New Professor Q&A: Plumb talks music, Indiana Jones and Texas Barbecue
Professor Benom Plumb joins University of the Pacific after teaching the last seven years at the University of Colorado. At Pacific, he will be program director of Music Management and Music Industry Studies.
Could you tell us about your background?
I grew up in a small town in East Texas and there were not a lot of places to go to see live music. I was always interested and drawn to music because my uncle Neely Plumb was a successful music producer and A&R man for RCA. So I decided to study music at University of Texas (at Arlington) and then got my Masters in Music Industry Studies from the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. My primary instrument was drums and percussion, but I’ve since expanded into bass guitar, songwriting and production since then. My first job in the music industry was at Bluewater Music in Nashville, where I coordinated all TV/Film licensing efforts, signing new talent, pitching songs, finding publishing royalties, negotiating various business deals and representing the company throughout the world at industry events.
Then in 2013, I started teaching music business at the University of Colorado in Denver. I always knew I wanted to teach, I just did not know it was going to happen so early in my career.
There’s not too many schools that have a music industry program and Pacific’s is quite prestigious. I was also familiar with Pacific because Keith Hatschek and I were both part of the Music and Entertainment Industry Educator’s Association (MEIEA) and there are so many successful Pacific alumni in the business. So when Conservatory Dean Peter Witte reached out to me, it really peaked my interest because I was so impressed by the program Keith had created and I was excited to have the opportunity to build on what he has done here.
What role did Indiana Jones play in your decision to accept the position at Pacific?
It’s funny, I am a person who goes to therapy and I have no shame with it. During therapy you talk about your inner child and when I was a kid I wanted to be Indiana Jones. I still remember seeing him teaching his courses and then rushing off to fight Nazis. I thought it was so cool! So when I was touring Pacific and Dean Witte told me that his classroom scenes were filmed on-campus, it felt like I was going to be able to fulfill that childhood fantasy. The only challenge is my office is on the third floor, so I can’t hop out my office window like he did in the movie.
What are you teaching this semester?
I will be teaching three courses this fall. The first is Music and Entertainment in U.S. Society, which is open to first-year students and also students looking to fulfill elective requirements. I will also be teaching Music Industry Forum, where insiders within the music industry will meet the class and share with them an inside perspective. These students will also research the most relevant topics being discussed in the music industry and discuss them amongst each other. Lastly, I will be teaching a first-year seminar, where I will be advising students on career planning, college and academic life planning and resources the University and Conservatory offer.
What core skills are particularly important to have, as a person working in the music industry?
The music industry is built on relationships, so it is important to have strong oral and writing skills. Being able to connect with people and have a personal tenacity is important because there are a lot of tough times. But, ultimately you need to love music. This business can be a grind with a lot of long hours and challenging experiences, so to stay in the business you really need to love it.
What does the future hold for live music events?
First, if anyone says they know what the future holds they are lying. But, what I predict is once we have a safe vaccine for COVID-19 the live music industry will come back stronger than ever. We are seeing how stir crazy people are getting and as soon as it is safe people are going to flock to events.
The challenge is many live music venues might not be able to survive through the pandemic. There is a current push to get the federal government to provide relief to these businesses because they estimate up to 90% could close without some form of federal assistance and financial support. People can go to www.saveourstages.com to learn more and support independent music venues.
What hobbies do you have besides music?
I am a big outdoors guy, so living in Colorado was great for me because I like to hike, camp and ride my bike. Another love of mine is smoking meats. Growing up in Texas, I could live off of Barbecue and Tex Mex. As long as the weather permits, most weekends you can find me out at the grill or smoker.
What do you hope to accomplish at Pacific?
Keith Hatschek has done such incredible job building the Music Industry Studies and Music Management program, so mostly I am just hoping to add to and enhance the curriculum already established. My strengths are around music publishing and royalties and finance, so I would love to add some additional courses in these areas.
Also, I am looking forward to mentoring students and ultimately helping them begin their careers in the music industry. Pacific students are so passionate and driven, so I am excited to help them accomplish their dreams of working in the music world.