Successful Berklee Alumni #59: Jordan Cusner

Jordan Cusner

Listen to the Interview (approx. 1 hr, 19 min) or download it.


Graduated in 2006 with a degree in Music Business.  Principal instrument:  guitar.

Position:  Market Research Coordinator at McCormick, a large company that sells spices and flavorings.  Jordan makes sure the right market research (surveys, focus groups, observations) is done to support products in development, coordinating with different departments, and writing reports.

Overview:  Hoping to be an entertainment lawyer, Jordan went straight from Berklee to Suffolk University.  However, he quickly decided that entertainment law was neither interesting nor well-paying, and elected to get an MBA at the same time as his JD, finishing in 3 years.  “I took law classes during the days and business classes during the evenings.”  Rewriting a poorly-written contract for a company his father-in-law was consulting for, Jordan impressed the right people and was given a well-paying 1-year contract job at a market research firm in the middle of the severe 2009 recession.

As that job wound down, another connection led Jordan to C-Space, a market research consulting firm in Boston.  It was lower pay, but excellent experience to obtain the in-house job he wanted.  Several years later he interviewed at Hasbro and was turned down…then re-contacted 6 months later and hired into a  market research job that was a better fit.  Jordan was happy at Hasbro, but family circumstances led to he and his wife moving to Maryland, where he got his job with McCormick.


You can see Jordan’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice quotes:  “Fundamentally my job is about bringing the consumer perspective to our business, and to ensure that the consumer drives the decisions we make.  Just as with if you’re writing commercial music to sell and make a lot of money, you can’t think about what you like, but what a lot of people like.  It’s not always about you.”

“Coming out of school, I thought about working as a lawyer or consultant for Gibson (guitars), but working there doesn’t mean I’m a musician.  A guitar is just another widget.  I’ll be fighting the same legal battles, and writing up the same sort of contracts that I’d be doing for Chevrolet or whatever.”

“When you look for work, it’s not always about what you can do right now, but what you want to do down the road.  Position yourself for that.  I took a pay cut to work at C-space to build up my credibility in the research industry and then parlay that into an in-house job.”



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Successful Berklee Alumni #58: Jessica Prouty

Jessica Prouty

Listen to the interview (approx. 45 min.) or download it.


Graduated in 2015 with a major in Music Business.  Principal Instrument:  voice.


Position:  Public Relations Specialist at GasBuddy, a tech company that makes an app which provides details on gas stations and convenience stores.   Jessica tracks mentions of her company in the media and writes reports to inform the higher-ups.  She pitches stories to the media, looks for opportunities for her company’s people to be interviewed, and writes press releases.  She also helps the integrated marketing team with creative ideas for the company blog and newsletter.

Overview:  After graduating in the spring, Jessica spent the next 7 months gigging and working on a film-related project with her band 95 Hyde.  She also did a marketing internship with George Howard Strategic, where she realized how many of the music business skills applied to other industries.  But by the end of 2015 the internship was long over and the music project was winding down and it was time to get a day job.  A friend of her mother knew someone at a staffing agency looking to fill a PR position (titled “communications assistant”) and put in the good word; Jessica applied for and got the job, spending the next 6 months working at Pioneer Investments.

That job, however, was temporary, as it normally was filled by work-study students from NorthEastern University, so by mid-2016 as its end was imminent Jessica applied to over 25 companies in the Boston area, including GasBuddy, looking to do PR or marketing.  Several challenging interviews later, she got the job.  Initially hired as a “Public Relations Coordinator,” Jessica was recently promoted to “Public Relations Specialist,” which involves more writing and creativity.


You can see Jessica’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice quotes:  “I love people–talking to people, getting to know people, performing for people was a big part of my life as a musician.  PR is all about that–getting to know people, spreading the word about the company, talking about it in a positive way.  Making new contacts, new friends.”

“GasBuddy had only two people doing PR–me and my boss.  I’m handling many projects at the same time.  Time management is key. Also to be able to work independently, but to ask for help if I need it.”

“When looking for a job, if you find someone doing something interesting, reach out to them and ask if they can do coffee and if you can get advice.   You might not get a reply 100% of the time, but a lot of people want to help.”


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Successful Berklee Alumni #57: Cambria Russell-Herrera

Cambria Russell-Herrera

(formerly Russell)

cambria russell-herrera


Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 14 min.) or download it.


Graduated in 2015 with a major in Music Business.  Principal Instrument:  harp.


