14 Questions with Music Industry Live Events Pioneer, David Sinopoli [Q&A]

Rachel Guttman

I had the opportunity to sit down with music industry professional and trailblazer, David Sinopoli, who is the founder of III Points Festival and co-owner of Club Space, Floyd, and more popular music venues in Miami. When it comes to developing the music scene, David is an absolute creative. He got his start by throwing small events in Gainesville while attending the University of Florida and then moved down to Miami and began working in the Miami club scene. He has since transformed the Miami music scene completely and has had a tremendous impact on the city and its culture. To hear more about David and his experiences in the music industry, read our interview below.

Rachel Guttman (RG): To start off, tell me a little bit about yourself!

David Sinopoli (DS): I am 36 years old and have now been in Miami for 11 years. I went to the University of Florida for undergrad and grew up in the Northeast.

RG: What is something that most people do not know about you?

DS: I really love pro wrestling from the 90s.

RG: How did you get your start in the music industry? Tell me a little bit about your music background.

DS: While attending the University of Florida, I lived in an 8-bedroom house that we called 1106 with my friends and we used to throw parties all the time. A local promoter hired me to run his door and guest list, so I gave my friend a spot to DJ. We would host shows at the Florida Theatre in Gainesville every week for a few years and threw other shows all over Gainesville on Fridays and Saturdays. I opened up an events company called Social Studies and began doing some event planning for student-run organizations. The heads of the student organizations would promote my events and they were all extremely successful. I then purchased a club called Simon’s, which was named Rehab at the time. I then decided to go down to Miami after graduation and throw more college-based parties. I did pop ups for game days, while working for Tim Tebow’s nonprofit foundation for a while. He hired me to do his fundraising, and we traveled around the world together to Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines. Then, we parted ways professionally because I decided to go back to Miami. I was hired by a club called Bardot to do their music programming.

RG: Now for the obvious question – how did it all start with III Points?

DS: While working for Bardot, I did the scheduling and programming every day and had live bands play shows. The bands were primarily from Miami, but I wanted to bring new events to the city. I wanted to bring in musicians that had not played here before. Bardot held about 250 people and I was throwing shows there for bigger artists such as Odesza, Flume, and Bob Moses. I wanted to hit that indie dance stride early on and I realized that a lot of musicians would not come to Miami because there were not big enough venues. A lot of artists complained that the Miami music scene did not have opportunity for them. Therefore, I wanted to create a “Superbowl” of Miami shows and bring in acts that were missing from the Miami scene. I wanted to mix them with Miami acts that needed their big moment here.

RG: How did you come up with a vision for the festival? How did you make that vision come to life?

DS: Like everything, I got together with the right people. III Points is a title that I proudly have, but none of it would have been possible without a lot of talented people.

RG: When did III Points first gain traction?

DS: Right off the bat, III Points was real and chaotic and people saw that. Over time, it gained traction: like all things, it did not happen overnight. The growth of III Points happened organically as we rolled from one event to the next. I think the shift really happened when we brought in Gorillaz in 2017. Most of the industry then became aware of III Points and respected the event. The proof was in the pudding. It is a different ball game when your event is able to host about 15,000 people a day: it started turning heads and bigger names in the industry. People started pitching me ideas of playing at III Points instead of me pitching artists to play the event.

RG: What made you decide that you wanted III Points to be hosted in Miami?

DS: Miami was missing a counter festival to Ultra Music Festival. Miami was defined by Ultra and Miami Beach. The Wynwood/Downtown Miami area did not have the identity that it has now – they had an identity crisis with music. I wanted to redefine the narrative so when people think about Miami and its music scene, they did not just think about Ultra and EDM.

RG: With so many other festivals out there, what sets III Points apart from other music festivals?

DS: Programming. Our lineup does not look like other lineups out there. We take a lot of pride in curation as well – we’ve worked on ideas for years. Sometimes, ideas do not work out because of timing or logistics. Over 50% of our lineup is from Miami. What other festivals in North American put local artists on their lineups? For example, Coachella is not about putting California-based artists on their lineup. III Points is all about Miami and prides itself on artists being locally sourced and represented. When you travel, you want to experience the culture, art, music, food, etc. I think the same goes for music festivals – with III Points, you can feel the city of Miami in the music.

RG: You’re also involved in other projects with venues, such as Floyd and Club Space. Can you tell me more about your other ventures?

