Assessing a Leader: Barry Johnson’s Persistent Vision Builds a Successful Future

Article by Matt Brown
Photos by Michael “Waboosh” Kelly

When it comes to making it big in any avenue you choose as an artist or entrepreneur, there comes a sense of gratification with being able to take your own vision, and trust your instincts to get to where you want to be. This idea more than accurately sums up Fab 5 Entertainment’s Barry Johnson‘s journey as someone who laid his groundwork as he saw it for himself, and took off from there.

Getting off the ground with Fab 5 Entertainment, Johnson credits his expansion to his early trial-and-error mentality, starting his earliest artists, The Finest, Devin Miles, and S Money among others. Those experiences helped him develop as he moved on to work with artists such as Earthgang, Hardo, and Spillage Village.

When it comes to his own success, Johnson keeps three key values at the forefront at all times: hard-work, persistence, and faith.

“Those three things, I always keep with me,” Johnson explained. “Of course you got to put in the work and keep going, but it’s also important to just have faith in whatever you’re doing.”

Part of the success that comes from having a promotional brand is the selection and interaction with artists, and Johnson is very set on seeking out the right qualities of someone who will be successful.

“I work with clients who I feel can leave a legacy,” Johnson said. “I only want to work with game-changing acts that I can push as well as people who can push me. We all have to be the best versions of ourselves we can be.”

For that reason, Johnson holds every experience with his artists near to him as their differences in personalities have helped him grow as a promoter.

“Every artist I ever worked with meant something to me personally,” he said. If I were an artist, I would want to be like my artists because they represent what the people want to see.”

One of the center-pieces of Johnson’s success has been his ability to grow his network of people. In reflecting on his rise to where he is today, Johnson offers advice to other up-and-comers who are trying to build a solid network around them.

“Know what you’re trying to do and know where you are trying to go,” Johnson said, revealing that having a plan and vision early on was a key in helping him decide how to build relationships.

“I had to know my strengths and my weaknesses,” he added. “Once I knew that, I was able to find people to help make up for my weaknesses.”

One major downfall that hinders success in networking is failure of cultivating an actual relationship rather than only looking to take from others, a practice Johnson warns against.

“Sometimes I just hit people up just to see how they are doing,” Johnson said as he explained how he believes in going deeper than “just business” when connecting with people.

Another mistake often made while trying to build a network is trying to get the biggest names possible instead of the most resourceful people.

“It’s not always about who’s at the top,” Johnson said. “Too many people just try to reach the person at the top not realizing that the people behind the scenes are just as important,” Johnson said.

Looking back over the past several years, Johnson says that coming to the realization that there is no easy way to success is what helped him develop patience.

“There were times where I had to literally sleep outside or literally survive on noodles and hot dogs, but I had to do what I had to do to put myself in the best position possible,” he said.

For those who are still juggling ideas of where they want to go, Johnson advises to pick your own journey, and avoid getting into things that are not for you, or making decisions based on what other people think.

“My journey is what made me who I am today,” he said. “It got me to where I’m at and I can say I did it my way.”

Written by Thomas Agnew