Position: Studio Manager of Cherry Lion Studios in Atlanta Georgia, which produces sculpture, both commissioned work and mass-produced pieces for the hospitality industry.  Cambria manages the business/financial end of the studio, which has a lead sculptor, an assistant sculptor, and another worker.
Overview:  After graduating in the spring of 2015, Cambria moved to New York City for a promised job in the music industry…which fell through after she moved in to an expensive neighborhood!  Wanting to stay in the city and work in entertainment law, she quickly found a job with the New York Film Academy working on music licensing for films, but it paid considerably less and she didn’t like the specific work.  After four months, she elected to move to Altanta to be with her now-husband.  Aware that she needed a job ASAP, Cambria broadened her job search to opportunities outside music, and was hired as a part-time manager for Cherry Line Studios at modest pay.

It became clear that the job was far more work than estimated and Cambria’s hours went to effectively full-time, though her pay remained modest.  8 months later, thanks to Cambria’s help, the studio was on a much more solid fiscal footing, and her boss was extremely impressed and grateful for all she had done.  At that point, she and her boss had a conversation which resulted in Cambria becoming a full-time employee and her pay was greatly increased to reflect all she was doing.


You can see Cambria’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:  “One thing I love about the job is that every day is different–there’s a brand new problem I have to solve.”

“To be honest, I’m underqualified–My boss really needs someone with an MBA and ten years experience, but he can’t afford that.  Thus I was OK with the initial low pay rate because I was gaining incredible, relevant work experience.”

“I’m using a lot of the knowledge & skills I learned at school for my job.” Berklee Music Business Professor Andrea Johnson gave us a (music) studio management Excel template which I’m using now at work!  It helps me get a much better picture of what our profit is with each commission.  Also, I negotiate with my boss, with the clients. with independent contractors we hire, and others–and Berklee’s contract negotiation aspect of Music Business has helped me SO MUCH!  It gave me a real skill of understanding art & music as property”

“After dedicating 4 years to something specific like music it’s not easy to let go of the specificity, but doing something unrelated for work might prove to be fun and good for you.”

“The art world doesn’t have the business intermediaries down like music does, and it’s much less standardized in terms of value than the music industry.  My Berklee edcuation gives me a much better idea on assessing what things should be worth in a way that nobody else (in the art world) really knows and helps me make others understand that too.”


See the full index of Successful Berklee Grads.


Successful Berklee Alumni #56: Ryan Heenan

Ryan Heenan


Listen to the interview (approx. 50 min) or download it.

To illustrate the power of online freelancing, Ryan hired someone to clean up the audio and add an introduction.  Enjoy!


Graduated in 2007 with a major in Music Business.  Principal Instrument:  guitar.

Position:  Entrepreneur.  For five years, Ryan makes and sells marketing and instructional videos, both freelance via and other freelance sites and via his own website.   His rates vary between $200 and $460 per minute for videos, depending on the level of creative input required.

Overview:  After graduating, Ryan moved to California hoping to set up a home studio, but couldn’t find a good space (a blessing in disguise).  He taught music lesson for a year, then moved back to Massachusetts, where he waited tables for 6 months, then took a job as a music specialist with a pre-school.  A colleague, Big Joe the Storyteller, encouraged Ryan to use his talents in a side job.  Ryan put out a Kids CD based on healthy eating, which was a good learning experience albeit not a huge commercial success.  Then he started doing birthday jingles for kids on fiverr.

Soon people requested video with jingles so he taught himself video editing and animation software.  Ryan started getting requests for videos without jingles, and Ryan’s work increased to the point where in mid-2012 he resigned from the pre-school and moved to California, supporting himself on his freelance work plus waiting tables once/week until by 2013 his work volume had increased to where he could give that up.  Increasingly finding himself doing marketing videos, Ryan studied marketing so as to be able to design good videos as well as construct them.  By 2015 the volume of work had grown to the point that he hired his sister, who had just received her masters degree in psychology.

Because of his commercial success via these freelance websites, Ryan has been featured in many different articles, including in the L.A. Times,  Forbes Magazine, and the NY Daily News.


You can see Ryan’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:  “It’s a challenge in life to find something fulfilling.  We spend so much time working, it’s important to do that.  I get a nice creative outlet.  I get to do this artistic element, but in a new and creative way.  Every day there’s a new challenge, a headache, something fun, something I learn.  I get to do this creative thing that’s making me a great living and is something I enjoy.”

“I’ve done around 8000 videos over the past 5 years, and at this point so much has been made that I can reuse footage and do things much faster and cheaper.”

“I view my career as a step ladder, which each step leading to the next step.  When you have an open mind, it opens so many potential doors.

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