Ari Herstand


Ari Herstand wears many hats atop his fro. Since releasing his previous album, Brave Enough, in 2014 he’s released a best-selling book (two editions), appeared on various TV shows as an actor, toured the world as a speaker, launched Ari’s Take Academy online music business school, a throw-back 1970s inspired funk project Brassroots District, and the New Music Business podcast. And developed his blog Ari’s Take into a full-fledged music business education and artist advocacy company where he sits as CEO. And went through a breakup from an 11 year relationship. The latter being the most influential to his life and career. Herstand reveals “We met in college, toured the country, moved to LA, started a life here, and a little over a year ago, decided to part ways. This relationship lasted 1/3 of my life. Over a decade. The breakup wasn’t dramatic in the traditional sense. But it was monumental and painful. An end of an era. For the first month of our conscious uncoupling, we still lived together. That presented warped versions of reality and an imbalance unlike anything I had experienced up until that point.” So, Herstand carved out one day a week, every week following the breakup, to process it the only way he knows how – through songwriting. The first release of these songs “Retrospect,” released May 27th, was recorded at 64 Sound Studios in Highland Park, CA, live with a band – shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world. The remaining songs are being created in quarantine, with his collaborators, via technology that is rapidly evolving to meet the demands of the moment. It’s working. But the songs won’t have the energy of 7 players in a room, like “Retrospect.” It will have the energy of artists in lockdown bringing some heartbreak songs to life. Ari Herstand started his music career in Minneapolis – following a brief stint at the University of Minnesota as a classical trumpet and music education major which lasted all of one year. And then he did 3 semesters at a (now defunct) music industry school where he studied songwriting, jazz trumpet and music business. He spent 7 years in the Twin Cities building a grassroots fanbase completely independently without the assistance of a manager, booking agent, record label, attorney or publicist. When he left the Midwest for LA in 2010, he had already had his songs placed in a handful of TV shows like One Tree Hill and The Real World, played hundreds shows around the country, opened for Ben Folds, Cake, Matt Nathanson and Eric Hutchinson, became a staple at Milwaukee’s Summerfest and was selling out venues in a 5 state region – not to mention packing his hometown venues of the Twin Cities and managing a friend’s band. He became known as “the poster child of DIY music” (Forbes). Since moving to Los Angeles, he has toured with or opened for Ron Pope and the Milk Carton Kids, performed a few hundred more shows, became a staple at the LA singer/songwriter hotspot Hotel Cafe where he regularly hosts singer/songwriter showcases, co-starred on various TV shows like Mad Men, 2 Broke Girls and Transparent as an actor, performed on Ellen with Thirty Seconds to Mars, released 2 books and a couple records, launched a podcast, an online academy and a blog (which got him the book deals) – and grew into a full-fledged music business education and artist advocacy company. Most recently, he co-founded the UnCancelled Music Festival, which Rolling Stone covered citing “UnCancelled is the most recent — and one of the larger — of the online music events that have sparked up since COVID-19 put a temporary hold on the live music industry.” He is one of the co-founders of Independent Music Professionals United (IMPU) and helped write and pass the amendment to get the music industry an exemption under the “gig worker” law AB5 by lobbying legislators, negotiating language and writing countless articles on it and making press appearances. He told Billboard “I had lots of sleepless nights to get musicians relief under AB5, but I’m happy we were able to come to an agreement.” Now running Ari’s Take as CEO and founder, with a full staff and various instructors and advisors for Ari’s Take Academy, he is focusing on reclaiming himself as an artist – while continuing to empower other musicians to have successful careers of their own. He maintains his Tuesday writing days – with his phone off and his team in full control for the day. And he maintains his tightly knit Los Angeles music community.

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