Read the interview below:
Name: Moe Arora
Hometown: Montreal, Quebec
Company: Rockstar Branded
Pet Peeve: Egos and Music Snobs
Life Goal: To positively influence others based on my example.
Mogulmonologues.com has caught up with the hardest working man in marketing (in Montreal at least). As the owner of Rockstar Branded, Moe Arora is definitely an example to follow for any young marketing professional looking to break into music marketing. Respect His Conglomerate!
When did you start Rockstar Branded? and what inspired the name?
Rockstar Branded actually just launched last year. We had another business before, which we launched in 2005, however the company was taking a different direction than what was originally intended, so my business partner and I decided it was time to refocus our energy and resources before getting lost in the wrong direction.
Long story short, we made some changes and after a lot of deliberation, we launched Rockstar Branded last year.
How we came up with the name… to be honest, I wish I had an interesting story for it but I don’t lol. The name was my responsibility so I just went to my whiteboard and jotted down anything that came to my mind about what we’re doing and threw around a ton of ideas.
Some people place too much emphasis on inventing their own words fusing existing words together into one, etc – I already knew I didn’t want to do that. I wanted something bold, something classic and something that was self-explanatory. The result was Rockstar Branded.
Describe a typical day as CEO of Rockstar Branded
To be honest, I hate titles like that. People tend to throw around all these titles, saying they’re CEO of this, President of that, but the fact of the matter is, all these people are just doing it to create a fake sense of importance.
I’m just a small business owner who will wear whatever hat needed, and apply any skill set needed, to get the job done.
To answer your question about the day though; there really is no typical day for me. I work according to whatever my current workload and client needs are. Some days I work during the daytime like most of the world, while other times I work in the middle of the night.
In general though, the first thing I do when waking up is, reach for my Blackberry. I scroll through my received messages, texts, BBMs, Twitter msgs & call log to get a general grasp of what’s waiting for me.
I don’t open any of them though. I only check my messages after getting ready, when I’m ready to start working. Otherwise, I’ll jump right into it and won’t take care of myself first. That throws your entire day off, so I make sure I only check my messages after I’m ready.
After getting ready and grabbing a light breakfast, I’ll begin returning emails, phone calls, etc. I’ll do that for a bit, then either jump right to work or head out for meetings & errands.
Pretty much all of our clients are out of town, so no matter what I’m doing, I tend to spend quite a bit of time on the phone, IM and email.
Anyhow, the day is mostly just a big mix of computer work, phone calls, meetings and errands. There’s no real schedule or hours – you just do whatever’s needed as best as you can, and as soon as you can.
After all is said and done, I’ve recently begun taking nights off to just relax and dedicate some time to my personal life. Whether I’m out with a few friends, or home alone in front of the TV, I’ll make sure to give myself that time.
It’s really not easy doing that though. When you’re in business for yourself, you want to make yourself available at all times so that you can do whatever it takes to keep everybody happy. But you really have to be careful with that, because when you make yourself available 24/7, pretty much everybody will take advantage of you. Not only will their poor planning create an unnecessary “emergency”, but it also degrades your value to them. You’re less important if you’re always free.
I’m not saying, you shouldn’t be flexible with your schedule, but you need to have your limits. If you allow people to take advantage of you – they will.
So yeah, I’m learning to take some time off at nights and maybe one day on the weekend. It’s important to make some time for yourself in your schedule so that you’re mind and body aren’t overly exhausted and drained. It also helps keep you fresh and upbeat so that you don’t feel “stuck” in your work.
I sacrificed my entire personal life for my career, but when I looked around and realized I didn’t have anybody around me that wasn’t in some way attached to my work, I decided it was time to make a few changes and began making some time for myself as well.
Since you live in Montreal, how are you able to connect with so much clientele in the US?
Two words: technology & travel.
Right now it’s incredibly accessible to work from anywhere in the world. Especially as a consultant.
I don’t have to have face-to-face meetings all the time, but I have a US phone number which makes it incredibly convenient for my US clients to call me as if I worked just down the street from them.
Once in a while, if my client is set up for it, we’ll also have video meetings via iChat or Skype. This way, we’re able to talk face-to-face, in a certain respect, and bridge that gap even more.
