Former UCF student Matt Denuzzo co-founded a company after working his way up in the music and entertainment industry.
“Ever since high school I wanted to be involved in music,” Denuzzo said. “I love putting on events, and I love being around musicians. It just really makes me enjoy life. I love being around people that have a different way of thinking, and particularly in my business, the musicians, the artists, the events producers, just everyone has a really creative mind so you are constantly surrounded by people who are just on another level of thinking.”
Denuzzo said he also considers himself an artist by creating events and working with various musicians, with his partner Mike Grinberg, through their company Evolve Group. Denuzzo said that when he decided he wanted to put his own ideas into action the Evolve Group was started, which originally just scheduled one concert every two months to now owning and operating two weeklies. The group averages about 200 concerts a year now.
The Evolve Group wasn’t built overnight though, and when Denuzzo first got to Orlando, he started working with the owners of Day Glow. He said he was considered their Orlando liaison for all of the events they did in Central Florida. He was in charge of any show they brought to this area, and Denuzzo said that through this experience he was able to learn a lot about the industry.
“I learned about how to book an artist and all that kind of stuff. I pretty much just observed and climbed the ranks with them for about two years,” Denuzzo said.
Now as the co-founder of his own company, one of Denuzzo’s main duties is being the talent buyer for the company. Denuzzo said he is in charge of handling all the negotiations with the agents and their management, and selecting dates for artists to come.
“It’s pretty much like a travel agent for artists, and there’s a lot more that goes into it that people don’t realize,” Denuzzo said. “A lot of people think you just go on iTunes and pick your favorite artist and click, that’s my guy he’s coming on this date. Honestly most of what we do we don’t really get to choose.”
Denuzzo said that his partner, Grinberg, who is a 24-year-old UCF alumnus, handles all of the promotions. He is in charge of the promotional team, which hands out fliers and sells tickets.
“Matt does more of all the talent buying, and I do more of the marketing and handling all the promotions,” Grinberg said. “I think we both have really awesome personalities, and I have a lot to bring that he can’t and he has a lot to bring that I can’t. It’s a lot of checks and balances.”
Lisa Oster, a junior at UCF studying advertising, got an internship with Evolve Group in January 2013. She was hired as a marketing intern and also did some work as an event director.
Oster said that just from the two semesters she’s spent at Evolve that a lot of doors have opened for her and that Denuzzo was a good person to work for. Oster also said that she could tell Denuzzo really cared about Evolve because he was always really into what he was doing.
Jacob Zepf, a senior at UCF studying marketing, agreed with Oster by saying Denuzzo has a real passion for the music industry and what he’s doing. Zepf works for Mindwarp Creative Group, a marketing and management company for four venues downtown, but spent a year and a half at Evolve. Zepf said he started out as an intern at Evolve Group and made his way up to the marketing director.
“Matt was always great to work for. I think he’s kind of changed the way that Orlando looks at music,” Zepf said.
Another UCF student who has worked with Denuzzo before is Derryck Kamptapersaud. Kamptapersaud is a senior at UCF studying electrical engineering and has a love for music. Although he is not trying to pursue a career in the industry he does enjoy getting involved with different events.
“I do enjoy being a part of so many people’s lives where I can provide a service whether it be selling tickets or informing them about various events. It is a lot of fun being able to sit back at the concert and know you contributed to making so many people have a great time,” Kamptapersaud said.
Kamptapersaud was working for Break of Dawn Entertainment when he first met Denuzzo. They worked together to promote certain events that both Break of Dawn Entertainment and Evolve Group were involved with. Kamptapersaud said after seeing Denuzzo’s work ethic, drive, and how well versed he was in the music industry, he definitely came across as someone who could teach him a few things.
“After first talking to Matt, I could easily tell he was determined and very well educated in the industry,” Kamptapersaud said. “He knew when to be strict and get stuff done and when to have fun and enjoy the gratifications of all the work he put in. He puts in a lot of work and he absolutely loves every bit of what he does.”
One thing Denuzzo said he puts a lot of work into is social media. Denuzzo said that because Evolve has a bunch of different parties going on at once he usually has to manage five or six different Twitter accounts and Facebook pages.
“It gets crazy,” Denuzzo said. “People think social media is a joke, but just for that I have to put together a schedule for what time we’re going to post a certain flier, when we’re going to post this or tweet that.”
Denuzzo said Evolve was recently in charge of managing the social media and local marketing for Electric Daisy Carnival. EDC, an annual music festival, was held Nov. 8 and 9 at Tinker Field.
“We did a couple “Road to EDC” parties at Roxy where we gave away some free tickets. We were pretty much just like a local marketing team for them to get flyers distributed on a weekly basis, give out free tickets, and help create the hype,” Denuzzo said.
When Denuzzo was asked what advice he has for students who are looking to get into this industry he said don’t set yourself up for failure.
“With this business there’s no guaranteed pay and no guaranteed job,” Denuzzo said. “Everything we do we create ourselves and it can be scary. People have said no risk, no reward and I think that’s a great saying but I also don’t feel bad when people lose all their money doing this kind of stuff if they set themselves up for failure. If you don’t know the market, if you haven’t studied and done your homework on these artists and the market itself then you’re going to really, really loose.”
Denuzzo said he thinks the best way to learn about the industry is to work for a company that is already in it, just like he did with Committee before he started Evolve Group. Just like most careers, Denuzzo said a big thing about this industry is that you can’t get there over night.
“It’s just like any job, you can’t just jump in and become a doctor overnight, it takes years. I’ve been in it for almost five years and I’m just finally starting to gain some respect, as far as the agents and people that are way high on the ladder in the industry,” Denuzzo said.
A final piece of advice Denuzzo had for students looking to get into this industry is to make sure you love it. He said money doesn’t come easy and you’re most likely going to lose a lot of money but that’s how you learn.
“At the end of the day it’s really about the music,” Denuzzo said. “The money comes and goes and sometimes we make money and sometimes we lose money. But as long as we contributed to the music scene and we’re doing something positive for the scene then we’re happy.”