Successful Berklee Alumni #69: Brittany Vendryes

Brittany Vendryes

 

Listen to the interview (Approx. 44 min.) or download it.

 

Graduated in 2010 with a major in Music Business.  Principal instrument:  voice.

 

Position:  Assistant Solicitor (attorney) for the City of Baltimore, Maryland.  Brittany represents the city in litigation, typically when the city is assessing a disputed fine or tax payment.   While it’s common for cities to “outsource” this job, she’s a municipal employee.

 

Overview:  While at Berklee, Brittany decided that a music career wasn’t for her, but she hoped to go into entertainment law.  While still a student, she took the LSATs and was admitted to Howard University School of Law in Washington, DC, which she went to right after graduating from Berklee.  While there, Brittany enjoyed entertainment law, but was also interested in trademarks and government work.

Brittany graduated without a job lined up, but soon a friend from law school who was clerking for a judge recommended her for another clerkship which had opened up.  Brittany took it, and that led to another clerkship which lasted two years.  However, judge clerkships pay poorly and folks aren’t expected to do it for very long, so at some point she started looking for another job.   The city of Baltimore had posted an assistant solicitor position; Brittany applied and got the job, where she has been for roughly half a year.

 

You can see Brittany’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes:  “I like the law because it’s very certain and bright-lined.  You can argue correctly and get what you want. I like that there are rules. I  love words & writing.  To be able to craft something in such a way that you can stump the opponent is interesting.”

“I work with three other lawyers.  Cases get assignment to each of us, but we’re constantly in each other’s offices.  We do favors for each other, appear in court for each other, and answer each other’s quetions (Usually I’m the one asking, as I’m new.)  I enjoy the people I work with and am learning a lot.  That’s really valuable!”

“I like working for the government.  It’s less about angling to win, but more about the law and what’s right and wrong.  Plus I was familiar with it.”

“It’s very hard to be prepared for law school.  The Law School mentality is to throw you in the water and hope you figure out how to swim. It’s challenging to understand what you’re supposed to be getting out of a reading.  The second year was better as I had learned what to do and I was able to take more classes I was interested in.”

“Consider how large an investment law school is.  It’s not cheap, and if you already have student loans you’ll have a lot more.  Reach out to someone and have a good one-on-one conversation to understand what you’re getting into.”

 

 

See the full index of Successful Berklee Grads.

Successful Berklee Alumni #68: Will Stettler

Will Stettler

 

Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 20 min.) or download it.

 

Graduated in 2010 with a major in Professional Music.  Principal instrument:  guitar.

 

Position:  Finance and Operations Manager.  Will works part-time at a “permanent contractor” for two different small financial firms in the Boston area:  Mediphase Venture Partners and Kendall Investments. The resident “jack-of-all-trades,” Amone other duties, Will compiles information, prepares financial reports, handles many legal forms, tracks fund performances and cash flow, and estimates the value of new companies.

 

Overview:  Partway though his Berklee experience Will realized that a career in the music industry wasn’t for him, so he shifted the focus of his education toward business classes.  After finishing Berklee, he taught private guitar lessons for money, while interning both a a cultural non-profit and for a family friend who started his own stock market investing firm.  Will liked finance, but didn’t feel that he had the desire or temperament for stock-market investing, so decided to study accounting.  He took the GMATs and got his Masters of Science in Accounting from Boston College, taking a brief time after graduation to become a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), as that would open up more opportunities.

Recruiters from the “big four” accounting firms helped set him up with both an internship while in school and a job afteward at the major accounting firm Deloitte.  It’s a prestigious place to work, and the variety means he learned a ton, but the hours were extreme “During the busy months, you never stop working.”  After a bit under a year, Will left to work for a music start-up firm, but that didn’t work out.  At this point, the investor Will had interned for learned that a neighboring business needed an accountant.referred him to one of his current jobs, and referred Will.  That company then referred him to their client, which also needed someone.

 

 

You can see Will’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes: “I like the people I work with–that makes huge difference!  Finance is an exciting industry and it attracts passionate people because of the opportunity available.”

 

“It’s an interesting industry!  You’re plugged into the startup world, learning how money gets made & spread around–it’s applicable to a whole lot of industries.  I read and write about what makes a company competitive.    I also have an analytical mind and enjoy the number crunching. ”

 

“It’s good to take more risks when you’re young, but make sure it meets your life’s needs and what you want.  Your dreams can mix with what’s pragmatic.  Take the leap, but have a fallback plan.”

 

“Being a Berklee grade made me stand out a lot in a crowd.   It helped me get into grad school, where they want diversity of backgrounds; and helped me get jobs, as it was a very valuable conversation starter.”

