Anik Dang wakes up at 17th Street Recording Studio to begin another day of work. Putting in 20-hour days and sleeping in his office is not unusual.
â€œI crash here four or five times a week,â€ Dang said. Even though he is just 25 years old, the Cal State Fullerton graduate is already on his way to establishing himself as a powerhouse in the music world.
In 2009, Dang graduated from CSUF with a bachelorâ€™s degree in entrepreneurship and was working with the school as a consultant.
Through the consulting program, Dang was equipped with the tools and skills he needed to succeed in business. He transitioned from the CSUF program to being a consultant for a record label. It was during this time that Dang fell in love with the music industry.
â€œPretty much all my friends and everyone around me at the time was into music, so it was kind of a way for me to get involved and still get to work with my friends every day,â€ Dang said.
Dang started a record label with a friend and began managing artists and promoting their music. It was around this time that he met Lewis Richards.
â€œI met Anik through the discontinued erotic services section of CraigsList,â€ Richards said. The story is half true.
Dang and his partner were looking for a studio and producer for an electronic reggae artist they were managing when they stumbled upon Richards on CraigsList.org. His partner found out that Richards had worked with Sublime on their platinum self-titled album, and since Dangâ€™s artist was getting comparisons to Sublime singer Bradley Nowell, it seemed like a perfect fit.
â€œFor us to find the guy who has the (platinum) record for the Sublime self-titled album, we figured this is where we need to go â€“ and his prices were super reasonable, way too low even,â€ Dang said.
The meeting proved to be instrumental. For several months Dang was coming to 17th Street Recording Studios and paying for studio time. However, when he and his partner parted ways at the beginning of 2010, Dang began the move that would eventually launch a new label, 17th Street Records.
â€œI just kind of started talking to Lew every day and just figuring out what his whole situation was and how he would fit into what I was doing â€“ we just decided to merge,â€ Dang said. â€œI was going to run the label out of here, and he was going to do the studio.â€
With the beginning of the new record label, Dang set out to create a community of talented artists and successful music â€“ but doing so has provided him with unique challenges.
â€œYour first gig at a place, you are probably not going to get paid unless you name drop pretty hard. Just getting paid in general from venues is pretty tough,â€ Dang said. â€œMore than that, itâ€™s hard to get your fans out to every show. Say you have four shows in a week and they are all at dive bars, youâ€™ve got to have some pretty loyal fans to come out to four dive bars in a week.â€
However, Dang has been able to cultivate several of his artists into rising stars â€“ one such artist is Micah Brown.
Before meeting Dang, Brown was simply focused on his music and developing a catalogue of songs that people would enjoy hearing and didnâ€™t have â€œany idea of what to do with the business side of my musicâ€.
Through the guidance of Dang he just released his first E.P., Down Like Hail on iTunes and is nominated for â€œBest Acoustic Artistâ€ at this yearâ€™s OC Music Awards.
â€œRight now itâ€™s Micahâ€™s thing, and since he is nominated at the OC Music Awards that are coming up, we are going to do a lot of shows with him,â€ Dang said. â€œHis stuff is really taking off right now, so he is going to be the focus point.â€
One of Dangâ€™s primary methods of management is focusing on the artists at the label that are generating the most buzz and working the hardest.
â€œWhoever has the best stuff is what we are going to promote,â€ Dang said.
But the community at 17th Street is also important to Dang and he is building a group of young artists with the aim of making hits and taking the Orange County music scene by storm.
â€œWeâ€™ve got everyone singing on each otherâ€™s tracks, and we are cross-marketing through that,â€ Dang said. â€œFor us to come up I think itâ€™s going to be a group effort, and we are going to get noticed as a group rather than individuals.â€
The future is looking bright for 17th Street. Dang said that largely because of the skills he learned in the consulting program at CSUF, he has been able to take the label and turn it into a profitable business in only a couple of months. In an economy where the music industry has been hit especially hard by the recession, this is a rarity and Dangâ€™s work ethic is largely responsible for the success.
Dang said that on a day-to-day basis he does everything from graphic design and booking to working on business plans and models. He also works on things he says they should have interns for, like wrapping cables and repainting the floor.
â€œAnikâ€™s work has been awesome; heâ€™s helping make the studio one of the best around,â€ Richards said. â€œI look forward to the future projects being more and more successful.â€
Currently the studio is working with the Dirty Heads, recording their next album.
Richards has been integral in the bands development and is helping them with the songwriting process and also serving as the recording engineer.
Brown was also able to lend his talents on some of the new tracks, an experience he credits Dang for.
â€œA year ago I was doing open mics and bar gigs,â€ Brown said. â€œToday, I am in the studio working with the Dirty Heads on their next record.â€
Through the experience of Richards and the dedication and business savvy of Dang, 17th Street Records is on its way up.
â€œThis is a fun job. I have done a lot of shit â€“ social media, consulting work, a clothing line, selling graphic art â€“ and this is one that is definitely a challenge,â€ Dang said. â€œPlus you get to work with great people. The biggest draw is the people.â€
About Keith Cousins