Small Business Saturday: Allegiant Audio, LLC

Jonathan Arend is 2016 IPR graduate and founder of Allegiant Audio. Based out of Woodbury, MN. His company provides studio recording, mixing, live sound, and lighting services. He has provided services for places such as Best Buy, Colle McVoy, Medica, the Landmark Center, Resonate Community Church, and Woodbury Lutheran Church. He also works with a number of notable local bands, such as Synergy, Bruce Henry Band, Prevailing Providence, The Nokturnal North, Sawyer’s Dream, Candid Kid, Eclipsing Grey, and more.

IPR Graduate Jonathan Arend of Allegiant Audio
IPR Graduate Jonathan Arend, owner of Allegiant Audio LLC

In 2016, he won an award for “Best Recorded Song” from the University of Northwestern. His live show services include Shure wireless microphones and in-ear monitors, a Turbosound PA system, and a Midas M32 mixing console.

His lighting services include four moving fixtures, a number of LED par cans, and several fog machines run through the Hog4 lighting software. In early 2018, he opened his own recording studio, and utilizes Universal Audio’s legendary preamps and Apollo 2 interfaces.

What is the name of your business? When did you “open your doors”?

The name of my business is Allegiant Audio LLC. The start of my company has been a long process. In 2012, I had just started a rock band and began collecting pieces of live sound equipment. At the time, I had no plans or any real desire to start my own business. When I started at IPR in 2015, Peter Greenlund encouraged me to buy my first quality mixing console, the Midas M32. I worked a few gigs here and there, but it wasn’t until I took Mitch Hare’s Business Management class that I realized starting my own business was attainable.

Upon graduating in fall 2016, I knew that with the clients and gear I already had, starting my own business was the right path for me. This is when Allegiant Audio truly “opened its doors.” In October 2017, Allegiant Audio LLC was formed as a legal entity. Business has been looking up since then, and I don’t regret my decision for a second.

What does your company do? What is your website (if you have one)?

Allegiant Audio provides studio recording, mixing, live sound, and lighting services. When I began, I focused exclusively on live sound, but over time I found joy and interest in lighting and studio recording as well. While a lot of businesses tend to focus primarily on one area, I have become a “one-stop shop” for clients, offering a variety of services. One week, I might get hired to record a band’s album, and the next week they might hire me to do both sound and lights for a show. Because of the variety of services I provide, every job I take is a unique and different experience. At the moment, I haven’t officially launched a website, but it is currently in development.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from having your own business?

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from having my own business is the importance of knowing other great professionals in the industry. IPR stresses the value of networking, and I can testify to its importance as well. There have been a number of ways I have benefited from the people I know, such as client referrals, job opportunities, good advice, and having another person to help with a job. We know the quality of each other’s work and will vouch for each other. It’s a good feeling to know that there are skilled individuals who have your back and that you can call on when you need to. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of these people.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a small business owner?

The most rewarding aspect of having my own business is the joy I get from my job. Every job is new and exciting, and I never seem to get bored. It’s a new band and a new sound every recording session, a new venue every live event, and a new lighting show for every concert. Some events are a lot tougher than others and some are incredibly stressful. But at the end of the day, this is what I’m passionate about and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I can also use my business for a positive purpose.

Ever since listening to my first album, I have recognized the power music has to influence someone’s mind and soul. To know I can use my skills to help influence someone positively is an incredible responsibility and privilege. I don’t want to waste these skills on promoting messages that are worthless or negative. The band Fallstar wrote a song about their mission in making music that said “this craft was made to edify the world, not degrade it.” I think about that a lot when I work.

What advice do you have for other IPR graduates or students who are aspiring to be self-employed?

A piece of advice I’d give to somebody aspiring to be self-employed is that your reputation is essential to the success of your business. The way your present yourself, your work, and your equipment are critical. As of now, I haven’t spent a cent on advertising for my business. Many of the jobs I get are through word-of-mouth recommendations.

There are many attributes that are helpful in creating a good reputation. Present yourself in a professional manner. Have a positive attitude. Dress cleanly. Show up on time. Don’t drink on the job, even if it is a bar gig and you have free drink tickets. Go the extra mile to get the job done well. Expect 110% out of yourself. Don’t take shortcuts. Be over-prepared. Be confident in your work. If you’re buying your own gear, buy high-quality equipment. Poor quality equipment can reflect negatively on you. Without a good reputation, you rob yourself of repeat clients, as well as future business.

Special Thanks

Ultimately, I didn’t build this business alone – there are a number of people who had a role in establishing Allegiant Audio and I want to acknowledge these people for all they’ve done.

My parents, Jim and Sheryl, for their years of love, support, and sacrifices that helped me get to where I am. Peter Greenlund for all his encouragement and mentorship – he taught me everything I know and gave me the skills to succeed. The engineers and musicians who have helped me with a number of jobs and development of the business – Rhaelee Gronholz, Geo Montecillo, Jordan Pohl, Joe Mahlke, Tyler Patten, and the staff at Metro Sound & Lighting.

My manager at LifeWay, Craig Bartels, and all the assistant managers and keyholders I’ve worked with through the years – Erica Deanes, Autumn Benson, Doug Conrad, Michelle O’hara-Kobi, Linda Sandstrom, and Jodie Repinski – for their prayers and support of Allegiant Audio. And lastly, but most importantly, my brother Joel for being by my side the whole time. He helped build the studio, worked late nights and early mornings, drove vans full of equipment, played drums for school projects, provided DJ services for a number of my events, did research to help improve the business, loaded and unloaded the same gear into the same van too many times to count, and dozens of other things that can’t be overlooked when talking about the success of Allegiant Audio.