Phoenix New Times

Phoenix New Times

Phoenix Musician Mel Brown Wants to Help You Get a Job — Here’s How

The veteran bassist took his old audition trick and turned it into an app.

Nice guys finish last, right? Isn’t that what the old saying wants us to believe? Nice guys are doomed, maybe, forever in the current political climate, yet sometimes, nice guys finish first.

Mel Brown is a Phoenix-area treasure who may have gone unnoticed on your radar. A Grammy Award-winning bassist (for the 2006 Best Instrumental Pop song, “Mornin’”) and sought-after session player, Brown is also active in several local bands and jams, including the Thaddeus Rose Band, and jazzy pursuits with Renee Patrick and Nicole Pesci. He was even part of a Steely Dan tribute band called Bad Sneakers

“But I really don’t do a lot of those things anymore,” Brown says. “I am more of a hired gun these days. I also do a regular jam with (acclaimed singer) Stephen Powell. We have a group of musicians, and we play at the Greek restaurant, OPA Life Greek Cafe, every now and then at Westgate. It’s usually a pretty cool experience with great players.”

Now 55, Brown cannot remember not playing the bass. “When I was a little kid, maybe 5 or 6 years old, I told my mom that I played bass. I think I may have seen a bass once [then]. I remember seeing The Staple Singers on TV and saw the bass player and thought, ‘That’s what I want to play.’ Then I saw Larry Graham on a daytime TV show doing a song called, ‘One in a Million,’ and I was hooked. I was always listening to bass on records and this was before the internet, so if you wanted to see someone play bass, you had to see it on TV,” says Brown, who grew up mostly in Denver, but spent some time on the East Coast as well.

But playing bass isn’t Brown’s only passion. He also wants to help you get a job.

In addition to his extensive work in the music world, Brown is also a socially conscious entrepreneur. He is currently working on an app that helps job seekers find a position through a surprising approach. He has a website called that currently has advice and blogs for job seekers, but in the coming months, Brown will be offering job seekers an opportunity to send videos of pre-recorded job interviews to would-be employers using his connexionpointe app (, saving each side of the equation time and money.

“It’s not a sexy business, but when you think about it, it’s very simple. If you listen to every complaint that job seekers have, most of those complaints stem from the fact that businesses can’t really interview everybody. They can’t reach out and have a conversation with everybody. They (also) don’t really communicate when they’ve made a decision and moved on. But a lot of those problems can be addressed for everybody if the responsibility for the first interview was on the candidate, and not on the business,” Brown says.

The initial idea for this stemmed from Brown’s music experience. As a seasoned human resources vet, Brown began making CD-ROMs about himself to send to potential collaborators about his musical skills where he would talk about what he could offer and share some video of his playing chops. One of these videos even made it to the Arsenio Hall Show while it was still on the air, which landed Brown an appearance on the show.

“So, I created a CD-ROM for musicians. I answered a bunch of questions on it and I played a bunch of stuff. I got some video testimonials from friends that liked my work, and I used it to introduce myself in LA,” Brown recalls.

Nineteen days after sending out the disc to Hall’s show, which was in response to a contest the show was having, they hired Brown for a night. Because this worked well, he continued to use the CD-ROMs as a calling card, eventually landing a gig playing bass for the legendary Gladys Knight in the process. After thinking about it, he realized this concept could be applied to anyone seeking a job, but technology was not quite there to make it affordable or even practical for everyone.

As the internet grew, Brown began doing a lot of recording and sharing tracks with producers and fellow musicians over the net, so he revisited his idea about doing pre-recorded interviews for job seekers. The concept could finally be easily accessible to anyone with an internet connection and a camera.

As cellphone technology proliferated in the last decade, Brown was ready to roll it out to everyone. He said to himself, he recalls, “I’m going to build an app that would give people the ability to record an interview and apply for a job with the first interview already done. I started this thing called Connexion Pointe. I raised money. I knew nothing about developing but I learned how to communicate with developers. It took a long time. It took years, in fact, and I got it up online.”

During the past year, Brown immersed himself in the world of app creation and Connexion Pointe is ready to roll out to users. Job candidates can go on, see a list of potential questions for the types of positions they are looking to apply for, and record a first interview to share with potential employers who have listed jobs on the app.

