Live Nation Urban’s Brandon Pankey & Symba Rainmaker Session (Pollstar Live! Panel Recap)

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Brandon Pankey & Symba

In an intimate, 30-minute conversation between Live Nation Urban’s vice president of business development and operations, Brandon Pankey, and Bay Area-born and bred rapper Symba, a few tears were shed. The conversation took place on Feb. 22 at the Pollstar Live! conference in Los Angeles, and the two discussed what it’s like to be a rising star in today’s modern game.

Symba stands out from other artists. He’s eschewed a need for virality on social media or Spotify, and instead aims to connect with his audience in live settings. Already, he’s performed at Rolling Loud and Outside Lands, and he’ll soon head over to Roots Picnic later on this year.

“I think it’s the most important thing for an artist, especially someone like myself,” Symba said of his festival performances. “I’m not a big streaming artist, right? So it’s great for me to have a platform for people to come see me.”

For all those working in the music industry, ticketing has been the hot-button issue of the moment. Those in the audience asked Symba whether he was the one sitting down to determine his own ticketing, or if there were others he worked with.

Symba told the audience that he started on an independent route, which had been tough. “I couldn’t find people around me that were inspired to do their role as much as I was inspired to do mine,” he said. “So I had to go outsource bigger resources. I have a booking agent, and they help me understand a lot of things. I’m not personally going through all of that information. My booking agent comes to me with ‘This is what we’re doing. This is what we need to sell. This is how much they need to pay. This is what it is.’ But me personally, I’m not going through all that information.”

However, Symba adds that he would like to become more involved with understanding how to price his own tickets.

Outside of his music, Symba has been growing his business ventures. He bought his first property, one that contains four stories with a media center, a restaurant, gaming and more.

“Gaming is something that’s very big,” Symba said. “Twitch allows you to develop a big audience where you can have people buy tickets for a show because they bought from me virtually. Podcasting is a big thing. Everybody feels like they can talk nowadays. So why not have something they can come out to and talk at? I’m doing things where I can provide places for what I’m around. Offer services rather than be like every rapper who wants to start a record label. Why not provide the cameraman that shoots the videos or the producer that makes the beat or the creative record they come up with the treatment for? I’m trying to provide services for the industry. Providing businesses behind certain individuals.”