Artist Case Study – Holden Hackney

     The artist I chose to do my case study on is Steve Gadd. I chose Gadd because he is a remarkable drummer, one of the best ever. I also see the potential for me to follow a similar career path. Gadd has done it all. He studied traditional percussion in classical settings from a young age, while also exposing himself to the jazz scene playing with well-known names like Chick Corea and Dizzy Gillespie from a young age, and dozens of other well know names over the course of his career.

Interviewer: What makes you and your work unique?

What makes Steve Gadd’s work unique is his ability to create the most immensely phat pocket for the rest of the band to lay into, all while contributing great feel and embellishment to the music being made by whatever musicians he is playing with. He is also one of the most, if not the most, transcribed drummers ever. His playing has attracted the attention of every drummer who is anyone. His solo transcriptions of are the most produced, most purchased, and most played.

Interviewer: Do you have a brand or artist statement?

Gadd’s brand is his band, “The Steve Gadd Band.” From my research I believe his artist statement is simply to always be the best. With that attitude and statement, his success was created.

Interviewer: Do you have a mission or vision?

Young Gadd had a mission to become a professional musician and follow in the footsteps of other greats he looked up to. I’m sure he had a vision coming up, at this point in his life and career though, he’s made it and he’s doing what he wants to be doing.. that’s the mission.

Interviewer: Do you have career goals laid out for the next 5-10 years?

After recently winning a Grammy for “Best Contemporary Instrumental album,” His plan for the next 5-10 years would be to continue touring his album and playing live, as well as continuing his heavy schedule of studio and session work.

Interviewer: What do you do and what are you doing?

Gadd is a world-renowned drummer, producer, and legend. He plays drums for his own bands, as well for other musicians/bands in the past such as Steely Dan, Chick Corea, and many more. He also plays and has played on many studio sessions. He currently is touring with Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, and James Taylor. As well as playing live with his band and retaining a busy schedule of studio and session work.

Interviewer: How are you connecting and building audiences and how do you market to them?

Along with his reputation; he uses social media, his website, and an online merchandise store to build audiences and market to them.

Interviewer: What opportunities are you on the lookout for?

I believe Gadd is on the lookout for opportunities to play his album live, or play with any big names on big projects, live or session work.

Interviewer: Did you look at someone else’s career to make a path for your own and if so, what was it? 

Gadd absolutely looked up to people before him for inspiration and guidance into establishing his career. He has said before that his inspirations coming up and until now include names such as, Buddy Rich, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, and Rick Marotta. He also had an uncle who was a drummer in the Army, the same branch he eventually was drafted into where he played drums as well.

Interviewer: How do you fund your work?

Gadd has a merch website where he sells his brand, as well as many records and royalties I’m sure he gets from everything he has done in his career, along with pay from live performances and more.

Interviewer: How did you initially get funding? 

At the age of seven he began taking private lessons, with this in mind, I’m sure coming up he had financial support from his parents and on into college at Eastman. After college he was drafted into the Army, so he received funding from that, and after that he began working as a studio musician where received funding, and the rest is history.

Interviewer: What networks or organizations do you belong to and which ones have helped you the most?

Gadd belongs to the worldwide network of top-notch drummers and live/studio musicians. He is one of the most accomplished names in the music business today and for the last 20-30 years. I believe the compilation of all the networking, experience, and work throughout his career is what has brought him to his current level of success.

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