An interview with Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program alumnus Brandon Crumpton, president of Key Signature Entertainment.
First things first – tell us briefly who you are and what you do.
My name is Brandon Crumpton and I am the president of Key Signature Entertainment with over 20 years of experience in the entertainment and events industry. Key Signature is a live music and entertainment resource for private parties and special events based in Charlotte, NC. I realized that event professionals and musicians speak a different language.
I built Key Signature to bridge that communication gap so that both musicians and event professionals could produce successful events together. The best part about what we do is taking your ideas and creating a live music experience for you and your guests to enjoy; AND we do that following our motto GOOD PEOPLE, GOOD MUSIC.
What that means is we’re in the people business first and music business second. So if you need local, regional, or national live music for a private party or special event … WE GOT YOU!
How would you describe your negotiation style?
Firm but fair. I know what I want and am willing to walk away if I don’t get it.
What is your most memorable negotiation? Why did it leave such an impression on you?
Years ago, I was negotiating a deal to have the band Chicago perform at an event. Worked out all of the details and got a fair and reasonable deal for both parties. When it got down to executing the contract, the buyer freaked out about normal things the band was asking for. The buyer then backed out of the deal and it threatened my and my company’s reputation. I then had to negotiate myself out of the deal, still hold my company’s brand and reputation together, and not throw my client under the bus. What I learned was to prep all of my clients for the dance. Let them know what’s coming before we get too far. I never want to be in that situation again.
How have you stayed motivated in the face of the uncertainty and challenges resulting from Covid-19 and the economic fallout?
In March 2020 we lost a year’s worth of business in one week. I took the time for myself to process what was happening. I then realized that my employees were looking to me to know what to do next.
Before Covid-19 we were working on a growth plan I had developed with the SBA. Me and my staff regrouped and changed it to a survival plan. Having a clear written down plan of how we were going to get out of it even though we couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel helped.
I was also very transparent about if I was going to have to let anyone go. I promised them I would let them know with plenty of time so they weren’t blindsided. These steps gave them and me confidence to step out into the unknown. We used the downtime to build a new website, tighten up our policies, and support our industry friends. I didn’t have to let anyone go.
How do you hold yourself accountable to meet your personal or business goals?
I write my goals down and share them with the people around me. We post weekly, monthly, and yearly goals in our office. Everyone holds everyone accountable.
We all have mentors or someone who has influenced us. Who is your strongest source of inspiration?
My mom is my source of inspiration. Growing up, I watched as my mom pushed through every obstacle in front of her to make a better life for herself and me. She doesn’t know the meaning of the word quit and neither do I.
How do you nurture and grow your relationships while running a business?
My relationships are my business. They are one and the same. I tell my team not to go out and be the one who hands out the most business cards. Just go make a friend.
Building those types of relationships creates a space where people want to work with you instead of have to work with you.
What does the word empathy mean to you and how is it beneficial in a negotiation? To me it just means being able to understand where someone else is coming from. Trying to see the world through their lens. It's beneficial because I am able to respond specifically to that person or group of people instead of projecting my own thoughts or what I believe to be true on to them.
With all of the distractions in our daily lives, how do you stay present and engaged?
I try to do yoga and meditation every day that I can. What I know about myself is that I can lean one way or the other very easy. I work to stay in the center.
What has been your biggest learning from the pandemic?
Let people show you who they really are and believe them. Don’t make excuses for them.
What is a piece of advice you wish you could give to your younger self?
I would tell my younger self that you already have all of the tools to achieve whatever you want. Just take the time to sharpen them.
Share your favorite quote.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
For more information on Key Signature Entertainment, visit www.KeySignatureonline.com.
editor's note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.