Bev Fowler has become a well-known name in MI for her work in artist relations for PRS Guitars, where she leads a team that supports the company’s family of artists and collaborates with the marketing team to promote those artists.
On any given day, you might find her on the phone with artists like Carlos Santana and John Mayer, performing emergency tasks like overnighting equipment to Mark Tremonti, Neal Schon or Zach Myers, or assisting with preparations and event strategies for industry events like NAMM, Experience PRS and more.
Fowler is also a philanthropist, helping to raise $5 million for the Living with Cancer Resource Program at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, by means of PRS’ events and partnership with that institution.
During the NAMM Show, Fowler will be honored at the She Rocks Awards, which takes place on January 20 at the Hilton Anaheim.
The WiMN recently spoke with Fowler about her start in the MI industry, her experiences at PRS and the multiple roles she’s played at the company, as well as her thoughts on role models and females in our industry.
For more on PRS Guitars, visit prsguitars.com.
The Women’s International Music Network: What is your first recollection of being involved with music?
Bev Fowler: Music was a big part of my life from early childhood. My dad had an extensive record collection with a wide array of genres. I always credit him for my ultimate love and appreciation for music, as he exposed me to different types of music.
The WiMN: How did you enter the MI workforce?
Fowler: At age 17, I was offered a part-time job by a family friend. I was a senior in high school with hopes of pursuing a college degree in psychology. But, I began to work as an Office Assistant for a manufacturer’s rep firm that specialized in pro-audio and sound contracting, and I quickly worked my way up into a position in inside sales. I eventually got my psychology degree, but I decided to pursue my career in the music industry instead. For 12 years, I had the privilege of representing brands such as HARMAN Professional, Sony Pro Audio and Rane Corp.
The WiMN: You’re currently Director of Artist Relations at PRS Guitars. Have you held any other positions at the company?
Fowler: I started my tenure at PRS as the Executive Assistant to the President. That position exposed me to all facets of the business, including manufacturing, sales, marketing and accounting. I had opportunities to interact with our artist endorsers, and I began to establish working relationships with many of them. I really enjoyed that aspect of my job, and I found myself wanting to work with the artists more. Eventually, I was offered the opportunity to join the artist relations team.
The WiMN: Describe a typical day.
Fowler: Every day is different! I often describe my job as a tornado and constant whirlwind of things to do. Most of my day is spent in “reactive mode,” handling various needs and requests from artists. Flexibility and patience are key. I work closely with Paul Smith on the business matters as they pertain to AR, and I collaborate regularly with our marketing team to support and promote our endorsers.
The WiMN: What does it take for a musician to be a PRS artist?
Fowler: First and foremost, it takes a genuine desire to be a part of the PRS family. We consider many factors for an artist endorsement, and they vary on a case-by-case basis. We pride ourselves on having a strong working relationship with our artists; there’s a lot of give and take. We provide tools for the artist to do their job and, in exchange, we rely on the artist to influence the customer and give us brand exposure.
The WiMN: Who are some artists with whom you have regular interactions?
Fowler: Carlos Santana, Mark Tremonti, Zach Myers, Neal Schon, John Mayer, Howard Leese and Orianthi, just to name a few.
The WiMN: What are some challenges you’ve faced being a woman in a male-dominated field, and how do you cope?
Fowler: I haven’t really experienced many challenges related to being a woman. From the time I started in the industry, I knew I had to work hard to earn the respect of my peers. Once I did that, I remained confident in what I do. Gender conflicts have never really been a problem.
However, I do recall feeling hesitant when I became Director of Artist Relations for PRS. Being the only female on the team was never uncomfortable for me. But, when I became “the boss,” I worried about how the structure change would be received by the guys in the department, especially when you also factor in seniority. I thought it was best to be upfront about my concerns, and I spoke to each of my employees individually. To my surprise, they all welcomed the change and seemed genuinely excited.
The WiMN: Any other cool things you get to do, aside from signing artists?
Fowler: Most of my time is actually spent marketing and promoting the artists with whom we’re working. That gives me an opportunity to keep my creative side engaged. The best part of my job centers on the relationships I have with the artists. Many have grown into friendships through the years, and we’re like one big family. I love to put a group of endorsers in a room together with guitars and sit back and watch the magic happen. It’s neat to see them interact in a casual setting and exchange licks, techniques, stories, etc.
I also dabble a bit in philanthropy through our partnership with the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore MD. This past October marked our 17th annual “One Night, One Show, One Cause” event, consisting of a golf tournament, live auction and concert. Since 2000, PRS Guitars has raised more than $5 million for the center’s Living with Cancer Resource Program. The program offers supportive care, programming and education to cancer patients and families.
The WiMN: Who are some of your biggest role models?
Fowler: I’d have to say Robin Roberts. I often think back to her acceptance speech at the 2013 ESPYs, when she was honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. I got goose bumps listening to her describe her life’s journey as a female sportscaster and news anchor, her contributions to women’s basketball and her fight against breast cancer. Her words were very powerful, and her demonstration of determination, self-confidence and courage in everything she set out to do was very inspiring.
The WiMN: Do you think it’s true that there aren’t enough female guitarists?
Fowler: I wouldn’t necessarily say that there aren’t enough female guitarists. I think there are a number of female guitarists who have not been recognized by the music industry. It’s rare that you see a female on the cover of, or featured in, an MI magazine. And, if it does happen, she’s usually compared to a male guitar hero.
I’ve had the good fortune of working with some pretty incredible female guitarists and bassists, such as Orianthi, Jennifer Batten, Donna Grantis and Rhonda Smith. The more exposure we give to female musicians, the more influential they will be among women and young girls who aspire to succeed in a music career. I’ve noticed some improvement the last few years, and I hope the trend continues.
The WiMN: What are you most looking forward to at the She Rocks Awards?
Fowler: I’m extremely humbled to have been chosen as a recipient for a She Rocks Award. It’s truly an honor, and I look forward to the opportunity to network with other women in the industry.
Myki Angeline is the Founder and CEO of Rants of a Sic miK, and Rants & Raves. She is an accomplished podcast creator and social media influencer, and a sought-after, impactful speaker and trainer.