A young accountant sits in a bar, nursing a beer, brooding about crunching numbers for the next 50 years. He strikes up a conversation with a stranger, a woman, over their mutual love of country music and she invites him to follow her on Twitter.
They form a friendship. She likes the things he says online. He could have a future in the country music industry, she says. Move to Nashville, she says. He’s a city boy, Rhode Island born and bred, with a good job. The firm’s partners want him to become a CPA. But the promise of a certain and lucrative future pales in comparison to the dream of working in the country music industry.
So Matthew Brum ’10 quits his job, moves to Nashville and couch surfs while looking for work. His friend tells the boss at the local country music station that he’s still a college student and he gets a part-time internship managing the station’s social media and website.
“After a year-and-a-half in the professional world, there I was pretending to be an intern. Only making $10 an hour, part-time, 29 hours a week,” Brum quips.
If this were a country song, this might be the point in the tune where Brum ends up broke and broken. Turns out, though, this was his Cinderella moment. He met the digital programming director and soon found himself picking up the slack for four radio stations — managing their websites, e-mail blasts, and social media.
Then, the big break: a full-time position, social media manager, opens at the Grand Ole Opry. Brum finds himself running the Opry’s social media channels (he brought the Opry onto Snapchat) and “talking” every day to about a million fans. “My childhood dreams came alive. Here I was this little Portuguese kid from East Providence, R.I., sharing my ‘voice’ and excitement about the show that made country music famous to the digital world. The country music fan in me was in heaven.”
Brum stayed at the Opry for almost four years. Now he’s the Director of Digital Strategy for the Big Machine Label Group, the record label of Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts, among others. “My success wasn’t an overnight thing. There was hard work involved. If I could tell the eight-year-old version of myself that one day you’ll get to interview Dolly Parton on a red carpet or hang out with Carrie Underwood backstage, he wouldn’t believe it.”
“I think in my own small way. I show that anything is possible.”