Presentation #4b: Music Business Grads: What Berklee Did Well & Advice

This presentation, similar to #3b, was given in the spring of 2018 to a section of MB-P 425 Strategic Management.  It features many direct quotes about what Berklee is doing well to prepare folks for careers outside of music, as well as advice which these folks have for current students.  The presentation also summarizes data about careers and career paths, and in several places contrast Music Business alumni with Berklee alumni with different majors.

Download the Presentation.

Data from everyone class of 2005 or later interviewed in 2015 – Dec. 2017 was tabulated and used; interviews #1 – 110, except for #7.  This includes 55 MB alumni (including those who double-majored in MB and something else) and 54 alumni with other majors.

Successful Berklee Alumni #114: J.C. Zwisler

J.C. Zwisler

Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 15 min.) or download it.


Graduated in 2010 with a major in Professional Music.  Principal instrument:  drums.


Position:  Associate Attorney at Ladas & Parry, LLP, a Intellectual Property (“IP”) law firm that specializes in international intellectual property law, with a bit over 100 attorneys spread over for primary locations.  J.C. is one of around 30 in their New York office, and one of 4 lawyers in the “Trademark Group.”  He’ll respond to clients’ queries, research issues, and write responses which are then looked over by one of the (more senior) partners.  A small fraction of his job involves trying to get new clients.


Overview:  J.C. planned to teach music after graduating at the end of 2010, and did so in the Boston Area for a year, getting private clients plus many clients in Weston and Wellesley through At Your Door Music.  He enjoyed working with them, but after a full year J.C. realized he was unhappy with this as a career–for most students “It was just another activity.” and his head would be ringing by the end of the day. He kept some students, as well as gigging with a band, while exploring other career options, particularly those still connected to music.  His Legal Aspects class at Berklee, plus his parents both being lawyers got him thinking about entertainment law, and conversations with several local entertainment lawyers made him choose that as a career.  J.C.  spent a while studying for the LSATs, and enrolled at NorthEastern University School of Law in the fall of 2013.

Very soon as he got there, J.C. realized he didn’t want do entertainment law.  “I learned more about what an entertainment attorney actually is. It’s not like it’s one thing. It’s someone who should know real estate, corporate, IP, maybe criminal.  That wasn’t what I was looking for. ”  But J.C. loved his IP law class, so he took all the IP classes he could, joined IP professional organizations and clubs, and took IP-related jobs.  After graduation and passing both the MA and NY bar exams, J.C.  undertook a full-time jobs search.  It took roughly six months, but in February 2017 an application to his current firm led to his current job.


You can see J.C.’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:  “I was drawn to IP (intellectual property) from the get-go. Also, it makes sense to me. When I try to explain trademark law to people, what it boils down to is two companies using marks which may or may not be similar for products that may or may not be similar. The question is are they similar enough for people to be confused? To me, that makes sense.”

“In our practice–and I think this is particular to trademarks–I bounce around all day on countless things. I come home and can’t recall everything I’ve don’t wtihout having to look back on my records.”

“A lot of what I do is routine, but when a client comes with something really different and it’s intellectually stimulating to turn your brain on and figure out new things–I enjoy that challenge. I have to keep up with trademark law as part of my job; there are a lot of interesting, impactful IP cases.”

“Dealing with first year law school was a major shock. Not that Berklee wasn’t challenging, but law school is a whole different beast.  You can’t prepare all that much, but brace yourself–it’s REALLY difficult!  Try to read a few case books before you go. Learn some rudimentary law before you step in.”



J.C. drumming with the band he was in for years, Jet Black Sunrise.  They played their farewell show in December 2017.  “When you’re a musician, you practice your craft. For me that was drums–going to (Berklee) classes all day, then practicing for hours at night. That taught me to focus in on something for long periods of time and apply apply apply myself until I get better at it. I went to law school with no real idea what was going on, but that same concept–reading stuff over and over until I got it was similar.   It was extremely hard, but I knew if I put in the time and worked it hard it would happen.”



J.C.  these days, with friends.  Life is going well, and he has some words of advice for Berklee grads thinking about a career in law,  “”It’s a double-edge sword. As a Berklee grad, you’re going to have to explain yourself a lot. This interview is just a long version of my 30-second elevator pitch I’ve done for years. But on the plus side, having Berklee on your resume will help you stand out–and in this field anything you can do to set yourself apart really helps!”




See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #113: AJ Farley

AJ Farley

Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 15 min.) or download it.


Graduated in 2011 with a major in Professional Music.  Principal instrument:  alto saxophone.


Position:  Software Engineer at IQVIA, a large, Fortune 500 medical data firm.  AJ works on a 6-person team (4 designers, 2 engineers) that builds demos and prototypes for internal use.  He also has a side job with a start up that uses blockchain technology to build “smart contracts.”


Overview:   AJ spent his first three years after graduation in California (a years in Chico, followed by two in Oakland) working in various food-related jobs.  On a farm, selling juice, working at Whole Foods, managing a cafe.  But by 2012 he was getting interested in technology via interactions with customers and others.  “”If you live in the Bay Area, software is just part of your world.”  He started to teach himself coding in his off-time, but put that aside as his music opportunities multiplied and he did several tours.  With those done in 2014 and feeling burned out on the small-business food world, AJ was attracted to the opportunities and higher pay in high technology.  He spent over a year getting up to speed, between self-study and attending a coding “boot camp.”

It took 4 months and 100 applications to get his first job, which was in Las Vegas.  He moved out there, but got laid off 5 months later.  He moved to Seattle and spent over 3 months in the next job search, keeping himself busy by building websites from scratch.  Finally, in July of 2017 he was hired into his current job.


