Welcome to the first in a series of AR blogs where we will dig deeper into this Music Industry and sometimes ourselves. Over the next few months, we are going to be covering a lot of interesting topics so please check in every week and join the conversations. In this industry, there are so many captivating stories. We hope others that share the title of Artist Relations will join this discussion and share their story of what lead them into this position.
I am looking back over what has been and continues to be a wonderful career in an industry that I have loved since The Mama’s & The Papa’s harmonies found their way to my ears through speakers in my home growing up. My interest in music grew out of listening to what my parents listened to. Sammy Davis Jr., Fleetwood Mac, The Doobie Brothers, Simon & Garfunkel, John Denver, and so many more. My parents also continue to have an incredible influence in my life as far as having a good work ethic.
As I grew up, REO Speedwagon, KISS, Gerry Rafferty, Boston and others found their way into my record collection. My older brother started playing drums and I felt like I also had the rhythm in me to do that. I joined band in 6th grade and continued throughout High School. I met friends who listened to Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Rush. I practiced to those bands for hours which became my drum lessons. I also found myself paying close attention to lyrics, harmonies, and the interplay between musicians. I did have other interests in life – space, computers, and cars but music was a huge part of me.
When I started at Joliet Junior College (JJC), my first intent was to study to become an Aerospace Engineer. I wanted to be a Mission Specialist as part of the Space Shuttle program. I ambitiously tried to tackle College Algebra and Trigonometry IN THE SAME SEMESTER. The result of that silly attempt was a change to Music as my major. I had also met a pair of brothers at JJC, one of which went on to work for Shure. As I worked my way through the educational system, the more people I met, the wider the breadth of music I was exposed to. Chick Corea & The Elektric Band, Tony MacAlpine, Tony Williams, Take 6…I was getting blasted from so many angles with inspiration. I loved it!
Throughout High School and College, I was also part of group of musicians who got together to play for productions like Guys and Dolls, Hello Dolly!, South Pacific, and a string of other musicals I had never heard off. We also formed an AMAZING 16 piece Big Band and did a USO type show. As a musician, these were some of the best times I’ve ever had. The group was a blast to hang with, the music was all of the best standards, and the singers were top notch. I hope I get to do this again someday.
After completing my Associates degree at JJC, I found a Music Business program at Southern Illinois University. I attended SIU for 2 years, during which I played in Symphonic Winds, the Jazz Band, and found my way into a Metal band, which was also a great time. My double bass chops were pretty good as we played Metallica, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Rush, Anthrax, and so much more. The guitarist in the group worked for the local newspaper, Carbondale Nightlife. He was responsible for interviewing various artists that performed in town. When Chick Corea & The Elektric band came across his desk, he called me and asked if I wanted to take the interview. I had never interview anyone in my life and now I was about to interview Chick, an icon in Jazz. I could get used to this! Little did I know that later in life, I would be! I still get excited before each interview.
One of the classes at SIU was called Music Business and the class would take a bus to Nashville about 6 times during the semester to meet with various industry people like singer/songwriters, lawyers, label execs, and studio engineers. This peaked my interest in the Nashville area.
After graduating, I returned to the Chicago area and got an internship with an event planning company that had some major clients. One of my jobs was to draft floor plans via computer so that the event planners could lay in elements for the events. I then updated my resume and sent it into Shure as well as any other music related jobs I could think of. I received a call from Shure, interviewed for a Customer Service position and became the first Rush Order Expediter for that department. After about a year and a half, I was promoted to Customer Service Rep and took calls from a variety of dealers in different states over the next year an a half. During that time, I made many friends within Shure, and when the time came that the Artist Relations Manager needed assistance, I was right there to apply for the position. It has been 16 years since I joined the AR team and I have made so many friends in this industry and been blessed to a part of some amazing experiences.
All of those experiences have revealed to me the central core of how I feel I’ve lasted this long in this position. My advice to others: Be a team player and represent your company to the highest of standards by doing a good job, going above and beyond. Finally and most importantly, treat others with respect and it will come back to you in so many ways. My father always told me “Your attitude determines your altitude.”