Want to be know what it’s like to run a major concert tour? Stop in to one of Joe Piver’s music business classes.
Piver, an adjunct instructor at Trevecca, is also a booking agent at Jeff Roberts and Associates. The company handles booking for a list of artists that reads like a who’s who of Christian music: Casting Crowns, For King & Country, Bethel Music, Matthew West and Francesca Battistelli, to name a few.
Last week, Piver found a way to merge both areas of his life by inviting a few of the artists he works with to participate in a panel discussion with his Trevecca students. During the class session, Christian artists Matthew West, Joel Smallbone of For King and Country, Moriah Peters and Jeff Frankenstein of the Newsboys shared a bit about how their artist journeys as well as insights about life on tour.
“A panel like this … gives me a realistic sense of ambition,” said Sarah Adams, a sophomore music business major who is taking Piver’s class. “I am able to see what a career in the music business looks like in reality, looking at the everyday struggles and joys of people living inside the commercial music scene.”
The focus on hands-on learning reflects Piver’s philosophy of immersing his students in real-world experiences to prepare them for their future careers.
“Because of touring being my real job, I have access to information that is real life, so we look at real-world things in my class,” Piver said. “Real numbers. Real routing. Real touring information. When we get to things that are not my specialty, I like to bring in guests or panels so the students get [real-world expertise].”
So, for last week’s session on the heart of the artist, Piver brought in Christian artists to share about their experiences. He’s also planning a class session on tour management where students will hear from tour managers who know what it’s like to live on the road.
“For this panel, we have been looking at touring from all angles all throughout the year and now we were hearing first-hand from the artists what touring is really like for them,” Piver said. “A text book can’t tell a student how hard it is for an artist to be away from their family and how life on the road is sometimes truly grueling and tough. It’s just about trying to bring the students into real world [experiences].”
It’s a philosophy that shapes Trevecca’s music business program. Housed within the Skinner School of Business Technology, Trevecca music business majors hone a strong business foundation while developing the skills they’ll need to succeed in the ever-changing music industry.
“This is the kind of experience we strive to provide through Trevecca’s music business program,” said Dean Diehl, the director of the program. “Our well-connected faculty, all of whom work in the music industry in addition to teaching, combined with our location in the heart of music city, allows us to provide one-of-a-kind moments students remember forever.”
In addition to his work at Trevecca, Diehl currently serves as the senior vice president of strategy and new business at Provident Label Group.
During the session, the artists spoke candidly about the reality of the touring life, answering questions about what makes a good day on tour to preparing mentally for life on the road.
“People don’t realize that you basically have to be a psychologist to live in a cramped bus with 15 people for that amount of time,” Frankenstein cautioned. “For me, finding something to keep my mind occupied until I play [is important]. Learn something new—think of a skill you want to learn. I’ve gotten into a lot of video editing.”
For Adams, the class was a chance to get a glimpse into her future career and learn from professionals in the field.
“Being able to talk to artists and music business folks, I can be inspired to keep pushing forward and pursue my dreams,” she said. “The panelists encouraged me to hold onto the one promise that inspired my creativity to begin with. When times get discouraging and it feels easier to give up my musical dreams, that one promise is worth pushing through and continuing to fight for the career path I desire.”