Interview with Doug Strahm, singer-songwriter, Facilities Manager at Sweetwater

Added on by Robert Willey.

Miles Hall interviewed Doug Strahm - Singer / Songwriter / Facilities Manager at Sweetwater Sound, Inc. in Fort Wayne. Like VP of Human Resources Jeff McDonald, he's a longtime Sweetwater employee who started off as a customer of Chuck Surack.

What's your occupation with Sweetwater?

I'm the VP of facilities there, and I handle all the functions of the building from a mechanical standpoint.

How did you get started there?

I've known Chuck for 30-some years, and I've been there from pretty much when the company started off as a customer, and doing my recordings and stuff right out of high school.

What do you like most about working there?

It's just an awesome company. It's incredibly progressive, we're constantly changing. It's great being part of a winning team. There's just so much I could go on for hours and hours, how much time do you have? (laughs)

As much as you're willing to give me.

Yeah, Sweetwater's a pretty amazing company. Basically, just go online to see how much it's grown over the years. It's one of the companies people come to, and you're really proud to say you are a part of that company. When people walk in the door, and just see how amazing the building is, and the ammenities and the great group of people that work there, it's just something to be proud of.

You mentioned that you're constantly changing. What's the biggest change you've seen there in the last 5 years?

Oh my gosh, the changes are just phenomenal. We're constantly growing whether it's putting on whole new annexs of the building to hiring hundreds of new people. Really just the growth.

What do you find the most challenging about your job?

Honestly, I don't find it challenging. It's a job that I enjoy, I don't look at it like big challenges, more than just everyday I'm looking to see what the next day brings, more opprotunities than challenges.

How do you balance writing and performing with your job at Sweetwater?

Well, I work for a music company (laughs) and the bulk of the people that work there are musicians. So the company is very understanding when it comes to, when you've got gigs or when you need to do something musically. Even the owner is out playing gigs on the weekend playing saxophone. So, it's pretty much an understanding, we're a music company and everyone supports each other.

What opprotunities are there for your music in Indiana?

I guess it all depends on what audience you're targeting. I target a more select group of people, so my audience is more abroad and in the bigger cities like New York, Miami, and California and the bigger meccas.

Do you have any advice for people considering going in to the music business?

There's got to be a passion, you got to have it in your heart, because there's so much out there and there's so much competition, and its getting easier for people who are just beginners to put out some decent stuff. So you've got to have a game plan, otherwise you'll just be mixing in with the huge ocean of everybody that's out there.

Anything else you want to add?

I would also say, if you're getting into music, it would probably be best before you start throwing stuff online, to get with a licensing company like BMI, ASCAP, get your work registered, then get into something that'll help get your fees collected like a TuneCore, and that will help you distribute with things like iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon. It really makes it easy for the artist. But the great part is you don't have to worry about collecting royalties and sales because TuneCore, or an agency like that, will do it all for you. That makes it really easy for an independent artist.

That's very helpful thanks.

Yeah, and then you've got to think about publishing. In the old days, you had like huge record companies, and you couldn't do anything till you were like begging at their doors, and waiting for just like a tidbit or a scrap. Depending on how much tenacity you have, you can do alot of that yourself with social media and the way the internet works right now. You've just got to make sure you protect yourself, and you're not just throwing your music out there for free. Unless that's what you want to do. That's not a huge issue for me, making sure I get every penny that goes out there, cause I'm not that greedy. Of course, I'd like to make some money off it, but heck I give away stuff for free, just to have people listen to it. I guess it all depends on the level of how much you want it. If this is your sole income, you really want to protect yourself. But if it's more just your art and you just want to distribute your stuff then that's a whole different ball game than being a whole livelihood type function.

Alright cool. Thanks for your time.

Sure thing, have a good one.