Recently, I had coffee with Jamie Dull, a Chicago drummer, producer, and instructor. He is an experienced Chicago musician and has appeared on numerous albums over the past 12 years. He is currently readying for his newest album release party with the band Stampy, coming up June 2 at Martyrs’.
Jamie’s rock star journey is a very inspiring story, especially for every garage band musician dreaming about making their music their life. His passion and commitment to music took him from an ambitious drummer unexperienced in business and finance to a successful professional musician who has created financial stability promoting and performing his own music. (Download “The Finically Successful Musician” to learn more about creating Financial Stability in your music career).
Jamie is a highly respected and proven musician and producer in the Chicago rock scene. Becoming that was not easy. He learned the world of music, business, and finance the hard way, but the skills and knowledge he gained from learning through tough experiences helped him become what he is today.
Jamie grew up in northwestern Ohio where he started learning music at the young age of 5. He grew up pounding the skins to classic legends like AC/DC, Zeppelin, Rage Against the Machine, and Pearl Jam. Before entering high school, Jamie joined other musicians to create a band that lasted for a half a dozen years.
“Those years were so important to my musical education,” referencing his time recording and playing with his first group. “During that time, we played a ton of live shows and tried recording quite a bit.”
In 2006 when the hometown band was “growing up” and moving on, Jamie moved to Arizona where he met what turned out to be a long time musical associate and friend, Corey Kamerman. After a few years playing and recording they moved to Chicago, Corey’s hometown, to dive into the vibrant music scene. The first band Jamie played with in Chicago was Lobster Newberg, a progressive rock band. “I was very fortunate to be in that band as I made a ton of great Chicago connections and learned a lot about recording.”
Learning to be a Modern Rock Star
Through these last 10+ years of playing, performing, and recording Jamie developed his musical, financial, and business chops. Learning the music part was easy, especially with the passion that Jamie has for his music. Understanding how to become a successful musician on the business side was more difficult.
Jamie lived the stereotypical financially struggling musician lifestyle for many years before he bought into the idea of developing and following a sound financial strategy. Simply pouring your heart and soul into your music isn’t enough.
“I never thought that Maroon 5 would have been playing together for 10 years before they made it,” said Jamie. He was referring to the misguided rock star dream of being “discovered” and becoming an overnight sensation. Instead of focusing only on playing and looking for his big break, he switched over to finding stability in the short term so that he could continually promote and support his music without having financial struggles that would distract him.
While becoming more financially fit, Jamie worked “traditional jobs” to create better cash flow while continuing his music. Still, Jamie’s real desire was to live only off music, so he set the goal to create all the income he needs solely from music sources like gigging, recording, and teaching. “I knew I wanted to quit and never work a traditional job again.”
From his vast and growing network of musicians in Chicago, Jamie could increase the amount he performed, recorded, and taught until he was able to quit his “traditional job” for good. This not only marked a huge moment for Jamie because he was now solely focused on music, but also because he was learning how to develop and execute a financial strategy, a woefully undervalued skill that very few musicians, and way too many music mangers, do not have.
In late 2015, Jamie joined up with Sean Briskey, Kevin Campbell, Ian Engels, and Charles Williams to form the “jammy/proggy/poppy” band Stampy. “It was a bunch of guys that I knew and played with over the years just never in this configuration”. From the beginning, all the members of Stampy were on the same page about the direction of the band. “I’ve never been in a band where everything clicked so well form the beginning.”
Less than 2 years after forming, Stampy has had great success in the Chicago music scene. They have already made a splash at many of the marquee Chicago rock clubs. Their social media presence is great, and they are succeeding in creating a truly engaged fan base.
Their strong fan base growth and interactions even led them to pre-fund their debut album on Go Fund Me. They created a great Go Fund Me campaign by investing some money and a lot of time. Along with great visual and written content on their Go Fund Me page they designed great rewards for contributors and leveraged their strong social media and contact lists to promote the campaign.
Jamie contributes a lot of the bands successes to the business-like approach they take to managing the band. “We are all in this equally” Jamie says regarding the structure of the band. They are in the process of switching from a general partnership structure to a formal LLC that is equally owned by all members.
Jamie believes that the “democracy” structure of the band is a great way to keep everyone equally involved in big picture plans and helps them make better decisions through active discussions and a majority rules voting process.
Although major CEO decision making is performed democratically, they also make a point to divvy up other job roles to individual members: e.g., record keeping, booking, social media, etc.
Just as Jamie set goals and made plans to transition himself to a full-time musician, Stampy is doing the same with the growth of their band. One way that they are strategically moving more investments into Stampy is by dedicating more time to the band. Obviously, everyone quitting all non-Stampy work to grow the band is risky, so instead they are in the process of adding 1 day of the week where all members clear off the day solely for Stampy. They plan to keep adding days dedicated only to Stampy as the band’s revenue grows.
The Hustle to Put it all Together
Creating an intelligent financial strategy isn’t the only hard part of living the life of a rock star. Jamie’s schedule is extremely full between his teaching, writing, and playing. In addition to Stampy, Jamie has numerous other projects and freelance work that keep him busy.
Since 1999, he has played on over 200 recordings with various groups. Jamie also has another original project, Electric Villain, a “electronic-ish” rock group that he leads. Electric Villain released their first album last year with a special appearance from Joel Hoekstra (guitarist from Whitesnake and currently plays with Cher).
Jamie even diversifies his performance income by playing with a few popular cover/tribute bands. Uncle Jesse & the Rippers: A Tribute to the 90’s – Mr. World: A Tribute to Rage Against the Machine – and Of Evermore: The Music of Led Zeppelin.
Playing in numerous bands is more than just playing as much as you can. Each gig and band has specific roles in Jamie’s long and short term financial strategy. Tribute and cover bands make better money up front (easier to get better paying local gigs) but have little potential to develop into a headlining tour or generate significant audio and merch sales, whereas original content will allow you to build a large brand that can be monetized and has unlimited growth potential.
Hard work, passion, and determination were always Jamie’s strong suite, but after learning how to treat his music like a business he is the epitome of a successful Career Rock Musician.
Contact & More
Stampy will be having a LP release party at Martyrs’ June 2 for their new self-title album.
Reach out to Jamie via the social links below.