Desert Child

If you’ve ever thought about starting a professional band, you know that there are a number of obstacles that need to be overcome.

But, did it ever occur to you that the band is a business? This is what ultimately led Ari Newman and his band, Desert Child, to the SBDC.

Desert Child’s journey began in the Utah desert, when four of the five members met as guides with Open Sky Wilderness Therapy. All of the men had musical backgrounds, and through their time in the wilderness, they soon realized that they had more to offer than simply playing Kumbaya around the campfire. But, none of them dreamed they would be able to play professionally.

As they researched the music industry, they realized that there was a real demand for local bands to play at weddings. They released a music video, which brought in more than 20 bookings. “The weddings gigs are fueling our dream of being an original touring band,” Ari explains. “It’s all about an effort to fund our art.”

They also discovered that they have a unique niche. All of the members come from a spiritual background, and through guiding, they’ve learned to communicate and work together. “We’re not coworkers,” Ari explains, “We’re friends and brothers.” So far, this has proven to be a key to their success.

By 2020, the band had been formed, and leader Ari Newman stepped away from guiding to take the band full time. That’s when he sought out the SBDC.

“Mary Shepherd was key in explaining how to start the LLC, what to look out for, who to connect with, and how to stay up to code. She’s served as a mentor who’s been able to go over details in a relaxed way.”

Ari continues to meet with Mary several times a year to determine the best method for driving revenue as a local business.

In 2022, the band changed their name from Durango Tire Fire to Desert Child, which proved to be a great move. They’ve played weddings all over the Southwest, including Aspen, Telluride, Santa Fe, Salt Lake City, and of course, Durango. “We came up with the name after working with kids in the Utah desert. From Biblical scripture to sci-fi, there is a mythic aspect in going to the desert. There is a primordial feeling of being reborn in creation. The new name has a lot of headroom, and we are slowly growing into it.”

In addition to playing weddings, the band often plays at community events. “We’re not just a rock band; we’re very much about the community. Our group is really brotherly, and there’s a positive energy to it,” Ari says.

One of the biggest challenges the band has faced is taking a chance on business ownership. “As any entrepreneur will tell you, starting a business is a risky venture, and there’s a lot of pressure to just give up and join a bigger company. New businesses take time to grow, and, especially in recent years, the landscape is always changing. It can be a windy road,” Ari says.

Against all the odds, the band has persisted and is achieving continued success. They will release their first album this summer, and their goal is to have every member full time by 2024.

If you’ve been dreaming of starting a professional band, or any other business, Ari offers this advice, “Be willing to ask for help and don’t chase the money. Chase the people who make you feel good on the inside. When you’re doing business with them, there’s an authentic connection. It’s not about money but about having a meaningful life.”


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