Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Brush.
Hi Chris, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I moved to Nashville in 1999 with the singular desire to play drums for a living. I wanted to tour, to play in the studio, everything! While I was decent, I had a lot to learn about how to play consistently at a professional level that would keep me working. Part of that learning was figuring out how to meet people. A notoriously slow networker at the get go, it took me about a year-and-a-half to land a touring position. From there, work begat work, but playing for artists and doing the occasional session failed to leave my calendar as full as I wanted.
I decided to build more skills around the backside of the recording glass and got heavily into mixing and engineering — learning from anyone who would talk with me. I brought this to bear on my drumming and by 2008 had amassed just enough expertise and gear to start recording my drums at home. In between road gigs or in-town sessions, I was trying to figure out how to get the remote session part of my business off the ground.
In 2014 I opened a private studio with a partner and, in addition to traditional attended sessions, I offered remote recording services. About this time I really got my website content in order and the remote side of things started doing better and better. It’s been a journey of learning how to communicate with and educate clients who may not ever have had access to commercial recording studios and have no idea what to expect from a pro session player. To many of them, the lingo of the business and traditional time block pricing largely mean nothing.
These days I make about 70% of my living playing on recording sessions both in-town (Nashville) and remotely (via my website). The other 30% is a mixture of mixing records and producing artists.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
As long as there are absolutely no follow-up questions, yes, my career path has gone perfectly according to plan and worked out exactly like I dreamed. I have run into no obstacles for which I did not already know the solution and have continually been ludicrously busy and flush with income.
Of course, this is completely false. Like everyone who tries to follow a dream, I have been stumped as to finding the next right step. I have been plagued at times by imposter syndrome or a voice that pleads with me to do something more “traditional” that carries the illusion of greater security. I have had times where I have been so busy that I could not properly give attention to projects followed by seasons with little work, and both extremes have had lessons that challenge me to re-imagine how I work. Most important, nothing that I am doing now is exactly what I envisioned when I started my journey, and yet it is somehow better and more tailor-fit to who I am than I could have dreamed.
There are so many questions to answer and challenges to overcome as a self-employed musician and each stage of my career seems to upgrade those questions. In the early days, it was questions like, how do you meet people? How do you get gigs/sessions? How do you save money to get the gear you need to set yourself up for recording? Later it was how do you build a studio? Is this the right time to _________? How do you price yourself? When is it time to start saying “no” to things? How could I best spend time without a lot of work? Now the questions are more existential. Does ANY of this make you fulfilled? Am I doing this because I love it or to chase an identity I built around a career? How can I find a balance between work I enjoy and a meaningful life outside of work?
My answers to those questions might be different from how others answer the same questions, but I have learned that I didn’t answer any of them well when focusing on the questions themselves. I couldn’t “think” past it. I have had to remind myself again and again of what I love, why I do it and try to find ways to play and create and build genuine relationships. That always seems to root me in the present in a way that makes solutions more clear when the time is right, no matter what the question.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am a drummer and producer based out of Nashville, TN. One of the things that set me apart is I have managed to build a significant part of my career on a newer paradigm of remote sessions. While there will always be exceptions to the rule — players that still work under the traditional umbrella of master scale, “on the card” union sessions — a large percentage of working studio musicians are challenged to embrace new ways of working. Budgets for recording have shrunk and artists and producers are finding perpetually better tools and technology that allows them to make music in their own way in their own space. I have been both intentional and stupid lucky in seeking out a path for myself that allows me to tap into this new wild west of recording. I get to record drums in my own space for a staggering variety of clients all over the world.
Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
Find out if there are any meetups for professionals in your chosen field. Seek out the people behind work that inspires you and don’t be shy about reaching out to them. Avoid trying to market yourself when you do reach out (i.e. proving why they need you or why they should take a chance on you). Instead, focus on building a relationship and learning from whoever you meet. What has their path been like? How have they found their process and professional voice? What things have been challenges and victories for them? Genuine passion both in doing the work and in the people who do similar work will yield more opportunities than frantic scheming and striving to rapidly climb any perceived career ladder.
- $100 – Demo Session Package – 1 take of multitracks
- $150 – Basic Master Package – 3 takes of multitracks (most popular)
- $225 – Custom Master Package – 3 takes of multitracks, client can specify sounds and setup elements
- Website: https://www.chrisbrushdrums.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chrisbrushdrums/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChrisBrushDrums
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/chrisbrushdrums