We’ve all seen stories of musical artists who couldn’t handle the “business” side of the music industry. And, if you’re a local music fan, you’ve probably seen upstate artists perform and wondered, “Why aren’t they bigger than they are?”
Camden Johnson aims to solve both of these problems with his new nonprofit Rahm Academy. Johnson has designed a 9.5 month residency program that will teach musicians and aspiring managers the ups and downs, the ins and outs of the music industry, focusing not only on coursework, but also on live performances.
“This model is really built on what I call ‘holistic artist development,'” says Johnson. “It’s not just about getting to know the music industry, musicianship, production, songwriting, event and concert management, legal aspects and the business knowledge they need, but also to have a mental health component.”
The mental health aspect of Rahm Academy is a very important piece of the puzzle for Johnson. The program’s very name comes from the pen name of an artist who was Johnson’s partner in music and in life.
Johnson ran a label called Death Valley Entertainment for five years while attending Clemson University. It was there that he met a young man named Thomas Russell Moore II, aka Rahm Fisher.
“The goal is to have a program that really gives creative professionals the tools they need to succeed in the field.” -Camden Johnson
“He was an incredible up-and-coming artist,” says Johnson, “and then he joined the label as someone who was an artist that we were going to develop.” Johnson said he and Moore worked together until Moore’s conservative Christian parents took him out of Clemson and put him in the military.
He said Moore struggled while in the military and ultimately committed suicide shortly before his release. Johnson created the Rahm Academy in memory of Moore and to ensure that aspiring local musicians and managers have the tools they need to succeed.
“My real vision for Rahm,” says Johnson, “is to create a space where creatives can come for a developmental type of education that’s primarily experiential and also places them in a community and gives them just the space and the resources. and the time and education they need to become a better creative professional.
“The goal is to have a program that really gives creative professionals the tools they need to succeed in the field,” adds Johnson, “and our hope is to become a pipeline for record labels.”
For more information, visit www.rahmacademy.org.