“Instead of going to another site where a job seeker can be redirected three or four times just to fill out an application and upload resumé, my site is different. When the employer posts their job, it works the same (as a site like Ziprecruiter or Indeed), but when the candidate applies for the job, they apply in one click. When that click happens, the employer gets the resume and they get the full video interview that is related directly to the position. When a candidate wants to record an interview, they type in what job title they want and my app suggests the best interview questions for them to answer,” Brown says.

While working on the app, Brown keeps very busy by playing bass on tracks for artists all over the country and regularly has half a dozen tracks he’s played on charting at any given time. As part of the smooth jazz genre, Brown has built a wonderful niche as a bassist and collaborator.


“To be a working musician in these times, you have to have a mix of things that you do in terms of music. I do some live playing, of course, (about 10 times a month), but I do a lot of recording. Most of this is done over the internet, but I do go to a few places in town to record. I like working with John Herrera at Clamsville (Recording Studios) a lot. He runs some of the best sessions in town,” adds Brown.

Just two weeks ago, Brown texted that his bass tracks were on eight of the current top 10 smooth jazz songs in the country. In addition to his session work for artists like Lin Rountree, Adam Hawley, Chuck Loeb, and the late Wayman Tisdale, Brown does offer bass lessons and classes for both experienced and novice musicians through his website:

Visit or for more information.

TOM REARDON has written for Phoenix New Times since 2013. He’s been in several notable bands over the last 25 years including Hillbilly Devilspeak, North Side Kings, and the Father Figures.
CONTACT: Tom Reardon
Bass Frontiers | September 22, 2009

Bass Frontiers | September 22, 2009

Bass Frontiers | September 22, 2009


Mel Brown – State Of The Art
 State Of The Art

Originally Published in Bass Frontiers September 22, 2009

By Brent-Anthony Johnson

It isn’t every day that I have a chance to introduce our readers to someone they’ve undoubtedly heard, and that they should have heard of! But, not every player is my good friend, Mel Brown! Mel’s career began in his hometown of Denver, Colorado, and by the time he was in his mid-twenties he had been a featured guest on the Arsenio Hall Show, and he had secured one of the top gigs in the Denver Metropolitan area. Since that groundbreaking performance he has toured and recorded with the likes of Brian McKnight, Jonathan Butler, Kevin Toney, Chuck Loeb, Kirk Whalum, Marc Anthony, Brian Bromberg, Michel Camilo, and an ever-growing list music business heavyweights! Recently, Mel performed on the Grammy Award winning George Benson/Al Jarreau release, “Givin’ It Up”. After spending his 20’s and 30’s on the road with various artists, Mel relocated to Phoenix, AZ where he continues to appear with a dizzying roster of the world’s elite musicians and musical performers.

Most recently, Mel mentioned to me that he had written an instructional book titled From Zero To Sideman for the purpose of teaching those forward-thinking music students how to accomplish the daunting task of landing and securing top-level sideman/touring/session gigs! I’ve since read the book and I agree with those who have read it that it is an invaluable source of information to anyone in the music business – regardless of their status! In addition to the book, Mel has pioneered online recording and the use of the profile CD as a means of self-promotion! This is a must read interview with a great from whom life-long students of the bass and of the music business cannot hear enough from!

Check out Mel at:

BAJ: Hi Mel, and welcome to Bass Frontiers! It’s always a good day when I can hang with a friend and talk shop! Let’s begin by discussing your new book, From Zero To Sideman ! How long has this wonderful idea been brewing, and what where the first steps to seeing it into fruition?

MB: What’s up BAJ! Thanks for interviewing me for this magazine. Thanks for the kind words too, I appreciate it all more than I can say. It’s always a special treat to talk with a friend who has been there from the beginning! So, I’ve been looking forward to this.

The initial idea of my book came way back in 1993, when I quit my day job at a Denver bank to pursue a career as a sideman in the music industry. The first thing I realized was there were no resources available to guide me in getting educated; finding work and integrating myself professionally into the local music scene. I didn’t know how to get a gig, how much money to charge, or how the music business worked in general. I was also 25 years old, and felt like I had a lot of catching up to do! So, I started going around town, watching other musicians play and asking them how I should go about getting started. Some musicians, like bassists Dave Randon, Billy Rich, Thomas “TJ” Jefferson, Vernon Barbary, Chris Engleman, Michael Friedman, and Kirwan Brown were helpful, and they gave me some great advice – and even lent a helping hand by showing me the ropes, lending me gear, and recommending me to sub for them.

