We caught up with Cult-ure Collective’s Scott Steiner to discuss artist management, festival organization, unique music events, and more!
When it comes to the electronic dance music scene in Atlanta, Georgia, Scott Steiner, is truly a jack of all trades. But, where he shines the brightest is through his artist management and event promotion business, Cult-ure Collective. Since its establishment, he’s blasted off on a trajectory to connect likeminded individuals through some of the most unique events the city has ever seen. One of these events is the Creative Drinking Club and Pre-GAMING at Mixdeity which is a must-attend if you’re looking to learn more about the industry while getting your dance on, immersing yourself in beautiful art, and playing fun games designed for social bonding.
And then there’s his silent disco series, Sound Not Found, hosted at multiple breweries and bars to unite the rave community no matter what side of the city you’re on. I’ve had the joy of attending on multiple occasions and I was very impressed by the high-quality sound pumping out of those headphones, brought to life by brilliant local music makers that make this city move. In fact, Scott makes sure to keep the three-channel lineup new each time while featuring a wide array of styles including bass, house, techno, and trance.
If we look at the work he’s doing on the management side, he stays busy lifting up artists to the next level like our beloved CANVAS, who just dropped her brand new EP, Stare, and is gearing up to make her Electric Zoo debut this year! Speaking of festivals, we can’t have a discussion about Scott without highlighting Rebirth, a multi-day, music, arts, and camping experience that made its debut last summer at Skull Shoals Park in Washington, GA. I personally had the most glorious time making new friends and living my best life in the middle of the woods, and I definitely won’t be missing this year’s edition!
This is all just the tip of the iceberg for Scott so we’ll let him tell you the rest! Continue on for our in-depth chat about his career thus far and everything else he has coming up. But before you move on, if you want to check out the Creative Drinking Club and Pre-GAMING at Mixdeity, the next event happens on Friday, April 22, and you can sign up for membership through the event page. If you’re looking to shake your tail feather at Sound Not Found, grab your ticket and come join us on Saturday, April 23, at the Fowling Warehouse!
Hello Scott, thank you so much for taking time out to chat with us today. Let’s get started by talking about how you got into electronic dance music. What pulled you into the scene, who were some of your favorite artists you were listening to back then, and who are some of your current favorites?
My pleasure, thank you for having me! First and foremost, the credit goes to my roommate-turned-brother, Cody Barnette. At the time I only listened to various styles of Rock music and he was the first to force me to listen to electronic music. We listened to a wide range of artists at the time. Some of my favorites back then were Armin Van Buren, ZHU, and Seven Lions. Soon after, he took me to my first electronic music show, Lane 8 at Terminal West for one of his first “This Never Happened” shows. The energy in that room was incomparable and after that show, I decided I was going to build my life around this music community.
I have so many favorites now, so this will be difficult. Canvas is at the top for sure; she also inspired much of what I do now. Lane 8 is still one of my favorites. Recently I’ve really been digging Losless, Township Rebellion, Low Poly, Laika Beats, and ARTBAT.
As a passionate entrepreneur, you’re doing an incredible amount of work in the Atlanta dance music industry including artist management, festival/event organization, and promotion. What made you want to take on such productive roles instead of just being an event attendee?
Thank you so much! The simple answer is I wanted to give back to the community that’s done so much for me and share that with as many people as possible. When I decided to build my life around the music industry I had no idea where to start or how I would fit in, I just knew I did not want to perform. I began by going to as many shows as possible and started talking with the event organizers, promoters, and artists. After a couple of years of building relationships all over the city, I realized I wanted to do it all.
I became very passionate about creating unique spaces and experiences that inspire connection. I started promoting the events I connected with most, and soon after I began putting my own events together. All of this also led to artist management. I met so many great artists that were not getting the visibility they deserved and quickly realized I wanted to help with that as well.
As the owner and operator of Cult-ure Collective, you’re managing some rising stars like Canvas, as well as supporting other local artists including Mister Trippin and Hyist. For those thinking about jumping into artist management, can you talk about the daily tasks that come with the role, and what can we look forward to next from your artists?
