty excited at making this division concrete while working on adding various divisions such as Peerless Designs, Peerless Licensing, Peerless Records onto our pre-existing divisions like Peerless Merch under Peerless Group Entertainment.
I believe we all look forward to being a component in watching Peerless Group continue to grow throughout these mentioned avenues and being a part of that overall growth of Peerless. The growth will give us the opportunity to concoct and execute events on a larger scale which will drive us to continually push our collective, creative boundaries when it comes to assuring each event is unique, successful, and better than the previous event.