When he came to Campbell University, Mike McKee (’06) was already looking forward to taking his passion for drumming to the next level. He could sometimes practice with a small rig in his room or privately with Dr. Charles Wilson, associate professor and director of bands and instrumental studies. However, it was his performances at the gigs he booked on school nights that gave him the experience he needed to go professional.
Since he was ten years old, Mike knew he didn’t want a job where he had to wear a necktie to work every day. Instead, he wanted to impact people, energizing them and raising their spirits. For Mike, music was the best path he could take to reach this goal.
“One of my favorite quotes is from Joseph Campbell: ‘follow your bliss,’ which is an eloquent way of saying ‘do stuff that makes you happy.’ That, and bringing joy to others, is what guides me through life.”
It has been more than 25 years since Mike first started drumming. Now, he is a member of the indie rock band Delta Rae, performing on shows like Conan O’ Brien, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and The Late Show with Seth Meyers. In addition to his work with Delta Rae and other artists, a great deal of his time goes towards his business, Drum Team Collective. In 2017, Mike got a call from an event planner asking if he was interested in hosting a drum-circle activity, but with flare. He had done one-on-one lessons before, but nothing like group drumming. Mike came up with an original take on group drumming, pitched it to the planner, and held his first-ever event.
From there, Mike’s new business took off. With Drum Team Collective, workplace teams can “live out their rock and roll dreams while strengthening team dynamics.” Each participant acts as a part of a drum set and works together to set the driving rhythm and beat for a song played by a live rock band. “Our goal is to empower and educate teams to find their inner rock star and work together to be in the driver’s seat of a real rock and roll show!”
Mike’s career has taken quite a few twists and turns, and unexpected opportunities popped up along the way. “The music industry is volatile, exciting, and provides once in a lifetime experiences…Earlier in my career, I was certainly taking things like playing late-night TV shows, worldwide travel, etc. for granted. Now, I relish each gig and fan interaction more than ever.”
Along with many other small business owners in 2020, Mike had to create a new way to engage potential clients. As he navigated through the early months of COVID, he asked himself, “how do I ‘Judo’ this situation and use the challenge I’m facing in my favor?” Through some creative brainstorming, QuaranTEAM Building was born. QuaranTEAM offers a safe alternative to group drumming. Instead of playing real drums, participants use everyday household objects and record their session through Zoom. With a little post-production magic, Mike and his team turn that recording into a real music video! “We were set up for an amazing year,” Mike declared, “once gatherings can happen again, thriving will certainly be the word of choice.”
It was at Campbell that Mike learned how to juggle multiple responsibilities, which has served him well, what with the two small businesses, full-time indie rock band commitment, and doing one-on-one lessons on the side. Dr. Kent Stone, professor of Spanish, and his father, Dr. Richard McKee, Associate Professor of Music, encouraged him in his musical pursuits, giving him the self-confidence to make his projects and ideas come to fruition. “I’m convinced that their encouragement is a part of why I was able to freely chase down an idea like Drum Team Collective.”
Drum Team Collective is a member of Orange Owned, a program hosted by the Alumni Association that works to connect Campbell alumni with businesses owned and operated by fellow alumni. “I feel honored to be a part of Orange Owned and among the ranks of other fantastic entrepreneurs and fellow camels.”
Orange Owned provides a network of support and recognition between Campbell alumni and alumni who own businesses. If you would like to register your business or find alumni-owned businesses near you, please click here.