Following the Rabbit to Success

Patrick Reagin ’10, David Buttrey ’10, and Joe Fleming ’10, founders of BLKRBBT.
Patrick Reagin ’10, David Buttrey ’10, and Joe Fleming ’10, founders of BLKRBBT.

By Ray Willhoft ’00

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business world, either you continue to evolve or you get left behind. Those who embrace new media definitely have the advantage, and that’s where BLKRBBT comes in.

Founded by music industry studies alumni Patrick Reagin ’10 and David Buttrey ’10 and visual arts alumnus Joe Fleming ’10, the company began as a marketing and artist development strategy start-up based in New Orleans, La. The idea for the company was originally conceived for David and Patrick’s senior project. The guys both had a passion for music and knew they wanted to somehow make a career out of it. But it wasn’t until they began to learn the ins and outs of the music industry that they realized the path they would take.

Of course, things change, and the music industry has been in a state of transition ever since Napster and other file-sharing websites hit the scene several years ago. Artists can no longer rely on record label support and CD sales as a sole source of income, but must hit the road performing and finding new ways to market themselves to different audiences.

“In the past, music industry studies graduates would go on to work for a record label,” explains Patrick. “But with the music industry evolving and record labels downsizing or going out of business, if you want to be a part of the industry, then you have to create your own position.”

David and Patrick approached Joe, who shared their love of music and brought his visual arts background to the table, with the idea of starting their own company, Rabbithole Consulting, in which they would become music managers for hire, helping people create sustainable careers in the arts. Their first venture was managing a local band, e.company, “a soulful and hard-hitting quintet of musicians from different corners of the South.” That initial success gave way to other clients eager to learn how the guys could help them not only survive but thrive in the industry.

And much like the music industry and their clients, the guys have continued to evolve as well, branching out from the music industry into other marketing venues. They renamed their company BLKRBBT and offer business development strategy, strategic planning solutions, and intelligent targeted marketing services in all areas of business.

David’s responsibilities include band consultant, marketing, live event work, and business development strategy; Patrick takes on the roles of web and social media, financial planning, and business development strategy; and Joe handles design, digital media, and print media, as a creative.

Some of the guys’ recent ventures include working on music video projects for artists such as Widespread Panic and Lil Wayne; creating training videos for corporations such as Cisco Systems; assisting with political campaigns; and organizing a 56-day national tour for e.company.

They also have garnered significant live event experience, working for national music festivals such as Bonnaroo (Tenn.), Coachella (Calif.), StageCoach (Calif.), Dave Matthews (Ill., N.J.), Voodoo Festival (La.), and Essence Fest (La.).

One key to the guys’ success is a philosophy they first learned at Loyola.

“Technology equals disruption, and disruption equals opportunity,” says David.

The guys have seized the opportunities that the digital age has provided and continue to explore new ways of marketing, especially taking advantage of video.

“Video has become a huge message medium, and it is always better to show than tell,” they say.

But regardless of whom the client is or which media is used, the guys always keep in mind the importance of creating strategic goals.

“We try to understand our clients and map out which direction they want to go in,” notes Joe.

“That’s definitely one of the advantages to having a smaller, more personalized company like ours,” adds David.

Part of that process involves setting timelines for where their clients want to be one year down the road, and then five years down the road, which is especially important for musicians who want their careers to take off.

Of course, it all comes down to the message, and that’s where the guys shine.

“Tell us what message you want to bring to the public, and we will figure out the best ways to deliver it,” explains Patrick.

The guys have taken a smart approach to business, and it is paying off. But most importantly, they are enjoying what they are doing and believe now is the right time to do it.

Joe sums it up best: “It is an exciting and creative time.”

View the complete spring 2012 issue of LOYNO.

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