This week, we are going to follow the Week in the Life Of a Creative Director. Dan Nebe wears a lot of hats, but his main gig is being the Creative Director of Merchworx. Covid-19 has clearly impacted many artists, on top of an already rapidly changing industry. To assist with this, Merchworx is a brand-new Australian business, launched as a value for money, one stop shop that provides artists with access to a full suite of musical services. They have worked with artists such as Paul Kelly and Thundamentals, as well as venues like The Triffid. From studio recordings (with some of the best sound engineers in the country) and video production, to distro, PR, promotion and of course, merch. With minimal gig income and streaming replacing physical music, merch has become a more valuable inclusion in the musician toolkit than ever before. The Merchworx team works with bands and artists to advise them on how to make merch play the important part it needs to as an income stream.
Dan’s music industry experience exceeds even further than this. He says that if he’s not busy, he goes crazy. You’ll soon understand what he means once you see how many job titles he has! Amidst his busy lifestyle, Dan has given an overview of a week in his life and shared some of his industry skills and advice. Let’s hear what he has to say!
A job description in your own words
Creative Director – I head up the creative department at Merchworx. My job is to project manage the cool things, like direct music videos, produce recording sessions and come up with out-there concepts for websites/marketing campaigns and the like. I’m also the Business Development Manager.
Music Mentor – I started a business mentoring clients with disabilities and Mental Health issues when Covid-19 hit. The mentor program consists of a One-on-One 2-hour session in the studio. Full backline and backing tracks for all to feel the power of making music. My clients love it.
Event Director (Voluntary) – I’m a volunteer for a group called the Breakfast Club. We hold an annual event to raise money to feed the needy here in Moreton Bay. Usually, 2 or 3 stages with 20 or 30 bands. We’ve had You Am I and The SuperJesus headline the event plus many more. My gig is to direct the event from inception to reality each year. To date, we have raised over $300,000 for the homeless out here in Redcliffe.
Tour Manager – (Last 2 years) before the apocalypse, includes Robert Cray, Hoodoo Gurus and I’m currently working for Sarah McLeod (The Superjesus). I like to get out and about every now and again as it keeps me in the mix.
Team Utopia – This is my therapy. A 4-piece old/new school rock outfit…Just my mid-life crisis activity. Team Utopia has been going for 10 years with a little bit of local success and we have played some cool festivals. Check us out on YouTube when you get bored. We are up for gigs in Brizzy when it returns… Hit me up.
A brief daily journal over a week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday)
I start work at around 4am every day without fail. My body clock is in bird mode. As soon as I hear those little bastards, I’m like right, let’s go! Went to my fav meme page for comfort as I do every morning for a laugh to begin the day. Sending emails for Rockin 4 The Homeless (R4TH) this morning. We are releasing an Album this year with some cool names on it. 30 Songs from 30 Artists to counteract the cancelled event. Called up Dave Faulkner from Gurus (Who, I happen to work for) and managed to talk him into giving us an unreleased Hoodoo track. Lots of work and legals ahead. Those record companies are a funny mob. I really need to make sure it goes exactly right. Nothing can come back and bite us. I’m lucky to have a home office to practice my un-office like habits. Working in your dressing gown does have it’s psychological benefits. Advanced some Sarah McLeod things for her “One Electric Lady” tour and chatted garble about the week’s events with many.
If you would like to understand industry contracts and music law, you can check out our Legals course.
Today I headed in Early to Merchworx to talk with the printing lads. They are fun lot to wind up and I get back what I give. Their sense of humour replaces the memes I depend on for support. I’m in the middle of advancing a Live Recording session at the moment. Recording 24 tracks and 7 cameras for 5 Bands over a 10-hour shoot. We are Mixing Audio and Editing Vision in post, so plenty to sort on this project. Not like your normal live set.
This is my favourite day of the week. Also, the most tiring.
I have 17-year-old Jason, (not his real name), coming into the studio at 9am. We hang out and jam. Jason has abilities we can only imagine exist. He can rock out, in time and with best of them. It may be in short bursts; however, those times are priceless. He plays drums and guitar. Loves Juzzie Smith and Billy Strings. We head out for his warm chocolate and bacon and egg burger and then back for the final hour of his cigar box into a JCM 900 with a Wah. I’m on the drums and in his mind, we are doing the Blues Fest. I must admit the thought crosses my mind as well.
Jamming is extremely valuable to help discover your sound! Some more advice for emerging artists can be found in our Artist Development course.
I slept in…! It’s 4:17 am
First up, I’m onto emails from labels enquiring as to what I had in mind with their artists tracks on the R4TH Album. I tell them it’s to feed the needy and less fortunate than us in our local area. I go on with a tangent about wanting a 3-year licensing agreement with all royalties to go to the Breakfast Club. That should go down well…! I’m working from home today and doing pre-production for a music video. My editor is prepping as well. I love Zoom. Saves me dragging my arse to the other side of Brisbane to show him my crazy ideas. We work well together. I got one email back from Diana Anaid’s Label… “Sure Dan, take it and go get Em”. I love this world… early finish and time to cook some dinner for my beautiful partner… roast quail… no only joking – it’s bangers n mash tonight.
Made up for yesterday, its 3:37am
Got six hours to kill before editing. I do love a good edit. All those images in my head get to come out as it has been consuming me for a week. Booked a ton of promo for Nov/Dec and advanced a heap of shows for Sarah McLeod. I love working for Sarah as she is so focused and full of one-liners. Always a laugh, until something goes wrong. Standard stuff. I sorted out some new demos for Team Utopia to learn. We go into rehearsals after 8 months. Writing music is my go-to place when I’m looking for calmness. I love the magic it creates.
$4.00 Schooners at the pub from 4-6 on Fridays… That’s where I’ll be if you need me….
Challenges and accomplishments in your week
Would have to be the Rockin 4 the Homeless Album. Getting 32 Tracks to Leon Zervos at 301 to Master in time. The sheer relief is astounding. Couldn’t have done this without back up from Aaron Gardener and Marshall Cullen.
Highlights of the week (pros of the job)
Dave Faulkner informed me he had spoken to Leon Zervos from 301 and he agreed to master the Album. Big score for a little group like us out here at Redcliffe. Dave Faulkner has played a pivotal role in getting this album some attention.
Lowlights of the week (cons of the job)
I found it hard to find one… If anything, it would be lack of sleep.
Words of wisdom for people considering a job in your field
My advice…. be kind and become part of your community. Work hard and have a 5-year plan. Manifest everything. The mind is powerful!