Successful Berklee Alumni #131: Ben Meyers

Ben Meyers


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


Graduated in 2014 with a major in Music Business.  Principal Instrument:  drums.


Position:  Wedding photographer at 21Summit Studios, his own company.  It’s a one-man operation, though Ben hires contractors both to help photograph weddings and to edit the photos/video afterward.  He does roughly 30 weddings per year, nearly all of them in the late spring through early fall.  His company is represented by the agency Entertainment Specialists, and gets most business either through them or through popular wedding sites The Knot or Wedding Wire.

Ben also has a side job, teaching part-time at Berklee, where he was hired to teach immediately after graduation.  He teaches 3 sections of MTI-309, where he teaches students how to shoot and make good music videos.


Overview:  In high school, Ben shot videos for friends’ bands and did his own video, Empty School, which went viral.  He came to Berklee intending to have a career making music videos.  By the end of his first year he was charging $1,500 to put together music videos for bands.  By the end of his second year, he was shooting videos for the college, first as a work-study student and later through his own company.

Throughout Berklee, Ben was friends with an older student, who had great success with a wedding band, starting a multi-band company.  Around the time he finished Berklee Ben went to weddings to photograph/video these other bands in action and while there he observed the wedding photographers.  He quickly decided he wanted to do that–wedding work paid well while allowing for free time, and he felt he could do an excellent job.  His friend started recommending him as a photographer and introduced him to their agency Entertainment Specialists.  Ben put together a professional-level website and business started happening.


You can see Ben’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:  “90% of the work I do is prior to the wedding day, 9% on the day, and 1% afterward.  Most of the work is communicating with clients and figuring out all the logistical details.”

The friendships and people I knew through Berklee was almost worth all that tuition on their own. All  I’m doing today is because I knew the right people, and everyone I’ve hired have been through connections.  It takes effort, but keep those relationships open, care about people, ask them what’s going on and let them shine and know where they’re shining.   So that you can reach out to them if they’re in a position to help you. ”

“Be sure to focus enough on how you present yourself to the client. If you have a simple website with good content and you make it easy for people to say yes, you’ll be surprised as to how many gigs come about.  Also, many new photographers charge too little in the hope that it’ll make them competitive.  If you saw a Mercedes Benz in a car lot selling for $2,000 you’d assume there was something wrong with it. But if you saw the car for $35K, you might figure that was reasonable.”



Ben as a Berklee student.  “As musicians, you have to sit in a practice room by yourself and come to the performance ready to go, and you’re going to get flak from others if you don’t know your part. In some cultures it’s almost cool not to do well in that liberal arts classes, but in music you have to deliver!  That was great practice for running my own business.”



“It feels a bit unusual not be in the industry (music) that I really love, but the wedding industry made sense to me becuause I have enough time to work on my other passions. That extra time is more of a benefit to work on my passion projects–building computers, growing plants, writing music.”  (and sometimes lying on the beach).  Ben’s has a self-described healthy relationship with music, working on an album and experimenting with electronic music while not relying on music for income.



Ben with one of his cameras.  “In the wedding industry, I’m still a small fish.  But here I am.”








See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #130: Amy Puffer

Amy Puffer


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


Graduated in 2016 with a major in Music Production & Engineering.  Principal instrument:  piano.


Position:  Assistant Video Editor at Peel&Eat, a small video post-production company which works primarily with advertising firms, turning the raw video footage into the finished product–typically a 30 or 60-second advertisement.  They also do a bit of film work.  As the one assistant video editor, Amy make the first careful pass through the raw video-footage, organizing it by category and selecting the best take for the editors to work on.  Increasingly, Amy is working directly with customers to make edits.  Amy also is responsible for backing up the company’s data.


Overview:  Amy graduated in the spring, planning to have a relaxing summer, then move to New York to work in a studio.  Still in Boston in August, she applied and got a job with PSAV, a large multinational firm which does audio-visual support for conferences and other events.  Amy’s plan was to port her job over to New York.  However, she decided she wanted to stay in Boston, and after a few months grew disenchanted with her job’s chaotic hours and lack of creativity, “I felt like a high-tech waitress, where people wanted me to bring them their order and go away.”  She started looking for jobs on Indeed, and saw one for an office manager/asst. producer at Peel&Eat.  She applied, and two days later had a job.

Amy’s bosses made it clear that she should use her downtime to “better herself in a way that helps the company,” so Amy eagerly started learning different software packages:  Photoshop, Illustrator etc.  After about a year, Peel&Eat’s assistant video editor was promoted, which opened up that position.  While a bit lacking in specific technical skills, Amy was a clearly a hard worker and eager to learn, so they gave her a shot, albeit at no increase in pay.  Six months later she got a substantial raise that reflected her new duties.


