Follow your passion. Chase your dreams.
In theory, this seems like simple advice but in practice, it can be like catching a housefly with chopsticks. The trick with any challenging task is that it’s not impossible and with enough hard work and dedication it can also be achievable.
When Brandon Bird, a 26-year-old graduate of Algonquin’s event management program, started the Diamond Mine Booking Agency in 2011, he was already a dedicated member of the Ottawa metal scene.
“I had a neighbour growing up who used to throw concerts at the local community centre and I went to every single one of them,” Bird recalls. “I just fell in love with going to shows at a really young age.”
With that kind of passion, it wasn’t long until Bird was organizing his own concerts.
“By the time I was 15, I booked my first metal show in Ottawa at the same community centre down the road from where I grew up.”
From there, Bird kept expanding his developing business. Transitioning from holding concerts in the community centre, to legion halls and, finally, downtown Ottawa shows in concert halls like Mavericks. All of this by the time he was 17 years old.
However, Diamond Mine Agency isn’t Bird’s first venture into the world of entrepreneurship. He previously owned two other event booking agencies: EvenFlow Events and Broken Beats Booking. He also worked for the Long Island, NY. based agency Truth Management in charge of Canadian bookings.
One of the pitfalls, however, of starting a business out of something is the unavoidable financial responsibilities of a once low-stakes hobby.
“The hardest thing is dealing with situations that are out of your control,” Bird says. “For example, sometimes an artist shows up extremely late or gets stopped at the border.”
The issue of talent being denied entry at the border is an issue Bird is very familiar with. Erik Stolhanske of Super Troopers fame was nearly an hour late to one of Bird’s shows at Algonquin College in 2018 after his opening act was denied entry to Canada.
“It effects me financially now when an artist can’t show, and I’ve got a sold-out concert. I’ve done the work, spent my own money, and now it’s all gone,” Bird says. “Concerts are something you invest three months into for one night. It’s not enough of consistent cash flow.
It was partially due to the volatility in the income provided by Diamond Mine that inspired Bird to branch out into the culinary side of the business and open Midnights Mac & Grilled Cheese.
“The old owner of Mavericks built this food window and I loved what he was doing with it,” Bird explains. “I saw an opportunity to take it over and figured it would be a good overhead business to invest in.”
Bird usually goes to bed around 4 a.m. after he’s done answering emails and going over the details of an upcoming event. His advice to the aspiring entrepreneur is to make sure you make sure it’s something you are passionate about.
“Don’t just do it because it’s going to be a high-profit job because you are going to lose interest,” he advises. “If you aren’t passionate, you aren’t going to put in the quality and effort required to succeed.”
Fortunately, if you find something you are passionate about and you follow it with the commitment and tenacity of Jason Voorhees stalking a camp counsellor, you might even get to hang out with a cigar smoking sock-puppet.
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Tour is done & I’m back in Ottawa! Shout out to @ed_the_sock for surviving his first ever comedy tour & everyone who attended! Ontario & Eastern Canada I’ll be bringing the most ruthless sock to town in the new year! Keep an eye open! #EdTheSock #MuchMusic #TheDiamondMineAgency