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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.

Successful Berklee Alumni #66: Glenn Romero

Glenn Romero

 

Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 20 min.) or download it.

 

Graduated in 2006 with a major in Music Business.  Principal Instrument:  Voice.

 

Position:  Freelance Video Marketing Entrepreneur.  In early 2016 Glenn launched his company, Snowcap Video Productions.  Glenn works with companies on crafting one or more good (live action) videos to market themselves.  The full process often takes weeks, as they plan out every detail of the shoot.  He then shoots the videos (with hired help if needed), and handles the post-production.  Snowcap has done other sorts of work as well, from assisting for others to wedding and even a time-lapse video of a bridge being constructed!

 

Overview:  Shortly after graduating Berklee, Glenn wanted to make more money.  His now-wife, who worked in radio, referred him to a job selling advertising for a radio station.  “It was a rude awakening:  I was cold-calling companies.  It had nothing to do with music or audio, and it was brutal.”  Working for a year with minimal success and sensing that he’d be let go soon, he confided in a friend, who recommended him for a job selling motorcycles at Boston Harley Davidson.  Glenn was happy to work in a sales job with “warmer leads,” — people entering the place intending to make a purchase.  He worked there for almost 4 years, promoted halfway through to financial manager, helping customers finance their purchases.  But by 2011 the weak economy put sales at a record low, and he looked for better opportunities.

A friend at a company that sold river cruises gave him a referral, and he worked there selling cruises, with “even warmer leads–people calling us intending to go on vacation, and I’d help them figure out what was the best thing for them.”  He again was promoted–to selling group tours–but after a few years it was clear that the industry wasn’t doing well and he was making less money each year.  Moreover, his wife was pregnant, and child care was going to be over $40,000/year!  It made sense for him to work mostly from home, where he could watch his child when possible.  For over half a year, Glenn spoke with large numbers of CEOs and marketing officers about what was and was not a good marketing video, so that when he made the leap to being independent he had great knowledge as well as a large network.

 

You can see Glenn’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes:  “I’ve always had an artistic mind; seeing a project go from beginning to end is really satisfying.  Delivering a video that a client is in love with feeds my soul, and is the same feeling as having just played for a crowd of thousands of cheering people.”

“I prefer not to post my prices online.  Business is 90% relationship-driven.  People want to do business with people they like.  If I can talk to someone, show interest, understand what they’re looking for and explain how we can bring it to life we can make something good happen.  I don’t want them just to look at price.  Especially since I can take their budget into account in terms of how lavish a production we do.”

“Push yourself to do things you feel uncomfortable with doing.  If you’re complacent and comfortable you’ll never grow. ”

 

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Successful Berklee Alumni #65: Eric Hutchinson

Eric Hutchinson

 

Listen to the interview (approx.. 55 min.) or download it.

 

Graduated on 2006 with a major in Professional Music.  Principal Instrument:  drums.

 

Position:  Regional Executive Director of the Greater Hartford YMCA, which has over 1000 employees, 13 facilities, and an annual budget of over $30,000,000.  Eric’s responsibilities are split between fundraising, being part of the community, budget management, marketing programs, and supporting day-to-day operations of the regional YMCA.

Overview:  After graduation, Eric moved back to Connecticut.  For the first couple of years after Berklee, Eric (barely) made a living playing lots of gigs, teaching drums part-time at a high school, and teaching music to pre-schoolers.  Hoping to make more money, Eric applied to join the U.S. Navy band, and was tentatively accepted, but ultimately that job fell through after a year of living in Virginia and subbing in with it.  In late 2009 he moved back to Connecticut resumed what he was doing, and looked for a day job.  A local YMCA (New Britain-Berlin YMCA)was looking to hire their first “Arts and Humanities director.”  Eric found the job listing on Craigslist, applied, and got it in early 2010.

Eric quickly realized that he needed to raise money to make these new programs he was starting happen, so he completed an online program in non-profit fundraising.  His fundraising efforts were so successful that he was promoted to grants administrator, then overseeing all financial development (The #2 position) on top of the artistic job.  However, this was a local YMCA, and Eric realized that in order to progress in his career he’d have to be part of a larger organization, so in early 2015 he applied for an got a job with the Hartford YMCA as Director of Membership, Sales, and Service.  Working in an extremely poor community was gratifying, but extremely tough.  A year later Eric was ready to move on.  He applied for and got his current job in early 2016.