Others found my ambition amusing and laughed at my ignorance to their profession. Instead of helping, they made jokes among themselves or told me to do ridiculous things to get started. Some of these players would cancel their gigs rather than hire me. Others would get together, gang up on the bandleader and threaten to quit unless the bandleader fired me. True stories. I understood, from an economic perspective, that some players were resistant to sharing a very limited pie with a new guy. What I didn’t understand was many of those negative musicians were making their money playing R&B, Pop, Motown, Rock, and Smooth Jazz music – the style of music that I loved the most and was already competent at performing. To be fair, I was inexperienced, but most of them didn’t sound authentic to me… so I wondered what they based their resistance to my presence on. I guess you could say that was my first taste of music business politics. Later, I realized that I didn’t need their acceptance to succeed and that I needed to find a way out of Denver to make my career happen. I also knew that I had the goods, with my groove, and I had a plan that treated being a sideman like any other service-oriented business.

I’d majored in Human Resources and Accounting in college and applied my knowledge of job descriptions, recruiting, training, interviewing, and hiring to my musical endeavors. I looked at myself as a small company that provided musically authentic and highly professional, bass services in town. My plan worked, and I wanted to share it in a book for anyone interested in being a Sideman.

Now there is a book that a parent, student, or semi-professional can go to and quickly get an overall perspective of being a Sideman – the most common of musical careers. The book presents many realities you don’t learn in music school and addresses lessons that you’d otherwise have to learn the hard way. It’s a step-by-step game plan that anyone can use – the shortest distance from zero to sideman.

In seeing this book come to fruition, the hard part was simply sitting down over a 9-month period, getting focused, and writing it. The idea of contacting a major publisher and chasing a book deal was discouraging. It would have taken forever, and just seems like such a rip off to me. I knew there’d be a demand for my information and I didn’t want to waste time trying to convince some schmuck of the obvious and then give his company most of the profit. That whole industry is going to have to do some soul-searching to survive, because people want to move forward right now – not two years from now.

An article on the internet written by James Bilodeau that outlined a new technology called Print On Demand or POD inspired me. POD was a solid, cost effective business model for my book! So, I decided to go for it. First, I set up a publishing company (an LLC called Career Equity). My slogan is Unlocking the Value of Experience. Next, I got a bank account for the company, bought some software, bar codes, a new Intel MacBook… and I started writing! Later I connected with a local artist named Doug Bale for the illustrations, and hired Yvonne Vermillion at to do the layout. I secured my copyright and then set up an account as a publisher with a POD printing company called Lightning Source who provided fulfillment services and worldwide distribution to internet outlets and brick/mortar retailers too. I bought the domain name and set up a basic website describing the book. I linked that website to a free PayPal account so that buyers could use their credit cards. These orders come directly to me. I send my demo along with the book to advertise my service and as an example of what I recommend in the book. That’s it. Now I’m in the book publishing business!

BAJ: Anyone who knows anything about you sees that you have an incredible roster of awards, accomplishments and credits! But, what is your day-to-day like since you “settled down” a few years ago? Better put, how has your career changed in the past 5-years, and what were some of the skills you had to develop to keep your game sharp?

MB: My day-to-day revolves around my son, Chase. I’m with him before and after school – so everything else has to allow that. I earn most of my income from recording over the Internet, which can be time-consuming so I’m up early, around 5:30AM getting my coffee on, and I’m usually recording by 6AM. I’ll cut until my son gets ready for school. Then, we eat breakfast and ride bikes to school – which is a little exercise for me. While he’s at school, I have to focus to finish my business and be back to scoop him up promptly by 3:00 PM. If I have sessions at home, I’m trying to knock them out and upload them to producers and other clients before 10:00 AM. From 10 ‘till noon I address issues associated with the publishing company and self-promotion like responding to emails, burning my CD Profiles, answering questions, checking my website and MySpace pages… and thanking folks for their feedback. If I have sessions at other studios I try to book them from 10 until 1, so I can be back on my side of town on time for my son. I have a house gig 4 nights a week at a spot called Voce in Scottsdale, AZ from Wednesday-through-Saturday, and I’m the MD at a large Christian church called Central Christian. That’s all-day Sunday for 3 services. Sunday’s are the hardest for me, because I’ve got to be up at 5:00 AM to learn music and prepare to lead the band. To keep my game sharp I had to learn how to manage my time – how to turn it on and slam tracks at 6:00 AM. I’ve also developed some basic engineering skills to get a good-recorded sound, and I’ve had to learn new ways to keep my house gig fresh and interesting after several years. Most importantly I’ve learned how to be a good daddy, earn my son’s respect, and still be the best musician I can be. Talk is cheap to kids these days! So, as you know, you must lead by example not just words. It’s not very glamorous but there’s plenty of glory!