I strongly believe the key is finding artists that you’re passionate about and building a relationship with them. As a manager, it’s so important to understand the artists’ inspirations, mission, and vision. My goal is to take everything off the artist’s plate so they can solely focus on making and playing music. Those tasks include organizing and prioritizing projects, working with booking agents, talent buyers, promoters, other artist management teams, and planning promotion. My favorite part of doing artist management is the creative brainstorming sessions where we talk about crazy ideas and work to make them happen.
There’s so much to look forward to! Canvas just released a new EP, Stare, and will be dropping a new single later in the month! We’re also wrapping up a music video that will be released in the next month or so! We’re very excited to be playing alongside Atlanta native, Daily Bread, at the Ogden Theater in Denver on May 6, and we’re stoked to be playing at some amazing festivals including Bigfoot Electro, Yonderville, Sound Haven, and Electric Zoo as a part of the Clozee, Odyzey takeover!
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to face as an artist manager and what aspect has been the most rewarding?
The biggest challenge is the unknown. I’ve only been doing this for a little over a year so every experience is a learning opportunity. One big challenge so far is working with labels for music releases. They have so much music coming in it’s hard to get their attention sometimes, and when we do it takes months to release. It’s hard to sit on those tracks that we’re excited to release.
Easily the most rewarding thing is being able to work with my best friend and seeing the progress we’ve made. We both have huge aspirations and to be able to go through this journey together is something I will always cherish.
Let’s switch gears and talk about your unique Creative Drinking Club and Pre-GAMING at Mixdeity, a community non-profit that supports artists, creatives and entrepreneurs. As these offer more than just music, what are some highlights that make these events stand apart from the typical night out?
This event is all about supporting the community. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed a lot of people asking for 3 things. Attendees want a space to connect with each other outside of clubs, where they can talk without screaming over the music. Many DJs/Producers need help with networking and are not sure where to start. Lastly, DJs/Producers could use more resources to take their skills to the next level.
With the Creative Drinking Club, we hope to address these three things. We start the event with an AMA or producing class from the most successful artists in Atlanta. After that, we have DJs playing music all night and people come to flow, dance, and play on the aerial toys. We have video games, board games, and others like beer pong that allow people to connect and have fun in different ways. There are always plenty of promoters and artists in attendance to make networking easier.
Finally as a part of the Mixdeity membership, for $15 not only do you get access to this event, but many other events as well. The membership allows you to BYOB as well as utilize the house bar. The best part for upcoming artists is the access to studio space, a music label, photographers, videographers, editors, and a space to host their own events all at a very affordable rate. This is a product of the whole community coming together to help one another.
In addition to the Creative Drinking Club, you’re also responsible for bringing the silent disco to life in Atlanta via Sound Not Found. Can you tell us about your personal interest in this niche style of party? Why should dance music enthusiasts attend these events?
The interest developed after meeting with some friends at a brewery, right when businesses started to open as Covid died down. There was an island noodle pop-up, great beer, and a beautiful outdoor space to soak in the sun. All that was missing was music! I thought this could be the perfect opportunity for Silent Disco! Silent Disco allows you to social distance as much as you want, it doesn’t affect any other patrons of the brewery, and you can hear it both indoors and outdoors. The idea grew from there and I quickly realized this was also a perfect opportunity to provide opportunities for new DJs to come to play and get some practice.
If you’re into dance music you should definitely come to Silent Disco because it’s so versatile. These events take place at multiple breweries and are usually outside during the day, something there is very little of in Atlanta. We have nine DJs playing three different genres of music over the course of six hours so no matter what you like, we have something for you. It also allows you to have full control of the volume so you can choose whether you want to listen, talk to your peers, or both! As we’ve grown we have also added live painting and various local vendors selling anything from local honey to festy gear and jewelry.
