The only way to learn is to try something new, evaluate what you could change to create better results, adjust, and try the experiment again! This process is how I have learned to do everything. If something doesn’t work like you thought it would, it’s not a failure; you just learned one way not to do it.
As a part of our series about stars who are making an important social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Beth Perry.
Sarah Beth Perry is the Founder & CEO of With the Band, a premier fan engagement company in Nashville, Tennessee. In only four years, Perry has grown With the Band from an idea in her dorm room to captivating packed-out arenas with her creative and collaborative projects for artists such as the Jonas Brothers and Kacey Musgraves. The company’s new web/app platform provides a turnkey solution for artists to manage and monetize their fan bases through a FAN CREW — their modern-day version of a fan club.
Thank you so much for joining us on this interview series. Can you share with us the backstory that led you to this career path?
I grew up in Nashville and always knew I wanted to be in the music industry. I was a huge music fan, and my sister and I were the typical fangirls of the popular boy bands. During my first year at Belmont University, I learned about all these jobs I never knew existed within the music industry. That is when I realized fan engagement was a job. I began researching fan engagement companies and found none. I soon realized there was a significant market gap, and I wanted to create a solution to help artists engage with their fanbases better. So, I started With the Band!
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career? What was the lesson or takeaway you took out of that story?
The fan activation we created at the Jonas Brothers concert at Bridgestone Arena in 2019 is my favorite moment in my career. It was the first significant campaign we created, and it went way better than we ever imagined. We passed out 16,000 signs to fans that said, “Thank you for coming back to us.” Each sign had instructions on the back to hold it up during the song “Comeback.” All three brothers on stage were crying, along with half the fans in the arena. At that moment, I knew my life purpose was to create this company.
What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?
Work every music industry event you can! Not only will you always meet new people, but you get to absorb all of the knowledge from each event. By volunteering for conferences, festivals, and concerts, you will start building a network that will serve you throughout your career.
Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?
One of my most prominent advisors and supporters has been Dr. Jeff Cornwall. He has taught me so much of what I know about entrepreneurship. He started the Entrepreneur program at my alma mater, Belmont University, and has been a mentor and advisor since graduation.
How are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you’re working on right now?
We love supporting LGTBQ+ individuals and mental health causes within fan communities at With the Band! Many super fans grow up feeling isolated from their peers, and music helps them find a safe place where they feel more accepted. Our platform has zero-tolerance of bullying, hate speech, and racist content.
Can you share with us a story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?
I was not the popular kid in high school and constantly felt judged because of my love of music. Once I started joining fandoms, I realized many fangirls felt the same way. I also saw how many teenage girls struggled with mental health and feeling accepted within their communities. Now that I have turned being a fangirl into a business, I would love to help other fans gain access to mental health resources and find a supportive community of friends through their favorite music.
Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?
We have had many emails, comments, and messages sent to us by fans thanking us for accepting them for who they are and helping them find friends and a community that does the same. We feel so honored that we have been able to create a place where fans feel so accepted being themselves.
Are there three things or are there things that individuals, society, or the government can do to support you in this effort?
- Join a Fan Crew to be a part of an accepting fan community!
- Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. We regularly post resources for all different causes. Most recently, we highlighted black creators and helpful resources for Juneteenth.
- If you need help or support, reach out to a therapist, trusted individual, or mental health hotline. No one deserves to feel alone and unsupported. If you need help, please call 1–800–273–8255. This hotline “provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States.” — National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started”
1. The only way to learn is to try something new, evaluate what you could change to create better results, adjust, and try the experiment again! This process is how I have learned to do everything. If something doesn’t work like you thought it would, it’s not a failure; you just learned one way not to do it.
2. It will be really hard, and many times you will want to give up. Make sure your “why” is strong so that you can fight through the challenges.
3. Building a tech company will always take longer and cost more money than you initially thought.
4. Find a community of fellow entrepreneurs early on to use as a sounding board.
5. Make sure to have fun when you are working hard!
You’re a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Recently, I heard about the word sonder. According to the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, Sonder is “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own — populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness — an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.” We would be more kind, empathetic, and understanding if we all felt a deep sonder towards others.
Can you please give us your favorite life lesson quote? And can you explain how that was relevant in your life?
In Glennon Doyle’s book Untamed, she says, “We are here to fully introduce ourselves, to impose ourselves and ideas and thoughts and dreams onto the world, leaving it changed forever by who we are and what we bring forth from our depths.” Girls are taught from a young age to be helpful, sweet, and not get in the way. It wasn’t until I read this book that I realized I had been holding myself and my company back by not feeling like I had a right to impose myself, my ideas, and my thoughts onto the world.
We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
There are so many! I would love to talk with Sara Blakely. She humbly (and humorously) leads her company to make a difference in customers’ lives. Sara is full of confidence, and she has been a massive inspiration to me as female CEO. Her sense of humor is also 10/10!
Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring, and we wish you continued success!
Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Sarah Beth Perry of With the Band Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.