Band guy grows up, becomes beer guy
Remember that episode of South Park with the underpants gnomes? These little gnomes are sneaking into houses late at night and stealing underpants, so the boys follow them to try and get to the root of the story. When they finally find the gnome lair, the big plan is revealed:
- Phase 1. Collect Underpants
- Phase 2. ?
- Phase 3. Profit
This is what it’s like to be in a band.
The major disadvantage to being in the music industry is that you’re making something that doesn’t have any real value but costs a lot of money to produce. You’re doing this, most likely, without any financial backing because you’re one of the kids that was dumb enough to want to be in a band when when you grow up.
The perk — that I didn’t realize until after my touring days — is that as a musician, you have to get really creative about how to sell and promote your product (music). If you replace “music” with any other product, then suddenly you’ve got an approach for selling and marketing that nobody is teaching in schools. And it just so happens that the indie band mindset is perfectly applicable to the beer industry.
Examples? Of course I’ve got goddamn examples. Before my time at Craftpeak, I worked for Asheville’s beloved Burial Beer Co. doing NC sales, distribution, events, and promotions. We took a pretty traditional approach initially but it didn’t feel right. The branding, the liquids, and the overall vibe of Burial are so unique and special, so why should our marketing approach be any different? Enter musician brain.
The question, “How would your band do this?” popped into my head and the ideas started pouring out. We’re not launching new markets, we’re touring! We’re not setting up tap take overs, we’re putting on showcases! We don’t want people to walk into bottle shops and say “Oh, there’s new beers here,” we want them to know their favorite brewery is coming and rush to get the latest release before it sells out!
I started sending out tour posters of can art with a white area at the bottom filled in with sloppy sharpie handwriting: “Skillet Donut Stout, Triangle, June 16.” I’d call my other favorite “regionally touring” brewery, Fonta Flora, to co-headline in cities where we both had somewhat of a draw so we could fill the room more easily. I’d create delivery schedules the day before the release and when I dropped off the beer, I’d cover the stacked cases with a black veil with our logo on it to create mystique.
At the end of my twenties when I put down my guitar because none of my bands had broken, I embraced a life of working for the man. I thought I’d wasted so much of my life goofing off in bars playing rock and roll. Now, in my early thirties, I’ve realized that I was learning how to create hype, work a room, build delivery (tour) routes, put on events, construct schedules, and manage groups of unruly alcoholics… Sup beer industry?
So what now? We’re starting a record label and called it Craftpeak. Breweries who have learned how to write great songs (recipes) and have been moving them the hard way are the bands we want to work with. Your hobby became a business, your singer (beer) is on the cover of magazines and top ten lists, but your merch guy hasn’t been putting out the mailing list and Facebook now wants you to pay to engage with your thousands of hard earned fans. You don’t understand how you can be swimming so hard but still feel like you’re treading water.
We’re a team of marketing, entrepreneurial, and technological nerds who have favorite lagers and preferences on brett strains. We love Weezer’s Blue Album but also insist that you listen to all of the Velvet Underground records in order. And just because you’ve got a guitar and some money, doesn’t mean we’re gonna work with your Kings of Leon/Black Keys wannabe band. We’re Kill Rock Stars. We’re Fat Possum. We’re goddamn SubPop and we can’t wait to show the world their new favorite beers.