DS: Space approached me with an opportunity in 2016/2017. They worked with some of the people who got let go by Dave Grutman from some of his clubs. They therefore placed employees at Bardot and Space. The previous owner of Space was overrunning the business because it was extremely expensive – he was attempting to run the club as a bottle club and it just was not really working. I went to him and asked him to take my deal. Although I had not previously run a club and it is completely different than running III Points or a music festival, I was ready to take on the challenge. He trusted us and put his faith in us when he took the deal. I kept the staff that was ready to transform and grow with the new Space. By 2019, we were rocking and rolling. Insomniac actually approached us recently to purchase half ownership of the club and expand our business around the world. We took the deal with them and became 50/50 partners. This is how our most recent venture, Space Park, was started. We saw an opportunity because of COVID-19 and pitched it to Insomniac. We wanted an outdoor option where people could feel less restricted and Club Space was operating at limited capacity at the time. Insomniac approved our venture, funded it, and started the park. Floyd was started because I could not continue to do programming for Bardot. I began Floyd and it operates similarly to the way Bardot did. It has less live music than my other ventures and each room has its own definition – each room is to reintroduce people to Space.

RG: How has COVID-19 impacted III Points and your other businesses?

DS: During COVID-19 we did not sit on our hands – we transformed and did what we had to do in order to get our staff back on their feet. We waited, planned, searched for opportunities, and thought carefully about our next moves. We are also very fortunate to be located in Miami. I think it says a lot about our team that we stayed together and were up for the task of opening back up when we did. We sought and provided new opportunities and created new revenue streams for us. It has undoubtedly been a tough year and a half – we have racked up a lot of debt. However, we will come out of it stronger than ever and it is already happening now.

RG: Tell me a little bit about your most recent venture, Secret Project.

DS: We were hoping to put on III Points on those dates – we did not think that the COVID-19 restrictions would carry on through those dates. We soon realized that there was no way we would be able to put on a thirty thousand person festival. We did, however, realize that we could make a 7,000 person festival happen and we have an excellent relationship and reputation with the city of Miami. They trust us and know that we always produce a safe, clean, and reliable event. There were a lot of challenges in putting on Secret Project: however, a lot of people helped us out to make it happen. We kept two stages that were supposed to be used for III Points and we ended up moving III Points to October. We allowed III Points ticket holders the first opportunity to purchase Secret Project tickets, and we sold out in a couple of days. We crushed the festival and the city and mayor were proud of the event. All the fans felt super safe with all the precautions we took and I think that the city really needed the live music. This was one of the most beautiful moments in my career that I will look back upon. The energy was real and we will all remember that party forever.

RG: What has been your favorite or proudest moment as a professional in the music industry and why?

DS: Every year that we put on III Points, another level of the festival and city evolves. I get to see my friends playing shows that they never thought they’d have the opportunity to play. I get to see people living out their dreams, develop professionally, and reach other levels of skill and output. Seeing what Space has transformed into is also one of my proudest accomplishments. The fact that it is such a safe spot that people can go to watch the sunrise and dance is something I’m proud of.

RG: What are some ways that you have seen the festival industry evolve over the years?

DS: Pre-pandemic, the festival industry was headed in the wrong direction. A lot of festivals were the same and I want III Points to remain different. I have seen bigger corporations take over the industry and artists began signing with companies such as Live Nation. They would sign deals with these companies instead of record deals so that they had to play a certain number of festivals they were partnered with listed out in their contracts. It is extremely hard to get bigger name artists to play your festival if you are not partnered up with one of these companies. Fortunately, III Points is partnered up with Live Nation, so we reap the benefits of this transition.

RG: Where do you see the festival experience going? What do you see for the future of music festivals?

DS: I think there will be a few years when people are just glad to have festivals back. I think they’ll have a greater appreciation for festivals and their attention will be back on music festivals. All festival options will be back soon and the next couple of years we’ll see a good explosion for the industry. If Secret Project was any indication, everyone will come in with a positive state of mind. In addition, III Points will have our biggest year yet and we will be ready to produce it properly. We will make sure that the experience is amazing for attendees – the lineup is ready to go and it is fire and the team is ready to go!

It was an absolute pleasure to sit down with David and dive deeper into his background and experience. I am amazed at his vision and creativity that has led to a continued impact over the Miami music scene.

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