BAJ: Please give our readers an example of a session you’ve participated in recently. Let’s talk about the George Benson/Al Jarreau session, and the tune that won the Grammy! Also, let’s discuss how you got the call for the session and what followed!

MB: There have been several sessions lately so I’ll just share a few of them. I recently cut a couple of tunes for Dave Koz, Pete Gitlin, Darren Rahn’s Christmas project, Kloud 9’s new project, and a track by a flutist named Althea Rene called “No Restrictions”. Althea’s CD comes to mind because I cut the track in 1 take with no fixes! It’s a great example of that special energy that happens the first time you play something. Of course, they’ll edit all the hip stuff out! (Laughter) I have a video of me recording the take and I’m considering putting it up on YouTube. I recorded some tracks for a talented bassist from Kansas City named Julian Vaughn that I’ve never met. There’s also a cool session with my friend Rachel Eckroth. She’s cutting a very good album right now here in Phoenix – check her out! That session was cool because I showed up at the studio and Steve Gadd was playing. He’s the bomb! The George Benson session was a classic case of being in the right place at the right time. George walked into my house gig and was hanging out. He later said he liked my playing on Marion Meadows’ “Player’s Club” CD and wanted to use me on a project that he was doing with Al Jarreau. I didn’t believe him at the time… but he made good on his promise later. He originally said that I’d have to fly to LA to do the session, and I was sad because I couldn’t do that. I promised my son that I wouldn’t travel anymore and it just wasn’t worth it to break my word to him. George worked it out when he asked a producer in town named Michael Broening to do a couple of tracks. He insisted that I play, and Michael was cool with it. So, I got to cut at my house. One of those tracks “Mornin’” won the Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental in 2006. To be honest, I think that it won because I kept my word to my son not to travel. With Marcus Miller, Stanley Clarke, and Abraham Laboriel also playing bass on the album… that’s the only logical explanation for my good fortune!

BAJ: Describe your travel kit and those things essential to your comfort when you’re flown to a session. Also, please talk about some of the gear you’re currently using to ‘fly’ tracks around the globe.

MB: Like I said, I’m pretty militant about not traveling. So, I turn down offers for recording out of town. There’s no travel kit to tell you about here! (Laughter) I celebrated my Grammy by getting rid of my LA phone number and recommitting myself to doing things my own way – which means no traveling for artists or other people. Now that my son is a little older he asks me to leave town now! I’ll consider some traveling to promote my book. With the gear that I use to cut tracks at home I keep it simple. I use a J-Style bass (Fender American Deluxe Jazz 5), a Lakland DJ 5 with J-Retro, a Pensa Custom J5 with a Bartolini preamp, a Fender Geddy Lee 4-string (with J-Retro). Otherwise, I use Dean Markley SR2000 light gauge strings, and a Fender TBP-1 Bass Preamp. I monitor with M-Audio BX8a powered monitors and the BX10s subwoofer. I rout signal to the monitors using the Presonus Central Station. If I record on my MacBook, I use the M-Audio FireWire Solo, and I record right into Garage Band or Sonar depending on the track. If I record on the PC I run the preamp into the M-Audio Delta 44 sound card and then into Sonar 7 Producer’s Edition. Engineers love the sound, and most them ask me what I’m using! I ask some of them to guess and they always guess some expensive piece of boutique gear. When I tell some engineers what I’m using they can’t believe it! They playfully insist that I’m lying about my economy gear. But they still call me for work so I know they’re happy with my tracks. Right now I appear on 4 of the top 10 singles on Billboard Magazine’s Contemporary Jazz chart – including the #1 and #2 spot. Over the last 4 years I’ve recorded about 16 top ten songs including 6 #1 singles and 5 #1 albums. I did a track called “Stand Up” on the new Jennifer Hudson album produced by Clive Davis and made the final album. I think my gear works just fine!

