With over 280 days of sunshine a year, California not only provides a great tan, but also a prime location for supporting our West Coast artists and cultivating new relationships with musicians in the area. For that reason, we've built a PRS showroom nestled in LA's CenterStaging - a premier rehearsal and backline facility.
We interviewed PRS Director of Artist Relations, Bev Fowler, for some insight on this location, how it helps meet the needs of our artists, and how our company views relationships with musicians.
What led to the decision to open a showroom on the West Coast?
BEV: Ultimately, we wanted to be able to expand our ability to provide support to our existing artist roster as well as establish relationships with new artists. The LA area is so heavily populated with musicians and being based in MD, it was becoming very difficult to support the needs of our artists who were based in LA or passing through to do TV performances. We were spending an exorbitant amount of time, energy and resources fulfilling gear requests from the East Coast and it just wasn’t efficient. Not to mention, having a footprint at a facility like CenterStaging opens up the door for so many new opportunities with artists.
How did you choose the location?
BEV: The CenterStaging location in Burbank is a premier rehearsal facility that specializes in production for television and live performances. There are a number of artists who frequent this facility and having the PRS showroom onsite serves as a place for us to establish new relationships, maintain and support our existing endorsers while also giving the PRS brand exposure within the music community there.
How do we stock the showroom?
BEV: We have a wide variety of guitars and amplifiers in stock and on display for artists to get their hands on. The showroom is acoustically treated and is a great place to experience the playability and tone of our instruments.
Is there anyone on-site to manage the gear and meet with artists?
BEV: Yes, Winn Krozack runs operations out of this showroom and is onsite M-F from 9am to 5pm and also by appointment if necessary. Winn has been with the company for 30 years and is a walking encyclopedia of everything PRS. He has vast product knowledge and can always help to align the perfect guitar and/or amplifier with our artists.
Walk us through the process of getting an artist fitted for the right guitar or amp for their gig.
BEV: Most of the time, artists already have an idea of which model they are interested in. However, there have been many times where an artist will come in looking for a specific model and walk out with something totally different once they’ve had a chance to play and compare the various guitar and amp models we have on hand. Providing a hands-on experience for the artist is always the most ideal way to ensure they’re getting the right guitar or amp for their needs. The one-on-one interaction gives us the ability to understand the artists needs from a playability and tonal aspect. However, there are times when an artist is not able to get that hands-on experience and we have to rely on our knowledge and experience to provide them with the right tools to do their jobs.
*Since Winn is our boots-on-the-ground guy in California, we asked for his input on this question as well!
WINN: The first thing I do when I work with an artist is to get to know them musically. I ask them about their #1 guitar and amp, if they use pedals, and what kind of music they like to play and write. I prefer that they bring their guitar to the showroom so I get to feel what they feel with their instrument. It is important to understand an artist’s potential guitar prejudices, as they might not even know they have them. A lot depends on what instrument they grew up with, and which school of guitars they came from - Humbuckers or Single Coils, or both. After I understand what “musical home” is for the artist and their rig, I ask them about their creative needs, but most importantly - how can I help them?
I call guitars sonic crayons. There are infinite sonic possibilities, and my job is to find out what they need, educate them on the possibilities, and assist them in their musical quest to find their ultimate instrument. It always must come from a spirit of helping. First, I find appropriate guitars that they may like and be inspired by. You can always tell if they like the guitar because it’s still in their lap after 2 minutes. Liking or disliking a guitar is usually a quick intuitive response. Inspiration is priceless.
The difference between liking and loving a guitar is in the 2% to 5% range. I work to get the artist in love with their guitar. There is nothing like it. If the artist loves their guitar, they will never put it down, and they will show everybody.
How do you view the relationship between our brand and artists?
BEV: I often refer to an artist endorsement as a “marriage”… it’s a commitment that involves loyalty and dedication. It’s a two-way street and should be mutually beneficial to both parties. The moment that the two-way street becomes one-way, the relationship is compromised. I’m happy to say that things do not come to this point often, but if you approach your endorsement with a company as an investment or marriage, the desire to commit and support should be at the top of your priority list. Not free gear! We are not a company who puts all of our eggs in one basket, and we value all of our artist endorsers regardless of the level at which they are endorsed.
What is the trickiest part of working in artist relations? The most exciting part?
BEV: We are always looking for new faces to add to our roster and landing new artists (particularly those who have a long time relationship with another brand) can be challenging at times. It’s like trying to read a crystal ball… it’s impossible to keep up on the next “who’s who” in every genre of music. We have to trust our gut, take chances and know that we’re going to win some and lose some.
It is very exciting and rewarding to know that our products inspire musicians to create, produce and perform music. PRS endorsers know that they can rely on their guitars and amplifiers day after day and night after night to help them do their job. With all this comes the relationships that we have been fortunate enough to develop and maintain with our artist endorsers. #prsfamily
Here are a few more behind-the-scenes views of CenterStaging and its rehearsal and backline rooms: