“Ragin” Randy Harris has always been passionate about music. And while his 9-to-5 days are spent in the banking industry, he has turned his love of music into a serious side hustle.
The 29-year-old Memphis, Tenn., native had a lot of plans before finding his niche. He was given the moniker — for which his entertainment business is named — while an undergraduate engineering student at the University of Wisconsin. However, he quickly decided that engineering was not his path and ended up earning a degree in music business and communications from the University of Memphis.
“My initial plan was to go to law school and become an entertainment attorney,” said Harris. “I wanted to help artists make sure they were getting fair contracts. I was accepted to the University of Memphis’ law school, but I had a full-time job working with my dad in finance. I ended up getting married instead.”
Harris cites the change of plans as “the best choice of my life,” and he has been happily married to wife Lydia for three years.
Since moving to Baltimore in June 2015, Harris has kept a full-time job in finance at an M&T Bank in Timonium. However, he also maintains his own business, Ragin’ Randy Entertainment, which recently partnered with Heady Entertainment. Together, they provide management, promotion, photography and journalism to the music scene of the mid-Atlantic region.
How did you become so involved with music?
I have been a music lover my whole life, my dad too — it runs in the family. I grew up in Memphis, which is a music town. When I was in seventh grade, I took band as a fine arts class. I picked percussion and played that until my junior year, then dropped it to play guitar in the jazz band. I bought my first guitar with bar mitzvah money, and I ended up being chosen as the first-chair guitarist in the All-West Tennessee Jazz Blues Band my senior year.
I majored in music business and communications because the University of Memphis didn’t have a broadcasting degree at the time. I was a DJ on the university’s all-jazz radio station, which is one of the only all-jazz stations in the country.
I decided to start sending concert music reviews to random publications that I followed to see if I could get them to pick me up. At this point, I was just writing reviews of shows that I was going to for fun. I wasn’t extremely hopeful. Then I got a response from Grateful Music. One of the main guys for the site lived in Memphis as well, so they picked me up. My first review was of a local band, Agori Tribe, that, funny enough, I now manage.
How did you transition to management?
I was absolutely mind-blown [by Agori Tribe] because they are all instrumental, which I love, and very progressive. I covered them a few more times, and we became friends. Eventually, they asked me to be their manager because they knew that I had a music business background. The big thing I learned is that gig swaps are a good way to play new cities while also giving a band from somewhere else an opportunity to play in your hometown. Basically, if we wanted to go play Nashville but hadn’t played there, I would reach out to a Nashville band who I think would fit the bill and say, “We want to come to Nashville, so let us play in front of your crowd with you headlining, and then you come to Memphis, and we will play and you open.”
How do you like the Baltimore music scene?
I love it. It has been absolutely incredible. It is a very community-oriented scene; it is very welcoming, especially with local venues like The 8×10. I felt I was welcomed into the family immediately. All of the musicians who I have met are extremely humble and extremely talented. I can go out on any night of the week and see great local music.