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Find this dude all over the country at fests and walking the streets of Chicago.  At NAMM, he’ll be the skinny guy with a leather coat. Be sure to get a card.  He’s also on twitter @ghsstrings

So how did you get involved in GHS at an artist relations level?  What ultimately led you to where you are (college, bands, life experiences, etc)?

I guess you can say that my relationship with GHS Strings started at birth, not to say that I was born with a general love for guitar strings but that I was born and raised in Battle Creek, Michigan. Being the medium sized Midwest town that we are, everyone tends to know everyone else and when a certain company president mentions to a certain local mother that they are looking for a new marketing person, sooner or later you’ll have an interview (or three). So it really does boil down to the one thing everyone talks about, networking.

Now I don’t want to make it sound like that I fell into a great job, because I did put my time in. For most of my life I lived and breathed music. I was junior high band (failed out), high school choir (they wouldn’t let me back into band), bands with friends, and eventually I had to learn a real trade and go to college. So for four and half years I studied marketing and advertising (while still playing in bands) at Western Michigan University. This marketing structure has helped me a lot in this industry, products/bands/labels are marketing themselves to each other and I’m lucky enough to help.

Describe a typical day.

There isn’t really a typical day in my job. I have to be pretty flexible. Not only do I handle Artist Relations at GHS Strings and Rocktron, but I also am the Assistant Marketing Manager. Basically in addition to keeping an eye on all of my current endorsers I have to work with new events, magazines, online media, websites, social marketing, etc. I could really be anywhere working on a number of things, but most of the time in the office is spent on the phone or in my emails. I typically get 1000-3000 emails a week, depending on the time of the year (summer and late fall are heavy touring months). Obviously, I can’t answer all of them, but I try my best to get back to as many as possible. I’m in the office from about 8:30-6:00 PM with a break for lunch, I’ll do a little more work at home, but if something is not dire I’ve learned to push myself away. A person could literally work 24/7 at these jobs, but everyone needs a break to balance out.

If you are able to say, how many different artists do you work with and across what genres Who are your most well known?  Who has been with you the longest?

Well I have not counted lately, but I would say we have around 1,600+ endorsers, maybe more. The number really fluctuates all the time. We work with a lot of different genres including Bluegrass, Country, Blues, Jazz, Rock, & Christian. Historically, our company has had big success with Rock music and has worked with artists including Santana, Eric Johnson, Gene Simmons, Def Leopard, David Gilmour, & Neil Young. Today, I have found us to have a positive impact in not Rock, but Bluegrass & Christian. The Christian market has boomed over the years with the success of some heavy young bands like The Devil Wears Prada, Disciple, Kutless, and Thousand Foot Krutch.

As far as endorsing a band goes, what qualities do you look for?  Does personal taste factor in or is a lot of it based on what you see will ultimately help the company?

I try to look at all artists with an unbiased eye, but sometimes it’s hard to do that. Ultimately I have to decide if this band will represent GHS Strings well. To do that I have to look at everything including their website, Facebook activity, press, tour dates, album streams, etc. The internet has opened bands up to a bunch of self marketing and bands can do everything on their own, so we don’t really rely on the whole “if you’re on a label, then you’re a professional band”. Of course, it never hurts in the end.

When a band emails you, what do you look for?  Does an artist have to be signed or a shredder or have a million hits on YouTube?  What makes someone stand out these days?

When a band emails me, I would like an email that I can actually read. Sometimes the grammar is so bad that I can’t really tell what they are asking. Proof read your emails! I don’t want emails that are endorsement requests for a different company. Also try not to send emails that waste people’s time. If you are asking about endorsements, then include some information on your music/band. If I have to send you an email that requests you send me information about your music, it’s just one more thing I have to do that day and it runs the risk of being unanswered.

Free strings. What do those 2 words mean to you?

Everybody wants free strings, some even think they are entitled. But with the economy that we live in today, you have to go in assuming that you will pay something. You have to give a little to get a little. Maybe a company will give you a great price, but next time they might help you out. It’s an investment for us to work with a band, so you have to be willing to invest in the company.

Anything knowledge you can impart on an artist that is looking to work with GHS? And for the musician that’s looking to get into artist relations, any wisdom there?

If you are looking to work with GHS Strings, then by all means contact us! We are open to looking at all types of music from all levels of players. Just be sure that you are working and actually playing! The bands that really need endorsements are the ones playing the most, so start booking shows.

Lastly, what is the artist email if people wanted to email you?

Chris@ghsstirngs.com.

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