BAJ: As I read your book, it occurred to me that you would be a great topic for a documentary! Have you considered adding such a project to your astonishing list of credits?

MB: No I can’t say that I have. I don’t look at myself as being featured – only as a Sideman. It might be fun though! But it’d probably be pretty boring for the audience! (Laughter)

BAJ: Let’s go back a little… what was the first 3 years of your musical development like? What were you able to study, and how important was that to your musical maturation process?

MB: I spent my first 3 years learning songs. My first influences were R&B songs with players like Verdine White, James Jamerson, Anthony Jackson, Chuck Rainey, Nate Phillips, Mark Adams, Tommy DeBarge, Marcus Miller, Will Lee, Joe Puerta, Bootsy Collins, the guy from Fleetwood Mac (Editor’s Note: John McVey), Bernard Edwards, Prince, Kevin Jenkins, David Hood, Robert Wilson, and others like that.
We up-and-coming players had to be able to groove to play the bass at my school or you’d get dissed. My groove was strong because I learned how from the best cats. But I was also into Rock and alternative music like Sting, Steve Harris, Paul McCartney, Percy Jones, Rudy Sarzo, Billy Sheehan, and Geddy Lee. I knew every Rush song note-for-note from the first album through “Signals”! I could play “Digital Man” accurately, in time, and cleanly when I was in the 9th Grade. I would start playing along with the cassettes early on Saturday morning and wouldn’t finish until late afternoon! I got my early finger chops from learning Rush tunes. I could see the scale shapes in the lines that Geddy was playing, and I’d try to use those shapes in other tunes. Then I noticed how Anthony Jackson would use lines while he grooved to bring heat and intensity to the song – like his famous run in the out chorus of “Whatcha Gonna Do For Me” by Chaka Khan. That was how I learned how to play… learning songs by ear. This was enormously important in learning how to play styles authentically. Students who had the benefit of lessons usually depended on the written music and often lacked the authenticity, swagger, style, and character of the original recordings. But I learned early on that authenticity is the most important element in playing music and can only be picked up through learning by ear.

BAJ: What things are you currently practicing, man?

MB: Not much because I don’t have time to practice! When I can, I practice by thinking about the music that I’m currently responsible for performing and mentally working out ways to play the tunes better. I then try to apply my thoughts when I get onstage. When I have time to actually sit with a bass in my hands and practice, I usually work on using bebop techniques to play changes or intervallic improvisation. I’m always mentally working on phrasing for solos, and on how to add interesting but suitable variations to common pop grooves. That’s about it.

BAJ: Along with the previous question, please give our readers 5 songs everyone should be able to recite from the Bass Lexicon?

MB: 5 songs that everyone should be able to recite are the 5 most popular songs of the style they claim to be good at, the 5 most difficult songs that they have to play on their current gigs, the 5 songs that they failed to play authentically on any past gigs, or 5 songs outside of a style they normally play.

BAJ: As you have accomplished a great deal in your life to date… what are a few things you still want to accomplish – as you look forward to the next 3-to-5 years? Also, what accomplishments do you list amongst your favorites?

MB: I’d love to play with Steely Dan. I really enjoy their music and I’m a big fan of the players on their albums over the years. I don’t think it’ll ever happen so I started a Steely Dan tribute band here in Phoenix with my good friend Matt Goodman. I was in New York at SIR rehearsing with Marc Anthony years ago and Steely Dan was rehearsing across the hall. Walter Becker invited me in and let me listen while he played bass and the band rehearsed. Donald Fagen said hello and was gracious about my interest in the music and my presence at the rehearsal. He invited me to stay as long as I liked and I watched for almost 90 minutes. I think I’d fit in great on that gig and I hope I get an opportunity to play it at least once. Both Chuck Rainey and “Ready” Freddie Washington promised to throw my name in the hat if it was ever fitting. I try to keep track of their current song list just in case the impossible happened. I’m not a big name player or anything like so I doubt it would happen… but it’s still fun to dream about. My favorite accomplishments are being a good daddy, winning a Grammy and being at home with my son on my lap when I found out. I set out be a smooth jazz bassist so it’s nice to be playing some of the most popular projects in the genre right now. I think my favorite accomplishment is that I’ve helped a few other musicians realize that they can do this if they really want to. I look forward to making my book successful and I hope to get some colleges to adopt it into their curriculums. I’m also looking forward to doing my From Zero To Sideman workshop at colleges and high schools.

