Making a living in the music business, by default, requires an undying entrepreneurial spirit as an independent business owner. Especially in a career where you’re getting people to “buy” something intangible that’s also not a “basic human need.”
By Matt Kersh
Hey, this is the local electric company, they’ve got the monopoly on electricity here, so I guess we’ll pay them if we want the refrigerator to keep our food cold. Hey, this is the local gas company, I guess we’ll have to pay them if we don’t want to freeze this winter. Hey, this here is the local water provider, guess we’ve got no choice on whether to pay them if we want to be able to take a shower.
I look at these businesses and feel zero sense of inspiration. Sorry if your daddy spent his career working for the electric company. However, I DO respect someone that works hard in these businesses AND that provides excellent service. The ones that don’t (and we have a couple locally that fall in the “don’t” category) can go fly a kite.
What I AM saying though is, there’s not a sense about these businesses (innately speaking, at least) that makes anyone say, “Wow, it’s inspiring how they deliver our internet to us at an above market rate when we’ve got virtually no other options.”
No, that kind of feeling is more reserved for the small businesses that provide a cup of coffee like Black Rifle that you absolutely crave having as a regular staple in your day, or a little old shop like Boot & Hide that fixes a pair of boots that you love like an old friend, or an art gallery like 195 here in town that offers a space for local creative talents to showcase and sell their work. The elements required to sustain these kinds of businesses is perpetual hard work, and constantly reinventing the wheel to stay relevant and profitable.
It’s why staying afloat in these crazy times is so damn hard; why local treasures like Riverside Market, The Tin Roof, Country Spirit, and Bergmann Lumber eventually fade off into the sunset. Please don’t hear me say that any of those businesses failed. They simply ran their course or were perhaps run out of town due to ludicrously high rents. Now we’ve got the “bigger” government presenting a whole new realm of complications felt the most by the independent entrepreneurs and local businesses. The electric company and the cable/internet provider that has the local mini-market monopolized remains. Ugh.
Back to the topic at hand: The Entrepreneurial Spirit of the Small Business Owner. Actually, that’s not explicitly our topic for this issue. No, this month that would be reserved for none other than Andy Garcia.
If you’ve been around Boerne (or the general Hill Country) for a while, there’s a chance you may have encountered the quality soul that is Andy. But, this also may be the first time you’ve heard the name. Andy’s ok with that. In an effort to bring that (possibly disjointed, albeit purposeful) opening around, Garcia is a true example of a creative entrepreneur. And also one that possesses significant talent that runs the gamut of all that’s a part of the music business.
Andy graduated from Marshall High School in San Antonio back in 1998 and was given a vocal performance scholarship to attend Midwestern State University. He ended up graduating from Texas State University in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music. It was in 2007 that Andy took the big step of founding Hill Country Studios.
Around this time, he was newly married, found out his wife was pregnant, and was working at Enterprise to pay the bills. As luck would have it, he had to have a knee surgery that would present some surplus time to evaluate where he was in life and what he wanted to be about. “While on leave, I decided that I needed 22 students by the time I would have to go back to work to make enough money, and that if I managed to get 22 students, that I wasn’t going back. We just found out we were pregnant and I started working as hard as I could to generate business. I was able to get to 22 students right before I was supposed to go back to Enterprise, and was able to make the move into doing the business full time.”
Andy was already performing regularly both in music venues and church, handling his students in vocals and guitar, a significant number of which have been or are students of Geneva School of Boerne. He was the Entertainment Director for Dickens on Main for several years back in 2009, 2010, and 2011. He was a Vocal Coach for Sea World of Texas, Personal Vocal Coach for Ms San Antonio Emma Faye Rudkin in 2015 and 2017, and Vocal Coach for Currey Creek Church.
He’s also spent time doing music for the elderly at Morningside Ministries at Menger Springs, Care Choice Rehab Center, and Cibolo Creek Rehab. He regularly does 4-5 shows a year organized for his students so that they have real opportunities to share their growth in their art for themselves and our community. He’s even done Sound Engineering work on a Christmas program that was on ABC and also worked with Christian artists like Brandon Heath and Phil Wickham. The man is well-diversified in the industry, but Andy does it all with a genuine sense of humility.
“Since I teach as a private instructor, the students that I teach, want to be taught. In light of that, I want to give as much information as I possibly can to them. I tell them that whatever they want to do, let me give you the tools and show you how to use them. Whatever direction you want to go musically, I want you to be able to do it. I try to teach them to find the joy in the music rather than seeking to be famous or popular. It’s hard work, but if you ask yourself, ‘Am I happy at the end of the day being a musician?’ If you can say yes to that, then keep on doing it.”
During the pandemic, Garcia has also offered free lessons online to students (and adults) who have been stripped of the avenue of having fine arts studies in their lives. It was born out of his big heart to help people and provide a service without cost to folks looking for a place to get some training by giving a piece of his valuable time and even more valuable talents.
I’ll go on record, for me, music is as close to a basic need for my existence and my sanity as virtually anything in the world. I don’t think I’m alone in that feeling. Nevertheless, I could survive (if I had to) without it (for a while, at least). Food and water is obviously another story, which is why I’ve got so much respect for those that are committed enough, have the smarts, and can roll with the inevitable punches well/long enough to truly be a “lifer” in this business like our gracious subject for this issue. Though still a young man in more ways than one, Andy Garcia is well on his way to making music the pillar of his life and legacy until he one day “retires.”
I guess you could say that musicians never actually retire…they just reinvent. And there’s no doubt Andy will continue to find ways to stay relevant and to help people find themselves through the beauty of music. He’ll do so while remaining a professional full-time instructor, and all that entails, while keeping his focus on making a powerful impact on the lives of those around him. And ultimately he’ll make it all work while being a great husband to his bride, Barbara, and excellent father to his four children, Lyla, Makenna, Nathan, and Kaden.