Q&A with Chris Brewer


The Working Musician Playbook


Lesson Info

Q&A with Chris Brewer

And so before we wrap chris we may have some questions for you too from the audience but I wanted to ask you you know so I know you're a drummer as well and you know you're a player um you know but at the same time with your job there's probably people out there that are watching this that say like I said man I would love to do that job I would love to have this job you know so is there a path that people could take to get into the industry in this regard on def so what what what could they maybe look to due to start on the path that would lead to a job like yours or two working with ah company like mine or another you know company that distributes musical instruments like how would one get involved in that? Well, the guys that I've seen let's just take mine all for starters most of the guys here who've risen through the ranks they started out in the warehouse they just started picking packing, pulling water shipping and doing the hard work here I mean I respect those guys the most cau...

se they do the most physical labor and they start there and then when you have those guys that you realise have mohr going on they come into the office and that's not to say that the guys that are staying out there don't have more going on but my point is that there's some guys who realize ah he may be good in sales and so we bring him inside and we just well, you know we really grow our own so we build from the ground up with people and you know, as far as my job goes I mean let's think about how many drum and symbol and stick and head companies are there in the world that really the players the guys who khun the companies that can support a full time eh our position I mean maybe we could count him on our hands and toes tops and okay, so it that's a tough job to get into because a lot of these guys that are in that position they've been there a long time this is I'm working on my eleventh year norbert is me he's in his twenty something year twenty four years something like that so I've been told by I've been told by some of the artists that it's a really different kind of just a very particular kind of person who does the artist relations position I can tell you through a very roundabout way how I got to this position but it's not some cut and dry thing we're ok I'll go to school for businessman music business management and I'll get out and the next thing you know I'll be an a r guy because I've got the credentials well for instance, I got this job because I had been involved with checking for a long time. I was talking on the road for people like dixie chicks, enrique iglesias and jane's addiction, and I'd also worked at s I r a rehearsal in cartage facility, the biggest one in the world. I ran the drum department at the los angeles office and and it ah, you know, you're putting out video kits for metallica and and live kits for kiss and things like that, and so I got to know they're the artist relations guys who wanted to help their artists out when they came through. And then I think I have somewhat of a natural mind for, um, market marketing and presentation. I mean, I would never say that my wife who's just really great at all that stuff. That's what she does for a living she's always told me you're good at that stuff and, you know, whatever mitch manu uses president, he has me work on the print ads with him, and I do a lot of the online content, so maybe there's something going on there? Maybe they're there, right? So all these little things combined along with me being a player because there's no way you can do this and not be a player, I have to be able to talk to you guys and when mike and I are talking about the transition ride and he says, and I just I want to be able to get when I get up on that bill, I don't want it to be separate from the rest of the symbol. I wanted to be a part of the symbol, and I've got to know what that feels and sounds like when he tells me that, and I know exactly what that feels and sounds like when when he tells me that he doesn't want it toe washout after he's crashed on it and he goes back to sticking, I've got to be able to say, yeah, I get it, and and then I have to be able to translate that back to germany. So callie, to get into this position, what do you do? I would say, just like, anyplace else, go and say, I'm willing to do whatever you need. If you need me to come in and sweep floors and be a gofer, I'll do it, and if you need me to start out sales, I'll do it just. There's always just bide your time if there's a position you want go in and do whatever it takes just like anything anything in life those all those things it's all applicable it's the same thing for this no and I think that's another great point and when you started when you were working an s I r and when you're attacking did you ever I think that you would be doing what you're doing now or did you have maybe other aspirations that at that time what did you just want to be on the road? Did you want to be performing? Uh well, I mean it's funny actually as faras wanting to perform, I had been touring with the band from the time I was about fifteen until I was twenty and we did you know, for just guys who have nothing going for them as far as a business model we were doing about one hundred fifty dates a year. This was before from myspace and facebook and all that so we're handing out cassettes, you know, it was old school and so I've had a belly full of that I mean, I got away from that I wanted to be ableto use the bathroom without having to pencil it in the the appointments you know and have three other guys tell me it was cool to go ahead and go to the bathroom so then I got on a road checking because I s I r what happens is the drum department is stocked with deer that s I r can rent out and make money off of but if a company calls and says if thomas calls and says hey, I need that I need a kit for lars he's doing we're doing a video then you have to be able to take that kid get it prepped send it out for lars and that goes for free and that's the exchange so you get to meet the artist relations guys wire and the drum department of s I r and you get to meet the artists a lot of the time and so you sort of sit in between the two worlds and get sort of a feel for what's going on so I probably the back my head always knew I could do that but I just was on the road checking and then I got a little tired of being away from our wife so we settled in nashville where I have some family and there was an s I r here so I had a job waiting for me as soon as I got off the road and about a year and a half into it I'm having a really crappy day one day it was just bad and I had been on the phone the day prior with mina ll who had just