The joy is infectious during a Liquid Pleasure Band performance. The six-piece band brings high energy and fun as they play crowd-pleasing covers of modern hits, including “Uptown Funk” and “Shake It Off” and groove to Motown classics such as “Sugar Pie Honey Bunch” and “Get Ready.” When the audience is enjoying a live show, they’re often not thinking about the hard work behind every performance. However, every solo act or band must practice to perfection, endure demanding tour schedules and face lean financial times. Liquid Pleasure Band is no exception.
“One of the biggest problems (with) being an entertainer is the constant ups and downs of the business,” says Kenny Mann Jr. who plays keyboards and horns and has been dubbed the band’s “leader, manager, comedian and wise-cracker.”
“We’re like tobacco farmers, in a way,” he continues. “We have these cash droughts … and Fast Capital (360) alleviated that in my business.”
The Ups and Downs of Entertainment
Liquid Pleasure Band has been performing and delighting audiences for 55 years. “We’re almost as old as McDonald’s!” Mann points out. During the band’s early years, they were a group of friends “just playing around for fun,” but “after children and mortgages, it had to become a business.”
Although the band is headquartered in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, they’ve played all over the U.S. Throughout the decades, Liquid Pleasure Band’s venues have been as varied as their musical repertoire. They played at the inaugural balls for former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush as well as North Carolina former Gov. Mike Easley. Liquid Pleasure Band has also played for corporate parties for Pfizer and American Express, the Ravens football team and various fundraisers for nonprofit organizations.
Despite the group’s longevity and popularity, there are times when the cash isn’t flowing. “That is the biggest problem for every musician,” Mann says. “There’s no musician that’s doing well in the Northern Hemisphere in the wintertime. Things kind of slow down in the winter, and then things bustle around late February and they just roll along. So you have to get from New Year’s Eve to Feb. 28 (until the bookings pick up again).”
And the search for financing isn’t always simple.
“A lot of the banks aren’t comfortable with loaning to businesses that they consider ‘not established’ businesses, which I find ironic,” Mann explains. “For someone to tell me that I don’t have an established business, I say, ‘Well, I’ve got 55 years of federal tax returns to show you.’”
Although Mann wasn’t having much luck getting funding from traditional institutions, the band did have some offers from alternative lenders in 2015. However, after looking into some of the lenders, he says he “didn’t feel comfortable with these people.” In contrast, he investigated Fast Capital 360 and liked the online reviews he read. After completing that research and consulting with his CPA, Mann decided to work with Fast Capital 360.
Liquid Pleasure Band was approved for a business line of credit and has been a Fast Capital 360 customer since 2015. “The process was surprisingly easy. I talked with Fast Capital about what I needed, and within 24-48 hours, the funding was in my account,” Mann says. “That’s space-age lending to me!”
What Is a Business Line of Credit?
A business line of credit is a lump sum of financing the borrower can access in whole or in part, as needed. This type of funding can help a business cover cash flow gaps caused by seasonal lulls or for ongoing projects, such as building construction, that might have unpredictable cost increases.
Borrowers can use the amount of funding they need to make payments or purchases, and are charged interest only on the amount borrowed. As the balance is repaid, the funding becomes available again.
Liquid Pleasure band occasionally uses its business line of credit for promotions, but it usually covers equipment-related expenses or cash flow gaps, Mann says.
“In this business, especially in our market where we get a lot of our equipment destroyed because of the nature of our show, it’s quite expensive. When you have to take $5,000 out of your budget unexpectedly, it can devastate your week,” Mann explains.
Given how unplanned expenses can appear, Mann appreciates how Fast Capital 360 business advisors periodically check in with updates and reminders about Liquid Pleasure Band’s financing.
“I was impressed that Fast Capital contacted me and just wanted to know ‘How was everything going?’ and ‘Did I need anything?’ And at the time, we had some equipment issues; the timing was impeccable,” Mann says.
He also recalls the day he was surprised to get a call to let him know he had a large amount of funding available with his business line of credit. Although he says the band pays off the business line of credit “at a steady pace. … I didn’t realize I had paid it back so quickly. That’s the thing I like about (a line of credit), … you’re not tied up for years with this credit stuff affecting your credit score.” It’s also affordable enough that “you don’t have to sign away your life or mortgage your children.”
Throughout his years with Fast Capital 360, Mann has worked with 2 business advisors, including Ryan Hollingsworth. One of the things Mann appreciates is, “I can tell that they are familiar with what I do. They’ll say, ‘We saw you on YouTube, or we saw you on television or we heard you on the radio.’ It’s almost like they’ve become a part of my business, and they really understand the ups and downs (of the entertainment industry).”
“I don’t really borrow money from banks anymore because of Fast Capital,” he adds. “We have a balance now that our cash flow is kind of maintained and we can focus on other things.”
Surviving COVID-19 — with Some Help from Fast Capital 360
The COVID-19 pandemic devastated several industries — live entertainment chief among them. Pollstar reported in late 2020 that the industry suffered more than $30 billion in losses as concerts were canceled and venues closed to curb the virus’s spread.
Liquid Pleasure Band’s income “took such a temporary hit,” during the pandemic, Mann says. There was no immediate relief in sight, but there were still payments due on the business line of credit. However, an unprompted call from Fast Capital 360 changed the game for him.
“This was special to me: When you all reached out during the COVID crisis,” Mann says. “The ease with which you worked out a program so that we could continue to stay in business and adjusted the payments until we got back on our feet — that was quite impressive. I was unaware that I could even do that, and I was prepared to sell the covenant on my vehicles to pay you. That would have pretty much put me out of business. So that was quite impressive, and I’ll never forget that moment.”
That experience has been part of a long-running positive relationship with Fast Capital 360.
“It’s been a win-win with you guys. I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve never been 100% satisfied with anything, but I’d like to say 99.999% for Fast Capital,” he says.
What’s Next for Liquid Pleasure Band?
With COVID-19 vaccination numbers rising, venues are re-opening and live entertainment events have started to return. Between that and the security from Fast Capital 360, the Liquid Pleasure Band has been back in business in 2021. During a conversation in October, Mann happily shared the latest news for the band, which included an upcoming performance for Michael Jordan.
“The good news is, we’re doing 4-5 shows a week. We got 6 shows, meetings with clients and performances. We’re back up full speed, heading to California in a few weeks. It’s bittersweet. I wish I could lay down and go to sleep, but not this week!”
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