2013 Club Promoter of The Year – Mike “Sol” Kitchen If you have ever been to Pop Life, one of the longest running themed nights in Charlotte, then you know the power of a Sol Kitchen powered event. Always ahead of his time, Mike Kitchen has been an influence to many of the most popular new promoters in Charlotte today. CLTParty.com had a chance to connect with Mike, and read, as he shares, in his own words, how he got started, early obstacles, and some key tips for those looking to start out in the stressful promotion industry today. On how he got his start promoting: Mike: “I actually got started by learning to DJ. One of my good friends taught me and I was his “roadie” while I was learning. During that time we carried crates and equipment. There wasn’t serato, cdjs and etc. I always listened to him about what could have been done better, how things should have been promoted and etc. I also watched the club owners and got to know them as well. After a couple of years, I moved to another city to get another degree and accepted a teaching job. We all know teachers don’t make money, so I picked up a part time job bartending at a club. Once again, I was learning the tricks of the trade. After I finished my second degree, the club offered me a job (bar manager) and later became Assistant GM and part owner. The two guys I worked with, I learned so much from them and met so many artists and famous people. My mother became ill so I decided to move back to this area and I decided I was going to get out the business for good because of how I left the club and I did. I had a 9 to 5. At this point Charlotte was growing and some of my friends opened a lounge called Tonic. I fell in love with the nightlife again. I’ve always been a fan of different types of music. I djed their once a month and eventually ended up doing Sunday nights there with poetry. The music was very eclectic and cool. Something relatively new to the urban crowd but I said if I was ever to get back in the business, I wanted to do something different. At this time I was going to Atlanta a lot and met 2 guys who were doing concerts there. We talked, became good friends and I learned how to do concerts and etc. After my job laid me off, I decided to do concerts and events full time.” The Short History Behind “Pop Life” On challenges he faced early on that he didn’t expect Mike: “The challenges I faced were having enough capital, marketing and networking. When I was doing this and working for someone, it’s easy because many times they are supplying everything. Now, when you do this by yourself, capital is always a concern and so is networking. I used my own money and things had to be done. You have to have enough to cover EVERYTHING and you want to make sure you have enough for YOU to live off of in case your event or concert is a bust. Networking, you need to make sure you know the right people. Marketing, you need to make sure you market to the right people. Relationships are key in any business especially in this business. There are a lot of talkers and a lot of doers and many people think they are important even if they aren’t.” On accomplishments in 2013 you are most proud of Mike: “I am really proud of Pop Life being here 7 years and I finally did a concert with Roy Ayers. I’ve been trying to book and meet him for years.” On his 2014 Plans Mike: “I plan on doing more things in other cities and I want to go abroad to try some things. I started a music festival in 2012 and I want to bring that back. I really to expand on that.” Photo Credit: Jim McGuire On Any advice you would share for those looking to get into the industry. Mike: 1. This is a business. You have to always remember that and remind your friends and associates of that. 2. You never know who you may meet so be professional to everyone. I didn’t say let them get over or use you, I said be PROFESSIONAL. 3. Do what you say you are going to do. All you have is your name and your word. It will be your downfall or a BIG blessing. 4. Make sure you have the capital. You always want to pay your people and your talent even if you go home with nothing. I’ve done it many times but they can never say I didn’t pay them. 5. Relationships are VERY important and will take you far. 6. Don’t get caught up in the game and watch the company that you keep. So many people think they are indestructible when they are on top. Money, women, men, attitudes and etc. The same people you see going up, you will see them coming down. 7. Be positive but always prepare for the worst. 8. Trust in God or whatever you believe in and be yourself. Check Out TheSolKitchen.com for all of Mike’s latest events, and follow him on Instagram and Twitter.