How a Los Angeles-based DJ company moved the party online with live stream shows during Covid-19
This spotlight features Snapback Live, a Los Angeles entertainment company that hosts the best old-school hip-hop parties on the West Coast.
June 25 · 7 min read
Covid-19 poses new challenges to small businesses everywhere, and we’re only beginning to understand how hard they’ve been hit and how long it will take to bounce back. To honor the resilience of small business owners and share the lessons they’ve learned, we’re highlighting B12 customers who’ve discovered how to keep their businesses going during an unprecedented time.
This spotlight features Snapback Live, a Los Angeles entertainment company that hosts the best old-school hip-hop parties on the West Coast. The company’s founder, James Katalbas, details how he brought Snapback’s one-of-a-kind vibe from the club to a live stream because of Covid-19, as well as the valuable advice he received from the team at B12.
Tell us a little bit about your business and how you got started.
Snapback Live is a DJ events-based company founded seven years ago in Los Angeles. I was DJing back then and enjoyed spreading the love of music to the people in clubs, but as time went on, I got tired of getting booked on an irregular basis. That inspired me to start my own business and the rest is history. People really enjoy the Snapback experience and they appreciate how simple and clean my brand is.
So how has Covid-19 impacted Snapback Live?
We host in-person parties and that’s our bread and butter. When Covid happened, our main business revenue took a hit, and our partners — the venues — took a huge hit. One of them even closed. It’s a truly difficult time for any business. Our merchandise partners have also slowed their businesses.
There was a lot of uncertainty in my team, but we knew that we had to do something to save our business and adapt to these crazy times. The good thing about having a team is that you have multiple minds to brainstorm with, which led to a few interesting developments for Snapback during the past few months.
What are some changes that you’ve made in response to Covid?
During brainstorming sessions, we focused on building our brand and increasing awareness while helping our customers out through our shared love of music. We know that social media has become a form of escapism and many people turn to music to relieve stress.
With that, we decided to use music to create bonds between people and offer a safe space where people can listen to music. This led to our Instagram Live music parties. It’s a gathering of DJs who host virtual parties every weekday. The results have been incredible. There is now a crew of 14 of us who constantly put out content and celebrate virtually at noon every weekday.
Since starting these parties, our social following has increased significantly — we’ve gained 3000 new followers! That really showed us we have something going on here. In addition to broadcasting our live parties on Instagram, we’re placing more emphasis on our merchandise.
Were you ever uncertain that you’d find a way to bounce back?
There was a period when we wanted to close our website at the start of the pandemic. We were losing a ton of money and needed to cut costs. However, many of us were down to chip in and keep the website live. We are thankful that B12 offered us a free month of service to help through that time of transition. In fact, while on the call with the team, they shared many great ideas to explore and diversify our revenue streams. We also decided to revamp and make changes to our site such that the focus is on our virtual parties and merchandise sales.
Even with these successful live Instagram streams, there were multiple challenges we faced. We were banned multiple times on Instagram due to copyright issues, which is completely understandable. As such, we had to find another avenue. That led us to experiment with Twitch.
On Twitch, we have been broadcasting to our regular customers and have been introduced to new customers. The shared community on that platform has helped us to spread the word from DJ to DJ. It’s super cool.
This was one of the turning points in my business, given the unique features that Twitch offers; the great video and music quality of live streams, live chat, ability to buy Snapback emojis, and so many more. We made custom emojis with pictures of Snapback hats and icons, which was kind of funny and cool. Our customers loved it. Instead of spending money on cover charges and clubs, they buy our emojis. It’s a real experience to see how our customers interact with one another now.
Are you making any post-Covid plans?
I think we will continue with the live streams even after Covid ends. We will definitely set up physical parties again, but we know that that can’t be our only revenue source. Given that we see that people are more comfortable staying in, we need to cater to this group of customers too.
Live streams can become one of our lead revenue generators, and at the moment, it’s the main way to keep our website running and help us sell more merchandise. Apart from that, we will also explore other live stream platforms while continuing to grow our presence on Instagram and Twitch.
What has your experience been like working with B12 during a pandemic?
I really compliment B12 for looking out for small businesses like Snapback. Like I said, we considered canceling our website to stem the bleeding, but because B12 was so understanding, we decided to stay on.
They provided us with multiple options and resources to get us through this period, particularly the complimentary month of service and great customer support. I talked with the B12 team about a lot of ideas on how Snapback can pivot as a company and keep the business going. It’s times like this when I feel that not all hope is lost. During the moments when I was close to my breaking point, the B12 team was very solid and was there for us.