As many of you are aware, our street teams are an integral part of Strange Music.
These dedicated fans are not just grinding when there’s a show in town. No, they promo year-round to make sure the word gets out about everything Strange Music.
We decided to highlight one of our street team leads who is consistently taking it to the next level – Zach Woolsey. Not only is he the lead of our Boise street team, but he also has a knack for creating dope Strange Music-related artwork.
Check out our interview with this particularly talented individual.
Tell me how you became a street teamer. When did that happen and how did you get the opportunity?
Well in 2004, during the first Hostile Takeover tour, I was part of a lowrider club and we were helping do promotions for U92, the radio station in Salt Lake City. We were kind of promoting the show and Tech was performing with several other artists that day. It was like Knoc-turn’al and a bunch of others. That’s kind of how I started. I first went to that show and I was just completely blown away by Tech. I had listened to rap but I kind of got out of it for awhile but then when I saw that I was like “This is unbelievable.” I was sold. I went to Hastings and bought every album I could get my hands on after that show. Then shortly after that in 2004 I moved to Boise, Idaho and there really wasn’t a whole lot going on so I just kind of started it on my own and started reaching out to the street teams that were going and stuff to other states and that’s kind of how I started it here.
What are your responsibilities as a street team leader?
Basically what I try to do is obviously distribute the promotion material to the team leaders that I have working for me. Also, I try to be a good example and to teach them and to train them. I really work hard on professionalism. To a lot of businesses and stuff we go to we’re the face of Strange Music so it’s really important to me that we act appropriately and come across professional because it might be their first time being exposed to Strange Music. Having a professional demeanor about you when you’re out on the streets or you’re working with businesses is very important to try to get them to carry albums or promotions in their windows.
It’s taken a long time. When I first got here, people really didn’t know who Tech was and so it was kind of an uphill battle, but now that things have become more established we’ve been able to kind of set up almost a route and people are almost expecting us to come and they want to see what it is we’re bringing each month or whichever tour that we’re coming with.
That ethic of professionalism, is that something that you try to instill right away, because that’s something that kind of centers from Travis O’Guin and falls on down when it comes to this company.
Absolutely. I really stress that a lot. A lot of people, they have different ways of finding their street team members. I usually have them fill out a resume, just to kind of see 1) are they going to show the commitment to actually follow through with what I ask by a simple resume and 2) it gives me a chance to kind of look into their background and experience and see if they have any marketing or different interests that they have that might be useful to my team or to kind of reach out to different demographics from there.
Tell me, how has the word spread since you started? Give me an idea of the effectiveness of street team promotion.
Oh it’s been crazy. Like I said, when I first moved here I was just kind of like on my own kind of a thing and I was really interested in it and wanted to kind of get going with it. At first people really didn’t know who Tech was but now it’s like, I have Tech N9ne license plates on my truck and I have stickers. I carry stuff with me all the time or wear a shirt. Now it’s like everywhere I go It’s like “Oh wow! Tech! Yeah!” It really has grown. It’s been neat to see something start from independent – and you know I’ve worked with a lot of other different groups and different things, helping them with promotion and stuff as well, but I’ve always kind of remained true to Strange Music and Tech because that’s kind of where I started. That’s where my opportunities came and I’ve held loyal to that. I like that they did things their way. They did it on their terms and kind of like a grass roots movement from that.
I’ve heard Travis say that he firmly believes in the street team thing as far as a promotional tool, which separates him from a lot of people. How would you testify to the effectiveness of that approach?
It’s important because it gets people involved in something. I know for myself that people always want to be part of something bigger than themselves and it shows the excitement and stuff about it. Strange Music is very well recognized for the street teams. For example I went to a Fly Leaf and Drowning Pool show. I had the Tech N9ne shirt on and the lead singer’s from the Kansas City area. It was crazy because I wanted to talk to them but they were all interested in how Strange Music does its street team thing because they’re like, “Everywhere we go we see Tech N9ne. We’ve followed him at a couple different venues and have had shows after him in different places and his people are everywhere. They’re everywhere we go. We’ve seen the posters, we’ve seen people handing out stuff at venues.” It really sparks their interest as to “How do they do that?” “How are they so successful at doing that?” In a lot of ways they want to emulate that example and they’re like “How do we get started with that? How do we find that kind of a network to grow?” and I tell them “You know it was kind of that way from the beginning.” That’s how it started, on the streets, ground level, doing the work because there wasn’t the radio play.
