Images by Jeff Sampson Photography

“In my opinion, if you aren’t being criticized, you aren’t doing something right,” said Jered Johnson.

Johnson, 34, is seasoned with taking “leaps” throughout his career, and it’s proven to work in his favor. In 2006, Johnson left his job at Gannett Company overseeing the entertaining advertising segment to start his own business, Pepper Entertainment—an entertainment agency in Sioux Falls.

A Spearfish native, he grew up wanting to work in music but couldn’t sing or play an instrument. He suddenly found his niche.

“As I worked closely with area promoters and events, I knew at that point working in music was no longer a dream, rather, my calling,” he said.

His wife at the time, now a close friend, mustered up enough money to make his calling a reality. Johnson worked from his home for almost two years until outgrowing the space.

“I always tried to run the business how it made the most sense to me, not how everybody else was conducting business,” he recalled. “It was very challenging, but we pushed through and maintained the vision.”

A large portion of Johnson’s job is building relationships and negotiating with artists and agents, which he says isn’t as easy as it sounds.

“Contrary to popular belief, there is an art to buying talent,” he said. “It’s not something you just decide to do, pick up the phone, call your favorite artist and WHAM, they’re playing in your town.”

Some of the biggest acts he has worked with over the years are Kelly Clarkson, Tim McGraw, Marilyn Manson, and Macklemore—to name a few. This involves those leaps of faith.

“There are extreme risks in buying big shows like Tim McGraw and Kelly Clarkson,” he said. “You have to be willing to take the leap in order to achieve the ultimate reward.”

His most recent, calculated leap? The District.


Two years in the making, the new music venue, restaurant and lounge broke ground in June and will have its grand opening event free to the public Nov. 8 with music in the event hall from artist Uncle Kracker and a jazz band in the lounge.

Johnson explained the name represents it as “all-encompassing” as a destination for all things entertainment.

“It’s a district of opportunities,” he said.

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