Leyla Winston: Please introduce yourselves to our audience members who are unfamiliar with 29th Street Productions!
Joseph Arboles:My name is Joseph Arboles. I’m a senior at USC majoring in communications and minoring in music industry. I’m the co-founder of 29th Street Productions and the CEO and I handle most of the operations.
Christian MacArthur:I’m Christian MacArthur. I just recently finished graduate school at USC studying engineering management and industrial engineering. I co-founded 29th Street Productions with Joe and our other friend Luis. I manage most of the finance stuff at 29th Street Productions.
LW: When did the two of you meet and when did you start 29th Street Productions?
JA:Luis and I, our other co-founder who is a huge part of the team, met when we were sophomores in a music industry class. Luis introduced me to Christian-- who was also in the class and was a junior at the time. The whole purpose of the class was to throw a show, so I guess that’s when we were exposed to the idea of planning concerts. About a year later, the three of us were on a camping trip and had an idea to throw a show for fun. We were friends with Ashes to Amber and a few other surfside rock bands and just thought fuck it, let’s have a good time. We didn’t do any promo on social media and kept it invite-only. We had no idea what we were doing, but the event went really well. We weren’t even planning to keep it going, but people just kept asking for the next one, so it kind of just took off from there. Everyone had a really good time.
LW: What would you describe your mission as?
JA:The main purpose is to create an environment that fosters community. This has always been more important than money. We’ve always wanted to create a scene around USC that is not only about making cool shows but also features talented artists and other creatives. We want to create unique events outside the normal experience--- we’re in the business of making mini-festivals and hosting events that feel more than just buying a ticket to see one artist.
CM:I also think that we’ve also always wanted to create a space that allows for professional development. 29th Street Productions tries to provide a space for people interested in music at USC to gain valuable experience in throwing shows. There is so much to learn—how to get sponsors, coordinate with vendors, get security contracts, and make the event legal and financially viable. From setting up the event, to doing all the lighting, to managing all the marketing, we want people to be able to learn it all. We want everyone on the team to have a comfortable learning ground. And hopefully, they can get paid and have some fun with it too!
LW: How has catering to the USC demographic been so far?
CM:USC has such an incredible portfolio in both the music industry program and in music production. We had a lot of friends in the music industry and wanted to make a platform where they could perform. COVID took that away from a lot of artists and- generally- a lot of places are hard to get placement to perform at. Giving this space to so many artists has been absolutely amazing. We try and give these incredible artists a space to perform within a community of excited people who just want to have a good time.
LW: How would you describe some of the challenges you’ve faced thus far?
JA:There are so many challenges that we continue to face regularly. Working with people in college is hard. Obviously, there is a balance that we need to find between keeping it professional and keeping it fun, and it’s sometimes hard to find. It’s also a really busy time for everyone, and everyone is looking to get something different out of the experience. So just making sure everyone aligns on what they’re looking for can be challenging. Also, there are constant adjustments to be made and always things that come up, especially around the events. I guess the unpredictability of it all is a constant challenge.
LW: What about some of the biggest successes?
JA:Honestly, every show where people are vibing is a huge success. Seeing so many excited people, vendors, and artists at the show 'Sound Spectrum' that we had with GEN-ZiNE was incredible. It feels amazing to put on something that people have fun at and artists feel like they get so much out of too. Waking up to messages from people talking about how sick the event was is honestly the best feeling.
LW: What’s next!?
CA:We want to pass this on to other USC students when we graduate. I think we can give people this new community that they can then continue to build on and cultivate. Honestly, the most important thing for us is to foster a community of excited people and we hope that this community can continue to grow even after we graduate.
LW: For our audience members who want to come to your next show, where should they follow you?
CA:You can follow us on Instagram @29thst_productions and we post about what's coming up on there!
Photography by Alex Lam.