DJ Irie: Branding the Global Selector

Entertainer talks love for music and linking international business

dj irieInterning has always been encouraged, especially in the world of entertainment where most things are usually learned from being hands-on. One of the most famous interns just happened to be a man who you may know as Diddy, Puff, Puffy or Puff Daddy, depending on when you were introduced to him.

There are many successful business people who started as interns, but it’s just rare that you hear their stories. This former intern at WEDR-FM 99 Jamz Miami, may be bigger than life these days.

Building a brand is something that is usually taught in business school, marketing classes and any other place but the turntables, yet, the St. Croix native has been building a successful brand without attending these type of classes.

But, it has more to do with actually working with and for the people who come to hear your craft. These days, especially in places like New York, Miami, Paris and England, people don’t want to just hear music. They want to experience the actual connection with the DJ and the music. And that job rests solely on the person responsible for allowing people to leave the venue feeling fully satisfied. DJ Irie is that man.

BlackEnterprise.com sat down with mega-popular DJ, who gained his love for music as a young student in Jamaica, to talk about his early days in music, marketing and expanding his reach and how important philanthropy is to his brand.

BlackEnterprise.com: You were once roommates with reggae sensation, Sean Paul. How was that experience and did the two of you imagine breaking out to be ‘stars’ in your selected professions?

DJ Irie: Yes, Sean Henriques was my dorm mate in boarding school in Jamaica. It’s funny because we both shared the same passion for music while in school—and for me it was very evident that he had star qualities—but never did either of us imagine we would become the people we are today. We talk about that all the time still.

How did you land your first radio job, and how did that experience shape the way you conduct business?

I actually landed my radio job by interning at the station (WEDR-FM 99 Jamz Miami). I went from an intern to having the No. 1 rated mix show in my time slot. That experience has helped me in cultivating my relationships in the music industry with everyone from record label executives to the artists themselves.

How have you parlayed your DJing skills to attract business partners and brands wanting to connect with you?

What we’ve done is open up this DJ/club culture world to our corporate partners in a way they can really connect with. I realized there was a real business here that we hadn’t tapped into when I stared to tally up the number of impressions we reached on people with significant discretionary incomes. On any given week, we are directly reaching thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of impressionable patrons. Now we use this access to deliver messaging about our partners and a call to action on their behalf.

We know these days that most people who also entertain are actually brands. How do you define yours and how you were able to build it?

Yes, for sure. Our brand is all about fun and positivity! We wanted to be positioned at the higher end of the spectrum so we made sure to work with brands and events that represent that. We also put in play a public relations strategy to target the right media presence as well. You are the company that you keep! Soon our brand became synonymous with high end quality events and celebrity.

You’ve traveled extensively as a DJ. How does one get gigs in different countries?

Traveling and seeing the world is one of the best parts about being an international DJ. For me, what made that possible was my success in Miami. Miami is such an international city with such world renowned nightlife and promoters/event planners that visit many times a year to see what’s hot first hand. They go to all the clubs and hip events to discover DJ talent like myself in my element and decide that’s what they need back in their country as well.

Talk to us about your charitable work and why you continue to contribute to organizations and the importance of giving back.

My charitable work is extremely important to me. I’ve been lucky to have some amazing examples around me. Mainly, my good friend, Alonzo Mourning, whom I got to study while working with him on his charitable initiatives. I got to see firsthand how the efforts of one person can make a real difference in the community. That’s when I knew I had to act on the issues that I felt strongly about. One of the biggest needs I was able to identify was the need for more meaningful afterschool programs. So that’s one of our big pushes for 2013.

What is in the immediate future for DJ Irie?

There’s nothing more pressing right now for us than to continue to innovate, create value and move the needle for our corporate partners. We have a very diverse portfolio of clientele including Hublot, Heineken, Verizon Wireless, Premier Beverage, New Era, Carnival Cruise Lines, and more. We’re looking forward to launching new initiatives with them to further strengthen and grow their place in the market.

To find out more about DJ Irie, his foundation, and the 9th Annual Irie Weekend visit IrieWeekend.org and IrieFoundation.org.

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