“To develop resilience one of the most important things one needs is a mix of determination and passion” with Clayton Durant

Resilience is to me the ability to take a hit, fall down and learn from your mistakes. In terms of characteristics, I think one of the most important things one needs to have is a mix of determination and passion. Being an entrepreneur is hard and there are likely more bad days than there are […]

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Resilience is to me the ability to take a hit, fall down and learn from your mistakes. In terms of characteristics, I think one of the most important things one needs to have is a mix of determination and passion. Being an entrepreneur is hard and there are likely more bad days than there are good in the beginning of building a company. Having passion gives you the energy to survive the bad days and determination allows you to focus and cancel out all the noise while you are building your product, brand or company.

In this interview series, we are exploring the subject of resilience among successful business leaders. Resilience is one characteristic that many successful leaders share in common, and in many cases it is the most important trait necessary to survive and thrive in today’s complex market.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Clayton Durant, CEO of CAD Management. Clayton Durant is the founder and CEO of CAD Management, an entertainment consulting company which focuses on event, tour, and strategic management for indie artists and brands. In 2018, Clayton expanded CAD Management’s portfolio of companies by partnering with Grammy-Award winning record label The Code to form Creative Direction Agency (CDA), a full-service music consultancy made for independent and rising artists. Additionally, in 2019, Clayton continued to expand CAD Management’s service offerings by partnering with Forbes 30 Under 30 nominee and award-winning songwriter Mickey Shiloh and her label BDRM Records to create Songsmth Productions, a sonic branding and content studio to consult emerging brands in developing their sonic identities. Clayton’s years of working across industries such as beauty, technology, consumer goods, music, and fashion industries has allowed him to work with clients ranging from Deloitte to Hershey to Live.Me, along with many more Clayton currently contributes to Entrepreneur and The Hype Magazine, and has been featured in publications like CNBC and Reuters.

Thank you so much for joining us Clayton! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

Inmy freshman year at Roger Williams University, I started getting into the music business and was really fascinated with the process of developing music, marketing it, and promoting it. Since RWU didn’t have a formal music business major, I actually had to teach myself all the functions of the business from the basics of registering a song to the fundamentals of booking a show and marketing a record. I also owe a lot of my early education to Billboard Magazine. I would have it sent to my dorm and highlight the bolded names in articles and research each of the executives they named in their pieces to better understand the landscape of power players and talent. This commitment to self teaching yourself the basics allowed me by my junior year to sign my first band, Tyler & Ryan. I owe a ton to them as well. Through them, I was really able to learn the fundamentals of building an album and seeing the process start from conception to finalized product. After I graduated college, I ended up working at United Talent Agency, where I started in the mailroom and worked my way onto a desk where I was an assistant to agents in the speakers, touring and digital departments. I owe a lot to the agents there who took the time to teach me about their respective crafts. This mix of experience really helped prepare me to start my own company.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

I think the most interesting story from my career thus far was how we earned our first Fortune 500 client in Equity Residential. I ended up going to a comedy night at one of their main buildings through a family friend who lived in one of their residential properties. By showing up to that 10 person comedy show at one of their rooftops, by chance, I ended up sitting next to the head of events who ran all the residential events for all 300 plus buildings in the Equity Residential portfolio. After the show, we started just casually talking and I mentioned the idea of throwing a rooftop concert series and how cool it would be given the beautiful spaces they had. From there, the idea just clicked. We set up a meeting the very next week, and immediately the brand gave us the opportunity to set up, book, and produce the series. Now, formally called the Equity Residential Afterglow Concert Series, we are on year three and have done over 100 plus shows and booked over 90 plus artists, creating a touring platform that could reimagine the way indie artists build their hard ticket value.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I think ultimately what makes our company stand out from the crowd of other management and music consulting companies is the “blue jeans and overalls” attitude that our whole team brings to every project. We aren’t afraid to roll up our sleeves and get hands-on with our clients. I’ll give you an example: For Equity Residential’s Afterglow Concert Series, even though we only book, market and curate the feeling of the shows, I or one of my partners at CAD Management attend every show and help the production company set every part of the show up from the equipment to making sure everyone has a printed out run of show. I think this energy we give off of “being with you every step of the way” is the reason big companies feel confident in working with us. I want to make sure that no matter how big CAD Management gets, that we continue to keep that culture and never lose that part of who we are as a company.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I can say in terms of professional development, Jesse Kirshbaum, CEO of NUE Agency was certainly one of the most important people who have helped shape me into the professional I am today. We actually met at the New Music Seminar conference when I was still in college. I’m not sure what he saw in me then, but after we met, we kept in touch and he ended up allowing me to intern under him at NUE Agency. That was a game changer for me. He not only showed me the intersection of music, brands, and technology, but allowed me to watch first hand how one of the most successful entrepreneurs in music built his company. A lot of what I learned from him then, I carry with me today.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

Resilience is to me the ability to take a hit, fall down and learn from your mistakes. In terms of characteristics, I think one of the most important things one needs to have is a mix of determination and passion. Being an entrepreneur is hard and there are likely more bad days than there are good in the beginning of building a company. Having passion gives you the energy to survive the bad days and determination allows you to focus and cancel out all the noise while you are building your product, brand or company.