 

You can see Eric’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes:

“I wake up every day excited to get to work!  I get to see firsthand how being kind and giving our talents, time, and treasures really impacts everyday people  People coming into our programs are happy and excited to be there.  We don’t turn anybody away because of financial need, because we think everyone deserves that experience.  As an individual person that’s something I couldn’t provide, but as part of this organization I can do exactly that!”

“We just build a brand new facility in Glastonbury.  My focus was to make not a typical YMCA but the strongest arts YMCA in the state.  There’s still a gym, but our large space is a 100-seat music theater.”

“Berklee taught me that nothing is just handed to us.  To be succesful in music, you have to network, go out there and aggressively market yourself.  That’s really what I do every day.  I make sure there’s nobody who doesn’t know who I am and what the YMCA does so that people think of the Y when they plan to make something happen.”

“If there’s something you’re passionate about, give it your whole self and do whatever it takes to make it happen.  You’re not always going to be doing exactly what you want to do but as long as you can see a good path, take it and do everything you can to get to that next level.”

 

 

 

See the full index of Successful Berklee Grads.

Successful Berklee Alumni #64: Chloe Bean

Chloe Bean

 

Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr. 15 min.) or download it.

 

Graduated in 2010 with a major in Contemporary Writing and Production (CWP).  Principal Instrument:  voice.

 
Position:  Freelance Food Stylist and Film Production Roles.  Chloe works on generally-one-day projects to make food items particularly aesthetically pleasing for advertising.  Sometimes she’ll work in an administrative role for a film project, which typically lasts one or two weeks.

 

Overview:  After graduation, Chloe moved to New York City.  She did a couple of music-related internships, but didn’t see the potential to make much money and was determined to support herself and pay her student loans.  She had an uncle who worked as a film producer, and got part-time work as a production assistant, reaching out to others in the industry once she had some experience.  She also picked up food styling as part of her work, often finding herself working to assist food stylists.

 

In mid-2014, Chloe moved to L.A., both to be near family and to reconnect with old friends.  She worked entry-level jobs to get her foot in the door, and quickly moved up.  In early 2015 she got a full-time job as a marketing content coordinator at 72 and Sunny, a marketing agency, but soon came to feel that a corporate job was “stuffy” and “not who I am.”  Sensing her unhappiness, she was let go in mid-2015, and Chloe went back to food styling, which she enjoys a lot more, and have been doing that since–adding longer freelance gigs to supplement her income.

 

You can see Chloe’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes:  “It feels good to be part of a team.  I love meeting new people all the time.If I like the team I work with often they’re doing more work and you just keep going.”

“You hit the ground running.  You’re always on your feet, you’re always learning, and you’re working with people to problem-solve in real time.”

“I didn’t think I’d be able to get so many jobs with my Berklee degree, but people think it’s cool.  I also  learned how to write my resume for specific jobs.  For example, when I was applying for that advertising agency job I re-framed my food styling as a “culinary advertising producer” and would play up the accounting and managing role.”

“It’s critical to get a good network for your career.  Be aggressive about building it!   I reached out to people who knew people who knew people I knew.  And if they didn’t respond I’d try again a month later.”

 

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Successful Berklee Alumni #63: Will Cady

Will Cady

 

Listen to the interview (approx. 51 minutes) or download it.

 

Graduated in 2009 with a degree in Professional Music.  Principal instrument:  bass guitar.

 

Position: Account Executive (Sales) at Reddit.  Will works in their small L.A. office, seeking business for Reddit among the entertainment industry.   “It’s advertising, but it’s also about partnerships with show runners/directors about  collaboratively develop intellectual property by using Reddit to find good people and promote events.”

Overview:  Shortly after graduation, when it was clear that his band wasn’t going to make it big, Will looked on BerkleeMusic’s job board for a position.  He applied and found at job as “product line manager” at Source Audio which makes effects pedals.  He helped with product development, marketing, and demonstrating the products, but after a couple of years he felt that opportunity was limited in this niche market.  Friends convinced him to move to LA and recommended him for a job at Spin Media, where for several more years he worked for Spin Media, receiving multiple promotions from Account Coordinator (filling in spreadsheets) to  Acct Manager (designing spreadsheets) –> Integrated Marketing Manager (getting brands to participate in their space/events) –> Acct executive (sales), but the company was doing poorly “I felt like a farmer in a drought,” and he left, planning to start his own creative business.

Before the business got underway, however, a former colleague from Spin recomended him for the job at Reddit.  Will put his own plans to the side and took the job, “I was able to take all the thinking I was going to apply for my startup and apply it to this already-huge business.”