Now when you talk to people about a Tech N9ne show or album coming up, what’s the response you get?
Pretty much “When and where?” (laughs) That’s pretty much how it’s been. When I first moved here to Boise and I would go to the venue and it was kind of interesting because they saw the tables and chairs up. It was still a good show and there were quite a few people there but now it’s like, we gotta move all the tables and all the chairs out. We’re selling this thing out and people are always asking, “Oh when’s he coming back?” and, “Oh we can’t wait to see him.”
People are always asking, especially in Boise, we’re fortunate enough to go to Tech N9ne shows at least once, a lot of times twice, a year, but they always want to know, “Oh, when can we get more? When can we get more?” and want to be there for it. A lot of people there are like, “I want to bring my friend” who has never seen them and it just kind of keeps growing from that kind of a movement.
That’s awesome man. In your personal opinion, what’s the most rewarding thing about being a street team leader?
Just being part of something larger than yourself I think is important. I like sports and you like to be part of a team and you always have the dreams that you wanna be part of something whether it’s professional baseball or professional basketball or something. For me growing up I had a cousin who was a DJ so I was always around music and I would always be around him and I was always kind of drawn to that. I don’t have any musical ability, I was just kind of really focused on the art aspect of things as well.
It’s even sort of interesting that in college, I graduate this year, and I took a marketing exam to test out of one of the classes. I never took the class, never read the book. I said “I know enough about marketing and promotions, I’m going to take this test,” and I passed that test! I never even opened the book and I got three credits in Marketing 361 just based on the knowledge that I had from learning with the street team and working at it.
There are a lot of benefits that people don’t even see. My street team guys have been able to have other marketing opportunities whether it’s working with Red Bull, radio stations or event promotions and things like that based on the experience that they have and they’ve been able to use that on resumes and carry that experience with him into other aspects.
What drew you in and made you want to be a part of this?
My music wasn’t on the radio. That wasn’t happening in the 90s. I was listening to Public Enemy, NWA, Boogie Down Productions, KRS-One, a lot of that kind of music and I grew up around that with my cousin being a DJ. After 2Pac and Biggie and those guys were no longer in that music scene it just seems that it got really commercial and really soft. When I first saw Tech I was like “Wow, that’s the type of music that I remember.”
My music’s not on the radio, it’s not for everybody. Tech’s music had a personal draw to me like “Wow this is the best kept secret ever.” So I really got more into it and like I said I went back to Hastings that day and bought Anghellic and Absolute Power and I even actually bought a couple extra copies and was like, “Hey, check this out!” I just saw this guy and I liked the stage show and the performance. Everything seemed really professional and well put together. Plus there was a wide variety of how the music was presented. It wasn’t all just the same. It had different elements to it. I like that about Tech, he has a lot of variety whether it’s a party song or a song with deep feelings and personal meaning. That kind of drew me into it.
What are you most looking forward to this year as far as promotion goes?
Actually I just had a Stevie Stone show and I wanted to learn more about what it would take to book a show from top to bottom, so for me I wanted to learn more about the business of how that works. I think as far as marketing and promotion more, I’m actually going to talk to Bean about it, but hopefully expand our area a little bit more out because we have a lot of fans, like in this Twin Falls area. I’ve been out to the city, I’ve looked at what stores they have, I’ve met with business owners there and there’s a good fanbase that comes from Twin Falls, which is about 300 miles away, they make that travel here to Boise so I’m looking to expand out in that direction this year.
Is there anything you want to say to wrap this up?
I’ve been a part of this for over 10 years and I wouldn’t trade it for anything! At first I was definitely kind of like unsure, because there’s a lot of people you don’t really know as far as, I’ve been able to have lunch with Violet in California, I’ve been to Kansas City at the office and I’ve been able to experience a lot of those things and I don’t think that I would trade it for anything. For my own experience and for the things that I’ve been able to accomplish in my own life. To be able to be part of something that’s larger than yourself and to be engaged and passionate about something that actually can make you a better person. I feel like for me that’s what Strange Music’s done for me.
Photos from Zach:
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