We had the good fortune of connecting with Erick Rodriguez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erick, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
For me, Starting my own business has always been one of my biggest motivators. I knew at a very young age that my passion would lead me down a fulfilling career path, and my passion was music. I didn’t know how to articulate exactly what that path would be, but i know music would always be my side when i did. After that, every decision i’ve made has been to further that goal. I really have my mother to thank for supporting me and believing in me, and my sister for inspiring me to chase the arts. They made all the sacrifices early, so that i had a chance to attend Berklee College of Music and build my success. Their disposition created my work ethic, and i believed that with enough hard work, i could be an industry professional in the music business. I quickly found that how difficult it was to get into the door, but i wouldn’t let the deter me. Over the years i found success working for companies like Twelve Music Group & Rhino Staging, where i worked as a recording & venue engineer. It lead me to eventually teach at SAE Institute Of Technology, which is one of the most fulfilling jobs i’ve ever had. But i hadn’t taken the time to develop anything for myself. One of my students asked me if i had my own organization where he could continue working and educating himself, and i found it as an opportunity. i used inspiration from my family, colleagues, and students to build a business that represent me. It’s a-lot easier to create something from within than to derive value outward. Ever since then, I’ve been blessed to say that every opportunity i’ve been afforded has been directly affected by music. More importantly, it grew me as well.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
What keeps me busy is the tremendous amount of talent and opportunity available in Atlanta for the music industry. From live music to studio work, I’ve kept myself engaged with multiple platforms. It’s amazing because I was afforded the opportunity to come here through the Berklee College Of Music Atlanta trip program, and many colleagues of mine as well as myself continue to build our career here because of it. There is no limit to the success you can cultivate if you can envision it. My story starts really around 9 years old and I was diagnosed with a tumor growing in my spinal cord. Before that point, I wanted to play football and I had no idea of the implications that would ultimately change my life. In my recovery, I invested more time and energy into understanding my passion, and that was music. I didn’t start studying music until I attended a magnet program during middle school. I had to audition to get into the program and I loved it so much that I wanted to make it a lifelong dream to support myself through music. I continued my journey throughout high school until I was offered a place at Berklee College of Music. After 5 years, I graduated with a dual degree in music engineering and music business. My time there also helped build a portfolio with 2 years of work experience between studios, live events, and films. I believed I had enough invested to begin my career as an engineer, but I found out exactly how hard that would be when I moved to atlanta. I moved from my hometown in Miami to Atlanta because I wanted to capitalize on all the working opportunities that were presenting themselves. However, I struggled mightily between interning at Silent Studios and maintaining multiple jobs to support myself. Ultimately, my internship concluded and I moved on. It took me 2 years from that point to gain consistent work, and I found it at Rhino staging & Twelve Music Group. Because of them, I was able to get my first credits with label artists between Epic, Grand Hustle Records, & multiple live venues. This led me to my next opportunity by teaching at the illustrious SAE Institute Of Technology. I wasn’t sure if I was the right person because I thought I was too young, but my experience between multiple platforms in the industry prepared me to give back. And my students in turn taught me what it means to always strive for the best version of yourself. I took those experiences and decided to build something that not only serves me, but the community that helped me grow into a confident audio engineer. The passion in the city is self-evident, and I wanted to be a part of it in a bigger way. I learned it was more important to build a brand, so I can sustain myself professionally. So I built a couple of businesses that function under my brand. The first was a production company I built called Livin’ The Beat Productions and the other is an educational system we launched this year called Vybez Academy. By investing that time and energy on myself, I crafted 2 businesses that support each other and grow together. And I was able to do it, because I focused on what was important to me. Now I can offer students in the community resources, education, and access. Not only will this position them to succeed, but Vybez offers continual support while creating a community of engineers. Here students can interact, create, and publish their works as they continue to invest in themselves. We believe that is where true inspiration lives. So you can say I’ve kept myself very busy over the last couple years, and yet there is still so much more to do. Like I said, it’s a blessing to have your career choice be something you’re truly passionate about, and I intend to pass that on.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well I’m still getting use to Atlanta, but i’d start at the Venues around city. Places like Apache, Kat’s Cafe, & The bonfire are the best spots for live entertainment. They host weekly artist and open mic nights where you can get great local music. And if your not in the mood for that, there are plenty of lounges and clubs we could check out. Some of my go-to is Sivas Hookah Lounge, Boogalou restaurant & lounge, or Blue Cantina! For me, i always gotta keep the tropical vibe as well ! so i love to eat at Papi’s cuban & caribbean grill. I also love Iron Age Korean Steakhouse !!! best Korean spot in town. Between that, a game at staduims, and touring all over georgia, we can fill that week up !
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to shoutout my beautiful fiancee Letrease Young, who has been instrumental to my success. Not only in my career, but in my happiness as well. For all the times i’ve been up to the moments i felt like giving up, She has been my rock. She inspires me to do better and sustains my belief in myself. Without her, i would have never gotten to this point in my life. More importantly, there is no one else i’d share all the fruits of our sacrifice more than with my amazing wife-to-be. Thank you baby for everything that you do and all that you continue to do. Forever and always, i’ll need you by side.