I also travel when needed. If I have several clients in one city or I have one major client in a city, I’ll make a trip to go there so we can sit down and just break bread. I don’t travel all the time, but I make trips every now and then.
If you never meet the people you work with, they’re still just that person behind the screen, or that voice on the other end of the phone. Once you connect with people in person, you know their facial expressions, their sense of humour, how they carry themselves, their confidence levels – you just know their presence.
Plus, you get to have real experiences with them. These things make it so much easier to work with someone from a distance. And in all honesty, it’s sometimes even better that I don’t live in the same city as most of my clients. This way, we have a friendly distance to be able to work independently without that constant interference that hinders creativity and productivity.
And when we do get together in person – it’s always an event! We make good use of that time. Those experiences help strengthen your bond.
What would you say are some of the pitfalls of your business? feel free to share a story with us if you have one.
Particularly to Rockstar Branded; it’s been a little difficult to expand and accept more clients. With the nature of this business, you have to be careful with who you trust.
Everybody says they want to work in the music business, but 9 out of 10 really just like the idea of it more than they actually want to do it.
People like Russell Simmons & Diddy, have really popularized the concept of being an entrepreneur and a businessman in the music business.
They made it “cool”. Because of that, we have a flood of what I call “Diddy 2.0s”. They say they want to work in the business, but they’re more obsessed with the idea of attaining all the televised benefits of being a celebrity, without needing the musical ability of being an artist.
They just want to be fly.
This mentality is a serious problem – and the people who have it, make it more difficult for the real cats who are coming up in the business to be taken seriously.
So with my own business, it’s been a little difficult to expand my team, because I have to filter out the people who are serious from the people who are just idealizing it.
Another problem is getting paid properly.
Artists, management teams and labels will do whatever they can, just to get you on board with them; but once you agree and you’ve already invested time and resources to them, things start getting sloppy. They won’t fulfill their responsibilities, they’ll begin taking you for granted and they’ll ALWAYS have an excuse to delay payment.
Some of them will wait until you bring it up, then they’ll act like it just slipped their mind and offer more excuses to delay it.
We’ve found ways to avoid this from happening, but it still happens.
I just find it hilariously ironic when artists brag about how much money they have in their music and then call me complaining about how they can’t afford to pay.
What is something about Moe Arora that we may not already know?
I’m not really sure. I’m an extremely private person. I don’t know if that counts, but the only reason I mention that is because if you know me or have met me, you’d see that I’m an extremely outgoing and social person.
When I go out, I’m out and I’m in that mode, but I’m really a homebody at my core. I prefer to sit back on the couch on a Saturday night and watch a movie or just kick it with a small group of friends, rather than be out at a club, being bumped in every which direction by people who can’t contain their alcohol.
That’s another thing people might know about me – I don’t drink alcohol. It’s not a religious thing or anything of that sort – just a personal choice. I’ll have a maximum of 2 glasses of wine or champagne in an entire year — if even that. Alcohol doesn’t really appeal to me and I’ve seen the effects of alcoholism from people very close to me since I was a child, so I just choose not to drink.
Is there any advice that you may have for other young professionals aspiring to work in the same profession?
I mean, I’m still making my way up too, but the best advice I can offer is for people to drop the ego. Ego is a poison that will burn you from the inside out.
Some people think it helps their image – that if they act important, people will think they’re important (fake it til you make it), but that’s bullshit.
We’re in a new time and this industry has been flipped on its back without a proven way to get back up. The new model is no model.
Right now, on this very day, everything in this business has flattened, in terms of “expertise” – where the young kid down the street who spends most of his time online, playing video games, downloading music & movies, learning to create websites, and chatting on IM & Twitter.. this is the first time where that kid, and somebody like Jimmy Iovine, probably have about the same chance of creating a revolution.
In fact, that young introverted computer enthusiast is probably more likely to succeed in it, because he’s part of the new society and the new fanbase.
So, if you handle yourself, in a time like this, with an ego – then you’re shutting down the opportunity to learn new things from new people, because you’re too busy being caught up with yourself.
If you drop that ego, and humble yourself, then not only will you be able to understand what’s happening today – but more importantly, the ability to understand what you can make happen tomorrow.
How can people reach you?