BAJ: How do you approach composing the tunes you’re releasing through your MySpace page and other online outlets?

MB: Well, “Real To Me” was written by my good friend Paul David and a wickedly talented vocalist here named Ronnie Jack. “Without You” was an effort by all three of us. There will be other tunes that I did with other friends. I’m not really a writer, But I do have a strong sense of melody. I just start with something that feels and sounds good and try to develop it from there.

BAJ: What are your thoughts about a full-fledged “MEL BROWN: BASSIST” release?

MB: At the beginning I’d feel sorry for the listener! I’ll have to go through a purging of my sideman’s point of view before I’ll be able to get at my true solo voice. That’ll take time and will involve some trial and error. Being an artist requires a strong identity as a soloist or writer – neither of which I have right now. But I think it can be developed over time and I’m excited about that.

BAJ: What is one aspect of the music business you, simply, do not care for?

MB: The politics and vanity that are so flagrantly used as weapons in the music industry. They’re used to bolster the self-worth of individuals who’ve already failed in their own mind – and to obscure their own mediocrity and insecurity.

BAJ: Define the most beautiful aspect of your life, please?

MB: First would be watching my son learn something new and inspiring me to put my pride and ego aside and do the same. I also like getting emails from players around the world that say I’ve helped or inspired them in some way. I absolutely love sharing! That’s cool too!

BAJ: Let’s look at your gear, man… What are you playing these days and why?

MB: I play J-Style basses because they simply sound the best for what I do. Fender has earned the right to be called the standard because J-Basses and P-Basses just work. I use Fender amplifiers too because they’re powerful, dependable, and affordable. I’ve never had anyone ask me to bring my Tobias Classic or my Fodera… but I have had many people ask me to bring my Fender to sessions. I have a cool pedal board that I describe in-depth in my book. I use effects to have all the current sounds that a bassist should have to play any popular style.

BAJ: Folks, go to Mel’s MySpace page and purchase your copy of “From Zero To Sideman” as soon as you can! There isn’t a single person who cannot benefit from this wonderful book! Mel, what would like to say to our readers in closing?

MB: Thanks again for having me BAJ, and Bass Frontiers Magazine! I hope that readers find my information here and in the book helpful, and will share it with others. I offer it up for the price of a private lesson- and as a solid helping hand to those with questions or needing guidance being a Sideman. Best of luck to you!

Thank you, Mel! You’re a gentleman and a wonderful player! Thank you for spending time with me!

Smooth Jazz News | November 2005

Smooth Jazz News | November 2005

Smooth Jazz News | November 2005

Although Mel Brown has done some recent live performances, he’s mostly been a smooth jazz MVP in the studio these past few years, working on such projects a Marion Meadows’ “Players Club”, Wayman Tisdale’s “Hangtime” and Darren Rahn’s “Once In a Lifetime”. He also just finished recording tracks on upcoming CDs by genre favorites Steve Oliver and Eric Darius. Having played smooth jazz for over a dozen years, Brown is finally working on his own solo project and he’s accepting suggestions for the title on his website!
“I believe the main purpose of my instrument is to make the music feel good,” he says. ” I like to keep a low profile and I’ve never wanted to be a frontman so being a bassist is perfect. It’s great seeing the world and being paid to do what I love to do. I really enjoy how I earn my living, and unlike many careers, I love Mondays! One thing I don’t like, of course, is being at the airport in the middle of the night after my flight’s been canceled!”

Who He’s performed with:
Richard Smith, Jeff Kashiwa, Metro, Marion Meadows, Wayman Tisdale, Steve Oliver, Eric Darius

Bassics Magazine | Summer 1998

Bassics Magazine | Summer 1998

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

Gibson Amplifier | Summer 1998

Gibson Amplifier | Summer 1998

Gibson Amplifier | Summer 1998

The Amplifier Magazine Article:
The Art of Self Promotion by Katoorah Jayne

This column is dedicated to those artists, musicians, self-created individuals who are in search of ways to promote, express, convey and carry their self-made works to various listening audiences. All of which may include radio, record and publishing companies as well as live venues, but reach beyond the cinder blocks of a musty-filled single-car garage, grandma’s lasagna-painted kitchen, steamy, reverberating showers or tiny bedroom jam sessions.