relocated to nashville and I had asked them prior that day prior said what's going on with you guys and they said well we're looking for an artist relations guy and that's been a little tough and went ok I didn't even think about it the next day I'm having a really bad day and I thought man I got to get out of here and I thought oh yeah mina ls hiring and so I had my wife help me with the killer resume you wouldn't believe how many people she's actually helped to get higher when she does her resumes its crazy so she does my resume I send it in about a week let well few days later I have norbert call me and we talked for about an hour and then a week later we talking in for an hour and he said okay when can you be here and so I showed up three days later and you know I've met mr mina ll right away and haven't stopped since that's awesome and you know it's so it's so true too there's two different kinds of stories that we've heard I think with the guests we've had and with the input that we've that we've received you know sometimes it's very clear and cut and try like you know we had someone on yesterday who said they knew that they wanted toa basically be an entertainment owned a record label and be involved in that scene so they just did it and focused on that and that was their thing and then we also had people say like, you know, I started in one place and it led me to this place and let me do that place, but what I think the common thread no pun intended again, there has been in every situation you've been, and it seems like you've really tried to learn about it and soak up the experience, and I think that's huge, and I'm like you you talked about that earlier today to it's like, learn, like, like, take advantage of these opportunities around you like, don't just, you know, do things have asked, like, if you're doing something where you're able to meet the artist relations guy for tama or lars ulrich and you're able to be on on tour, checking for all these bands, or even going onto yourself, like, learn about it because the things you learn in those situations can potentially lead to jobs down the line, and here you are eleven years later, and, you know, you're doing a great job of what you do and, you know, it's it's pretty cool to see how you soaked up a lot of stuff along the way and how your career went from different places and kind of bounced around, and I think that's an important message is that it again it's about the journey and when you think back now you probably see yourself man I did some pretty cool stuff like oh yeah I remember it's ah it's funny when I turned thirty I drove to s I r in nashville that day and the whole way there had about twenty five minute driving the whole way and I said to myself when I was in my twenties I and then I finished my sentence was something I did and I got to work twenty twenty five minutes later and I was still saying stuff that I had done and I thought man that's awesome I just packed my twenties full of cool stuff so and I don't care I don't care if you're my age turned forty last october when I did I drove to work sand when I was in my thirties I and I got to work and still couldn't finish it I just thought perfect that's it I mean my expectations for what I wanted to do were maybe a little simple more simple than other people so some people would say I wanna be in a good school for business management I'm going to do this I want to come out and be in this position and all I ever said to myself was okay three things I don't want to wear a tie I don't want to work in a kitchen and I want to be around jobs and so far, so good, I think if you keep your keep your expectations, not lo, I just mean, if you don't make things too complicated and you'll probably be pleasantly surprised by how things turn out. Yeah, that's awesome, that's cool, and one last question for me is what you know now, when you look back at the journey, you can say I did all these things, but when you were in, when you were in it when you were in your twenties and you were doing these things, um, well, I guess it's more of a statement, I feel like when you're in the middle of something, you don't always realize how cool it's going to be five years later and you look back. So would you say it's important to try to stop and, like, appreciate what you're doing and be present and smell the roses so that you don't get discouraged and you you khun, stay inspired, so to speak, I think that's perfect advice, but I think if you're telling someone in their early to mid twenties that mean matt, you're what twenty three, may thirty nine thirty what? Thirty thirty I don't know, I thought you were going he's in teepees twenty three j, p twenty three okay j p that's right? Ok, so j p is a bit of an exception. I mean, that guy mike actually called him a vulcan and it's true I mean the guy's uncommonly wise beyond his years it's really, really cool, so I'm not going to use his him is an example, but me and my early to mid twenties no one could have told me to stop and smell the roses mean, you're basically you're an idiot your twenties I mean, you're still trying to figure things you've you've got your freedom now, but you've got your freedom to do most of the wrong things and yeah, stop and smell the roses I'm gonna tell every twenty something year old stop and smell the roses how many of them will listen to me? Probably not many it's just with age comes experience comes at, you know, kind of requisite wisdom, that sort of thing sure, absolutely. S o the questions here? Sure. Hi. Speaking of your awesome resume, is there any aspects or important parts of a press kit that somebody would send to you that would give them more consideration for endorsements with yourself for other and our reps, I would say the first thing is spell check I mean, I get it, you know you're a musician, so the chances are you might not spell every word correctly but it's your resume first impressions are always the best, so make sure that everything is thie grammar is proper and all of that and I would say cut to the chase because a lot of guys well, most every resume I get well tell me esso and so started out by playing on pots and pans when he was five and then he was influenced by his dad and I'm already bored you don't know how many of these things I have to go through it's crazy and most of the guys that come onboard with us it's not through a press kit most of the time it's through someone who knows someone, it makes a good referral just like anything in life. Networking is huge and that's how I get most of the artists come on board every once in a while, a press kit will garner or generate someone who garners my attention, but they cut to the chase they get rid of all that stuff, they go straight to what matters to our company, that's