What inspired you to go into music production as a career?
I took an audio-video (A/V) production class in high school producing daily morning newscasts and weekly show segments. I was also a lunchtime radio producer. At the time I was living in the Midwest, and after high school I started at Columbia College in downtown Chicago.
I went to school for about a year and then family became a priority for me, so I quit school to provide for my children. I was a truck driver for nine years and traveled across the entire country.
In 2009, my kids were getting older and I had started to drive locally. I was ready for a change and wanted to get back to my passion for music. Since I had traveled throughout the U.S. for my job, I knew of some amazing cities for both the music scene and climate.
I visited Miami, Houston, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Las Vegas and just tested the waters everywhere. Phoenix felt like home to me so my wife and I, and our one son, to Arizona later that year.
How did Phoenix College prepare you to form Brickhouse Productions, LLC ?
After moving to Arizona, I researched colleges and saw that Phoenix College had a great Audio Production Technology Program. Before going to Columbia College and Phoenix College, I played music through practice and from memory and I thought I knew how to write a good song. I submitted a bunch of my songs to Getty Images (in New York) and Sound Reef (in London) and every one of them was rejected.
After taking Music Theory courses at Phoenix College, I submitted 65 new songs to those companies and every single song was accepted. I’m now a member of The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP and I have 110 sounds in my catalog with Getty Images Music Division and 30 songs with Sound Reef.
I knew I loved music production, but it wasn’t until I met my live sound professor Jim May, that I started to form an idea of what I could do in this genre. Jim would invite students to his corporate shows and show them the ropes of the industry. I was the only student who took him up on his offer. This was an invaluable experience for me. I was able to help Jim out with live corporate shows and learned about an entire industry.
After graduation, I began to work exclusively on a business I had been developing while in college and thanks to Professor May, it had a stronger focus. My new company, Brickhouse Productions LLC, now works primarily with large corporate meetings in the U.S. and abroad, as well as Award Ceremonies, Corporate Dinners, etc.
What was your favorite class at Phoenix College?
While I found value in the entire program, my favorite class was sound design. We learned about sound effects for television and movies. I’ve actually been able to apply the skills from this class recently. A woman in Las Angeles had this great cartoon on YouTube and did all the character voices, but she didn’t have any sound effects. When I helped her out and added sound effects, her Youtube views increased exponentially I would love to do more of this work as Brickhouse Productions branches out into new directions.
The slogan for Brickhouse Productions is “Preparation is the Separation.” What do you mean by that?
Organization is key; always prepare. I use my downtime to research things I’m interested in. For example, I helped a friend of mine with his podcast because I thought it would be fun. I researched it extensively and then produced it for him. Podcasting has now become a revenue stream for me. Another example is, I want to open a public speaking division of my company so I recently joined Toastmasters.
My motto is that you have to build a solid foundation for anything with knowledge. Once you have the foundation, you can build the walls, windows, and roof but if you haven’t research and prepared, or your foundation will crumble.
So what does the future look like for Brickhouse Productions?
I am always looking to expand my reach and learn new techniques and skills. For example, I’ve just finished writing my first book. It is entitled, “Cigarettes and Bad Decisions – the S**T I Wish I’d Known.” It is written from three perspectives (myself, my wife, and friend ). There are 15 chapters and each one deals with life decisions from high school into adulthood.
One chapter is entitled, “Is it OK to be the Black Sheep?” When I was driving my truck in South Dakota, I saw about 70 sheep cross the road in front of me and there was one black sheep. This image has always stayed with me as an inspiration. Being a black sheep is a positive thing, because as the one who stands out you don’t need to fight for attention. All eyes are already on you so you can just dive in and do what you do best to impress and help people.
Brickhouse Productions is self-publishing this book. Now that I’ve learned some of the publishing ropes, I hope to help others write their own stories. My wife’s friend works in human resources consulting and I will be helping her publish a book later this year. Additionally, I’m working on a fiction story and am set to publish that in the fall of 2017.
What advice can you give to students and alumni who are interested in starting their own business after college?
Follow your passion and make sure whatever you do has multiple revenue streams to stay diversified. Don’t get into a business for the money, because even if you are successful you will be stressed. Figure out how to make money doing what you love.
Once you figure that out, get some credibility early. Do it for free before getting paid. I will be giving away a bunch of my books for free to get word of mouth and a good reputation. You only have to be great once to establish a brand; after that, your audience will listen to your other ideas.
Pay it forward and help people. I grew up in a pretty troubled area in Gary, Indiana. I visit there often and have plans to help out the community where I came from and honor my roots. In my business and in life, I’m always ready to help people fulfill their dreams.