Skate And Surf’s John D’Esposito Wants To Change The Game

“There is something broken in our industry, and its going to take a lot of great minds to fix it.”

That’s what Skate And Surf Festival’s founding father John D’Esposito told me last week when we talked about this year’s festival. Not only has John wrangled together a diverse lineup, he is also hell-bent on brining an innovative mind to the music scene and changing how fans interact with artists. To make that happen John has created GameChanger World, an artist-powered mobile gaming platform devoted to reconnecting fans with artist — and artists with fans. See a sneak peek below.

Take a look at what John told me about the new gaming platform, how the mobile app “Boadwalk” (avalible May 9th) will be incorporated into the festival, how he handled that Fall Out Boy news leaking a bit early and much more. And don’t forget this year’s location has been moved to Six Flags New Jersey!

What inspired you to develop GameChanger World?

We are the last generation that saw the music CD, the cover the artwork, that value was incredible. From the Internet to cell phones, to EDM it’s had an effect on our scene and I don’t think its been good. The problem is, the music has been so saturated with so many bands and social networking tools to get the music to the people, and we need a new source to get the connect the fans back to the bands without it getting diluted. That’s where game changer comes in. Were taking the artist, taking their visions and incorporating them into the mobile games. They’re 365 24/7 and income generators. The fans want the artwork; they want that representation of the band in a creative layout. Go to the website, that’s not personal, the mobile game on your phone is. It’s you and that game.

How long have you been working on it GameChanger World?

Probably 3 years, but now it just got to the point where the scene was suffering so bad the numbers for some of the bands show, while meanwhile EDM is taking off.

How will it be a game changer in mobile gaming?

It’s connecting two industries in dire need of each other. Here you have one industry with so many games with not enough kids to play it. Here you have a struggling developer trying who doesn’t have the marketing tools to get their app out there and then you have these great bands with great music and great content but with no way to make money off it. It’s like Santa Clause when he needed gifts he went to the Island of Misfits and they gather all those toys that nobody wanted and gave them to kids that needed them, what happened, there was happiness. Hopefully kids will happy, fans will be engaged, and artists will find the new revenue stream they need. The marketing capabilities for a platform like this are unheard of and there’s no risk to the band.

How will the “Boardwalk” app be incorporated into the festival?

Every year Skate And Surf or Bamboozle will put out a map of a time card. This year were going mobile and the only way to get it is to download the GameChanger app. We’re pushing for the best signal we can in the music festival. Right now were going to put the first 30 games up and hopefully the artist will take more of an interest to it. We can’t recruit everyone in the first wave. We’ve been strategic to put a diverse incredible lineup together. We have a little EDM, metal, pop, rap and oddities.

How is ‘The Break’ contest going? Any frontrunners?

Every year, the scene weathers its Long Island/New Jersey/Connecticut. Identify who become players in the scene for the next few years, and they make relationships with promoters in that scene. This year we’ve dipped a little bit younger which is good, because we will have a lot of relationships to open up for that. The contest is to get the band ready for what the expectation is on a bigger stage.

The lineup is exciting this year, can you give me any hints as to who the special guest is?

They’re going to be in a game, that’s our hint.

Our community on Buzznet is especially excited about Fall Out Boy being part of the festival. How did you snag that one!?

That got crazy, the whole week of stories, we tried to deflect it as much as possible. This year was the first time things got overall crazy. The overall excitement from the return was coming from more than one direction. The first couple singles are brilliant, it shows why they deserve to be back. They’re not just returning for Skate And Surf, they’re returning. Period. This was about them coming back to their fans.

How did you deal with that information leaking that Fall Out Boy would be playing before they had announced their own reunion?

That got hairy there for a while, a whole week of stories, we tried to deflect it as much as possible, this year was the first time we had a problem with it, the overall excitement for the return was coming from more than one direction.

Any bands you’re personally excited to see?

Hospin, I think he’s playing for his perfect audiences. Crown The Empire to see if the hype is there.

It’s great because you do have bands like Fall Out Boy and A Day To Remember, but I am excited you have bands that are beginning to grow like Candy Hearts in the lineup.

People don’t understand that stuff is built from the bottom, the next wave of headliners, makes lines. Candy Hearts and those bands don’t get the credit, that’s what stinks when you have that Fall Out Boy type of things, is that credible bands seem to get lost, those are the bands that seem to have the exciting set. It’s a sophisticated lineup, it has some bubblegum, but it has a lot of credibility from Glassjaw to basically Streetlight’s (Streetlight Manefesto) farewell performance from New Jersey. RX Bandits are back. Were giving everyone 45-minute sets. These aren’t half hour sets. These are full sets. There is something broken in our industry, and its going to take a lot of great minds to fix it.

Skate And Surf Festival kicks off May 18th & 19th in Freehold, NJ and tickets are on sale now. For more on GameChanger World, head over to to signup and receive updates.

What do you think of this year’s Skate And Surf Festival?

Let’s talk music, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.