As Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of this award-winning global media digest and CEO/ReImaginator for 360° Nation, I was delighted to have the opportunity to get better acquainted with Jon Landers, Founder & CEO of TBAIMS LLC. TBAIMS originally stood for The Big Apple Indie Music Series. It has transitioned to stand for The Best Artist Indie Music Series going forward. Jon has developed relations with many of the top artist development agencies in LA, NY, Nashville and FL. as well as with many music festivals across the globe to continuously find other playing opportunities for his family of independent music artists. Learn more as you enjoy our inspiring Interview below ⤵︎
- We’d like to hear about your professional journey before TBAIMS.
My first real job was as a stock transfer agent at The First National Bank of Boston prior to the bank being bought out by other banks over the years after leaving for NY. I then went to work for my Dad in his relatively new import-export business where we were exporting the American Standard Florian Pruners with the ratchet action to Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. While working with my Dad, we became the import agents for a British company by the name of Plasplugs that made plastic wall anchors and invented the Quicksand Sanding block, a sponge foam block with sandpaper attached to the outer surface. I learned that this company had many other unique Do-It-Yourself products for the hardware industry and reached out to the President/Owner to see if I could work with them directly to help bring their products to North America. They hired me to be their National Sales Manager and I began to build a manufacturer’s rep organization to cover the North American market. I also reached out to consumer magazines like Popular Science, Popular Mechanix and Better Homes & Gardens to get our products exposure to the masses. I spent about 4 years with this company and found myself recruited to a German horticultural company by the name of ASB Greenworld. They has just opened up a peat moss bog in New Brunswick, Canada and were looking for people to help with their marketing for North America. I joined ASB Greenworld and started to help build their market for the Northeastern US market to start. I would even go to the flower markets at 4 am to look for truckers to backhaul their professional growing mixes, peat moss and other horticultural products they were producing.
In the process of working with ASB, I decided to leave to become a manufacturer’s rep myself as I felt I would make more income that way. I then merged with a rep group from New Jersey to have a larger market to sell to with more products. We then were one of the first to get a computer (Apple Mac Classic) and started to sell and service The Home Depots and big-box home centers from Maine to Virginia. By 1999 we had over 40 product lines in these stores that we had to sell and service. We had over 40 sales reps covering these stores and I was overseeing the whole group.
I burned out in 1999 going through a divorce from a 29-year marriage. I left the repping agency in 1999 and found myself looking for a different direction to go into. I purchased a graphic design business on 9/7/2001 called Creative Desktop that I quickly renamed Creative Group LLC. Needless to say, 9/11 came about four days after the purchase and suddenly business was not what I was expecting. I did have some existing business when I purchased the company with one other employee, but I had to let that employee go within the first year of my purchasing it. At the same time as this change, I found myself spiraling into a deep depression.
…if I hadn’t walked into a Circuit City to find that keyboard, I would not be here today to talk about it.
One day I walked into Circuit and saw a keyboard that I hit the demo key and it played the theme from the James Bond films. I purchased the keyboard, labeled the keys, and started to use the built-in loops to create my own music. I can’t read music and I never took piano lessons. I found myself playing by ear. I started to write lyrics to go with the music and that was the best therapy for my depression —if I hadn’t walked into a Circuit City to find that keyboard, I would not be here today to talk about it. To add to the divorce, in the three years following my divorce, my mom was diagnosed with colon cancer, my dad tried to commit suicide because of my mom’s condition and my brother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. My mom passed away in 2000, my dad passed away in 2003 and my brother passed away in 2014. So, by 2012, I decided music was my passion and the best therapy to stay alive. I created The Big Apple Indie Music Series as a result. See part 2 for more….
- Tell us about TBAIMS and the inspiration behind it.
As I mentioned above, music has been my passion ever since I went through that depression and I realized I wanted to be more involved in the music industry. That is the main inspiration for starting TBAIMS
- What’s unique about your TBAIMS and who is your ideal client?
TBAIMS was one of the first music showcases in New York City that offered a platform for vetted independent music artists to perform live in front of music, entertainment, TV, and film industry executives including A&Rs. We always believed in full transparency in the industry. In addition to the platform for the artists we invited to perform for these showcases, we always invited other artists to come by for the music pitch sessions where for a small fee they could bring their iPad, or Tablet, or Smartphone with headphones to have any of the industry professionals attending give them a critique on their music. We also did interviews with the artists and posted them on YouTube.
We never charged the artists we invited to perform. Another thing I did to show my appreciation to the artists that performed was to give them a permanent platform on our website so people could connect to them to help build their fanbase. All we asked in turn was for them to write a review of their experience performing for us. That is also posted on our website.
- When did you launch TBAIMS and what’s been your biggest challenge so far?
I was originally going to launch TBAIMS in December of 2012, however, I learned a very important lesson firsthand. The first showcase was going to highlight just one artist at the time, however, the artists became ill just before the scheduled showcase so I had to cancel it and reschedule it. I realized at that moment that I had to have more than one artist per showcase just in case there was an unplanned cancellation by the artist(s) that were scheduled. We ended up bringing in 6 artists per showcase, each performing a 20-minute set or four songs each.
- Any noteworthy surprises or ‘A-ha’ Moments along the way?
Besides learning to have more than one artist per showcase, I also realized that I could not pick the artists solely based on an Mp3, recording, or studio-based video. I found out quickly that some artists used an app like auto-tune to make them sound better than they did singing live as far as singing on pitch. Another lesson I learned early on was to make sure the acoustic artists if any perform first or any music that was melancholy and then move to the more upbeat music to keep the audience engaged.
- How would you describe your typical day presiding over TBAIMS?
Planning each showcase took many hours of preparation and I had to make sure I had all the marketing and signage needed per event. We always had a Step & Repeat backdrop for interviewing the artists and photo shoots with the logos of TBAIMS and any sponsors printed on it. On the day of the event, I would arrive a few hours ahead to set up all the signage and make sure the venue was set up properly. We also had to do sound checks for the different bands ahead of the event so it would go smoothly.
- What about your impact/outcomes?
Our showcases would bring in from 100-300 people on a Wednesday night from 8 – 11 pm and included celebrities from time to time as well. We were one of the top music showcases in NYC during our time there from 2013 t0 2015.
- What’s the next big thing/challenge for TBAIMS?
I’m currently working on a one-hour music showcase to be live-streamed on WeBeamTV.com and simultaneously on YouTube and up to five additional networks/channels yet to be determined. Once we get more established again as the go-to for artists, we will start to plan some live music events for a much larger audience to go on tour around the Country.
- As an experienced leader and entrepreneur, what’s non-negotiable for you?
I will never work with any organization or person that is not totally transparent about what their motivations are to be a part of TBAIMS; no hidden agendas will do.
- How can our global audience learn more about TBAIMS?
You can go to www.tbaims.com
BONUS QUESTION: What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
I like to live outside the box and do love people with good humor; not the ice cream, though I would take one if offered! I have ADHD and a learning disability where I have trouble attaining anything I read. I’m better with visuals. Oh, and I’m much older than I look! It’s NOT the water, though it does help….:)