Why Yusuf “Yuie” Muhammad Is The Music Festival Guru

By: Lauren Royer
Photos via Yusuf’s Instagram

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It seems like there is a festival for almost everyone today. Coachella just wrapped up the first week of madness this last week. The music festival world has been growing like crazy in the last few years. This is because they simply offer a more well-rounded experience for audiences than traditional shows at smaller venues can. Besides the flux of artists on the line-ups, many will give you a serious bang for your buck (and mind) because they expose people to other forms of art/media and create opportunities for deep networking in the industry.

Without a doubt, festivals both small and large are the future. Just ask Yusuf “Yuie” Muhammad; the good vibes festival guru. Currently serving as a Program Director for ATL’s A3C and having spoken at the United Nations, it’s safe to say that the man has reached royalty level heights. His deeply positive outlook and super pointed visions for his craft have allowed him to wear many different hats throughout his career, and wear them well. I was able to chat with Yuie about his most recent achievement, the co-creation of the highly anticipated “Just About Music” arts and music festival out of Las Vegas, NV and to learn how artists can get noticed in the blur of festivals that exist today.

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What was the first music festival you ever grooved at? Like, showed up bright eyed bushy tailed never experiencing it before?
A3C in 2009. I was in Atlanta shooting on set for the Young Chris and Meek Mill ‘House Party’ music video. We were shooting in Lou Williams’s mansion and everyone was there like Rick Ross and Karen Civil. And then as I’m there I was talking to some young ladies, they asked if I was going to be around for another week because there was a really dope hiphop festival called A3C. I went and I experienced A3C for the first time and it was amazing. Big Daddy Kane was there and a young Kendrick was also performing. School Boy Q was just a hype man performing then. It was incredible all these amazing artists and the energy there. There was this one guy I saw perform and afterward, I go shake his hand and say “hey you’re dope what’s your name? He tells me Tity Boi, which he later became 2 Chainz. I have this photo with Dom Kennedy, Kendrick, and School Boy all in the same photo. It kinda overwhelmed me because there were curators, festival directors, producers there then and now that are big.
L: A3C is so significant because it’s small but the large experience is there. You get to interact with speakers and industry professionals in a way you wouldn’t at other festivals.
Y: Ya, It was definitely a spark for me for where I’m at in life. Like I just wandered into it that day and now I’m a Program Director for the festival. It was 5 years later too. Things change quickly.

I know you’ve had hella experiences working in the industry between A3C, Silent Philly and more. What’s been your favorite experience so far?
Speaking at the United Nations in 2014- a wild moment. I couldn’t believe that from just producing events and meeting people that I’d be invited to speak in front of an audience and to talk about my life and curator journey, especially after I threw my first event in 2012. That was by far the best experience.
L: Damn! The United Nations are a great audience- not only that but  you were able to speak on love and art to an audience that has influence of the world. Props and respect to you!
Y: You can manifest your thoughts into reality. I really believe that. I prefer to speak what you want into reality and most of us, we don’t need to be so scared to ask for what we want. We can’t be afraid to speak and my mantra for every day: “Without daily progress towards a goal or connection made to achieve goals is a day wasted”. You should be researching random things, following people on socials, watching a documentary, doing little subtle things to keep your mind expanding.
L: Absolutely! You’re in charge of your experiences in this world. Mantras are so crucial to making goals.
Y: Another daily mantra I use everywhere is: “Protect your peace”- making sure you stay as focused as possible. I literally do not have bad days. Ever. I may have a bad moment but I don’t allow things to disrupt my peace. I could lay down and not wake up tomorrow. We only control what we do. Do you have a right to be upset or disappointed yeah? But to allow it to upset you for long is a waste.


Let’s talk about the spirit of your upcoming event “Just About Music”. What inspired this, how did it come to be?
Just About Music came from working with these kids in Vegas that go under Jam Nation. In Vegas there are always influencers and curators throwing 21+ events and they feel like they’re lost like kids. This is because anything for young people out there gets shut down, there’s nothing there for youth. They started throwing these events though and their business side of things was a little crazy. I came in to help them book certain artists, logistics and handle the business side. The ability to make a name for yourself is part of it and we took the risks to put on this 2nd year. We will have our headliners; Xavier Wulf, Maxo Kream, and Don Krezz, and some locals artists. It’s not just a HipHop fest, it really is just about music. The festival side is about art/culture. It’s not to make money or a cash cow. The most expensive tickets are only 60 dollars. My role is to help and I believe in them. I really think these kids can build something because it’s the first one of its kind there. We created it and put it out there. We’d like to have a great event and walk away feeling like we’ve done a good job. Invest in the kids! JAM is safe, fun, and is all ages so it’s not cutting off 13-14 year olds that wanna hang or watch. If you invest in the youth you’ll find they are creative. They do care, they’re not all about doing drugs and care about the culture- they just need people to invest in them. So that’s what I’m doing.

What are some of the most important aspects that go into planning a large music festival?
THERAPY. That means taking time to, once a week, detach. Unfortunately, everyone involved is not going to have the same passion or even understand the loss when things are going left. Or relationships that could be burned. You can’t allow yourself to get wrapped up in getting others to understand the importance. Most people don’t make money off a festival until the 3-4th year. Budget is important and the layout of what you’re conveying to audience is important. Scheduling, partnerships, security, production, location (scout and what you want it to look like) is important. Your vision being able to come to life without breaking bank is important.

When can artists do to get noticed at festivals and events?
1. Networking is best.
2. Having good music.
3. Do not being afraid to ask questions or to talk to people who threw the event.
Talk to the musician, security, and stage manager. If you’re too cool to build your network which builds to your net worth…no one is going to notice you. Just because you’re not performing you shouldn’t attend, you literally don’t know who you will meet at those. The connection you can make at those events, you never know how you can impact someone’s life. Get rid of that ego and know you should be respected the same as others (like curators). You can help each other and should be learning from each other. This is only going to shine a light on you.

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