Brennen Bryarly, a.k.a DJ and producer option4, started his promotion outfit TheHundred Presents in 2012 for a relatively simple reason: he was new to a city with a quiet music scene and wanted to meet new people while learning how to throw parties. Five years later, he's helped turned his adopted hometown of Denver into an unexpected oasis for quality house and techno—and he's made a few friends along the way. "We just started booking all kinds of stuff that was big on SoundCloud and brought it to Denver for the first time," Bryarly told me over the phone. "It was exciting back then because we had to fight so hard for every show to be successful, but the community turned into something really big."
But Bryarly didn't want his newfound scene to be as cutthroat as the rest of the music industry, so he creatively formulated a crowdsourced concept that took the role of talent buyer out of the end-all power position and instead opened the floor to a wider community of likeminded music lovers, giving them the chance to help build Denver's scene themselves. "I came up with the concept for The Hundred from reading this nerd book about a guy that had a hundred companions and went together to fight bad lizards," Bryarly laughs. He built up the group first by heading out to local shows and scoping what fans were getting there early to support local up and comers, versus those who "show up five minutes before the headliner with a bag of coke." "That's not who I want to be around," he says. "I want to be around people who were there for the right reasons."
After identifying those he wanted to work and party with, Bryarly launched a secret website with 100 other punters he invited to post about DJs who they'd want see spin in the city. "I figured no one ever wants to go to a party alone, and if a hundred people are going to get together and we're going to pick one thing and promote it, and everyone gets in for free, then it wasn't me being a promoter," he says. "It was a hundred and one of us being promoters." While Bryarly was the one actually fronting the cost to bring in the talent and selling the actual tickets, the act of acquiring talent was a shared, crowdsourced happening each and every gig.
The concept took off. Over their first two years the crew brought in artists like then-unknown Disclosure, Catz n Dogz, and Chicago house legend Derrick Carter. "I think we had 80 people the first time Disclosure came to Denver," he says. "And I lost money on that show!" Beyond just having friends to dance with, Bryarly say the group also had a comforting power in their numbers. "You don't want to get harassed when you're dancing and all that shit," he says. "So with Hundred parties if there was a problem or something we all knew everybody, because there were a hundred of us in this group.
While Brylary's group flourished, so did his own personal career as a DJ and producer. To date, he's released his brand of party-ready house music on labels like Sweat It Out's Club Sweat imprint, formed an acid-fueled collaborative duo called 909 Till Infinity with NYC's Manik, as well as a cache of quality remixes. During that time, the Hundred has shifted to be more of a "friends group" versus functioning talent-buying outfit—mainly because the work they did helped turned Denver into a stop on the circuit for big name DJs. Bryarly eventually teamed his talents with Denver's SOCO group, who own and operate many of the city's top clubs like Vinyl, The Church, Milk, and Bar Standard. As an official talent buyer, he's been bringing world class DJs like Four Tet and MK to the city regularly. Still, his penchant for crowdsourcing DJs and musical connections remains, and via his new Facebook project that asks aspiring producers to post their tracks on his page.
Much like the Hundred, he's opened the floodgates to friends—both internet and IRL—to help curate Colorado's next class of DJ guests. He also hopes his efforts will help even the playing field of promoters who often merely book their friends to open up the dancefloor via warm up sets, all via Facebook comments on his personal page.
"As far as learning how to book support via crowdsourcing, that's just an evolution that I'm coming up with right now because I've made a lot of mistakes," Bryarly says. "I was guilty of being the guy who would book my same five friends to warm up every show—it's easy to be very lazy." Recognizing his own past faults, he's again trying to flip the script to help even the playing field in the music industry to those with less power at their disposal. "I think when you get to that point you become stale, you exclude a lot of talent that is out there," he says. "I remember when I was first starting to DJ and produce, nobody would let me play anything. You're fighting for a slot, but there's always somebody that controls it. It's like trying to keep the limelight on themselves."
Much like the formula behind The Hundred, Bryarly's new concept asks local DJs to post mixes that align with headliners coming through town to threads he posts on Facebook. For example, in April, Toro y Moi was booked for a DJ set at Club Vinyl in Denver. Bryarly took to Facebook to source mixes for the show's opening slot and soon after received over 150 mixes in his comments section. While he responded to every mix, it was Clayton Kenney who scored the slot with this recent demo mix. "Clayton was a great fit and I'm excited to keep booking him," says Bryarly.
He says the project focuses on booking openers purely for their musical passion that will get the party started, and not just their promoting prowess. "A lot of DJs [we book] aren't even at that level because they've never been given a chance to be DJs anyway," he says. "I've been booking people now that don't even have a DJ page or anything, but they're very talented and will fit perfectly for the party."
Just this month, Bryarly went a step further with the project to open a call to producers to post their tracks to his page—a contest of sorts that will win an artist of his choosing a flight out to Denver where they'll get to play one of his nights. He hopes that the project could help shatter the unforgiving nature of the music industry that often awards success, Spotify streams, and marquee bookings to those plugged in with major labels. His original call-to-action went viral, and he's received over 1,000 submissions in nearly two weeks. Bryarly's project is one that seems to represent just how potent the power of social media and more specifically, Facebook, can be when it comes to disrupting that age-old hierarchy, bringing the industry to a place more centered around peer-to-peer exchange.
"I'm gonna take all day, go live stream and listen through every single submission," he says. "I can't lose my passion and love for throwing shows or I'll just quit. It won't be any fun then."