Successful Berklee Alumni #67: Ben Maitland-Lewis

Ben Maitland-Lewis

 

Listen to the interview (Approx. 1 hr, 21 min.) or download it.

 

Graduated in 2006 with a degree in Music Business.  Principal Instrument:  Drums.

 

Position:  Co-Founder & CEO of Pretty Instant Photography, a one-stop shop where, with very minimal effort on the customer’s part, a  well-vetted professional photographer will come to an event and photos delivered the next day.  Sometimes–somewhat inaccurately–called “Uber for photographers,” the company handles all the logistics and payments, while the photographers and editors are independent contractors.”  Ben focuses on the “business” end of things–sales and marketing, but also managing employees, budgets, and raising investment money.

 

Overview:  Ben had a decent career drumming and touring for a couple of years before arriving at Berklee.  During his first year at Berklee, he reached out to CEOs and other senior people at various labels, hoping to secure a job.  One woman called him to say, “Thanks but no thanks,” and they hit it off, which led to an interview (when he’d “just happen” to be in LA next week) and a summer internship working for the president!  Immediately afterward he was hired by Sony BMG’s New York office to be their College Marketing Rep (500/week + perks), working his way up to New England Marketing Director, then (after graduation) East Coast Marketing Director after graduation!  He also did some side work, including his own (music) artist management company.

In 2008 the music industry was scaling back, and he was offered either a promotion (requiring a move to NYC) or a severance package. He opted for the latter in order to focus on his own business.  His music business transformed itself several times as he’d pursue new opportunities, becoming more of a video/media company, but years of hard work later it was still a struggle and not doing great.  Then one day they had to arrange photography for an event after the planned photography fell through, and it was so successful that they smelled opportunity.  Pretty Instant Photography came into being in early 2015.  In 2016 they did over a million dollars of business, and are expecting that to more-than-double in 2017.

 

You can see Ben’s LinkedIn Profile here.  Ben encourages folks interesting in his business, or entrepreneurship in general, to reach out to him.

 

Choice Quotes:  “You look at any other photography-hiring marketplace.  Every other platform makes the user search through portfolios, vet the person, deal with the legal stuff, figure out the price.  With us, the client just says time location, a bit about the event.  Done!  The photographer just does the shoot and uploads it immediately afterward–we handle the editing.”

“I’ve dedicated my life to helping artists build sustainable careers which they’re passionate about.  I’m doing the same thing for photographers and in my mind they’re the same people as musicians, just working with a different instrument.”

“Music education as a whole really gives you a solid foundation on how to improvise.  You’ll be constantly faced with situations where you need to think on your feet.”

“I didn’t raise a boatload of money at the start. We waited a bit to figure out the right strategy, find that, and then raised money.  A lot of entrepreneurs get all excited by all the people who have raised money and want to raise money, but companies can do that and close if they don’t know what they’re doing and have too many non-revenue-generating employees.”

“You have to love what you do if you’re starting a company.  It’s a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and personal sacrifice. I work at least 100 hours per week.”

“Follow your gut regarding what you want, but it’s OK to work outside music if you find you like something else….  At the end of the day, if you focus on something that’s fulfilling and adds value to people you’ll be happy.”

 

 

 

See the full index of Successful Berklee Grads.

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