Phoenix Musician Mel Brown Wants to Help You Get a Job — Here’s How
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 connexionpointe.com 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 (connexionpointe.io), 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: melbrown.net.