How famous pop music creator Neil Giraldo mentors young musicians

Through Jeanette Hurt, Next avenue

Pop music guitarist, producer, arranger and composer Neil Giraldo, 61, was working on a script about local musicians and their struggles in 2016 and one of his partners in the business suggested they find a spirits company. to sponsor the movie trailer. Instead, Giraldo told his partner, “Why don’t we start our own spirits business to help musicians?”

This is exactly what Giraldo, who lives in Los Angeles with his rocker wife Pat Benatar, has done with his Three Chord Bourbon and the musical ambassador / mentorship program of his company Steel Bending Spirits. (Three Chord Bourbon, distributed in 31 states, gets its name from the fact that the roots of the blues are three basic chords.)

“The business wouldn’t have happened if there hadn’t been a comeback program,” Giraldo says. Although president of Steel Bending Spirits, Giraldo is best known for his four decades in the music business, with hits such as “Jessie’s Girl” for Rick Springfield and those for his 39-year-old, four-time Grammy Award-winning wife. , Pat Benatar (“Love Is a Battlefield” and “We Belong”, to name just two).

The way the ambassador and mentoring The program works is that local or regional musicians promote Three Chord Bourbon on tour and that Steel Bending Spirits sponsors shows at the clubs where they perform. The company pays for stages at local venues and musicians can perform and sell their merchandise.

Giraldo mentorship program for musicians

The genesis of the program began with the beginnings of the company.

“It’s already helped a number of musicians, but ‘I think we have five that are really serious,’ says Giraldo, whose catalog contains over 100 songs and has sold over 45 million records.

One of the musicians Giraldo has helped is Dave Miller, a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who leads the blues band Miller and the Other Sinners in Buffalo, NY, home to the headquarters of Steel Bending Spirits (his distillery is in Ann Arbor, Mich.).

Miller was invited to play at a Three Chord Bourbon launch party and the day before he was performing at a club where he met Giraldo. “I’m on this little stage, and here’s the entourage,” Miller says. “Neil – he’s unmistakable – and he’s looking at me, nodding in approval.”

During his band’s break, Miller spoke with Giraldo. “He sat me down and he said, ‘We need to talk about doing gigs together, and we need to figure out how we can help you get better gigs,” Miller recalls. “I feel like I won the lottery.”

Being a musical ambassador immediately opened doors for Miller.

A lucky musical mentee

“I was racing in Northern Kentucky,” Miller says. “Normally when I sent cold emails [to get bookings], I sent fifty to get two or three answers. But I only sent ten emails and got seven in return. All of a sudden, here is this brand that gives credibility to me and my music. Immediately that made it easier. “

Because of the sponsorship, says Miller, “the sites see it as a special event where they could attract more people on an evening off, and sometimes they pay you more.”

Besides the brand’s financial support, Giraldo says ambassadors “can also contact Giraldo anytime about anything” for mentorship. Sometimes this mentorship is about the music itself.

For Miller, for example, “Dave could send me songs or ideas for things, and I might tell him that he should consider going more in that direction or I could tell him that he needs to. remix something, ”says Giraldo.

Sometimes, however, mentoring is more about work-life balance, something Giraldo knows a thing or two about.

Giraldo has helped musicians with young families, advising them to focus on developing their base in their hometown first. Then, once they’re more established, he tells the interpreters, they can travel with their families.

“It’s about having a quality of life,” says Giraldo.

Offer advice on business and life

One of the most important areas of Giraldo’s mentorship, however, is as a business advisor.

“What’s the use of being a great musician and a great songwriter if you can’t make a living from it?” Giraldo asks.

Yet, he adds, the music business can be difficult for young performers to grasp.

“Musicians don’t always follow the business side of the music business, because when you’re a musician, frankly, all you want to do is be a better musician,” Giraldo explains. “This is why so many people get cheated by managers, agents and people who rip them off.”

Giraldo speaks from experience.

In his early days, Giraldo wrote a song and a music company offered him $ 500 to buy all the rights to it. He then approached another company, which offered him $ 10,000.

“I was lucky, but it taught me that I had better pay attention to the business side of the music business,” he said, adding that he was also lucky to have mentors, including his uncle, who guided him.

This is why mentoring has become so important to Giraldo.

“I am extremely grateful that my life has turned out the way it has been and I want to help as many people as possible,” he said.

Miller says he and the other Three Chord Bourbon Ambassadors are now networking and helping each other.

Due to his tenure as ambassador, Miller says he now has a leadership that represents him and his music.

The future of Neil Giraldo

“We have big plans to expand into other states,” Miller said.

And the Giraldo scenario? “I’m in the process of finishing it and I plan to make the movie,” he says.

In the meantime, however, Giraldo is looking for more music ambassadors to mentor, just like his uncle Timmy did for him years ago.

“If it hadn’t been for him, things wouldn’t have turned out the way they did for me,” Giraldo says.

Alice P. Darby