Have you ever wondered who is behind the music video playlist that gets your blood pumping at the gym or the nostalgic soundtrack at your local pub? David O’Rourke is the CEO of Nightlife, a Brisbane-based entertainment company specialising in providing music subscription services to businesses.
Nightlife started out 30 years ago as a two-person team inventing a video jukebox in a Brisbane share house. Since then, it has grown into the largest music services provider in Australia, with more than 4000 clients around the globe in the hospitality, fitness, retail, accommodation, leisure, dining, cruising, education and entertainment industries.
The company’s crowdDJ technology is a modern-day jukebox that allows patrons at venues and events to use the free app on their mobile device or an in-venue kiosk to select the songs that make up the background playlist. This year, crowdDJ is providing the music people hear at events at London’s Wembley Stadium during the UK summer.
“Nightlife started when there weren’t any music video service providers,” David explains. “We’ve continued to innovate, like with our popular crowdDJ technology, and that has helped us expand our business into new markets and industries, both domestically and internationally.”
What is your role in the business?
I believe CEOs join businesses for phases. My phase was to grow Nightlife from a small business to a medium business, and to expand the business into international markets.
What’s your professional background?
I graduated from the University of Queensland with a degree in engineering. I spent 10 years working abroad, including nine years working in England, with five of those years working in the music industry. I have always worked in and around technology.
Where is your business located?
Nightlife is located in Milton. The company started in a share house nearby and has grown organically in this location as it has expanded.
How many employees does Nightlife have?
We have 120 employees and grow by about 5-10 staff members per year.
What value do you place in business plans?
Business plans are fantastic for guiding your business, as long as you remain agile enough to adjust to changing markets and environments, especially in a tech-based industry where technology can change quickly.
What are some unexpected benefits of running a business the size of Nightlife?
We are still small enough to be agile and make decisions without too much red tape. We own our intellectual property and technology, which means we control our own destiny and can move quickly to respond to changes in the market.
What’s the biggest challenge in running this type of business?
Matching our appetite for growth with the reality of the resources available. When we see a market we want to get into, we have to remain patient and only use the resources available to us so we grow responsibly.
How do you manage risk?
Through information. Taking the time to gather information before deciding on a course of action will always reduce your risk.
How do you stay up to date with the latest business information?
Nightlife works with clients across a wide and diverse range of industries, so it is difficult for us to stay abreast of all the latest business information. We have staff that belong to a range of professional organisations, and we rely on staff working closely with our clients to stay on top of the latest trends.
Where do you see your business in a year’s time? Five years’ time?
I hope Nightlife becomes the default when it comes to businesses looking for music service providers. We are putting a major focus on expanding our business internationally, so I would like to see Nightlife in more countries around the world. Domestically, I would like to see that we have grown in the new markets we are currently expanding into, such as retail and fast food.
We have no ambition to move our business outside of Queensland, so I would also like to see us employing even more Queenslanders and supporting more Queensland families.
What’s the greatest lesson you have learned in business?
Listening. You need to understand there is often more than one answer or perspective to a question, and you don’t always have the right answer.
What should someone consider before starting a business?
Understand the problem you are intending to solve, and make sure it is a problem people want solved and will pay you to solve it.