Jon Blanchette, a 2015 Gard Scholarship Award Recipient, gained experience in the music products industry working with NAMM member Rick’s Musical Instruments in Cumberland, RI. Blanchette experienced working in the industry firsthand while learning to repair brass instruments. We followed up with him to chat about his experience working in the industry.
What are your goals for working in the music products industry?
As a working musician, I hope to improve upon the faults in some current products. I want to create products that make my professional life and the life of other musicians easier.
How has being a Gard Scholarship winner helped you fund your education?
The Gard Scholarship has help tremendously with my school expenses and continues to encourage me to work hard each semester.
What role do you currently play in the business? What job do you have now and how did you get it?
I’ve been working as a brass repair technician at Rick’s Musical Instruments in Cumberland, RI for about four years. Although I mostly repair, I also have experience with retail. My father, Marc Blanchette, has been the band director at Mount Saint Charles Academy in Woonsocket, RI for 36 years. Since Rick’s beginning, my father has almost exclusively gone to the store for all music related purchases and repairs. When my interest in the music business became serious, I contacted Rick about working at the store.
What did you learn that makes you better prepared for a job in the industry?
I currently study Music Business at Berklee College of Music. Berklee’s program covers a wide variety of aspects in the music business including marketing, product development, business startups and legal aspects. By taking these courses and continuing to work at Rick’s Musical Instruments, I will be prepared to take on a wide variety of jobs in the music industry.
Do you think doing business now is easier or harder than it was 20 years ago?
Although I can’t really speak for how business worked 20 years ago, I’m sure there are many differences from today. A great deal of the current music products industry is online. It’s much easier for businesses to promote their goods online; however, it’s hard for small music businesses to compete. I don’t think doing business now is easier or harder than it was 20 years ago, but different.
What aspects of music retail/manufacturer interest you most?
The aspect of the music retail/manufacturing business that interests me the most is product development. The process of creating a finished product from an idea fascinates me.
What’s the best thing about what you’re currently doing?
The best thing about studying music business at Berklee is being surrounded by other hard working, creative entrepreneurs. I’m able to discuss business ideas of mine and of others with my peers.
Do you have a business mentor or role model?
My business mentors are Rick Verfaille, the owner of Rick’s Musical Instruments, Anthony DeFusco, owner of Village Drum and Music and also Neil Grover, founder of Grover Pro Percussion. These business owners and their teams provide top quality music products and services for most of southern New England.
The William R. Gard Memorial Scholarship was established by NAMM, the National Association for Music Merchants, in an effort to encourage individuals to pursue education and careers in the music products industry. The scholarship is available to NAMM Member employees who are attending college.