I’ve been a composer most of my life, and a business owner for 15 years—I started “Breur Media Corporation” in July of 2001, and rebranded it as FireSpike LLC in 2013.
Most of those years, the company has belonged to some business organization or another, including:
- Carrollwood Area Business Association, Tampa, Florida
- Business Networking International (Carrollwood Florida Chapter)
- Tampa Bay Business Guild, Tampa, Florida
- Portland Area Business Association, Portland, Oregon
- Pride Professional Alliance, Portland, Oregon
- Tualatin Chamber of Commerce, Tualatin, Oregon
Every one of these organizations more than paid for the cost of membership through the business that they brought to the company.
So what does this have to do with Arthur Breur, the composer? Well, as often happens in life, several years ago I realized that I had been neglecting what I consider my own best talent—composing music. If I didn’t act, I might miss out on my own biggest passion and eventually, whether later or sooner, look back on my life with regret. Yes, it’s true that I have had opportunities to utilize some musical skills within my company—in selecting and editing stock music for multimedia presentations, or for “mood” music on websites—but mostly music was sidelined as more of a “hobby” and less of a trade.
So I started to turn my personal focus back toward music, creating new compositions and finishing up some compositions that I had started years and years before.
Then a couple of years ago, I noticed the committees at the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce. They had committees focusing on travel and fitness and networking—but none focusing on the Arts. In fact, in some of my conversations, chamber members said “I support the Arts”, as if “the Arts” were something foreign to business. I soon proposed to the chamber that an Arts Committee be formed, and that the committee’s tagline be “Art is Business”.
The first event that the new Arts Committee held was a fundraiser to sponsor a girl’s tuition at the Tualatin Dance Center. We arranged that I would perform a house concert—promoted by the chamber—at my home, with donations, sponsorships, and a silent auction all going to the cause. One item in the silent auction was a custom composition, which was won by a chamber member (more about that coming very soon!) and the event was a success.
But to be honest, it felt a little odd, performing my compositions for so many people to whom I had previously only represented myself as a web developer. Here was a completely different part of my life—an immensely important part of my life—that I was working to take very seriously, but that had hardly been mentioned in my countless interactions with these people in the chamber. I wanted to include that I was a composer when interacting at Chamber events, but it felt like something I was “tacking on” to what I was expected to discuss: my web development business.
So I decided to do what many other chamber members had done: I would take better advantage of the chamber by having two memberships. I joined the chamber again, this time as a composer. Suddenly it was easy and expected that I should mention my composing while attending chamber events. And, as with every other chamber membership, this one quickly paid for itself with a commission: a musical gift to a chamber member’s granddaughter.
I’m passing this advice on to other artists I know, and the idea is being met with enthusiasm, curiosity, and skepticism. But if someone is going to present themselves as a “professional” in their artistic field, then certainly the professional benefits, skills, and connections that come with an active chamber membership should be seriously considered.