Billy Watson is the founder of Goontronics and concert photographer. You can find him at almost any hip hop show in Chicago! Over the past year and a half, he’s been hustling and shooting every show he can. From local Chicago shows to Rolling Loud, it’s clear that he is putting the work in.
Ben: Before we break into questions, can you give readers a brief introduction of yourself?
Billy: My name is Billy Watson, and I am the Founder of Goontronics, which is a company that helps artists with merchandise, marketing, and management.
Ben: When and how did you discover your passion for photography?
Billy: I have always been appreciative of the art of photography, but I decided to pick up the camera when I saw somebody else (Dan Folger) seamlessly merge my passion for photography and music together.
Ben: You’ve been photographing concerts for about a year and a half now! What type of growth have you seen since then?
Billy: I have definitely seen the numbers go up on social media, especially Instagram. We are getting new followers, likes, and comments every day from all over the country - even overseas. Every now and then somebody will DM me something really supportive, which is amazing. I’m getting asked to shoot bigger and more exclusive events. I’m traveling more often.
Ben: What has been the most memorable concert experience you’ve had?
Billy: My favorite concert that I’ve shot so far was Wiz Khalifa at Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in Tinley Park, IL during the Dazed & Blazed Tour. That’s my favorite artist, so to be able to shoot his show was literally a dream come true. The craziest concert that I’ve shot so far was Steve Aoki at The Armory in Minneapolis, MN. That was actually my first EDM show, so I had no idea what to expect - mind blown!
Ben: Who have been the biggest influences in your journey chasing your passion?
Billy: My biggest influences as far as music photography is concerned are Dan Folger (@DanFolger) and my mentor, Tenzin (@iam10zin). The former inspired me to pick up the camera, and the latter helps me develop my skills every day. As far as every day motivation goes, a nice Lil Wayne playlist will get you through a lot.
Ben: You’ve already accomplished some amazing things in your time but it’s human to always want more. With that being said, where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Billy: In the next 5 years, I would really like to shoot more festivals. I have my eye on Rolling Loud, Made In America, Lollapalooza, Coachella, Summerfest, and Lyrical Lemonade’s Summer Smash. I also would like to think that I will tour with an artist at some point. I think it would be fun to capture their day-to-day life and give fans a glimpse into that world.
Ben: Can you touch on how you met Stan Sono? What type of work do you do with him now?
Billy: I met Stan Sono back in highschool when we had a mutual friend that made music. Stan and I really hit it off, and it has been a pleasure watching him grow over the past 10 years. He’s really a beast as far as writing, singing, and producing goes - definitely one of the most slept on talents in Chicago. Stan Sono is family at this point, so I try to do anything and everything I can to help him out. I’ve made merch for him, done marketing online, submitted his music to industry contacts, shot photos, and assisted during music video shoots and other events. He’s got some crazy new music coming out with Chicago producer V3ry Rich and J.R. Donato from Taylor Gang, so keep your eyes and ears open!
Ben: It’s so important to give back to others, especially the people chasing their dreams. What advice would you give to someone following their passion?
Billy: No matter what your passion is, I think it is important to keep going, especially when it seems like you should just give up. Whatever dream you’re chasing is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep in mind that you’re not going to get there overnight, but when you keep taking small steps in the right direction, you will eventually get there. You’ve also got to be a student of the game. Take time to learn from those who are where you want to be. Watch their moves. See what works/doesn’t work, and then apply that to what you’re doing. You would be surprised how much you can learn watching free YouTube tutorials or just following the right people on social media. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the people that inspire you, let them know that, and ask for any advice that they may have. On a less positive note, I would say not to get discouraged when people that are close to you in real life don’t support your dreams like you’d like them to. A lot of people will like, comment, and share everything an A-list celebrity posts, but won’t like, comment, and share anything their own friend/family posts. Don’t be surprised when people in other cities, states, and countries show you more love.
Ben: The power of networking is real man! You never know what meeting someone might lead to. To finish things off, what is something you want to happen in the next 2 years and how do you plan to make it happen?
Billy: I want to upgrade my camera body and lens selection so that I can improve the quality of my shots. I also really want to learn how to capture and edit video better. If I could do concert recaps and music videos, that would make me a lot more useful to artists and their teams. I already picked up Adobe Premiere, so I have just got to learn how to use it when I have some free time (and hopefully somebody else who knows what they’re doing). Finally, I just want to travel as much as possible and check certain artists off my list. Through networking with others in the industry, I am hoping that the right opportunities will be presented to me. I really want to shoot for Lil Wayne, Drake, Future, Kodak Black, French Montana, Lil Uzi Vert, and Chance the Rapper. If you’re reading this, and you can help with any of those...don’t be a stranger!
Bill is grinding and not stopping until he gets to where he wants to be. He’s a prime example of someone that is doing everything he can to make his dreams come true. Follow his journey on social platforms @goontronics and @mrgoontronics.