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Young Gun Alum

David R. Plyler '06

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You wouldn’t notice the tour bus that David Plyler ‘06 spends four days a week on even if it passed you while traveling. It moves under the radar with no branding or any sign that it’s carrying the popular musical group that he co-manages — Zac Brown Band.

While staying incognito may be the M.O. for the band’s tour bus, it is not the strategy that got the Columbia, S.C. native where he is today. As manager of Home Grown Music (a Nashville and Atlanta-based entertainment management company), Plyler is responsible for creating the ultimate customer experience for Zac Brown Band fans. From planning live shows to strategizing and executing the next music release, Plyler keeps Zac Brown Band at the forefront of the music scene across the country and around the globe.

Co-managing a three-time Grammy Award-winning musical group is impressive, but what’s more remarkable is Plyler’s history. Unlike most managers who have an array of musical degrees framed next to their platinum records and a handful of high-level connections who helped them get their start, Plyler climbed the ladder using his business savvy, hospitality background, networking abilities and pure grit.

A double major in Business Administration and Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTMT) while at the College of Charleston, he says his undergraduate experience prepared him well for a career in the music industry. “[The business school] really shaped me into who I am today,” says Plyler. “It gave me the ability and street sense to do what I do.”

Where some in the industry might see a disadvantage to his non-musical background, Plyler saw an opportunity. “I just worked harder and smarter,” he says.

He also learned from the curveball life threw at him freshman year when he lost his scholarship. While many would have buckled under the financial pressure, Plyler describes this time in his life as eye-opening. Knowing that he wanted to continue school but needing a way to pay for it, he worked a few high-end restaurant industry jobs to cover the cost of tuition.

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It was during this time that Plyler developed a deep appreciation for the service industry and added an HTMT degree to his academic pursuits.

“[HTMT] taught me a lot about customer service,” he says. “From paying attention to detail to anticipating customer needs, we see all of those things in the music industry.”

The rest of his time at the College seemed tailor-made for his current position in talent management. While serving in various positions across campus, including as president and social chair of his fraternity, Plyler got his first crack at managing and event planning.

Minoring in Spanish also proved to be helpful as he often uses it when traveling internationally with Zac Brown Band — one of the largest touring bands in the world.

Establishing a talent management career without having a music degree or any special connections to the industry was daunting. Plyler says he had to put himself out there a lot.

But no stranger to adversity and hard work, Plyler rose in ranks quickly. He cites persistence as what got his foot in the door. “That, being good to people and gaining trust,” he adds.

Earlier this semester, Plyler came back to campus to speak to Professor Steve Litvin’s HTMT class about his time at the College and his professional journey. While speaking with the class, he realized he’d hit a pivotal point in his career.

Once upon a time, he’d been trying to break into the music business as an executive assistant, performing day-to-day tasks for the management company. Now, he’s in the process of hiring his own.

He’s currently “Knee Deep” in applicants. That’s what we call full circle.

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