By David Mitchell
Walter Beasley: Steady As He Goes
Since the release of his self-titled debut album in 1987, musician, saxophonist Walter Beasley has been one of the top-ten selling saxophonists in the world. More recently, his 14th album, titled Free Your Mind contains the single, "Steady As She Goes," which spent a half-dozen weeks atop the Billboard Smooth Jazz Airplay chart.
What makes Beasley's story most compelling is that he is an entrepreneur (founder and CEO of Affable Records/Affable Music Publishing) and a music professor at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he teaches saxophone and beginning to advanced contemporary and traditional jazz curriculum.
Whether he is in the recording studio or on the road, Beasley remains accessible to his students, thanks to technologies like Skype through which he provides online saxophone lessons. For those interested in becoming the next Walter Beasley or Gerald Albright, he sells educational DVDs for students unable to afford lessons or attend a four-year institution like Berklee.
Simply put, Beasley has mastered the art of synergy. "Both careers are very important to me," he states. "I own my teaching. I own my performances and I own my songs. It's a wonderful position to be in!"
Beasley became a staple at the Smooth Jazz format during the late 80s and early 90s during his four-album run at the Polydor/Mercury labels--where he released his self-titled debut and the highly-acclaimed Intimacy album. He would personally fund several of his own titles like Live & More and Sax Meditations through his own Affable Records, while sometimes partnering with Heads Up Records like for his current title, Free Your Mind. According to Beasley, Heads Up licenses the project, eventually allowing the masters to fully revert back to him.
As for advice to young writers, Beasley says, "Passive income is still the key to gaining more control and feeling more powerful about your future. Writing is still the perfect way to express oneself and that's where the money is. The issue is ownership, and the ability to get that check every four to five months and re-investing it in an area that may be even more profitable, or re-investing it back into your writing."