Nina DiGregorio started out as a classically trained musician but wanted more out of her career.
She started the Bella Electric Strings in 2006 and turned that into what she calls “an accidental business venture” with Bella Entertainment Group last year.
The Bella Electric Strings group is made up of formally trained female string players who play everything from solo events to all-out electric performances. Bella Electric Strings has expanded from a few people to a company that employs around 30 today.
Known as one of the pioneers of the electric rock violin, DiGregorio has played with a number of big acts throughout the years, including the Killers, Beyonce and Andrea Bocelli to name a few.
Even though playing alongside such acts is a big deal, DiGregorio said playing in a headlining show as Bella Electric Strings has been a career high thus far.
“We (Bella Electric Strings) were featured in a David Foster and Friends performance in Las Vegas as Bella Electric Strings, which was a really big thing for us. Normally, as a strings player you’re a backup musician for somebody. But to actually go on his show and do our music and watch David Foster read a piano chart that I wrote and arranged was one of those moments where you sit back and say, ‘Wow,’” DiGregorio said.
Now with buzz around Bella Electric Strings growing each year, the company has expanded to Los Angles and has plans to branch out to San Francisco and Orlando in the future.
How did you become an “accidental” businesswoman?
My career started out as simply a performing musician, and as I went on I had a few business partnerships that didn’t work out. It was kind of one of those sink-or-swim things where I had to take over and learn how to do the business side of music if I wanted to continue. At that point I dove in and I started booking shows for us, and I did a lot of things wrong. The things I did wrong I learned from and did them right the next time.
How did you turn your idea into the company you have today?
The cast of players has sort of been a revolving door over the last eight years. Some people wind up in headline shows, myself included, so you’re out of commission for a little while when you’re performing with a headliner. So the group goes on and there’s always work and we’ve kind of gone through some cast members, but we’ve always had the policy of four main girls, like one band, like the Beatles. I initially wanted everyone to kind of have their own girls who they like best and promote it that way, like a band. As we went on, we had more interest in the group and we started to get three hosts in the same night. So what I did was I had other girls trained as subs and the subs started working as much as the regular girls. This went on for a few years that way, where we had an A Team, B Team, C Team type deal. After the demand grows so much and we acquired some new staff members in the company, it became obvious that we should just have an interchangeable cast of players, not just one main band.
With Bella Electric Strings’ recent expansion what obstacles have you faced and what obstacles do you expect?
The hardest thing is obviously the geographical barrier of not physically being in those places all the time. I’m based in Las Vegas now, so I’m able to physically go to meetings and there’s something to be said about that. Even though many businesses are run remotely these days, there’s something to be said about your initial contact with your client. So it’s been a little bit difficult to cultivate the relationships this quickly out of state as they would have been available in person. Obviously, technology has been a great help, though. I mean, we’ve done Skype rehearsals with other players from other cities where I’m rehearsing the girls and training them up on music and we can video chat and practice at the same time even though we’re in different cities.
What business practices have you learned?
I think the biggest for me was the transition between being a band and being a brand, and that’s the point where I had to enlist help. I knew where I wanted to go and I wasn’t exactly clear of the path. I think as a leader you have to be honest of what you’ve been trained to do and what your strengths are, and what strengths other people can bring if you bring new staff members on to your business. We’ve been very lucky to have a small, tight-knit group of people join the company. That has been great for me transitioning into a brand and helping me realize the dreams we had from the beginning with the group had started to change.