Chance Favors The Prepared Mind. A conversation with Derek Williams

facebooktwitterlinkedinby featherDerek Williams saved pictureAs appears on Derek Williams web site.

Being born into poverty with no money for music lessons or equipment, having no family ties in the music industry to help me, and struggling with drug abuse haven’t stopped me from rising above my situation and making a career for myself in the most competitive music market in the world.   

At age 28 now, I’ve played guitar for 18 years, with over 40 artists and bands and with 18 major-label artists. I have played on national television shows all over the world and Stadium tours for millions of people. Even though I was born into poverty, had no connections in the industry, and had struggles with drug abuse, I was able to overcome my obstacles and pursue my dream. I am living my childhood dream- I am a rockstar.

I recently met Derek at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) while having lunch with Mike Ross, Senior Vice President Marketing of SweetWater Sound. My first impression of Derek was strong. After speaking with him on the phone, I’m now a raving fan.

Here’s a summary of our conversation.

JB- Tell me about

DW- I grew up in Nashville Tennessee- I didn’t know how to get a job in music. The problem was that I had this dream,talent and drive, I didn’t know where to begin or what floor to begin sweeping to become the next Bon Jovi.

JB- Yes. The typical hero’s journey for the musician.

DW- I went to college- professors were great, but their expertise ended in the books. So I sought out a mentor in Nashville. I was looking for someone who was actually doing what I  wanted to do.

JB- It’s too bad your college experience wasn’t in a position to mentor you.

DW- I couldn’t find one mentor in school or out of school. It’s crazy because I had friends who were the children and grandchildren of Johnny Cash, Boz Scaggs all these legends but I couldn’t ask them to introduce me.

The people, I was looking for were side man musicians, so I went to music store after music store and all I can find were people who didn’t make it and were now teaching guitar lessons,

JB-It didn’t make a whole lot of sense to seek advice from musicians who didn’t have the experience you were looking for.

DW – Exactly. After a lot of hard work, I started touring with local bands- some would get record deals, then I would network with record labels, agents, any one I could  find to help me leap frog for gainful employment. Before long I found myself touring stadiums for major artists

JB- An overnight success. (laughter). Where did the idea for thatsmygig come from?

DW- The concept for thatsmygig was born from my desire for a Mentor. Who knows, if I had a Mentor when I was 21, maybe I would have accomplished more.

I set a goal at the age of 21, that if I was not touring the biggest venues by my  27h birthday I would do something else. When I turned 27 I realized that I exceeded all of my expectations. For the last three years I have been touring with Jake Owen, a Nashville country Artist signed to RCA.

JB- Remarkable story. Sounds like you found your life’s purpose. When did you start thatsmygig?

DW- Exactly two years ago July 15 2013.

JB- How do you define success for that’s

DW- Like any online business we look for ways to monetize the tens of thousands of monthly page hits we receive. However the way I really measure success are the lives we are able to change through our career counselling service.

JB- Can you give me an example?

DW-I was mentoring a client during a skype call. This guy was a great bass player, but he was so out of shape. I literally told him that he was fat and it’s going to be tough to get gigs.

JB- Wow. You are blunt.

DW- I have to be brutally honest. The good news was he called me back 2 months later, and said he had been running every day, getting into shape, and now getting great gigs.

JB- Derek it sounds like you have come full circle. From the musician looking for the mentor, to the successful professional now the protégée. Great job. Thanks for your sharng.

DW- Thanks Jaimie.

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Written by Jaimie Blackman

Jaimie Blackman

Jaimie Blackman — a former music educator & retailer— is a Certified Wealth Strategist & Succession Planner. Jaimie helps business owners maximize the value of their company through education & coaching. He is a frequent speaker at the National Association of Music Merchants, (NAMM) Idea Center and has spoken at Yamaha’s succession advantage.

As a financial literacy educator he has taught at New York University and has lectured at the 92nd Street Y, Marymount Manhattan College and CUNY.

His column is published in The Music & Sound Retailer and contributes to NAMM U online, as well as other industry trade magazines.

Jaimie is CEO of Jaimie Blackman & Company, President of BH Wealth Management, and Creator of MoneyCapsules® and the Sound of Money®.

To register for Jaimie’s live webinars, or to subscribe to his podcasts, visit

The purpose of this post is to educate. Our content should not be construed as advice. If legal, tax or other advice is required by the readers, professional advice should be sought.

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