The one most important thing would be to understand the legalities of songwriting and recording before you start. Knowing what kind of agreements you need to clarify ownership of your creations. For instance, agreements such as Work For Hire agreements which clarify what rights a contributing musician has on your music will make the process smoother and potentially less rancorous if one of your songs becomes a hit.
As a part of our series about stars who are making an important social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Pete Price.
Pete Price is a veteran singer and songwriter who recently released a thought-provoking first solo album; “Department of the Interior”, which combines Americana, rock, and blues genres. His album was recently named as one of the top releases from the Dayton, Ohio music scene for 2022. Pete’s career spans multiple decades, having appeared on the same bills with The Guess Who, Gladys Knight and The Pips, Kansas, Martina Mc Bride, and many other national acts.
Thank you so much for joining us on this interview series. Can you share with us the backstory that led you to this career path?
I have been an active participant in musical performance virtually my entire life from age 9 to the present. During my career as the owner of a small construction and remodeling company, I still found time to play in bands and to perform on the weekends. When I sold my business and reached a point in my life where I didn’t have to work full-time anymore, I became able to devote more time to music. During the pandemic, all our band’s shows were canceled and I took that energy and began to write and record more of my own music, resulting in the release of my first album, “Department of the Interior” in 2022.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that? I was asked to join my first band in junior high. My voice hadn’t even changed yet. I could sing well but I didn’t sound like your usual rock ’n’ roller. To compound matters, I didn’t play an instrument at that time so I was this shy little kid fronting a band without an instrument to “hide behind”. I must have looked pretty ridiculous.
I learned a couple of lessons from the experience. First, that I didn’t really have the personality to “front” a band….so I started learning how to play guitar. Second, I had to learn how to overcome my shyness so that I could continue doing something I really loved.
What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?
First thing, and this is difficult for most people, is to tune out the critics (both inner and outer). Find your inner voice and follow it. No one has the unique combination of thoughts, skills and emotions which make you one of a kind. What is it you can tell the world in your own unique way? Second, plan to outwork everyone else. Put in the effort day after day. Third, find those who can help you reach your dream. No one is great at everything and even if you were, there’s not enough time in the day. Concentrate on what you’re really good at and delegate the rest.
Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?
I’d have to say it’s my dad who has had the most impact on me. He was truly an amazing man! Dad was a minister in the Episcopal Church and was very influential on our city. He was always reaching out to help the underserved. He rode the bus to Washington DC and joined the March on Washington in 1963 and was there to hear Martin Luther King deliver his “I have a dream” speech. I recently came across a picture that was taken on the bus. He was the only white face in the photo. That was back in the days when segregation was still a very real and ugly part of our society. He taught me to love everyone regardless of race, color, or creed. He also taught me to live by a code and not to simply do what’s popular or what would make someone else happy.
How are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you’re working on right now?
I have participated with Rebuilding Together Dayton (RTD) for a number of years. RTD provides repair and remodeling to people who own their homes but cannot afford to make repairs and improvements. In my years as a contractor, I was a House Captain year after year, coordinating the remodeling work on Rebuilding Day. I have continued to participate on Rebuilding Day as a “roving carpenter” going wherever my skills are needed. Last summer, I met with the director of the organization and we are planning to put on a benefit concert this summer to raise funds and awareness for the organization. My band, and another local band will provide the entertainment.
Can you share with us a story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?
A good friend and neighbor initially got me involved. As a former General Contractor and master carpenter, I have the skills that can really make a meaningful difference in peoples’ lives. It’s an honor for me to be able to give back, and now I’m going to be able to use my musical talents to give back in a different way.
Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?
There have been so many people over many years that it’s difficult to remember just one specific instance. Nearly all of the people we’ve helped are elderly and are aging in place. They need grab bars in bathrooms, better railings on stairs, sometimes even wheelchair ramps. We do whatever it takes to make their homes cleaner and safer.
Are there three things or are there things that individuals, society, or the government can do to support you in this effort?
If RTD didn’t exist, the result would be many more homeless people. I really think that much of the homelessness problem is in large part due to mental illness and addiction. Our effort with RTD is just a little corner of that problem. We really need a complete re-think of the homelessness problem and how to attack the root causes of it. The programs we have are well-meaning but in many cases don’t address the foundation of the problem.
Why do you think music in particular has the power to create social change and create a positive impact on humanity?
Music has the power to stimulate, capture or distill emotion and emotion is one of the strongest motivators of human-kind. Music is a universal language and so many people enjoy music and can create music on their own. Some of my deepest feelings have been uncovered by either listening to or by performing music.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started”?
I don’t think I can come up with 5. The one most important thing would be to understand the legalities of songwriting and recording before you start. Knowing what kind of agreements you need to clarify ownership of your creations. For instance, agreements such as Work For Hire agreements which clarify what rights a contributing musician has on your music will make the process smoother and potentially less rancorous if one of your songs becomes a hit.
You’re a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I think I’d go back to the mental illness problem in our society. So many people are looking for greater meaning in their lives and feel they don’t fit in this world. We’ve lost the influence and structure that the church used to provide. That sense of nihilism is pervasive and having hope is such a powerful motivation. I’ve struggled in my search for identity on meaning in my life. It’s something I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about and even though I’ve come a long way personally, one size doesn’t fit all so I’m reticent to offer a prescription. I’ll tell you a few simple things I try to keep in mind to foster my own well-being though.
Always be honest with yourself and other people
Don’t take anything personally and conversely, don’t judge others
Don’t make assumptions…ask questions and strive for the truth
Stay in the present moment….don’t suffer the negative effects of worry, doubt, and regret
Always do your best
Can you please give us your favorite life lesson quote? And can you explain how that was relevant in your life?
One of my favorites is; “No good deed goes unpunished” This may seem contradictory to much of what we have discussed today, but if you’re going to try to help someone, make sure they really want your help and then make sure you’re helping with a pure heart.
We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Tim Ferriss comes to mind. He is involved in some very cool endeavors and I think we would have a fascinating conversation. He has a email weekly newsletter entitled 5 Bullet Friday, which I read consistently.
Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring, and we wish you continued success!
It has been great chatting with you!
Music Stars Making a Social Impact: Why & How Pete Price Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.