Most DJs are content to show up at gigs, spin their tunes, collect their checks and go home. But DJ Irie realized early on that he could parlay his growing fame into lucrative business partnerships with major companies like Verizon Wireless, adidas and Heineken. It’s all part of his master plan to turn the name Irie into a brand, and so far it’s working like a charm.
Irie, whose real name is Ian Grocher, is the official DJ of the Miami Heat and Carnival Cruise Lines and personal DJ to actor Jamie Foxx. He’s the top-rated DJ for WEDR 99 JAMZ and owner of the talent consulting firm, Artist Related.
Widely recognized as one of — if not the — top DJ in one of the world’s hottest club destinations, Irie has extended his reach far beyond South Beach. In an industry where the most well-known DJs have surpassed many original recording artists in terms of fame and fortune, DJ Irie has a achieved a level of celebrity that has caught the eye of corporate sponsors.
“I realized at a point that I reach a lot of people, so I started to think about what it is that I do and how I do it,” says Irie, whose reading material includes Inc., Forbes and Fortune magazines, strewn about his office, and daily newspaper business sections.
“Take a week in my life,” he says. “I’m global. I perform pretty much all over the world – Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, South America, all of these continents. Between the Heat, the nightclubs and other events, I reach thousands of people every single week. And I reach them in a way that no matter what I’m doing, I’m the focal point, and I have a voice. That’s very powerful.’’
Irie realized he could market that voice. “I’d go out and people would ask me what kind of shoes I’m wearing, and what kind of watch is that? What am I drinking? And I’m like, ‘Wow, I am going to wear a watch, a shirt, a pair of shoes, so why shouldn’t I be aligning myself with brands that I believe in, and support them, and make this more of a business relationship?’”
Though DJ Irie hasn’t yet hit the ranks of household-name celebrities whose multi-million dollar net worth is chronicled on the world’s wealthiest lists, his fame is broad enough to have earned him endorsement deals as the Florida Brand Ambassador for Premier Beverage (Grey Goose Vodka), Heineken and Verizon Wireless; a business partner with ownership in the luxury car rental company Lou La Vie and Pucci’s Pizza. Plus he’s affiliated with the New Era Cap company, adidas and Doral Automotive.
“We were looking for someone to interact with the club-culture demographic, and he’s the perfect fit with the social network that he has and his popularity in Miami,” said Jay Collins, marketing manager of Verizon’s Florida region. “And also his character — that’s a big factor when representing a company like Verizon.”
The 36-year-old DJ was in the national spotlight recently on Good Morning America April 27 and June 1 as part of GMA’s DJ Friday. He kicked off the second hour, showing off his mixing skills with real vinyl and getting the whole staff dancing in Times Square to classic dance, hip-hop and house tunes.