Few entrepreneurs would readily admit that their accomplishments may not have been of their own doing.
For Dwayne McNeil Etienne, God’s plan for his success promised to give him everything that he wanted, so he followed that plan which has brought him to this very point in his career.
Being a professional sound engineer, Dwayne’s brand has been powering several musical events and their exuberant sounds, including BLiSS, SOS, Baywalk Jazz (2012 to the present), U4RIA, Live in Colour, Ronald ‘Boo’ Hinkson’s ‘Show the World,’ Jazz Sampler, Fire Grill Jazz and many more! Dwayne was gracious enough to sit for an interview with Dazzle Magazine to chat about his successes and challenges in the music business and what the experience has been like for him.
Dazzle: Who is Dwayne Etienne?
Dwayne: I think I’d best be able to define myself as a sound engineer and entrepreneur. Someone who’s had years of experience in their field.
Dazzle: Where did the experience begin?
Dwayne: On leaving the SDA Academy, I had no idea what I wanted to do so I started working with my dad as a customs broker, and did so for a year. The next step for me was moving to Musicman where I would get closer to my dreams over an eight year period. While at Musicman, I learned how to use a mixer and I also improved my piano playing skills. Although my love for music continuously grew during that period, I never thought of it as a feasible career path.
Dazzle: What prompted you to choose sound engineering as a career path?
Dwayne: It was something that I’ve had a longstanding passion for. I never thought I’d have my own company though. For the most part, I imagined myself working for other established sound engineers in the country. When I came back from college in 2012, I felt that I had the knowledge and skill set to start my own company, and so, after several challenges, DandB Sounds was born.
Dazzle: What sort of service does DandB Sounds offer?
Dwayne: We cover everything sound related… parties, events, concerts. At the start, it was smaller scale because with my equipment I’d only be able to cater for a maximum of 800 people at any given event. Within a relatively short space of time, I was able to build on my arsenal of sound instruments and equipment.
Dazzle: What competitive advantage does DandB Sounds have over other companies offering similar services?
Dwayne: Many people come to DandB because we’re easy to work with. I like to work with my clients when it comes to pricing. While there’s an industry fee, I still try to meet my clients halfway. Not to mention an extensive list of experience and coverage for events.
Dazzle: What challenges did you face as a young entrepreneur?
Dwayne: I encountered a lot of people who thought that I wasn’t capable of handling my tasks. I remember my first big show – Boo Hinkson was set to perform on my stage. He too thought I couldn’t do the job because he was uncertain that I could match that specific sound that he grew to be familiar with. I called him and asked him to give me a chance (to prove myself). He was a little hesitant but after the show he was so pleased, he even gave me a hug. It made me feel good but it didn’t go to my head or anything like that because there’s always room for improvement. But at the same time, there’s something special about getting praise from a seasoned musician. To date, Boo Hinkson hasn’t performed at any event without contacting me to handle his sound. It means a lot to me to see someone go from doubting me to requesting my service at every event.
Dazzle: What is your greatest accomplishment to date?
Dwayne: Having such a large amount of equipment in a short space of time. For me, it is a big accomplishment. That plus the fact that I’m quite established in my business.
Dazzle: To what/who do you attribute your success?
Dwayne: First of all, I’d like to thank God. Really and truly, I don’t’ think I would’ve gotten this far without guidance and my family’s financial support. Most of my success is down to self-motivation. I got a lot of pessimism from people about going into the sound industry, with them telling me why it might not work out as a full-time career. Concerning the market at the time, things were not looking too good financially but I was able to persevere.
Dazzle: Where do you see DandB sounds in the near future?
Dwayne: Right now I’m trying to open a music store. Something like a one-stop-shop where you can get sound equipment as well as music classes, at very reasonable prices. Growing the business in every aspect is always a focus of mine and whatever else the world of music has to offer, I want to get into it and be great at it.
Dazzle: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Dwayne: At the end of the day you can listen to the advice of people who’ve been there before but you need to do your own research. You need to see what it is that you can do, even though people may tell you that you can’t do it. Ultimately, just do what you want to do. Giving up is not really an option. Manage your time, manage your money and only invest your time and money into something that can return to you what you put in.