About the Owner
I dropped out of college and I worked meaningless jobs that held no passion for me. They were entry-level porter jobs, sales and mechanical jobs while I played music at night whenever I could. I had this double life. For years, I stayed up late every night rehearsing with bands, recording songs, playing clubs to 2 people or to anyone that would listen. I sent out hundreds of CD’s to labels, newspapers and other organizations, thousands of emails, I wrote hundreds of songs- but incredibly still didn’t garner any meaningful attention. All the while I struggled to roll out of bed every morning and practically taped my eyes open throughout the long, coffee-filled work days. The only meaningful musical experience that came from that time was from an internship I had at a music publishing company.
My supervisor at Largo Music Publishing was a lawyer and a like-minded musician who really helped crystallize some music performance goals. He, like me, had his 9-5 but also moonlighted as a musician. The internship was insightful and promising. We decided to stay in touch over the years.
23 years old, still in search for meaning, I decided to go all in on music. I got a chance to move to a small town in New England with my band mates and began playing music full time in a house we rented in the middle of nowhere. Here we practiced all day and a manager got us gigs at night all over New England. When this didn’t work, I moved home and I tried everything I felt I could do at night to become a successful solo musician. I released albums, tried to compose music for movies and video games, I created an online music library to sell music to TV shows, I produced albums in my apartment for other artists, managed my website, played solo gigs, played in the subways, attended conferences, networked, read, learned as much as I could. Nothing ever worked. In May of 2003, I booked and played my last gig in NYC. The pain of not being able to accomplish what I wanted was too much to bear.
I had set out to inspire millions with my guitar and voice but wasn’t able to accomplish what I had set out to do. Coming to terms with that was tough- but the day I put down the guitar as an artist was the day that I began to focus efforts on what is here today. My years as an artist taught me many important business concepts: the biggest idea it burned into me was that many artists aren’t afforded career opportunities and I needed to create that for myself and others. Many artists struggle with life, are burdened with depression and aren’t given opportunity, access to healthcare and a place to live. I went back to my roots and began to teach lessons to kids in my community looking to inspire and motivate there.
When I found out my wife was pregnant with our first child it made me go full steam into the development of this new music lesson business idea. I found a brick and mortar location behind a pizzeria near where I lived in Queens that was affordable and cheap to fix up. Real Brave Audio Inc opened its doors in Feb of 2006 where I worked 7 days a week, where I financed it with change, savings, credit cards and loans for years to build what Real Brave is today. I built it by myself- but with the support of a loving wife and family.
I wanted Real Brave to have mentors as instructors like I did. Musicians tend to forget that music is an inclusive art form; one that invites collaboration. That inspiring people to hear what you have to say doesn’t include being showy or obnoxious or not inclusive- something the industry that shunned me had become. I required instructors that worked for Real Brave to be people first, musicians second. I worked hard in making sure that I could build a platform where musicians could work in a music-based industry and have reliable, decent income. A place where they could inspire other people or kids to play and jam with them onstage. A place where they could get perks like a recording studio to record their work and rooms to rehearse in- all saving them time and money. Things I wished I had as a day job when I was working on my craft all those years ago.
I brought my customer service & sales background into Real Brave operations and made sure that we were inviting, helpful and kind. Every day, we work hard to make sure that students are enriched, cared for and motivated in any way to pursue musical education in a variety of ways. Music is a partnership from the earliest of ages to the oldest and we pride ourselves in being there for our students and for each other.
In a lesson that proves to never burn bridges and to build your inner circle with people you trust, I recently rekindled a relationship with my supervisor from Largo music over the years. He and a investor group he’s affiliated with has given Real Brave the opportunity to take us from a 2 location business to a 10 location business in 5 years in Manhattan and beyond. From there, the sky’s the limit. 50 locations in 10 years, and hundreds in our lifetime.
Real Brave now has its own proven method and curriculum, holds multiple concerts a year, has created its own learning software used in the classroom and a non profit arm that helps children in homeless shelters get access to arts education. We have 60 employees in 2 states working around the clock inspiring thousands of new musicians and the next generation’s songwriters. We’ve have taught thousands and thousands of students over the years with tens of thousands to come. Perhaps millions.
Looking back, all those songs later, all those gigs later, all the work and tears that I lost in music… almost 30 years in the making: Real Brave happens to be the best song I’ve ever written. I had set out to inspire millions with my guitar and voice but will accomplish that with an amazing, unique company.
Daniel Powers Jr
After School Rocks 501(c)3