Strange Music Makes Unpredictable Home in Lee’s Summit

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From left to right: Rick McDowell, LSEDC President & CEO; Travis O’Guin, Co-Founder & CEO of Strange Music, Inc; Machelle Riffe, Chair of LSEDC Board of Directors

Strange Music Inc. Co-Founder and CEO Travis O’Guin was the guest of honor at the LSEDC June Speaker’s Series, where O’Guin shared his story of making his own success with LSEDC investors.

Strange Music began in 2000 when O’Guin put past hesitations aside to help rapper Tech N9ne escape a web of managers and contracts to begin his own music label. At the time, Tech was represented by no less than seven managers.

The men joined forces and O’Guin applied an organized business approach to the label with influence from the Japanese philosophy, zaibatsu in which companies strengthen their control over their business by creating sub-businesses to support it.

“A lot of companies here in America, they need investment, they need capital, they’ll go to a bank,” O’Guin said. “In Japan, they’ll buy the bank, so it’s a little bit bigger concept.”

Now after nearly two decades, the 160,000-square-foot Lee’s Summit facility houses distribution, video production and manufacturing entities.

In addition to its Lee’s Summit headquarters, Strange Music has offices in Atlanta, New York, and LA, but O’Guin says Lee’s Summit stands out when it comes to building up his business.

“The process here in Lee’s Summit is incredibly smooth in comparison to some other places I’ve built,” O’Guin said.

Over the years, Strange Music has collaborated with A-List stars such as Lil’ Wayne, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem and the 60s rock band The Doors, who are the inspiration behind the label’s name.

The Lee’s Summit facility was also home base for Lady Gaga as she choreographed the routine for her most recent American Music Awards performance.

Strange Music now represents more than 20 artists who maintain a rigorous touring schedule. In 2018, the label completed more than 430 shows. Strange Music has won 11 Grammy Awards and O’Guin’s co-founder, Tech N9ne, has more Top 10 albums than any other artist on Billboard’s Top Rap Albums chart. But despite the recognition, O’Guin remains humble.

“People tell me I should be more acknowledging of those things,” O’Guin said, “But I have a certain expectation that if you focus and you work really hard, you continue to be a student, those things are supposed to happen.”