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TEM 52: Sam Pilafian of Boston Brass on the legacy of Prince, Developing your voice on stage and becoming an "overnight success" after 20 years of work (Part 2)

TEM Blog

The Entrepreneurial Musician Blog by Andrew Hitz featuring articles on being an entrepreneur in the music business. Show notes for The Entrepreneurial Musician Podcast.

TEM 52: Sam Pilafian of Boston Brass on the legacy of Prince, Developing your voice on stage and becoming an "overnight success" after 20 years of work (Part 2)

Andrew Hitz

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Here is Part 2 of my incredible conversation with Sam Pilafian of Boston Brass.

Topics Covered:

  • Sam's thoughts on the passing of Prince and the hilarious story of when Empire Brass ran into him while waiting for an elevator
  • How Prince was able to surround himself with the best musicians in the business
  • How preparing to become the first brass quintet to ever win the Naumberg chamber competition helped to shape empire brass
  • The importance of developing your voice (either as a group or an individual) on stage
  • How winning the 1976 Naumberg Chamber Music Award led to a contract with Columbia Artist Management, which in turn led to some of the members quitting gigs like the Boston Symphony to go all in
  • How good the powers that be at Columbia Artist Management were at "creating careers" and how they helped to steer the Empire Brass brand and sound
  • The connection that's made with an audience when every member of a chamber group is individually developed and the audience gets to know them
  • How some groups become "overnight successes" after 20 years of work
  • How great a group plays live after they make a recording
  • How valuable having string playing coaches was for the group
  • How they modeled their sound after the Borodin Quartet
  • How a banjo player he played with over a decade earlier in Your Father's Mustache led to him playing on Pink Floyd's The Wall
  • How the Empire Brass Seminar at Tanglewood enabled them to network with the next generation of great brass players
  • The importance of developing your own repertoire
  • How Empire Brass became so popular in Japan
  • How he has found himself in a number of "second careers" like developing The Breathing Gym and producing
  • The brand new Boston Brass album, Reminiscing, which was inspired by the late, great Rolf Smedvig


Favorite Quote:

  • "If you work that hard, you can come up with (Pink Floyd's The Wall). That was good math. I needed to see that. No corner-cutting. No gifts. These guys did it uphill the whole freaking way until they were happy with it. And no settling."
  • "We used to have a saying that 'every night's Yankees Stadium.' We'd be in Devils Lake, North Dakota having a big fight about how something should release after the concert. That was always a good sign to tell you the truth."

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Produced by Austin Boyer of FredBrass