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There can be a lot of factors that deter the creative process, ranging from having a limited number of resources to finding a lack of motivation to simply not having the space to fully explore and execute one's ideas. For radio veteran and entrepreneur DJ Skee, rising above the challenges that many creatives face has been no easy feat, but giving more airtime to his determination than he did any doubts has undeniably paid off and put him a position where he is able to tangibly encourage others to pursue their dreams.
It's one of those things that you can't really talk about until you get the experience to try for yourself.
Throughout his multifaceted career, the Minnesota native has worn many different hats, including garnering acclaim as a DJ/artist and working as a radio personality and television host. While his own musical career is brimming with a slew of accolades and countless on-air anecdotes, DJ Skee has truly hit his stride as a philanthropist and entrepreneur, helping pave the way for the next generation of artists. As the founder and CEO of Dash Radio, DJ Skee has built an invaluable platform and community that caters to lifting up the creative class and supporting tastemakers from across different facets of the culture. Today, Dash has become the world's largest all-original, commercial-free digital radio network with over 80 stations powered by DJs, artists, brands and celebrities, delivering a diverse selection to millions of listeners for free.
As a thought leader and pioneer, DJ Skee has helped elevate Dash to remarkable heights, most recently celebrating the opening of their new headquarters in Hollywood. As DJ Skee continues to champion today's creators and curators, he took a moment to chop it up with the DropLabs team and share more about his impassioned vision for Dash, the importance of creating a platform tailored to creatives and what he believes are the three main keys to success.
What do you do for a living and how did you get started?
I'm the founder and CEO of Dash Radio. I started off doing radio when I was a teenager in Minneapolis in a small community station and worked my way up to working at the biggest station in the country. I've hosted TV shows and have gone on to do a lot of different things throughout my career in music and entertainment. A few years ago, I discovered that there was this massive opportunity in the live audio and radio broadcast landscape, as it's still the last form of media that's primarily consumed through an analog method. Taking that into consideration, I found that there was a huge, huge opportunity to create an all-original platform for the digital era from the ground up. We had the resources, the history and a lot of great insight from having first-hand experience using the biggest systems in the world. This led to the creation of what's become Dash now. That's kind of taken over my life now and it's been great. We just moved into our new 25,000 square foot headquarters right on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, which has our studios, a retail pop-up space and sound stages. It's a really exciting new chapter for us.
What are some of your goals for Dash for the year ahead?
At Dash, we're continuing to expand. We have over 50 different distribution partners right now, over 80 stations and over 400 DJs on the platform. We're continuing to grow and to keep empowering the best content creators to communicate with their fans for free. We broadcast everything from all of Insomniac's festivals like EDC to artist stations that feature Lil Wayne and Snoop Dogg, for example. After SXSW was canceled, we were able to do a big showcase here in LA with the artists who were going to perform at our event. Since the artists couldn't perform live in artist, we were able to broadcast them live to the world from our studios, which was really awesome.
With the new space in Hollywood, we're going to be doing a lot of really cool things here. There's a lot going on in the world right now but we're not letting that stop us and that's why we're able to creatively react to everything. Since people can't come physically and experience these events, we're broadcasting to the rest of the world. Overall, it's just about continuing to grow our footprint and brand, as well as to continue expanding into new areas of content.
As someone that's been so in the thick of it, what would you say is the most rewarding part of what you're building?
For me, it's empowering others and seeing the tools that we've created go to good use. Seeing how other people take advantage of the opportunity that a lot of people, like myself coming up, didn't have where there was full creative freedom. The opportunity to communicate with the whole world; the opportunity to not have to answer to anybody else. Watching people really take advantage of that and watching others experience success in their own ways is always rewarding. Being able to watch all these bands and artists come by and be able to reach the world and reach more people than they would have if they just performed at SXSW. Being able to empower the resources and technology to assist in that is really awesome.
What surprised you the most about trying DropLabs for the first time? What was your first impression like?
It's one of those things that you can't really talk about until you get the experience to try for yourself. I just had never even thought about that technological capability before, so I really didn't have too much expectation going in to what it would be like. The uniqueness of the product and the feeling of it was unlike anything else out there that I've experienced. It was so cool and so unique.
What are some ways outside of music that you could see the shoes like benefiting your day to day?
There are so many different use cases. I was really blown away by the gaming element of it. I thought that was really, really cool and added a lot of competitive advantages. I was really blown away by some of the meditation elements and how you can tune into so many different sound experiences through the shoes. And then, of course, the music aspect was just incredible.
I think there's a lot of synergy between technology and music and watching those industries evolve. As someone who is innovating in your own way, what would you say are some ways that creativity comes into play?
For us, I mean, creativity is everything, right? That's what makes us different and unique. That's how I've been able to build companies and brands and worked on the projects that I've done. If I was just doing the same thing that everybody else was doing, it wouldn't have stood out and opportunities like to create DASH wouldn't have arisen from that. Creativity is the key to life. It's what makes each of us unique, and it's what separates us from robots. Everything that we do is centered on that.
How would you say does environment play a role in the act of being creative?
It's all about the environment and the vibe, especially when it comes to being creative. That's why we've spent so much time and energy and resources into building out our new facilities with precisely that in mind. That way we can empower and encourage our staff, but also welcome all the artists and shows coming through here on a daily basis and showcase how this is a space to be creative. We took the time to design something that's really next generation and unlike anything else in the audio landscape. We've created these really captivating studio spaces.
At the new HQ, we have this incredible one-of-a-kind basketball court that was designed with Hoop Dreams Studios and powered by StockX, so we have this really, you know, almost Instagrammable art-themed environment. We have a gaming lounge that's powered by Astro. We have storefront space; we have this incredible creative space and venue. Even the design in the offices were created to mimic skylight on the inside, so even though there aren't windows in some parts of the design, it helps create that mojo that we as creatives need.
Do you have any personal mantras that motivate you to keep moving forward?
I always turn to patience, persistence and perseverance. Those are really the key things to success. You know, if it was easy, everybody would do it. The people that are successful are the ones who find a way no matter what circumstances and never give up.
DJ Skee can be found on Instagram at @djskee and on the web at https://dashradio.com/.
As innovators by design, the team behind DropLabs Technology is dedicated to supporting and elevating members of the creative community. Together, we aim to serve as a platform highlighting different creators as they work towards achieving visionary excellence and inspiring others along their path. To nominate a creative leader you’d like to see highlighted on our website, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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