Executive Profile: Herb Trawick

The show is all sponsor driven. And it’s the same sponsors as Pensado’s Place, so they’re not specifically sponsoring the awards show. We have smaller sponsors that come on specifically for the [live] show, but the people that carry the bulk of the expense are the yearly sponsors of Pensado’s Place, who are comfortable with us directing funding towards the [awards] show. The franchise has become as valuable to the sponsors as it is to us. They’re presenting sponsors at all of our live events. But each year I’ve had to go find what I call “other money” because this event keeps growing. You can’t keep going back to people that have supported you and ask for more.

Mining More Money
We hire people to do business development to find that “other money” and to present various cost-effective packages. We show them how much reach they’ll get with the awards show; how much exposure. The number of impressions that we reach can get frightening in terms of its scale, both in promotion running up to it, the live event itself and then how it lives online afterwards. You want a fairly high profile that is repeated and consistent to an audience that is specifically your target.

Lessons Learned
I need to rest and do things that are de-stressing. My assistant and I go into the gym and box. You have to be ready, physically, for what this requires because this is an around-the-clock job. I’ve also learned that the available talent pool is vast. And because of the nature of our awards show, it’s more complicated, possibly, than others because we have to take into account the entire globe. Being representative of both the professional audio class and what we call the “enthusiast class,” we try to bring those two communities together. We have a need to give back and make an event that’s worthy of the attention we’ve earned.

Mistakes and Surprises
This year we started later than normal so I had to pull it off on a compressed schedule. The show this time was a sizable leap forward from last year’s. No matter what we aim for, numbers-wise, by the time of the event, it nearly doubles. We had nearly 1,000 people this year, the same night as the VMAs, which is major for a second-year awards show. We’re in direct competition with something that is hugely promoted.

Being Proactive
We approach this event in a way that we can forecast mistakes and get the workarounds in place before we need them. We may come up short sometimes financially and have to close out the books longer than usual. Those are things you can’t control because once you start, you can’t turn it off three weeks before and say, “Just kidding.”

Favorite Part
There’s a point where the show lands for me, creatively. I still have to get it out, get it on paper and get it on stage. There are moments when it gels. Sometimes it’s the whole thing and other times it’s bits and pieces. That’s my favorite part. I don’t get to share it with anybody other than Dave because no one else gets it.

Remember your audience. We think about this to within an inch of its life. For that crazed diligence, we’ve been rewarded. I come from the record side. I spent my career ensuring that my clients and their work spoke to an audience. There’s no reason for you to be in the business if you don’t know how to do that or don’t care about it. All the stuff you do on the record side has to be done in a very short cycle. If you’re not successful, it can fall apart in a minute. You can take 18 months of work and it can be over in four weeks. You have to learn and develop a set of chops to do that. The combination of Dave’s gold-standard brand and my training have come together in such a way that our approach makes us different from others in the audio space.

Future Plans
There will be a series of announcements between now and the end of the year. It will include our own curriculum series that has about six of the bigger names in pro audio and more to come. It’ll be circulated by Hal Leonard in approximately 65 countries. We’ll also open our own new media center three blocks from Universal Studios, which will be our broadcasting hub and will allow us to house Pensado’s Place, other sets, classrooms, etc. We’ll also announce a new set of at least four new live events—including at least one in India—to accompany our current set of six.

Years with Company: 5
Address: youtube.com/user/PensadosPlace
Web: PensadosPlace.tv

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