You can see AJ’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:  “I love what I do.  I wake up every day and want to win at this. I’m totally dedicated to this. For the last month I worked so much–and rather than complain it’s because I wanted to do that! I see this progress, and it’s real.”

“What I care about is solving problems. That’s the name of the game when it comes to tech. . I’m trying to work with more decentralized tech, which the general public will be able to take advantage of and empower themselves with it. As a musician, there are technical solutions which will help musicians, and I’m not just talking about streaming.”

“There’s so much pressure to just do music (or just live in a certain city)–I got that pressure a lot.  But listen to yourself, and follow your gut, period. None of those other folks are going to pay your bills and rent or live your life.   However you’re trying to put it together, stay with that vision and don’t let things break your focus. If you’re trying to get into a non-music career, just do it!”


AJ as a Berklee student, playing his sax.  “Coding is not easy; it is not for dabblers if you want to do it for a living. If you want to be good for the long haul, you have to take it as seriously as you took your instrument–you need to work VERY hard.”






AJ feeling good in Seattle.”I sometimes can’t believe I have this career that I have. Music and software are everything to me. I have so much to offer to the world.”







See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #112: Chris Carlberg

Chris Carlberg

Listen to the interview (approx 1 hr, 2 min.) or download it.


Graduated in 2012 with a major in Music Business.  Principal instrument:  guitar.


Position:  Financial Adviser (investment sales) at Edward Jones, a national, privately-held financial firm which specializes in personal investing.  Chris’s job is to find new individual/household investors, and help them choose the right investments to help them meet their financial goals.  “I’m essentially a business owner and Edward Jones backs me with materials, administrative support, and what I need to run my business.”


Overview:  A successful child actor and musician, Chris went to Berklee in his mid-20s when the recession hit and work dried up.  After graduating in under 3 years, Chris moved back home to L.A., where he reconnected with his old girlfriend (now fiancee).  Several months later, she was pregnant, and he frantically sought an income sufficient to support a family.  He worked 7 days/week at four jobs:  teaching music, producing, bartending, and gigging, but was feeling worn down by mid-2014 and posted on Facebook if anyone could hook him up with a better career.  A friend recommended him for an internet marketing manager for Scorpion, an internet marketing firm, and he got the job.

Chris stayed with Scorpion for 2 years, before deciding that he wanted to move to Oregon.  Unable to work remotely, he sought new employment and found a job with Edward Jones.  Ironically, just as his 10-week training (during which he got his Series 7 and Series 66 certifications) was wrapping up, he was informed that they no longer were placing new advisers in Oregon, so he elected to stay in L.A.  Chris has been there since, networking and building his business.


You can see Chris’s LinedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes: “There’s a big reward in professions where you’re helping people. I get to help people undersand how it all works, and also achieve their goals. I ease their stress about having to worry about this, and help them achieve those goals.   Also, a lot of my job involves meeting my neighbors.  I love being integrated into my community, and I get to make friends all day!””

“I’d equate it to a franchise, except that normally with a franchise you have to buy in with your own money. This is the same idea, but instead they bought into me–giving me a salary and training to get my Series 7, Series 66, and California licenses.”

“My life is my family. This job affords me to help my family in multiple ways.  I am able to make money to support them well and pay for vacations and other enrichment for my children, and the flexible hours allows me to spend time with my kids.”

“Certain Liberal Arts classes at Berklee really opened me up to appreciating learning. That again is a big reason I took this job, where I’m constantly learning new things–as a financial adviser I have to follow world events, politics, etc. and understand the impact on the markets.”

“Whatever it is you want to do / see happen, go do it!  We all have excuses, but we all have stuff we want to do.  If it’s meant to happen, make it happen!”



See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #111: Jeffrey Arevalo

Jeffrey Arevalo


Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 5 min.) or download it.


Graduated in 2013 with a major in Music Business.  Principal instrument:  drums.


Position:  Insurance “Outside” Sales (official title:  Mortgage Protection Specialist) at Symmetry Financial Group, a large life insurance company offering many different insurance products.  A commission-only-based job, Jeffrey receives sales leads directly from his company, and his job is to sent up appointments to visit potential clients, find them appropriate insurance to cover their home mortgages in case of illness/disability/death, and sell them the appropriate product.  He also spends time recruiting others to work for the company, and expects to be promoted to director of his own insurance agency several months from now.

Overview:  After graduation Jeffrey moved back to Sarasota, Florida, and for the next several years he was “a workaholic–working (mostly construction and odd jobs) every day and gigging every night.”  But he had a lot of student debt, and was only treading water financially.  In the spring of 2017, a friend in Connecticut offered that he move up there and try to get a fresh start.  Jeffrey moved there and spent the next two months applying to over 200 jobs.  He got five offers, of which the offer for his current job was the most appealing.

It was tough “going from expert musician to the new guy,” and for the first three weeks he had no success.  But in week 4 it clicked, and he realized he could do this.   He has had great success in his current job, and is moving toward a more senior role.


You can see Jeffrey’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:  “I like four things about my job:  1) The freedom. I create my own schedule, and can work anywhere I have my phone. Usually I’m working from home.  2) The compensation is great!  3) I’m making an impact, making the world a bit better by being here. 4) The culture of the business.  I’m really close to the team I’m on, and there’s a large focus on personal development.”

“I have been very successful here, and my managers say it’s because of my work ethic.  Musicians have a lot of grit and commitment and know that you have to put in hours of work to be successful.”

“The world needs more role models. Be a mentor; be a leader. Surround yourself with people you look up to. Find role models, talk to them. Read books. Chart your progressions, and don’t give up.”

“Music has been and always will be a big part of my life, it’s in my heart. I’ve always been a fan too. I’m taking a break now, but I’m not giving up on music, and I regret nothing.”



See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.