Imagine yourself if you will, at a concert, nightclub or party. You are there for several reasons, but the most important one is to meet people, establish new contacts and further your career in the music industry. Because a first impression is so vital and sometimes the only one you get to make, you must make a lasting one. This can be difficult to do at the previously mentioned venues, as they are usually buzzing with people, loud music and plenty of distractions.

You shake hands as you try to raise your voice enough to wedge it through the deluge of sound, and impart your business card. You do have a business card, right? After this brief exchange you are hoping to have made an indelible mark on the mind of the contact you just established. Maybe they will retain your fleeting words, maybe they won’t. Perhaps your business card, CD or cassette will be discarded along with the others that have been accumulating dust on a bureau at home. How then, can you stand out and be remembered, even talked about?

Meet Mel Brown, a vibrant, self-promoting bassist who now resides in Pasadena, CA. His business card: a CD-ROM, i.e. The Mel Brown Profile. This interactive business card (the CD itself) is adorned with a colorful caricature of Mel’s face. The CD comes with full installation instructions for Mac or PC along with the program Quicktime ® so that you can view the video segment. Mel feels that this CD-ROM can “replace introductions and promotional materials with a brief multi-media presentation.” It can act as a bio, demo tape, interview and even an audition in the event of geographical distance.

The Main page of this interactive “autobiography” has five sections: video, tunes, impressions, medley, and endorsements. Before that menu appears, however, you first see a computer-generated picture of an old black-and-gold rotary telephone centered on a light wood grain table with tapestry wallpaper accenting the background. Suddenly, the handset is rocking as you hear the ring of the phone. An answering machine kicks on and the caricature of Mel appears, lips moving, “Pa-pow, pow Mel Brown is not in the house, but I know who you be, ’cause I got the caller I.D.” I recognize it as the outgoing message on his home answering machine. It is a playful innovative arrangement of words that draw you in to the world of Mel Brown.

You are then taken to the main menu where you can go to the different sections.

1.Video — View Mel on the Arsineo Hall show, Turner Movie Classics and other commercials.

2. Tunes — Listen to songs he’s written and played bass on.

3. Impressions — Listen to other musician’s opinions about working with Mel, as you see a picture of them (similar to references on a resume).

4. Medley — See pictures of albums he has played on, along with several cuts from each one.

5. Endorsements–ee the logos and names of the endorsements he has obtained: Tobias Bass, Eden Electronics and Dean Markley.

Mel Brown has taken his talents and accomplishments and put them all on a CD-ROM. In less than ten minutes you can find out almost everything you need to know about this incredibly talented bassist, and decide whether or not to hire or give him an audition. Does it work? Is it successful? After relocating to Pasadena from Denver only two months ago, he has landed a permanent position with Gladys Knight. He conveys that his newly acquired bassist position was a direct result of the CD-ROM.

During his first few weeks in California he mailed out 130 discs. He got back 90 replies. One of them put him in touch with Gladys Knight’s musical director. The director was in Las Vegas at the time. He had a laptop computer. That was all Mel needed to know. He sent the CD-ROM to Vegas. The only thing the musical director needed to know: “Can you read music?” The audition ensued a week later. It lasted only 15 minutes. He got the job. Not only has he found a way to thoroughly self promote, but he has also potentially carved out another means to make a living.

Mel is now in the process of applying for a patent and has plans to bring this concept to the forefront of the music industry. He also envisions this as a means of promotion for the acting and modeling industries as well. This is an amazing and inventive tool to self promote, if you have the talent to back it up, you could be unstoppable. In a time where computers are becoming as common as televisions, a CD-ROM business card could eventually be a part of every kind of business.

Because of the outstanding patent application, his CD-ROM is not yet available, but will eventually make its way onto the web sites of the companies who endorse Mel. If you have any questions about this article or have suggestions or comments, please email them to:

Katoorah Jayne is a Nashville-based singer/songwriter who has written and produced 5 CDs, toured nationally with the band Western Vogue, and opened for The Rembrandts, The Bodeans, Joe Walsh, Los Lobos, The Texas Tornadoes, Holly Dunn, Leon Russel and James Cotton, to mention a few. Her music has appeared on several compilation discs alongside Shawn Colvin, Tori Amos, Julian Lennon, Leftover Salmon, Matthew Sweet, The Indigo Girls and others. Check out her website at