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The Fuzz Band does business to the beat of its own drum. The Hampton, Virginia-based band’s strategy is a lucrative one: focus on corporate and private clients. Founded by Paul Saunders and Duane Smith in 1997 while attending Hampton University, the group has come a long way. “We started the business with $10,” says Saunders, 32, who maintains the band under Peach Fuzz Entertainment. “We used it for fliers to promote our first performance.”
With three to four events a week during peak season-each generating anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 depending on the length of time, special needs, and location-this business model proves positive for the group, whose sound is a fusion of soul, jazz, hip-hop, and rock. In 2007, Peach Fuzz generated $150,000 in revenues and is projected to earn $250,000 for 2008 with 50% of that coming from the Fuzz Band’s private and corporate-sponsored events.
“We saw it as having alternative ways of performing, because there are only so many clubs out there,” says Saunders, who works alongside his brother, Brian, in expanding operations. “It’s really about surviving by diversifying.”
Saunders says this approach offers a more reliable payment structure, greater earning potential, and exposure to new fans. “When we play at corporate events, we often get referrals for weddings, so that’s the biggest conversion,” he adds.
Among the band’s clients: the U.S. armed services, Chrysler/Jeep, and universities such as Hampton and Princeton. The band’s contracts often include the sale of CDs to clients, wholesale, as souvenirs for guests. Chrysler also featured the group on a promotional music sampler. Saunders says the group’s youthful approach is what sets it apart from others.
Ranging in age from 21 to 33, The Fuzz Band’s current members include: K’Bana Blaq, Wellington Britt, William Brown, Michon David, Jason Jenifer, Nakia Madry, Duane Smith, and John Stratford. Seven of the members have college degrees and all maintain full-time jobs in the field of music outside of their work with the band. “Not only do we sing original music, but we also take a look at the demographics and customize the music to our clients, performing anything from Duke Ellington to Dave Matthews to Jay-Z,” says Saunders.
In addition to the band, extensions of Peach Fuzz Entertainment include a recording studio that they rent out to other musicians, as well as event marketing services and music lessons. With plans to release a new album as well as an interest in recording songs and jingles for commercials, the group is optimistic about 2008.
“We really stand behind their vision and strategy for getting us into new markets,” says Madry, one of the lead singers. “At this point, it’s just a huge collaborative experience.”
- What box? Develop an unconventional strategy. Refusing to take the traditional path, The Fuzz Band pursues a mission that involves tapping into a niche market.
- Venture out. The group’s versatility allows it to play for audiences of all ages across the country and abroad. During the 2007 holiday season, the group was invited by the USO to perform overseas