The most recent TakeNote event took place at the Camp House on Monday night featuring a variety of music professionals from across the industry scene. Each panelist boasts an impressive resume, which makes it obvious that they have poured their time and energies into their work, and that hard work has shown. With years of experience collectively under their belts, they were a well–seasoned and humble group of panelists to get to know better in one on one interviews as well as in a group setting when they spoke to our TakeNote audience. Here are some highlights from the night.


Our panelists included:

Kenny Bartolomei, co-founder of J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League (Rick Ross, Mary J. Blige, Young Jeezy)

Cam Flener, lead singer of The Velcro Pygmies

Brandon Gilliard, professional bassist (Janelle Monae, Kimbra)

Angel Snow, artist/songwriter (Alison Krauss)


What skills make you good at your job?

Kenny: Patience. What we do in the studio is work with a room full of people that you don’t know. You have to learn how to be patient to complete a project with people who may or may not be on the same page as you. We play so many roles, and sometimes you have to be that pep talker. Sometimes you have to break up fights. At the end of the day, you’re the one in charge of making the environment that allows the record to be the best it can be.

Angel: Definitely patience. I went through several moments of going through different managers and labels and getting rejections. Some people would really like my songs but not know what to do with me; you may be able to relate. The important thing is to stick to who you are, what you know, and understand what you have to offer.

Brandon: As a bass player, I always have to remember that when someone comes to a show, it doesn’t matter how big the show is, as the side–man, my name is not the one on the billboard. I have to do what the artist needs me to do to make the best of their performance. I also need to keep a schedule; it can be very rewarding. In the industry if you start flaking on rehearsals or shows, it won’t take long before you’re not doing anything. I also try to be versatile. As a music major, sight–reading was a huge part of getting a music degree. But if someone needs me to play eighth notes in a rock band all night, I can do that.

Cam: (to the audience) The fact that you’re here is important. One of the greatest things you can do is to find someone who is doing what you want to do, and talk to them about how to get there. Mentoring is the secret because if you want to learn how to lay bricks, don’t read bricklaying books; find a bricklayer. Networking builds your work community. You’ll never know when you need to call on a connection you made at an event like this.

Where does most of your money come from?

Cam: Gigs. Once you make a good amount of money gigging, then you can branch out into merch or other outlets that you are looking to make money through.

Kenny: For people my age who came into the industry the same time as me, I can guarantee that technology has rapidly changed the way that we made money. We’ve had to adapt. As producers, we still expect producer advances, royalties, radio payments, and sound exchange income, but we’re always asking ourselves, “What else can we offer in terms of services?”  Music education is also important. We offer music production classes. Not only does it open up another revenue stream, but I also feel a sense of reward because there are plenty of people who have wanted to see what we do and now they can. Diversifying and adapting to the needs of the customer are important.

Brandon: I play and travel a lot. If I’m not traveling, I’m not making money. I work with a lot of artists and there was a time for a couple of years where I tried to tie myself to working with just one artist or on one project, but I soon realized that I make more money playing with several artists. Sometimes I do TV work, movie soundtrack work, and make sure that I get paid royalties on the work I’ve done. That requires being organized and keeping a schedule, which I can’t emphasize enough.

Angel: I have a few different sources of income. I released two records and a couple of singles on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Google Play, etc. I try not to keep up with the internet world too much, I let my manager do that. I’ve also worked with a TV/film company for a few years and didn’t have success until recently with the show Pretty Little Liars. I also tour and play shows whenever I can. Some audiences receive my music better than others, but those are my basic income streams.


For all of these musicians, music was not a Plan B; they made sacrifices and mistakes in order to learn and grow into the successful people that they are now. For some, this involved missing holidays with the family to work extra hours in studio on a project. For others, it took painful paths of self discovery to come to a place where they could honor the gifts that they were given and refuse to compare themselves to competitors. They all came to the same consensus; full time music work is not for the faint of heart. It takes a steady understanding of who you are, what you want to convey with your music, defining your market/audience, and determining your value musician before you see some semblance of stability. But with this level of risk, they also agreed that the reward is huge. The reward is sharing your gift to the world and making money doing it.


Photo credit goes to Bill Johnson.