KNOW YOUR SCENE: Mark Schulz, Philly’s Link to The GRAMMYS

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Rock On Philly: For those who do not know, can you explain to them what GRAMMY U is?

Mark Schulz: GRAMMY U is a membership in the Recording Academy that’s for college students. Its goal is to connect the classroom with the music community and, hopefully, help provide some insight in getting a career started in music. Selfishly, I hope it inspires students to stay in Philadelphia and build their careers here.

GRAMMY U Soundcheck with Justin Timberlake - courtesy of Mark Schulz

GRAMMY U Soundcheck with Justin Timberlake – courtesy of Mark Schulz

ROP: As Senior Executive Director of the Philadelphia Chapter for the Recording Academy, can you explain your role, duties and responsibilities? How did you come to have this position?

MS: We are a membership organization for people in the music industry, primarily those involved in making records. In this region, we have over 800 members, including producers, engineers, songwriters, musicians, vocalists, manager, lawyers and everything in between.

Our voting members–those with proven expertise in the recording arts and sciences–vote for the GRAMMY Awards. It’s a peer-to-peer award, so if you were to win the Best Rock Album award, it’s because people who know rock voted for you. That’s what sets the GRAMMY apart from all the other awards and makes it kind of special.

My job is to connect with those making music, to recruit those who are professionals to join and be part of the voting, and to help foster the overall community with networking and professional development events we do throughout the year. Beyond that, I do a lot of conference calls, budgeting, meetings and other ‘business stuff.’

ROP: What do you hope the Philadelphia Chapter provides for aspiring musicians?

MS: Inspiration and connection. The biggest thing we can do is get music makers together so they can share ideas, inspiration and find collaborations. With technology, we have become increasingly isolated in how we work so, at minimum, creating professional networking opportunities specific to music makers is crucial.

And, hopefully the GRAMMY itself is inspiring. While it may be not cool to admit it’s something you aspire to, it is a recognition from your peers–a career builder. And, quite frankly, something that sits on the desk of a number of local independent artists in our area. It’s not as out of reach as many believe.

GRAMMY U with Linkin Park - courtesy of Mark Schulz

GRAMMY U with Linkin Park – courtesy of Mark Schulz

ROP: Like how all twelve chapters are rooted in their communities, have you always been involved in your community, especially in regard to music?

MS: I have no musical talent but have been involved in the music scene here for quite some time. I managed Studio 4 Recording for Phil and Joe Nicolo for a number of years, managed several independent artists and worked for a local label among other things, and have been in this seat for over ten years.

ROP: Philly has become a musical hub for many artists, how does Philly inspire you?

MS: Philadelphia is, like myself, a Gemini: it’s a gritty tough determined city, but a graceful elegant city as well. Beanie Sigel and the Barnes Foundation, Rocky and Rittenhouse, the legendary Philadelphia Orchestra and the Broad Street bully Flyers, Marian Hill and Meek Mill, Hop Along and Phyllis HymanSeriously, there’s something here for anyone to love. Philly is my adopted home of thirty years, and there are more and more young people coming here because it’s a great city to build your business and fan base.

ROP: The Philadelphia Chapter seeks to not only cover the creative aspect of music-making, but the business side as well.

How important is it to know the in’s and out’s of the business side of the music industry?

MS: It’s probably more important now than ever. There is no clear path to financial success in this business anymore–you need to be looking at a number of revenue streams and now to make them work for you. Trends and technology change quicker than your coffee goes cold. As a creative person, it is wholly on you to know how to protect your art, how to market and monetize it, and how to get noticed in a marketplace that has never been so crowded before.

ROP: If you could give one piece of advice to someone who was trying to get into the music industry, what would you tell them? What kind of advice would you give to your younger self?

MS: Get some coffee and get going! Learn as much as you can and make good connections. Everyone I know who is doing well has a wealth of strong positive relationships that provide insight, expertise, enthusiasm and collaborations (and a good laugh now and then). Few are those who do it alone.

Now, go get a hot cup of java and get going, people! And don’t forget to tune into The 58th GRAMMYs on February 15th, 2016.

What do YOU think of the amazing Mark Schulz? Tell us in the comments below! 

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