Community Musician Founder Scott Arey just keeps rolling

CM Founder Scott Arey

Scott Arey has never been complacent. That state-of-mind stated from when he became old enough to understand his mother's words: "You can be anything you want to be, as long as you're willing to work hard and long enough at it, and you never give up."

It's that 'never-say-die' mentality that well describes Scott's journey with Community Musician, a company that was founded in 1999 as a 'Craigslist' for musicians. Arey took over the struggling company in 2005 by salvaging it through an out-of-court bankruptcy, and today believes it is at the cusp of being able to completely overhaul the entire music industry.

"You want to talk about persistence? I've been stabbed in the back so many times my scars have scars," said Arey as he reflected on his struggles, while also acknowledging that his efforts are close to paying off.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Scott Arey is the first son of 'hometown hero' James A. Arey from a little fishing island off the coast of Maine called Vinalhaven. Arey's father, mother and brother all got degrees in journalism — or, as Arey refers to it, "the family business" — from Boston University and he keeps their diplomas framed together in his office. Arey graduated from Stanford University with a degree in economics and another in public policy but has always been working towards finding his niche in the music industry.

"I'm the black sheep of the family that went to Stanford and somehow got into finance," said Arey. "That being said, I've always been a musician — always been out there writing, recording and performing my music, all over the world."

Arey got further along the road to stardom than most while in college, signing a record deal and being hired as a warmup act for bands like the Indigo Girls. After realizing that he couldn't continue "make the rent" as a career musician, Arey found himself in a job at Bank of America by just walking into the San Francisco branch and demanding they give him one. Arey ended up staying at BofA for 10 years where he rose up the ranks to become CFO of the Commercial Banking Division and later CFO of BofA's International Trade Bank.

"At Bank of America, I was 'the kid who could work the computer' during a period of major technological upheaval in the bank," said Arey. "[BofA] ended up making me one of the youngest vice presidents of the bank ever at the time and put me in front of some major system's projects. I shaved off the beard, cut my hair, got some decent neck ties and just like that I was a 'financial professional.'"

With a 'no moonlighting' clause in his employment agreement at BofA, Arey had to continue his musical pursuits in secret. He thus adopted the pen name 'Quinland Scott' which he still uses with his current band 'Lost Cavaliers of Mercy.'

"In the world of business, the biggest shock I had — which I learned very early on — was that people in finance did not like the idea of me being a musician," said Arey. "They took it as if I thought I was better than they were and that my job was just an inconvenience to what I really wanted to do, so I had to keep everything underground."

Even under these conditions, Arey was still able to build and operate various recording studios, while writing music, recording, and performing with his band "The Particles". After spending a decade at BofA, Arey embarked on a series of successful gigs as the CFO of startup companies, building shareholder value and getting to liquidity events during the mid-1990's.

"It's a very tough transition to go from a large corporation like Bank of America to being at a small no name company," said Arey. "People you thought were your business friends stop returning your calls and inviting you to their networking events. You're left out in the wilderness, and a lot of folks don't survive that change."

But Arey did, year after year, taking on long shot mid-market companies and earning the shareholders big returns, most recently at Gearbox Software, which was purchased by The Embracer Group in 2022 for $1.3 billion. He also began embarking on his current path at Community Musician.

"To me what we're doing at Community Musician is no more difficult than any of the other challenges I've faced in any of the other companies I've been with," said Arey. "In every case it's about doing the work, having the persistence and determination to overcome the obstacles, and you have to be able to convince your team and your investors that you can do it and you are going to make it happen. It helps a lot if you've already "done it" a few times."

It looks like Arey has reached for the stars and succeeded once again. As of the publication of this article has commitments to invest $20M into Community Musician, which will use the funds primarily for the acquisition of existing music rehearsal space businesses as part of the plan to create a national brand for music rehearsal space. The money will also be spent to fund the roll-out of Community Musician's patented product the "Collectible Music Card" as an alternative

distribution mechanism to the artists that rehearse in these spaces. The first acquisition is the largest music rehearsal business of Nirvana Studios, expected to close next month.

"We're going to make it possible for up-and-coming musicians to have the shot at making a life out of music that I never had a chance for. Doing so is crucial to making sure that there's future that has new music in it and it doesn't hurt that it's also an amazing business opportunity."