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

In terms of resilience, the person that comes to mind as cliche as it sounds are my parents. Both were first generation college graduates who built their careers from the ground up. They both really taught me about hard work, determination and consistency and how those play into building yourself as a person and your brand as a business.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

I think starting this company for me was the thing that I was always told was “impossible.” Coming from a small school in a small state and building a music management and consulting startup from a dorm room, the odds of creating a company that could compete in a place like New York City was pretty low. Luckily, I anticipated that was going to be the case, so during my four years of college I doubled down not only on taking extra classes to prepare me in being a well-rounded entrepreneur, but took on various internships to learn from inside of some of the most well-established companies to begin building my professional network. This commitment over four plus years increased the probability of success of building the company.

Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

One of the greatest setbacks I personally had was when we signed our first major act to our then booking department who propped up our company’s cash flow. We had booked a full 15 date tour hitting all the major markets, and due to some contractual misunderstandings, we had actually lost all the business and the money coming into the tour, which at the time tore into our cash flow. From there, my partners and I took a massive punch to our company and used it as a pivot to moving away from our dependence on touring and more into areas such as consulting, marketing, public relations, and executive eminence.

Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

I think the biggest experience I had growing up that really allowed me to build up my resiliency was going to a small liberal arts college where my entrepreneurial goals were consistently questioned by my peers. That environment really added a lot of fuel to the fire to show that I could build a successful company that could scale for the foreseeable future.

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.

I think in terms of building resiliency, the five steps I recommend help discipline the mind, the body and the spirit because I believe you need all three to truly strengthen your resilience. First, to strengthen the body you should focus on developing a pattern that allows you to eat healthy while keeping a regimented workout schedule. For myself in particular, I box every morning at 6:00am and eat a clean meal to start my day. On the mental side, I use my commute time into the city before I even check email to read a book. My goal is to finish a book about every 3 to 4 weeks. On the way home, I usually use that time to read trade magazines and more current articles to keep up to date on all the trends happening within entertainment and business at large. This tactic really helps me mentally prepare for any adversity and allows me to remain resilient through constantly acquiring new knowledge and ideas. Lastly, spiritually, I tell my partners, staff and interns that you need a period in your day where you shut out all the noise. For me, I have started doing yoga to really relax my mind after high intense workouts or long days. Additionally, because I live near the beach in New Jersey, I will try to take that time to jump in the water to catch a few waves, no matter what season. These activities force you to be completely separated from your phone and feel completely disconnected. Combine these efforts together, and it can help you train your resiliency muscles for when the time comes when you need to activate them.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I think in my industry in particular, there are two things I would want to start or help drive further conversation around. First is around mental health for artists and creatives. I read a recent piece in Billboard that said 73% of independent musicians suffer from symptoms of mental illness. To me, this is a crisis that needs to be addressed and discussed more by the larger music business so that we can all come together and find solutions to solve it. The second is around diversity in the music business. CAD Management has five managing partners, three of which are women. There needs to be greater diversity not only on the corporate side of the business, but also the creative side as well. A recent report from USC discovered that from 2012 to 2018, the Billboard Hot 100 chart found that female artists, producers and songwriters were rare. Women songwriters comprised 12.3% of their field; women producers only make up 2.1% of their field. The lifeblood of the business is still about making hits and developing the next crop of superstar artists. I believe that if we encourage diversity in all facets, both in the corporate and in the creative elements of music, we will see more superstar artists break into the mainstream.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

For me, one of my idols in this business is Scooter Braun — the founder of SB Projects and Ithaca Holding Group. His blueprint series interview he did with Complex is a video I play religiously. Outside of Scooter’s business savvy and innovation, I also really admire how he has really created a social enterprise through SB Projects. For instance, the recent song his client Lil Dicky released, “Earth,” and how he was able to contribute proceeds to initiatives that are helping to solve the global warming issue. He has really set the precedent for using these large platforms he and his roster have to make positive change in the world. It’s quite inspiring really.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Readers can follow me on InstagramTwitter, and LinkedIn. Also, they can keep up to date on all CAD Management happenings by visiting our website.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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