Now let’s talk about Rebirth Festival! I had the opportunity to attend last year and it was a blast! Can you paint us a picture of the festival process and after its completion? What was the biggest thing you took away from the experience or learned about this side of the industry?
Thank you so much, I am so happy you enjoyed it! When I decided to do this I knew it would be a lot of work. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my partner, Josh Millard, and so many others. The first step in the process was answering the question: why? I ask myself that before taking on anything. I think it’s so important to know why you do something.
From there we came up with the concept, found a location, and mapped out the property. We started from nothing, just trees, and some open space, and built everything the way we wanted. Then we started to curate the lineup and work on the aesthetic. Finally, we did promo and handled all the final little details.
The biggest thing I learned is that it is EXPENSIVE! But joking aside, I learned how many fine details there are and how important it is to have a really good team around you so you can delegate tasks. I tend to try and control everything myself and I had to let that go and trust our team.
What will you be bringing to the table for this year’s installment of Rebirth to make it bigger and better than ever before, and can you talk about some of the venue highlights?
While the original concept of Rebirth will continue and grow, we’re currently focusing on a completely new concept that will blow people away! Details on that will be shared soon!
Skull Shoals Campground is amazing! The staff goes above and beyond to accommodate all guests. The property is in Washington, GA, two hours from Atlanta and an hour east of Athens. The property features a 40ft x 20ft covered stage, a 60ft x 90ft covered pavilion, and we have just added a bath house with 12 indoor showers and hot water! It is in a beautiful, pristine forest with a huge field and a clear view of the sky. We also have a telescope for all of our stargazers!
Everything we’ve discussed is just the tip of the iceberg for you. What are some other projects you’re working on at the moment or is there another side of the scene you’d like to break into?
I’m currently focusing on growing the projects we have discussed as well as the new Rebirth concept. My plate is pretty full now and there’s still so much to learn in all areas, but I do have other things I want to accomplish in the future. My ultimate goal is to open an intimate music venue in Atlanta with cutting-edge sound and visual arts. From there I want to create a label and build a studio to further support the underground music community. Time to get to work!
Alright, I’ve gotta ask, how do you juggle all of these tasks without burning out? How do you stay mentally fit, healthy, and motivated?
I love this so much, I feel like I could never get burnt out. With each event, I get to meet so many people, have so many great conversations and always leave with so much motivation and energy. I really do it for the people; they ultimately provide all the motivation I’ll ever need.
I take mental health very seriously. Some things I’ve been focusing on that help are getting outside more, meditation, and accepting help from others. I also think being out at events, dancing, and being around a lot of people also has a positive effect on my overall health.
Finally, as someone who is deeply embedded in the Atlanta scene, what could make it better and what are we getting right?
I love Atlanta and the scene we have here! We do need to focus more on safety; people need to feel comfortable in order to have a good time. While these events are great opportunities to have fun, connect and be yourself, there are people that will take advantage of that openness and vulnerability.
The first thing we all can do is be more aware and look out for one another. The biggest responsibility lies with the event producer. They should recognize this and take proactive action to minimize it and handle it quickly and efficiently. Simply adding signage with information on who to report issues to, how to handle those situations, and a list of expectations for all guests can make a huge difference. Security should be instructed to be more aware of harassment. Another great option is implementing volunteers like Ground Control, seen at Insomniac events, as well as many other groups such as Consent Kitties. These volunteers are dance music enthusiasts and their role is to walk around and make sure everyone is good and feels comfortable.
Atlanta gets so many things right! There are always options to listen to electronic music any day of the week. On the weekends, show conflicts are a regular occurrence. There’s also a ton of variety and a great balance of underground events and big venues that book big headliners. The talent that is coming out of Atlanta right now is insane! This gives people tons of opportunities to catch locals, at an affordable rate, and still be blessed with great music. Lastly, once again the music lovers and people of Atlanta are what makes this all so great. None of this is possible without the people that enjoy it! They will always be the most important piece and that’s something to be guarded and protected.
Thank you so much for taking the time to have this discussion! I look forward to seeing you at many events in the future!