When Bryce Ballinger last spoke to The Student Printz in March, he was just starting his company Witch Trial Productions and making no profit from his ventures. As a full-time student and part-time GameStop employee, he’d regularly rack up $700 bills for the catering, equipment and gas needed by the bands he invited to play shows in Hattiesburg.
“Six months ago, I hadn’t even put on my first show yet,” Ballinger said. “Since then, it’s just completely blown up. I started booking shows thinking it’d be a fun thing to do – you know, meet people and have fun. But this whole Witch Trial thing has turned into another kind of monster.”
Witch Trial Productions is Bryce’s brainchild.
According to the description on its Facebook page, it is “a team of multi-talented individuals with a main focus in providing the best possible service we can to bands and the fans of all music we work with.”
On Oct. 8, Witch Trial will host a show featuring the bands Filth, Lordis, Delusions, VØID and Invictus at Hero’s Laser Tag in Gulfport. On Oct. 21, they’ll host Bodysnatcher, Unity and Daggers at The Tavern in Hattiesburg.
In the midst of their already- packed schedule, Ballinger and his team are gearing up for their busiest month of the year. In November, Witch Trial will host a Fall Festival in Biloxi and an additional show at The Tavern. They will also run a tour for the band Invictus.
“It’s not huge, but it’s a step in the right direction, and we couldn’t be more excited to be able to help bands get out on the road and play their music,” said a statement on the company’s Facebook page.
To Ballinger, it’s always been about the bands.
“I want these artists that we’re booking to succeed,” he said. “I want the people that I’m working with to succeed.”
Ballinger’s drive also stems from the frustration he feels sitting in classrooms.
“Part of the reason why I’m not in school this semester is that I just feel like I [should] focus on what my major says I should be doing instead of just sitting in class,” he said. “And you know, actually getting paid for it.”
Starting in 2017, Ballinger will expand Witch Trial in order to focus more on artist management. He plans to sign two artists to their label.
“We’re going to be distributing their music,” he said. “We’re going to be hooking them up with tours. Our first band is a great group of hardworking dudes out of Topeka, Kansas called Stories Through Storms. These guys have been hustling almost more than any band I have seen out there. We’ll be releasing [their track] as our first official song released through Witch Trial.”
Although he’s already developed a large team of hardworking music enthusiasts, Ballinger is open to adding members all the time. As a musician himself, he knows the value of genuine interest.
“I think it’d be awesome to start an on-campus organization to get people involved more with hands- on experience in booking shows and managing bands,” he said. “The best thing you can do right now if you don’t know what to do is just come to one of our shows or go out to any of the shows around here. Meet people in the music scene.”
In five years, Ballinger sees himself booking tours and releasing music nationally.
“It’d be cool to expand, to have representatives in almost every state, but that’s a big feat that we’ll have to work on,” he said. “I’m just focusing on getting as many touring artists built up as possible. I’m going to do my best to make sure this doesn’t crash and burn.”