You can see Amy’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:  “I love being here. I gives me the opportunity to put together images and the artistic way that images fit with music. I enjoy the technical hands-on part– that drew me to engineering while at Berklee, and in a visual realm is really exciting   The other half of what I love about my job is the people. I loved how Berklee people were so passionate about what they do, and my coworkers here are the same.”

“Breaking down a 30-second ad is days of work for me. A good rule-of-thumb is that a half-day of footage is a full day of work.”

“I love my job, but I still ask myself what I’m going to do when I grow up.   Be flexible and easy on yourself and give yourself time to figure it out.  Also, Berklee pressures people that career is everything, but remember that a job is a job–a way of making money.  If you don’t like it, make a change, or at least do something good in your downtime.”


Amy at Berklee, working the sound board.  “There are so many commonalities between video editing and audio engineering. Often the technical software works similarly. Even though I’m not using the specifics of my degree, I’m using the general concepts and technical skills, and did learn a bit about video editing & parameters at Berklee.  My Berklee education got me to where I needed to be.”




While she has mixed feelings about not working in music, Amy jams with coworkers and makes music with friends.  “Doing something professionally and doing something from the heart are two different things.  I’m not pursuing music from a professional level but it’s definitely worth nurturing my relationship with it.”




See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #129: Luke Ramus

Luke Ramus


Listen to the interview (approx. 55 min.) or download it.


Graduated in 2010 with a major in Film Scoring.  Principal instrument:  guitar.


Position:  Web developer at the University of Chicago Law School.  The one in-house developer, Luke gets assigned projects by the school’s IT director and is then a “one-man band,” designing, coding, and testing the websites he builds.  While officially a front-end developer, he deals with back-end stuff as well, “everything but the databases.”


Overview:  After graduation, Luke moved to Burlington, Vermont to “do the band thing” with guys he had been playing with since high school, while working day jobs to support himself, and got the occasional film-scoring project.  As a hobby, he did websites for his band and to showcases his other work.  Opportunities were limited in such a small city, so in January, 2012 he moved to Chicago, hoping to make a living doing music for commercials.   He started looking for freelance work, while hoping to get a job in music.  A sheet music store, Performers Music, hired him (at minimum wage) to build their website.  He got a little raise, but hoping to make more money applied and got a similar web-building job for a liquor store in early 2013, then 6 months later, got a better-paying half-time job building websites for the University of Chicago’s Music School.

While Luke continued to get the occasional little music scoring project, the money there was extremely minimal.  Taking advantage of having a well-paying part time job, Luke decided to actively pursue a Masters in Human-Computer Interaction at DePaul University., while continuing to work part-time for the University of Chicago.  January 2017, a few months out from completing his Masters, Luke started looking for a full-time job, and got one at a website translation firm.  However, he didn’t love the place and after about 9 months he was one of many who got laid off.  However, he saw that the University of Chicago had just created his current position, and with his experience/references there he quickly got the job.


Luke continues to do music for fun, and his band in Chicago, Cirkut Mob, put out an album.  You can see that multi-media music/story experience at their website–built by Luke of course!


You can see Luke’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes: “I enjoy a number of things about web development.  It feels like a game to figure out how all these moving parts should fit together. It’s challenging, but there’s a million  Stack Overflow posts, tutorials, websites, etc. to help me meet those challenges. It’s satisfying to know that any wall I hit there’s a way though it.  All the logic, planning, and organization goes into making this neat-looking interface come to life. And hopefully it has real value to somebody somewhere.”

“If you want to be a web developer, learn all you can. Keep building new sites. I took a class where I had to build 10 stupid little websites, and that cemented a lot of knowledge.  Be ambitious in what you try to do with websites–always push what you know, research the best practice for whatever it is you’re trying to do. Practice. Learn more. There’s nearly unlimited online resources. Build yourself a nice portfolio website that shows that you can code, and that goes a long way.”

“Berklee taught me to be disciplined and good at self-teaching, exploring something I’m passionate about it and learning all I could–I applied that model to web design later on.  Berklee also gave me experience making creative output and getting critiques on it. That’s valuable and gave me a thick skin.”


Luke with his wife.  “Meeting her helped me sort out a lot of things.  I realized some things I wanted in life–to buy a house, to have a family–and random little music projects weren’t going to get me that.   But I was fortunate to be really passionate about web design and development.”





Luke at work.  “One thing that attracted me to this job was that I’ll be doing multiple roles. “This job lets me be a UX designer and I gather requirements and build mock-ups, then I get to build it and make sure it works correctly.




Luke playing in his metal band in Vermont shortly after graduation.  “Music is this funny thing. To be successful in it, you need to be making stuff people like, be really good at it, and be good at self-promotion. If you can do all three, that’s awesome. For everybody else, hopefully there’s a lining up of what people are willing to pay you for and what you enjoy doing.”



See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.