Bassics Magazine | Summer 1998

    Mel Brown is a musician with a mission. Not only is he a well-rounded, solid
player but his background in human resources provided him with valuable
knowledge about making contacts and getting work. The result is the “Mel Brown
Profile,” a multi-media CD ROM. It’s an idea whose time has obviously come, at
least judging by the results.
    Currently performing with Gladys Knight, Brown was living in Colorado and made
the decision in ’93 to chase his dream of being a pro bassist in one of
America’s music meccas and subsequently quit his job. A couple of months later
he noticed that Arsenio Hall was conducting somewhat of a talent show, with
selected entrants being invited to appear on the show and compete for prizes.
He sent a tape of himself performing on the bass and asked not to be in the
contest, but rather if he could sit in with the band. Arsenio obliged, and
Brown fronted the band for a night. The appearance brought about a call from
saxist Nelson Rangell, which led to further gigs and sessions with Michel
Camilo and Chuck Loeb. The projects did well and Brown was on his way.
In 1997 he made the move to L.A. and like many before him, began the
unenviable task of breaking into the scene, no easy task for a relatively
unknown player. Donning his human resources thinking cap, he set about to
overcome the inherent problems of getting people to know you and trust your
playing. How could he shorten the time between meeting someone and getting the
chance to work for them?
Possessing an extensive press kit and some good examples of his playing, the
idea was suggested by a friend to combine the two on a CD-ROM and thus the
“Profile” was born. Not only could the recipient read his résumé while hearing
him play, but with the addition of interactive pictures and videos, a multi-
media experience complete with audio and visual samples could be presented.
And by handing out one CD instead of a pile of pictures, tapes, etc., contacts
could make an educated assessment about him in less than 10 minutes.
Endorsements are another form of the “vote of confidence” all players need,
and the CD offers both personal (including Jimmy Haslip, Victor Wooten and
Wayman Tisdale) plus corporate (Eden, Dean Markley).
While it took seven months to complete, the results have been very impressive.
After distributing about 400 copies, responses have exceeded 95%! And it took
all of 3 weeks to produce a full calendar of gigs. As an example, after being
contacted by Gladys Knight’s musical director Benjamin Wright, he FedEx’d a
copy to him, spent 4 days shedding on about 65 Knight tunes with some charts
from bassist Andrew Ford (who had done the gig in the past), met with Wright
and boom-he’s been doing the gig for about 8 months now. He’s also played with
Frank Gambale, done sessions for the Disney channel and Fox TV, as well as
countless casuals and club dates. And he’ll be holding down the bottom for
Brian Bromberg’s “lead” bass outing as well.
Of course all hype and nothing to back it up won’t get you far. As can be
heard on his Profile, Mel has the goods to back it up, from clean finger-style
grooves to serious slap chops. Plus his strong business acumen is another
highly valuable asset.
The CD Profile has worked so well that Brown has applied for a patent for it.
After viewing it myself, I can’t think of a better marketing tool in the human
resources realm. It’s not cheap, but it works. As this method of promotion
takes hold in the marketplace, the question won’t be whether you can afford to
do it, but whether you can afford not to.
Email Mel at [removed]      -RG