Jacob Wittenberg, also known as Jake Brewer, is a young entrepreneur who learned to leverage social media to follow his dreams of becoming a musician. Growing up dancing in his aunt’s studio in Washington, Jake knew from a young age he was a performer. In middle school, he began to fully embrace his creativity playing the guitar and singing covers of his favorite songs on YouTube.
Unfortunately, he was not satisfied with waiting around for an opportunity to stumble upon him using just one outlet. Soon he taught himself how to leverage other social platforms to grow his audience and connect with people through music. Fast forward to 2020, Jake has nearly a million streams on Spotify, over 100,000 hits on YouTube, thousands of followers, a new album following up with a national tour and brand ambassador deals lined up. We had the opportunity to hear more of his story.
What have been some challenges you’ve had to overcome as an independent artist?
The toughest thing about independent artistry is building from the ground up. When you start you have no team, no connections, and no affiliations to get you started. It’s putting a lot of trust into your fans to be loyal and support you. Industries like press and venues that you need to move forward are often obsessed with numbers. It’s hard to establish yourself as a musician and show you’re worthy of anyone’s time when you don’t have much of a portfolio behind you. It’s a hustle like no other and one that I’m thankful I had to, and am still, going through. It helped me build some tough skin and pushed me to want it even more than I thought I did.
How do you feel about going on tour? What are you most excited about?
I don’t think I could be any more excited to tour. It’s absolutely the most draining, exhausting, but rewarding project. It’s a ton of pressure on your body and mind, though. Singing for an hour plus for several nights in a row is something you have to train for. I’ve done a lot of research and it’s compared to an athlete training for a game. And this summer will surely be the biggest (game) of my life.
I’ve been able to get really creative with planning this show and it’s honestly my dream set. We’ve got some insane, jaw-dropping venues lined up. I have the biggest shows of my life ahead and all I want to do is give my all every second of it. This music makes me feel something so much deeper than before, and I can’t wait to bring these stories to life in such an intimate way. Everyone who streams my music and supports me in any way deserves to be recognized and appreciated. Touring is one of the only times I can really do that for them.
Photo Credit: https: @jacobwittenberg
Can you expand on the amount of work that went into building a tour?
It’s definitely a process that I’ve learned as I go along. My first tour experience was back in 2018. It started with just cold calling and emailing venues and playing where they allowed me to. Which was tougher than I anticipated because I was trying to sell myself with no background and at that point, I hadn’t really played a show. They’d ask things like “Where else have you played in the city? What’s your estimated draw?” and I had no idea whatsoever.
That was the toughest part because I was trying to build the confidence to go on the road and it was hard to hear people say “We’re sorry, we really don’t want to take a chance on you.” But you get lucky every once in a while. There were some great venues willing to host me and took a chance on me. I played some awesome shows and we ended up selling them out which was exciting. With this tour, we’re amping things up and it’s a ton of work. It’s really a lot of planning and preparing yourself mentally. This tour is bigger, not only in the design of the shows but the venues we’re playing at are much bigger. These are venues I’ve gone to see big shows at so it’s exciting.
Photo Credit: https: @jacobwittenberg
How has being an influencer helped your credibility as a musician?
Many of the coolest things in my life, like my collaboration with Abercrombie & Fitch, have just fallen into place for me. For Abercrombie specifically, I really grasped a sense of working with brands. I got to see the importance of social media and how to use it to really leverage yourself. If you’re trying to build your own personal brand, (social media) is the incubator for that. I think it puts an amount of healthy pressure on you to perform a certain way, and that’s a pressure I work really well under. Working with brands has really helped build my professional portfolio. When it comes to booking shows, it shows them “Okay, this brand that I trust, trusts him, so I can trust him too.” It adds a bit of legitimacy to your portfolio.
You can keep up with Jake’s journey on Instagram @jacobwittenberg.