How DJ Irie Built A Real Business And Reinvented Nightlife In Miami

How DJ Irie Built A Real Business And Reinvented Nightlife In Miami 960 640 C-Suite Network
Daymond John, Alonzo Mourning and DJ Irie at the Irie Weekend 2017 Gala

In Miami, summers unofficially kick off with Irie Weekend, one of the most star-studded events to hit the city each year. DJ Irie (born Ian Grocher) is the host and mastermind behind the four-day spectacle that started on June 29 with a fundraiser gala that auctioned items and experiences, like a one-on-one yacht sail with Shark Tank judge Daymond John that alone raised $20,000. This year, ticket sales and sponsorship dollars from Irie Weekend raised $500,000 for music education programs for inner-city youth. The itinerary continued with celebrity golf tournaments, celebrity-filled pool parties, DJ performances and concerts featuring rap artists like Nellie, T.I. and Future. This year, the sold out event attracted 8,000 attendees to nightclubs, venues and hotels throughout the city, including Eden Roc, E11even and Fontainebleau. The grand finale concluded with Kevin Hart’s birthday brunch at Miami River Yacht Club. While Irie Weekend wrapped up in early July, DJ Irie is now planning to host the first Irie Weekend in Jamaica this December and Las Vegas next Spring. Irie says he’s able to produce and scale a multi-day luxe event by relying on his own collection of enterprises that specialize in talent booking (Artist Related), sponsorship marketing (Irie Music, Corp) and event production (Irie Weekend Management). While a single DJ performance can earn Irie four to five figures in one night, his boutique agencies together employ ten full-time staff and earned about $7 million in revenue in 2016. In the following interview which has been edited and condensed, Irie explains how he went from being a DJ to building a business.

Tanya Klich: Which do you enjoy more – being a DJ or running a business?

DJ Irie: The most accurate answer to this question would be that I enjoy running a DJ/Music based business. It’s one thing to run a business but another thing to operate a business in a field that you’re extremely passionate about and engaged in.

Klich: How did you become a celebrity DJ?

Irie: I went from playing at a local skating rink to playing at every major nightclub in Miami. In 1999, marketing executives from the Miami Heat asked me to become the first official team DJ. I’m tasked with bringing South Beach party vibes to home games at the American Airlines Arena. I then became the choice DJ for NBA All-Star games and personal events for ball players and Miami-based celebrities. Now, clients from around the world hire me for private events.

During the gala, Miami Beach Mayor, Philip Levine surprised DJ IRIE by presenting him with a key to the city.

Klich: When did you launch your first company?

Irie: When I was DJing nightclubs throughout the late 90s and early 2000s, “street-team marketing” was big in hip-hop capitols like New York City and Los Angeles. I realized this had no presence in Florida or the South. I also realized my equipment crew of four to six men had nothing to do in between the set up and break down of my turntables, so why not capitalize on their downtime and train them as street-team marketers. In 1997 I created Universal Music Group and partnered with major record labels like Chris Lighty’s Violator to promote artists like Q-Tip and Missy Elliott in my region. We had dozens of promoters in Miami and Atlanta who worked part-time. At its peak, UMG was earning $400,000 in annual revenue.

Klich: What happened?

Irie: As…