DALLAS – Ken Welker, the fearless entrepreneur behind 13th Floor Music happened upon his dream by accident. A band and venue management company based out of North Texas, 13th Floor Music does the business of live music with heart and commitment.
An avid fan, Welker has always dreamed of contributing to live music. Having spent nine years as an account manager in the business sector, he felt disconnected from his passion, and was searching for a way to contribute to the scene. In 2012, after seeing local band Fish Fry Bingo (now known as Shotgun Friday), he realized there was a missing link between regional bands and the venues in which they played. When Red Dirt Nation sat down with him this week, he was quick to share about the inspiration that lead him to create 13th Floor.
“I saw Fish Fry Bingo and I was just blown away,” said Welker. “I mean, these guys were putting on one of the most fun shows I’ve ever seen – so much energy – and I hadn’t seen anyone really killin’ it live like this. And the fact that there was only like 8-12 people in the audience, I realized there has to be a disconnect with the bands and the people. So that’s either lack of interest which I just didn’t believe, or it had to be a skill set issue, like sometimes musicians are shy and don’t know how to approach venues, or if it was just a lack of available time to pursue these things outside of gigs. So basically, I started out by just volunteering for these guys and really had no interest in making it a profitable endeavor.”
But it was a successful venture, and 13th Floor Music took off. Welker offers a unique business model that sets him apart from the norm. His company is relationship-based. He seeks out bands that he loves, and sounds that he’s passionate about, and he’s committed to serving each of his clients equally and with due fervor. He operates a transparent outfit with most of his bands being paid directly from the venues, which is a key element to his process. The artists trust him, and the venues know they aren’t being price-gouged to host a band for a night of entertainment.
In fact, the company represents venues almost more than live acts, and brokers the process between performance spaces and the bands. With business background and skill set, Welker is able to bring an efficiency and organization to the process of approaching non-traditional venues and helping them start a music series. Many of his bands do well in venues like bars, craft beer breweries and restaurants, along with traditional music venues. Wherever they play, he’s happy to contribute to sharing new sounds from up and coming North Texas-based bands, many of which have an existing fan base. Welker works hard to elevate the talent’s exposure, and hopefully, make everyone some money in the process.
13th Floor Music has an eye to the future, and an open mind set on collaboration and unity in the music scene. Welker shared an exciting example of a new business partnership with Martin House Brewing, one of North Texas’ foremost craft breweries. After a conversation with Cody Martin, one of the brewery founders, they realized it would be a good thing.
“A lot of my opportunity came because I was associated with a band that was in high demand by a scene that was a key component to the cultural Renaissance in our area,” Welker stated.
Simply put: local music and local beer pair well. The two feed off of each other, creating a circuitry of benefit. Why not celebrate that?
Slated for an August 2016 release, Martin House will create a dry-hopped wheat beer, and the can will feature each artist represented by 13th Floor Music; a toast to two elements that have helped grow the North Texas culture into a sought-after local scene.
13th Floor Music serves some of RDN’s favorite bands and venues, including, but not limited to: The Rustic, Truck Yard, Adair's Saloon, So & So's, High Fives, Armoury D.E., Flying Saucer, Pecan Lodge, Braindead Brewing, Henderson Tap House, JEM Beverage Company, The Lot, The Free Man, Martin House Brewery, Revolver Brewery, Tupps Brewery, Witherspoon Distillery, The Collective Brewing Project, Oak Highlands Brewery, Woodcreek Brewery and Yucatan.