A few alumni who rock: Wayne Ledbetter '95

Text by Linda Claycamp, Illustrations by Stan Shaw

Wayne Ledbetter discovers talented but unknown artists, songwriters, or producers, and helps develop their careers.

In the case of a budding band, Wayne introduces the band to record labels, aiming to get a recording deal, then takes the band on tour and continues to get them exposure. One such band-in-the-rough was Third Eye Blind, the modern rock group later known for their hits “Semi-charmed Life” and “How’s It Going To Be.”

Wayne first saw the band during the summer before his senior year at Puget Sound. He was an intern at Arista, Columbia, and Island Records in Los Angeles, and one of the labels sent him out to investigate a band they’d been hearing about. “Their songs were really good,” Wayne remembers, “but the show needed help.” Wayne advised them about touring colleges and landing better-paying gigs, then stayed in touch with their manager after returning to Tacoma for his senior year.

Soon after graduation, Wayne moved to California and partnered with Third Eye Blind’s manager in a newly formed artist-management business. As the business started taking on other bands, their staff grew. Wayne and three housemates lived and worked out of their home: bedrooms doubled as offices, the living room was the conference room/reception area, and the kitchen became the merchandising outlet.

Now, after a certain success, his company, EGM, Inc., works out of a proper office in San Francisco. Wayne manages several acts, including two on the edge of fame: the band Dakona, whose first album will be out early next year, and singer-songwriter Loni Rose, who was the opening act when Shawn Colvin played at UPS.

In college Wayne belonged to the music fraternity Phi Mu Alpha, played saxophone in Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band, was Cultural Events chair, and was on the concerts committee, all of which provided great experience for his future in music. He got started in music production by running sound and lights and setting up the stage for Jazz Band, which led to logistic and technical support at campus concerts and stage management duties at various events. Wayne was also in a grunge-rock band called The Undecided, which comprised several freshmen from the second floor of Todd Hall.

Since joining Puget Sound’s Alumni Sharing Knowledge program, Wayne has received some queries from students who want to know how to get into the music business. He references the Visa commercial: “Internship at father’s law firm, seven dollars an hour; internship with rock band, priceless,” as a model of his usual response to the students with stars in their eyes. “It’s exactly like that. You’ve got to just get in there … you’ve got to be the entrepreneur in this business. You’ve got to learn it either by doing an internship or just do your own thing—try to create a demand for something you’re doing.”

Sage advice. It worked for Wayne.