Alumni Spotlight: Brandon McCollum, Nice Guy Entertainment

Brandon McCollum is a 2017 graduate of IPR’s Sound Design for Visual Media program. Brandon is owner of Nice Guy Entertainment, which helps artists with audio production, engineering, sound design, promotion and management.

How did the idea of Nice Guy Entertainment come to be? How did your idea for your company change over time?

Brandon McCollum, IPR alumni and owner of Nice Guy Entertainment.
Brandon McCollum, IPR alumni and owner of Nice Guy Entertainment.

This is complicated and sort of a long story. When I was in my childhood/teenage years, I was really deep into music, particularly hip hop. I’d always look at the liner notes in my CDs and read who wrote and produced songs, the label the artists were on. I wanted to be a performer myself, but was always intrigued by people who performed and also did things behind the scenes. I idolized Puff Daddy because he discovered/developed talent produced, and came out with his own rap albums. He had his company “Bad Boy Entertainment” so Nice Guy Entertainment is sort of a play on that. I came up with the name “Nice Guy” because I came out with an album called “Mr. Nice Guy” in 2009 and then the idea to start a record label came shortly after that.

Nice Guy Entertainment got its start when I started IPR in 2014,  and we started getting people involved. It has evolved and changed so much in the 4 years since I started it and I feel like it’s come full circle in a way. I started it with the intention of having it be a launching pad for my own production/solo endeavors in hopes to also help other creatives do the same.

It has changed and adapted to whatever the people I have had involved at any given time have needed it to be. A promoting company, a booking company, a production/engineering company, management company, and artist development company.

It has come full circle because now I feel like it has gone back to being a launching pad for my own production/solo endeavors with a core group of people who I work with on a regular basis and help them with whatever they may need in their careers.

What are some key projects you have worked on so far? What are you most excited about?

Too many! I’ve helped put out solo projects for both of the Bottle Kids (Ty Davis & APLifted), as well as two solo albums for my artist 2JD and an EP for Ben Jammin’ K. In the last couple years, I helped with the release of IPR alumni Chad Atkins’ album, “Stories” and produced an EP for another IPR alumni, JayTheClone (Jordan Nanasy). I have also booked release parties for countless other projects and way too many random shows to remember. Probably some other things that I’m forgetting as well but those are what I’m the most proud of.

I’m excited for 2019 because a lot of things are in the works. I am looking to go back to IPR for the first 6 months of the year to finish my Audio Production and Engineering degree and the Nice Guy Entertainment team has a lot of exciting plans already in the works for the whole year.

Do you feel that your education at IPR helped you get to where you are? If so, how?

IPR gave me a foundation to build my dreams on. Not only knowledge to help me succeed, but also a major boost to my network. The people that I met at IPR are amazing and changed my life. The faculty and teachers are so caring and supportive that they have really helped me believe in myself and what I’m doing.

 What are some things that you learned that could not be taught at IPR?

You don’t really know what you’re capable of until you get out there and try things. You have to get out there and realize you’re going to fail and fail often. Learn from your failures and don’t keep making them. You’re going to make bad mixes, you’re going to make poor business decisions, and you’re going to mess up. That’s okay. Experience is the best teacher. They mention those things at IPR but I don’t know if it truly sinks in until you’re actually in the thick of it.

 What specific things about your time at IPR did you enjoy most?

Learning from great teachers and all of the hands on studio experience. Being in the studio is definitely my escape and my favorite place to be.

 Which classes or teachers did you find most helpful for your career? Identify the classes or teachers and explain why.

 So many teachers had a major impact on me. Scooter was hands down one of my favorite teachers. I learned so much about the business from him and he always made me laugh.

Micah Johnson is a legend. Hearing his stories about all of his crazy experiences working at the Hit Factory and for Capitol Records were truly inspiring and jaw dropping at times. I strive to be half as cool as him.

I also learned a lot about myself taking Portia Heller’s classes. Her classes really teach students about themselves and the world around them. Also how to navigate while being yourself in the world.

Nell Morningstar is a great instructor, as well. I feel like she was another teacher that I learned a lot about myself and the world from. I could go on and on because there were so many others that I learned things from that will stick with me for the rest of my career as well as my life. 

What is the best advice that you have received from an instructor at IPR? What was it?

Apple+S on your keyboard is your best friend while working on projects. Save, save, save. As much as possible. Also back up your hard drive. On multiple hard drives. As often as possible. Andrew Lucas was the first person to tell me that and then I probably heard it from every other teacher at IPR after that.

 Were there any projects that you worked on prior to graduation that laid the groundwork for some of the things you’re doing now?

I worked on A LOT of albums/EP’s, helped book release parties for those albums, promoted stuff, and booked countless shows but I would say laying the groundwork for Nice Guy Entertainment was the most important. I did a lot of it while I was going to school and I’m really thankful that I was going part time so it afforded me the opportunity to gain experience and trial and error when it came to forming my company.

What do you think it means to be successful in this industry? What advice would you offer to students who are either just getting ready to graduate or who are wondering how to find their place in this industry?

Success has so many variables and means so many different things to different people. One person’s version of success can be completely different than another person’s. I would say success to me is building a solid enough network to where you never run out of work and are able to support yourself doing something you love and fully believe in.

My advice would be to value and respect people. Don’t burn bridges, be a good person, bring value, and build your network. If you’re an introvert, that’s okay, but don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and share your ideas with people. Really take the time to get to know people and always show everyone kindness.

What advice would you offer to students who are either just getting ready to graduate or who are wondering how to be successful in this industry?

Work, work, work. Learn, learn, learn. Never stop working and never stop learning. Make yourself so valuable and gain so much experience that you just begin to naturally attract what you want in life. Things will get hard and there may be times where you feel like quitting but don’t give up and keep pushing through those tough times. It’s easier said than done but it will be so worth it.