what they should do said and honestly think about what you have the three things that are the most effective for that company you're trying to be with and do your research beforehand no their entire website up and down look at their social media, see what they're currently involved in and who they're promoting and don't try and be another one of those people there promoting because they're probably full of that type of artist maybe try and be something they're not promoting maybe that's something that they didn't realize they needed or maybe they don't want that kind of person and you've just blown your chance but the point is definitely cut to the chase and into your homework beforehand we have a question from our own line audiences well, chris okay yeah. Hey, chris w drums has a question for you. How would you manage the first approach to a drum band to talk about endorsements? What would you would you talk to a drum store clerk first music, your distributor who would be the first person that you would approach if you were in a band and you wanted, say, an endorsement with mine all, uh, well, that's pretty easy nowadays everybody puts up that link online on their website to, uh, endorsement application form that you can download and it gives you all the instructions on where to sit in so you can bypass everybody and go straight to the company. We have that form on our website and you can also just there's a wink usually info what final symbols dot com where you can say, hey, I'd like to learn more about how to apply for endorsement and that'll come straight to me and I'll send out an application so you can bypass everybody and just generally go to the company the other day, I think I googled mindell symbols, endorsement something like that. And then all these companies and our industry came up with their endorsement form links so it's all out there for you to find what is what would be like, one thing that you could think of that would set one of those apart, like if somebody submitted an application say, what would set that a part other than just a personal reference. Like knowing matt or the grabber? Yeah, yeah, yeah, well, nitpicky sorry. Ous faras what sets them apart? It all depends on what the company needs it that time. And that's the unfortunate part for the guy applying. He has no idea to try and explain that to him is to have to sit and have a thirty minute conversation and explained the ten million mitigating factors that are driving that company's creative goals at that time and that's a hard thing. The guys, his eyes they're goingto glaze over like a donut in the first minute. He's not he's, not going to be able to take all that in and process it, so I think it's ah, a little bit of timing being everything you just got to kind of be a little bit lucky with your timing, and I say the patient that those, if you're the right kind of guy for a company, those good things will come to you. Um, I think that ah, you should be ableto wait, it's it's important to be able to be patient, I think that's a good thing to remember patience and persistence. So are the two probably most important p words there are, you know, make sure that you are khun b patient and bide your time, as you said, and be persistent, you know, do do your best, I think, to push and don't take no for an answer always so anyway. Well, chris, thanks, man. I really appreciate your time again been saying this to everybody because we've had some great guests are super busy, but I really do know how busy you are, so I really appreciate it. And and I I'm sure I'll be talking to you soon, but again, I'm sure the audience is very appreciative as well. And I hope you have a great afternoon in that. Thanks for having me, guys. I really appreciate it. I'll stay on as long as you need it, if you know. I'm never too busy for you so thanks for having me thank you that's awesome cool well chris will that we talk to you soon I'll shoot you call and I know it's gonna give you a call shortly too but we'll be in touch talk to you later take care all right man thanks. You know what's cool is that when you go to their website you see you you see you and you see j p here all on the banners of the website's commerical they it's funny we had the I mean I consider this an amazing opportunity tio you want to talk about yeah dinner yeah we went to dinner with them at nam which we talked about yesterday it was me my j p lauren for yahoo's who's a photographer friend of ours and chris and norbert who he was talking about norbert is the head of artist relations for europe and you know those guys air it can be pretty scary I don't know if you could tell chris is a sweetheart but man you know they're just they're great company. So we have a lot of respect for them. But just being invited to dinner with those guys for us is again it's just like you want us to come with you well knowing that the entire mindell roster is there at nam and then we're at the on ly dinner they're gonna have this whole week and we're looking around like, where's it like, why is it just us three and you've got here? Well, why, why? Why are the drum god's not here, you know, and, uh, yeah, we learned so much about their company, I don't think I've ever had a more inspirational night in my life than learning about how that company was born and how it's turned into what it's turned into, and it made everything that chris just said it made it all so much more real because of it was like, he clearly does look for the right person, and if if if he's got matt halpern on his roster, he's not looking for five, so the next met helper and copy that comes along, chris, is gonna think I have met, and we're putting our efforts into building mats brand, so I can't bring you on right now, you know, and that's that's, what makes the mind also amazing is they have one of every little aspect of the drum industry, and and they picked character people, so we always we can, they can put a bunch of mine all artists in a room together, and we're all going to get along fine, because chris or norbert handpicked those personalities to fit the company's kind of ideology, so we've been very sort of biased to drummers here because I'm a drummer and mike's the doorman. But I think this, this transcends to all different instrument manufacturing companies. The best ones out there have have withstood the test of time because of their morals, because they're using at the end of day. It all boils down to the same things that we've been talking about here. It really does, and hopefully you're probably sick of hearing it now. But we're tryingto drive home the importance of being a good person and really taking what you do, seriously, because that does that. Those speak world's toe anybody out there that you're interacting with, so

