For many rock lovers, David Fishof created a camp of their dreams. And, according to Fishof, that was the point.
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Fishof, 54, is the producer and creator of Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp. He came up with the idea 14 years ago, he said, after years of managing and producing bands like The Monkees and Ringo Starr.
“I thought I would give people the chance to do what I do for a living,” said Fishof.
Fishof said his passion is “changing people’s lives through the power of music” and his goal is to be the best at that. He spoke with FOXBusiness.com about how he made his passion for rock into a profitable business that withstood the recession.
FOXBUSINESS.COM: How did your business begin and grow?
FISHOF: I called Clarence Clemons of the E-Street Band. I called Mike Love of the Beach Boys. I called Mark Farner of Grand Funk.
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I had this … idea [about] people coming to this camp where they could jam. I did this for the first time in Florida at the Doral Beach Club. I lost money and decided not to do it again … until, I [changed my mind and ran a camp for] about 60 campers -- and it was successful. Roger Daltrey was hired for one day, but he stayed for four days and jammed with everyone.
I started to go after Brian Wilson and Slash … I got a lot of great musicians who loved the camp. Nick Mason of Pink Floyd was supposed to come for a day and stayed for four days.
FOXBUSINESS.COM: What is the main selling point of the Camp?
FISHOF: Not only [do] campers love it, but the rock stars have really taken to it because it reminds them of what it was like when they were starting out. For them to see people who are really into the music, it is what the music business used to be about, making new music.
FOXBUSINESS.COM: What is your advice for music lovers and fans wanting to find a way to make a profit?
FISHOF: The music industry is so different from when I started. There [are] really no more record labels. I think today to be successful in music you have to be very entrepreneurial, and you also have to be tech and Internet savvy. It is the techie musicians that are finding success.
You can’t just play a guitar and try to be successful. There are also great opportunities for you to market your brand and perform and sell your own records. You are able to sell your own creativity a lot easier than you were years ago. You are not going to find five or six bands that will make money. Everyone will have the opportunity to make a living.
FOXBUSINESS.COM: What was the best performance by a rocker counselor?
FISHOF: I had one where a guy was trying to learn a song, ‘Good Lovin,’ by the Rascals, and I got on the phone and called Felix Cavaliere from the Rascals. He stayed on the phone with [the camper] for an hour.
Slash showed up unexpectedly in London. We always get surprises and some great jams. Seeing Mickey Dylan from the Monkees jamming with the drummer from Pink Floyd or Roger Daltrey doing a Beatles song is what makes the camp interesting. To see Paul Stanley of Kiss singing other people’s songs is just great.
FOXBUSINESS.COM: How is business in this economy?
FISHOF: We used to have about 80 campers [but today] we’ve gone down to 60. We basically made it through the bad economy the past few years.
The economy definitely impacted the camp … It is a life changing experience. It has been great to see people go back to their childhood. It reminds them what life was like before they got hurt. That has been exciting for me.
FOXBUSINESS.COM: How many camps are you doing a year?
FISHOF: I am doing four camps a year and the majority is corporate camps. We do team building sessions and each group has a rock star counselor. They re-write a legendary song with their rock star counselor and they have dinner and perform the song with the rock stars behind them...
There is no better way to put a team together than writing a song. I liken it to the Beatles and their songs, because they became successful because of all its parts, and not the individual.
FOXBUSINESS.COM: What is your advice for someone else starting a business?
FISHOF: I started [rock camp] 14 years ago. I am currently writing a book a called “Rock Your Dreams” and it’s about how most people start an idea and never finish it.
The advice I like to tell people, if you have an idea to do something, especially in the music business -- you have to stay with it. You have to forge ahead. If you have passion for something that you want to see happen, you will get passion in your life. If you stay doing what you are doing over and over again, you are going to be successful. Even with people like Steve Jobs, it isn’t about money, it is about how [to] achieve [your] dream.