By Sarah Tomlinson
Photo by Bryan Helm
Many people in Matt Bachand’s situation would be content to rest on their laurels. After all, he has a fulltime gig touring the world with successful Springfield, Massachusetts-based hard rock band, Shadows Fall. They are due to release their major label debut, “Thread of Life,” on Atlantic Records on April 3rd. Their previous album, 2004’s “The War Within” not only debuted at #20 on the Billboard Top 200 charts; it also earned them a Grammy nomination and a shout out from Rolling Stone as a “Band to Watch in 2005.” Bachand even has his own signature Ibanez guitar, the MBM1.
But, having learned many music industry lessons the hard way when he was just starting out, and with the realization that he won’t be spry enough to run around the world’s stages forever, he is eagerly absorbing as much as he can about the business side of music through his courses with Berkleemusic. He is currently working towards a Specialist Certificate in Music Business by taking the three required courses, The Future of Music and the Music Business, Inside the Record Industry, and Music Publishing 101.
Because Bachand’s schedule is already so jam packed with band-related obligations, he was particularly impressed by the convenience of Berkleemusic’s online courses. “I’d heard about it, just through some people I know that have done it, Barry Kerch from Shinedown being one of them,” says Bachand. “I had asked him about his experience taking online courses, and he recommended Berkleemusic as something cool for me to try out, due to the timing issues we both have with our touring schedule. You can never learn too much, and having gone through a number of bad deals earlier on in my career, I figured it would be a great time to jump in and educate myself on a bit of the business side of the music industry.”
Bachand has been pleased to find that Berkleemusic’s online courses are just as flexible as he had hoped they would be. He can complete his assignments whenever he has time, and from wherever his band’s touring itinerary has brought him. “Obviously, scheduling is super, super important, and the idea that if I need to get an assignment done at four in the morning, I can do that,” he says. “There are no set restrictions.”
Bachand often finds himself tackling his course work when all of his other obligations have been completed for the day. This flexibility is one of his favorite aspects of the online educational environment. “Usually it ends up being a late night ordeal, which is about the only time I have free,” he says. “But that’s what’s great about it. If you’ve got an hour to burn, you can hack away at it for an hour, just do it bit by bit. You don’t have to do everything all in one shot or set aside your entire day to get your assignments in. You can really just get it done as you find the time.”
Although he is only in the final week of his first of three courses in his certificate program, Bachand has already found the best way to make the online environment work for him and learn as much as possible. “The scheduled chats are pretty important, because a lot of ideas get brought up and ideas get bounced around between the students and the instructors, and that’s really, really beneficial to the class work, I think,” he says. “There’ll be certain things that aren’t coming up in the reading, or the assignments, that come up during those scheduled chats.”
Bachand also appreciates the fact that assignments give students’ valuable experience and a thorough working knowledge of the business side of the music industry. “With these online music business courses, there is definitely a lot of research going on, which is great,” he says. “I find that most of the time you’ll spend actually looking through different magazine articles and searching Web sites. Trying to find the information, I think, is more educational than even the assignment itself, as far as essays and things like that. That’s been the most informative part of it, I think, for me. There’s a lot of writing going on that you would typically never get to do, registering songs at the copyright office, things like that. I think every artist out there should know how to do that. Even if they don’t do it themselves, they should at least know how it’s done.”
Bachand has been incredibly pleased with the practical knowledge he has gained from his courses. And he is certain that this information will benefit him and his bandmates as they navigate the often tricky, and constantly changing, landscape of the music industry. “I’m really enjoying Music Publishing 101,” he says. “Publishing can be incredibly complicated, and I think that everyone should know the basics. Also, it’s really where all the money is in the business.”While the next year and a half of his life is booked solid with touring, Bachand looks forward to taking more Berkleemusic courses when he finally has some downtime. He would like to explore more of the production side of music, and maybe take a Pro Tools class. And he appreciates the fact that Berkleemusic can give him the resources he needs to become experienced in any area of music that he’s curious about. “There are so many different options out there, as far as being involved with publishers, being involved in just songwriting, whether or not you’re even performing anymore,” he says. “There are so many different things. The whole future of the business is going to be changing, whether it’s a Web site for digital downloads, whether it’s working at a label, it could be anything. So it’s pretty much limitless.”