Now the music director at LIV, one of the world’s most exclusive night clubs, it’s hard to believe 12 years ago Biz Martinez was going door to door with a bag of flyers promoting local club events on South Beach. The night life veteran sat down with mybeatFix to reflect on parties, his promoting past and present, and 12 years in the ‘Biz’-ness.
How did you break into the business?
About 12 years ago I got my first big break with Space. I worked there for three and a half years under Louis Puig & Emi Guerra, among others. At the time there was no army of promoters. There was basically one guy in charge of one room and that was it. I was in charge of the Terrace and played a big role in the ‘House Sessions’ Saturday night concept with Oscar G. We created something really special then and Space to me was like college for nightlife Marketing/Promotions.
What exactly does the job of a promoter entail?
A promoter was someone who organized an event from A to Z. For example, at Space I was in charge of marketing the event, suggesting & selecting the talent and hosting the party. This all entails the event name, concept, theme, artist, everything all together. I used to host & organize a party called ‘Lunar Sessions’ which eventually turned into the ‘Sunrise Sessions.’ Today a promoter is someone that brings you 30 – 50 (if you’re good) heads to a club… more of a host really. They carry the message of the club/event to their networks, host their people & play a role in helping set a vibe at the venue.
After three and half years working for Space, you decided to go independent. What was the process involved in setting up parties?
If you’ve made a name for yourself, that’s pretty much everything. Most promoters don’t get handed something that’s successful. Most promoters usually start with hosting a nite & eventually work their way up to organizing their own events. Which is pretty much what I did. Eventually I started approaching clubs that I wanted to organize events at and ended up putting on some pretty cool shows with a lot of different artists, from Behrouz to Danny Tenaglia to Nic Fanciulli and Joris Voorn, among so many others.
You’re now the music director at LIV in Miami, one of the world’s most exclusive nightclubs. How did that come about?
I went back to school at Miami International University of Art & Design three years ago mostly out of boredom and to fill the void I had of falling short of my Bachelors. Just before completing, I was approached by Dave Grutman & MMG with the opportunity to take on the LIV/Arkadia music director responsibility. I’m part of the marketing team as the talent buyer/music director. My boss like most other club operators used to be a promoter as well & later formed his marketing company. Now he operates LIV, Arkadia and Amnesia. In this business, it’s a matter of evolving & continuing to grow, really. If you don’t, you’ll just be left behind. You’re pretty much as good as the last show you put on.
Did you already have the connections with the artists or is that something you got by working with the venues?
I made a lot of contacts working in the industry throughout the years and coming on board with LIV just helped me grow that network. It’s been really rewarding & fun to grow at what I do. It’s helped me expand globally. Before I was focusing on a particular sound. Now my reach goes anywhere from Canada to Europe on anything from electro-house to progressive, tech house to Dubstep & then some.
How do you know what kinds of music to bring to different crowds and venues?
When I produced my own events I had the luxury of choosing what talent or sound I wanted to promote and what kind of event I wanted to put on. Of course, I tried to stay flexible because I had to keep in mind what Miami was used to or thought they wanted. So I always managed to stay in the middle, a place where I could kind of sway, from the left to the right. I would bring underground talent and/or quality music to these posh or VIP clubs—that’s what I excelled in. It was kind of cool to see the differences in people dissolve as they all merge together under one roof for a common cause. My role today, is more about meeting the expectations not just the people but my boss and our investors. It’s no longer about me or what I want to hear anymore, it’s more about bringing something that I respect or find tasteful and can potentially market to larger audience– whether its commercial or pop, or cutting edge and fresh.
What do you like to hear?
I have a wide range of taste in music. I’m really into anything electronic or indie dance as well as indie rock and even jazz. Today, musicians are getting really creative with all the technology made avail to them and they’re fusing genres. I love that! Besides that, I’m pretty happy doing what I do, bringing fresh talents the likes of Nicky Romero, Zedd, Porter Robinson, among others — it’s guys like that who are fusing genres creatively and on the cutting edge of electronic dance music. They kind of cross over into the mainstream at times but still manage to put out really tasteful and fresh electronic dance music. I take pride in discovering and bringing new talent to the forefront, exposing them to the masses.
Have you ever had a night that was a flop?
Yeah, everyone does. Sometimes you bring someone in for relationship purposes and it doesn’t exactly work out. It happens, but for the most part, 95% of the time, it works out because you do your homework. Sometimes you take a risk and you take a gamble on talent and it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I take educated risks, really.
What was the biggest risk you took?
I guess for me the biggest risk was in 2005 bringing “Made in Miami” to Mansion. That was when I first started focusing on bringing real quality underground dance music into these VIP posh clubs. “Made in Miami” was a Sunday weekly I helped create with Oscar G and Ralph Falcon. We took the most posh club on the beach (Mansion at the time) and converted it into a full-on electronic dance music weekly for a year.
We hosted the likes of Danny Tenaglia (twice), Josh Wink, Robbie Rivera among others. That was a big risk at the time. It was on a Sunday night, at this massive room and a posh club so different from what we were used to doing. It worked out for a good year, but filling a room that big with 1500 clubbers and keeping that intensity going on a Sunday night became hard to sustain at the time. Electronic dance music just wasn’t ready for it. From there I went on to launch “Local Celebrity” at Nocturnal (another posh club in 2005) for two and a half years, to later “Sundance” at Set for three and a half years in 2007. That also lead to a string of monthly events and one-offs with guys like Danny Tenaglia and Behrouz, anywhere from Suite to Mokai to Mynt and then some.
What is the secret to pulling something like that off?
Establishing a following, being a hype machine and executing every last little detail from marketing to the event production.
How long did it take you to put together the recipe to a great party?
I don’t know! I’m still learning 12 years later (laughs). A good party has a little bit of everything–models, spenders & EDM fans who bring the energy–it’s a well-rounded product.
How did you learn the ins and outs of the industry?
This business is a revolving door, new people come in and refresh it constantly. You learn things every day–its ever-changing, from the music to the people. It takes a while to sort of get it down, but when you start small and you’re able to experiment and organize your own party, that’s when you’re able to appreciate it most. Chances are you might not be successful right away but you’re always going to learn something from failing or falling short.
Is LIV your final resting place?
Oh no, there’s never a final resting place in this business. I’m going to be here for a long time and God knows what the future holds five years from now, ten years, even two years. Like I said, it’s a revolving door. Currently, I’m happy where I’m at & doing a lot of big things with LIV and MMG. I’ve grown and taken a lot from this experience and I’m thankful for it.
What keeps you involved in the nightlife industry?
It’s unpredictable. It keeps you young, but its not always puppy dogs and ice cream. It’s not always pretty. There’s a really dark and ugly side to nightlife that most people don’t see & wont understand. But when you put on successful a show, the reaction you get from the people makes it all worthwhile. I love what I do. I have a passion for it. I’ll be here a while.