Davenport grad achieves success by saying “yes”

Alex Kidd, MBA ‘17, is a partner at Bow to Stern Group, a music entertainment company in Nashville, Tennessee.  His path to becoming a partner took a lot of hard work, long hours and just saying “yes.”

After Kidd graduated from Millikin University, he packed up a U-haul and moved to Nashville, where he hoped to be a tour manager.  He moved with no set job offer but did have some connections and a dream.

One of his first Nashville connections was Matt McClure, with whom he had a previous internship and, coincidentally, is now one of Kidd’s partners at Bow to Stern. At that time, McClure didn’t have a job for Kidd, but he did need his fence painted. So Kidd said “yes” and painted McClure’s fence.

Six weeks after Alex moved to Nashville, and after painting Matt’s fence, he got his first gig. That allowed him to meet more people. That meant Alex could start touring and traveling on the weekends, where he learned it was best just to say “yes.”

“I learned at a very young age to say “yes” as often as you can,” said Kidd. Although Kidd found early success, his dad always made sure he knew the importance of having a good education.

“My dad always said that no one can ever take education away from you,” said Kidd.

Alex decided to say “yes” to getting his master’s degree but knew he couldn’t pass up his job on the tour. He chose to attend Davenport University’s online campus, which gave him more flexibility and the opportunity to get great job experience and the education he wanted at the same time. However, this meant many late nights on tour, sitting in the van writing papers.

“It was like having a second job at times, but it was awesome that it was flexible,” said Kidd. Being in the music industry, Kidd found value in what he learned at Davenport.

“I have an MBA from Davenport,” said Kidd. “I bet you could ask 100 people that I’ve worked with, and not a single one would know.  But the skills of writing, or the skills of learning how to use Excel really well, are so useful and I use them every single day,” said Kidd.

Not only did Kidd find the information he learned in his Davenport classes valuable, but he also gained new practical skills that can be applied to any job.

After Kidd graduated in 2017, McClure, one of Alex’s first connections in Nashville, started a management company that managed acts and was a record label and a publishing company. Kidd began working full-time for McClure, running the management company while McClure continued to produce records.

In addition to running the new management company, Kidd was still touring and traveling to many different places. Then, in 2020, the pandemic happened, and there was no more touring and no more shows.

“Our business was gone, I mean, it was gone. Touring is our number one thing, and it was gone,” said Kidd.

Finally, there was a break in the storm, and in January 2022, Alex became a partner at Bow to Stern Group. Last year, Bow to Stern Group started a new branch in their business, producing festivals. One of the artists Kidd tour managed, Drew Baldridge, wanted to start a music festival in his hometown of Patoka, Illinois.

“We were hoping to sell 1,000 tickets for the first year,” said Kidd. “We ended up selling over 2,500 tickets and almost 8,000 beers, and it was a very successful event.”

Although producing festivals is different from touring, Kidd enjoys this new venture and the challenges that come with it. One of the biggest challenges is trying not to be haunted by the what-ifs of missed opportunities.

“I do say ‘yes’ to things, but there are times you have to say ‘no,’ and that’s when you think about the what-ifs,” said Kidd.  Maybe I should have hustled here. Maybe I should have taken that weekend touring with this artist. Maybe I should have said ‘yes.’ I learned you can’t play that what-if game, but it can be hard.”

Kidd hopes one day he will see an artist develop from the start of their career to when they’re playing arenas.

“It’s always been my dream to manage an artist and work together from the very beginning. To be part of a team with a Luke Combs, Morgan Wallen, or Luke Bryan and be part of that journey,” said Kidd.

Kidd is currently managing three country acts. He believes all of them have the ability to reach that point. There are always different types of success, and Kidd has a success story that started with him just saying “yes.”


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