Joel Rekiel: The Ring Leader of BLDGBLKS Music Company
In just three years, Joel Rekiel has created and developed a successful business in one of the most booming music scenes in the country. Here’s an exclusive interview with the man behind BLDGBLKS Music Company, where he discusses his initial move to Denver, the creative process in building a business, and the inner workings of an artist development and management company.
Where are you from?
I was born in Oil City, Pennsylvania, and then lived in Florida and California before moving to Denver.
When did you move to Denver, and why?
It was an unintentional move to Denver in November of 2013. I was driving cross country for a job in Los Angeles, stopped in Denver to spend the night at my friends (Glenn and Rich at The Spot Studios) and never left. The studio in LA called and I had to let them know I wouldn’t be making it and that I wanted to see what life in Denver was all about.
Describe a day in the life of Joel Rekiel.
I wake up ridiculously early every morning. I read industry news online. I check touring bands schedules and routing to see what shows are coming up and what my artists may be able to jump on. I try to workout in the mornings as often as possible. I always eat a home-cooked breakfast, unless I’m meeting with clients or friends.
I start “work” between 9-10am, usually checking/following up emails or making calls on behalf of my clients. Throughout the day I can be following up with press/media/booking, finding opportunities for my artists through licensing/sponsorships/bookings, calling radio and cable networks to secure airtime, planning out release campaigns, marketing research, content creation for my clients (artwork, posters, design, websites, etc.), shooting or assisting with music videos, shooting or assisting with photo shoots, company sales, company accounting.
Every day is different enough to keep me excited about what I’m doing. Whether I’m working with current clients or discovering new opportunities for my business, I’m always trying to make today better than yesterday. Some tasks can be monotonous or be trying at times, but it’s all worth it at the end of the day.
Do you play any instruments?
I play guitar for fun and love playing drums. Currently drumming for Amy Kress. I need to find more time to play!
What other hobbies do you have?
I love going to shows. There’s nothing better than experiencing live music. I like hiking and exploring nature. I ride motorcycles and dirt bikes. I enjoy playing golf with friends. I love traveling to new places and trying foods I haven’t had before.
Who are your favorite musicians?
I hate playing favorites so I won’t name any musicians. Sometimes it’s a lyric or a solid melody and I’m hooked. The best is when the music gives me chills.
Describe your best live music experience.
One of my best music experiences wasn’t at a venue or festival at all. It was in a New York City subway somewhere between Union Station and Broadway that I heard the most incredible music in my life. It wasn’t so much the type of music or style the artist was playing, but true passion behind their singing and playing. To be honest, I don’t even recall the song, but I do know that I felt every moment of it. It was inspiring and gave me a different perspective of what music can do for people.
What would you say your life’s mantra is/words you like to live by?
I have several that I like but the one that sticks with me most is to always live for today, as tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.
What inspired you to get into the music business?
I grew up playing music with friends and playing various instruments in bands. That led to my fascination with recording. I started recording my friends and other local bands around town. At that point, I knew if I wasn’t going to be a rockstar, I could at least work with them. That led me to Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida where I studied recording arts and music business. I worked at several recording studios and live sound internships as well as a few marketing and promotion internships. After seeing how the whole machine really worked, I became more interested in the business side and that’s where I’m at today. I feel extremely fortunate to have a career that I’m passionate about. The best part is I’m getting paid to do the things I enjoy most.
What were your professional endeavors before founding BLDGBLKS Music Company?
My dad owns a construction company, so I was working the family business throughout high school and before going to college. While in school I was working as an assistant audio engineer and also running live sound at a bar and a church for some extra cash. After school, I moved to California for an internship with a prestigious music producer and worked in the studio but also worked on marketing and promotions for a 60-band music festival. After the internship in California, I moved back to Pennsylvania where I was working as a freelance audio engineer and doing some design work on the side. Right before starting BLDGBLKS I was hired to assist on a huge recording project in LA but never made it due to bad timing and my stop in Denver.
How did you come up with the concept for BLDGBLKS?
My background was primarily the recording and audio side, but I had some marketing and promotion experience as well. When I came to Denver, my friends I worked with in California had recently moved here and opened their studio a few months earlier. My plan was to only stay the night and continue on my way the next morning.
A friend that I was planning to stay with in CA until I found a place, called the day I got to Denver and said he had to leave LA to go to Hawaii for family issues and wasn’t able to leave me the key. Glenn, one of the producers at the studio insisted that I just stay in Denver and start a company to help the clients they had been working with. Glenn had seen a lot of the clients self-release and it wasn’t a good look for the bands or the studio who were trying to establish their name in Denver. We decided that I would run the day to day operations while he worked in the studio. We started by managing one artist and pretty much grew from there. Working with one artist allowed me to see the big picture of what it took to have a career as a working musician.
I wanted to help as much as possible, which led to me doing design work, creating websites, shooting music videos, taking band photos, creating album release campaigns, radio campaigns, marketing campaigns, branding, writing business plans and all the other fun stuff involved with making music your job.
Describe what musicians can expect when working with BLDGBLKS.
We do everything we can to fulfill our clients vision and exceed their expectations. Whether it be something as basic as a logo design to a full-blown national tour or release campaign, we strive to go above and beyond what is expected of us. We aren’t a huge company with lot’s of employees but I think that helps us create better working relationships with our clients and allows us to give more attention to their projects.
What is your long-term vision for the company?
Right now, we’re essentially doing everything a record label would be doing as far as the services we provide. At some point, I would like to create a label that can truly launch musicians careers. I want to work with people who share my vision and can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Any words of advice for those looking to get involved in the music business?
Aside from taking as many internships as you can, the best advice I can give is to always be ready for the next opportunity and to be kind to people. It truly is a small industry and word can spread very quickly.