 

You can see Will’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes:  “The bulk of the work comes in establishing a relationship, which can take up to six months.  Once that relationship is in place, you work on both the deals already closed and opening up new opportunities.  It’s both inbound and outbound, and the whole machine is just humming and rolling.”

I’m very much in a flow state where my creativity is being challenged.  It’s thrilling every day to come up with the best, most articulate, creative, presentable version of myself.  I didn’t anticipate doing this at all, but it feels like a flowering of the work I did at Berklee training myself as a musician.”

“Music is just a fundamental version of pattern recognition and manipulation, and that applies to all other ideas and identities.  Few folks have training in creating new ideas and that training has made a world of difference in my career…I went from being a musician to being a creative–not just thinking about what stages  I want to be on, I’m building those stages!”

“I have about a dozen work-streams in any given moment.  How often am I working?  I’m always on!  Even when I’m socializing it’s in a grey area between play and work.”

“The most successful folks I’ve seen are the ones who care the most about cultivating good relationships with the people around them.  Friendship is a combination of passion and purpose, and when you have both folks will want to be around you and you’ll be successful.”

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Successful Berklee Alumni #62: Jonathan Schwarz

Jonathan Schwarz

 

Listen to the interview (approx. 33 min.) or download it.

 

Graduated in 2011 with a major in Contemporary Writing & Production (CWP).  Principal instrument:  trombone.

 

Position:  Front End Web Developer at Priceline.com, an online retailer of discount travel and travel-related packages (airfare, hotels, etc.).  Jonathan is on a team of developers, working with the Agile-based system of two week “sprints” to build and refine their websites.

 

Overview:   During his last year, Jonathan figured a cool profession would be build a company that would enable distance-learning of music lessons.  To get the technical skills necessary, Jonathan went immediately from Berklee to getting a Masters in Music Technology from NYU.  Graduating in 2013, Jonathan worked full time at his dream startup, Jukubox, which he and some Berklee friends co-founded, living at home and making very little money in the hope it would grow rapidly.  Six months later, the hoped-for growth wasn’t happening, but his alma mater (NYU’s music school), knowing he had a good camera and experience with videos, hired him as a video person.  He did that while doing freelance film composition and DJ jobs on the side, making OK money and working extremely-long hours–essentially two full-time jobs!

After a year, Jonathan started to grow weary of that lifestyle.  He learned about coding “boot camps” where in only three months you could get the skills to get a well-paying job.  He went to one offered by Fullstack Academy,   Finishing in mid-2016 and looking for a job, Jonathan reached out to a Fullstack Academy grad who was working at Priceline.com.  That person was impressed, and put in the good word, which ultimately led to Jonathan getting his current job six weeks later.

 

You can see Jonathan’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes:  “I’ve always enjoyed being in creative projects, and puzzles.  Coding is like a puzzle that has a really creative solution.  I like building cool things and working with great epople who are supportive and help me learn more and be a better developer every day.”

You need to figure out creative strategies for getting your foot in the door wherever you want to be.  Be persistent.  Reach out to people–use your connections and make new connections.

Prior to Berklee I’d been kind of shy and was just passively following the academic path and getting good grades, but not thinking about more than that. Berklee gave me a strong entrepreneurial spirit, encouraging me to go out and get what I wanted.”

“I got to have these really cool experiences in music that I got to cherish and relive and tell my grandkids about one day. I love the shows I played, the parties I DJ’d, the film music I composed. I also love what I do now, but I’m glad I got to pursue my music passion for a while.  No regrets.”

 

 

See the full index of Successful Berklee Grads.

Presentation #2: Music Business Grads: What Berklee Did Well & Advice

In February 2017 I gave a presentation, primarily to Music Business students, about what Berklee is doing well to prepare folks for careers outside of music, as well as advice which these folks have for current students.  It features many direct quotes from folks interviewed, as well as differences between MB grads and non-MB grads.  It’s also pretty self-guided, so you’ll definitely get 90+% of the information through the slides alone

Download the Presentation.

Data from everyone class of 2005 or later interviewed in 2015 – Jan. 2017 was tabulated and used; interviews #1 – 63, except for #7.

Presentation #1, January 2017, What Berklee Is Doing Well to Prepare Folks for Non-Music Careers

…and Where Berklee Came Up Short.

 

In January 2017 I gave a presentation, primarily to fellow faculty, about what Berklee is and is not doing well to prepare folks for careers outside of music.  It features many direct quotes from folks interviewed.  It’s also pretty self-guided, so you’ll definitely get 90+% of the information through the slides alone.

Download the Presentation.

Data from everyone class of 2005 or later interviewed in 2015 – 2016 was tabulated and used; interviews #1 – 58, except for #7.