Class Description

It takes more than raw talent to make a living as a musician – and it doesn’t happen overnight. In this online course, Modern Drummer’s 2013 Best Metal Drummer of the Year and founder of BandHappy Matt Halpern will show you how to break out of the garage and build a lasting career in the music industry.

Drawing on his own successful experience with the award-winning band Periphery, Matt will walk you through the everything you need to know about breaking into the industry, improving your technical skills, and making the right moves to ensure long-term success. You’ll learn how to get your foot in the door, build a sustainable career as a working musician, and keep growing your career from there. From finding the right management, agent, and label to building relationships with sponsors and key industry players, you’ll learn it all from one of this generation’s most respected minds in the business.

Special industry guests include:

  • Ash Avildsen - Sumerian Records Founder/CEO
  • Mike Mowery - Outerloop MGMT Founder/CEO
  • Mark Scribner - Business Manager for Killswitch Engage, Periphery, Animals as Leaders
  • Mike Johnston - Drummer, Clinician and Founder of Mikeslessons.com
  • Chris Brewer - Head of Artist Relations for Meinl Cymbals USA
  • J.P. Bouvet - Drummer, Clinician and winner of Guitar Center Drum Off 2011

By the end of this class, you’ll have a comprehensive, actionable playbook for breaking into the music industry and putting in the right work.