Cocktails with KB | Tim Potocic

I love when people inspire me. I love seeing people throughout the city investing in it, creating new things. I first heard about Tim Potocic a number of years ago because of Sonic Unyon and Supercrawl. He was a bit of a myth to me; he did all of these things but I had never met him and he seemed really powerful. I was introduced to him through mutual friends and he continues to inspire me today.

When I asked to have cocktails with him, I was nervous he would say he was too busy and politely decline. I mean, the man runs a record label, the biggest festivals in the city, is leading the Junos effort in Hamilton, owns buildings, has performance venues and the list goes on. When I received an email back (very quickly I might add) saying he would love to, I was so excited!! We sat down at Mills Hardware for a drink (red wine for me, Coke for him as he was working!). I just wanted to sit and talk with him for the entire evening but there was a show happening that night. Tim Potocic is a man that is shaping culture in this city, and I feel pretty lucky that he sat and had cocktails with me. Pour yourself a cocktail, and read why I was so inspired by Tim.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Try your best, be yourself” from my high school football coaches. There’s no point in trying to be who you’re not. Basically, just be who you are and do what you have to do. I’ve used that throughout life, for everything. There are always points in your life when you want to be more but, just take it one day at a time and be yourself.

Why Hamilton?

I’m from here. I have a long history here. One set of grandparents immigrated here, the other set of grandparents were born here. My parents lived here, I’ve lived everywhere in the vicinity of Hamilton, grew up in Hamilton, Burlington, Dundas. Hamilton is dear to my heart, I have roots here. I’ve always loved this city, so it’s pretty simple. It’s a comfort thing too. It’s the city I grew up in; I know a lot of the nooks and crannies.

Three words to describe Hamilton?

Diverse. Growing. Challenging.

What’s the best thing about what you do?

I love my job, so, in general, I love to go to work everyday. In twenty plus years of being in the music business in Hamilton, there have been very few days in that entire time that I was worried about going to work.

What’s the worst thing about what you do?

I want to do everything, all the time, but I can’t. I do find myself over- scheduled. It’s not the worst thing about my job, but it’s the worst thing about me. I have a hard time saying no. It boggles my schedule to no end. I am constantly being asked to do things that I really should politely say no to. I have gotten quite good at it in the last six weeks, because I can’t add a single thing to my calendar that isn’t about our organization or about me. I love to help other people so it’s hard. But, the reason why we have the level of success that we do is because we truly believe that if you give, you receive. If you don’t give, people aren’t as open to want to help you when you ask for help. I think it’s important to give.

What’s your motto?

Think positively, anything can be achieved. You can do it. It can be done, and don’t take no for an answer. (There are a lot of mottos here, let’s go with all of them!)

What are you most looking forward to in 2015?

In general, it’s the busiest year of my life. I’m excited for the entire year to unfold and all of the things we have going on but I’ll also be excited for it to be over.

What’s the biggest learning experience of your life?

On a daily basis, you can’t take anything for granted. Every day is a new day; every week is a new week. You just have to keep your head down, and keep working. I learned that from my grandparents and from my parents. Everybody in my family worked hard and continues to work hard. Things are not going to be just dropped on your lap; you have to work hard. But, work should be fun! That’s how it all ties together!

If you found 10 dollars in your pocket, what would you do with it?

Probably one of two things; one being one of my kids would want it. Or two, I would buy a coffee with it.

You are involved in so much, and wear so many hats. How do you juggle Sonic Unyon, Supercrawl, Mills Hardware, Because Beer Festival, being heavily involved in the Junos? And with such positivity?
Well, it’s all inter-related. It’s all things that I’ve found that I have loved. Over all of the years of being in business, I have discovered that business is always evolving, always changing. Myself and my business partner, Mark Milne, have been part of that evolution together. We’ve always had a label together; we own property. We bought our first property early on, so it has always naturally tied in together. We sat back and thought, “We need space, and we don’t want to rent anymore.” So, we bought a building and then got the bug of doing that and it just naturally evolved, and it was happening around us as well. So many people were looking for spaces so we thought we could buy buildings, renovate them and create culture spaces. It didn’t seem like a difficult thing to do, so we did it over time. We don’t jump into things. Wearing a lot of hats has always been the way it has been [for us]. The music business is an unforgiving business, and a challenging business. We’ve always looked at the perspective of “we really should be diversified anyway”, we should have all these things. There is argument to both. If you put all your eggs in one basket, you might do that one thing incredibly well and become fantastically rich. Or, you diversify your assets just in case a rainy day happens with respect to what you’re doing. It’s always been natural. Organizing that on a daily basis and a yearly basis is really the most challenging part of my jobs, without it being imminent or having the pressure on to get things done. I take a lot of notes, I manage a lot of spreadsheets and documents to try to organize my life. There are certain elements that are easy to manage and run themselves, and we know there are stress times. We know, when we’re a month out from any given festivals that we’re working on, that’s crunch time. So, you have to plan all the other work you need to do outside of that month or organize it as much as you can. Or, there’s a record coming out, you prioritize the month before to make sure everything is in place. There are lots of schedules in our world. The great thing about that is that we can schedule the entire year. Everything is on a 1 year or 2 year basis. With tenants in a building, they are on leases, 3-5 years at a time. There are constant little bits of maintenance, but it’s not an overwhelming amount. When it gets close to the time when leases are coming up, you re-negotiate the leases, or tenants leave, you get new tenants, so there is a little bit of work around that and that’s easy to manage in the grand scheme of things. With music, it’s a year before a band goes into the studio. And you know, a year from then, that’s about when the record comes out. You put a band in the studio, get everything together, line everything up, get the team together, and set a release date. So, there is a lot of long-term planning. Festivals work the same way. In October of last year, I knew exactly when all of our festivals were going to be this year and I know pretty much when they are going to be next year and the year after as well. It’s pretty easy to manage when you can look at it from a big global perspective.

We have a pretty small, but amazing staff. From the perspective of workload, the one advantage is that I love doing my work, but some- times I know I won’t be able to do it all, so I can give it to anybody and they can handle the job. In some cases there requires a little bit of explanation, in other cases I can just hand it over and I know they’ll do a good job. There also needs to be a little bit of compartmentaliza- tion. Last year we spent a lot of time looking at 2015, and who would focus on what thing because we knew we were going to be so busy. So, everybody has their priorities, so that helps to spread the work around.






FAVOURITE BAND? (That’s almost impossible!) The Beatles. I grew up listening to Beatles 45’s.


A BOOK YOU PLAN ON READING? I can’t answer that question. I don’t have time to read a book. The most I read is the newspaper everyday and a bunch of subscription magazines that I get on a monthly basis: Wired, Panorama (it’s a Porsche magazine)



BEST WAY TO DECOMPRESS? Listening to music


FAVOURITE HOLIDAY? Summer family vacations. We rent cottages.


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