LIVINGSTON, NJ — A Livingston High School (LHS) Class of 2009 alumnus has released his first single, “Come Find Me,” a song about supporting loved ones, on all digital platforms after discovering his singer/songwriter talents in his 20s. With the help of Sony Music, self-defined “late-bloomer” Brett Altman’s dream of inspiring others through his music is quickly becoming a reality.
The 27 year old always had a passion for music—watching “American Idol” religiously as a teenager and envying his musical father’s confidence on stage—but was too shy to explore his own talents, and focused his energy instead on playing basketball for LHS. It wasn’t until his roommates at Penn State University (PSU), including fellow LHS alumnus Eric Esposito, heard Altman singing in his room and encouraged him to audition for Penn State Idol that he mustered up the courage to perform publicly.
“If you would have told high school Brett that he would be releasing a single 10 years in the future, he would have laughed you out of the room and continued to binge Seinfeld re-runs,” said Altman, who couldn’t believe the positive feedback he received from the 30-second audition footage he submitted to the PSU competition that he ultimately won. “[Esposito] now reminds me that for my first public performance, I planned to wear sunglasses to hide the fear in my eyes. Thankfully, he talked me out of it.”
When Altman’s grandmother bought him a guitar the following year, Altman said it not only took his cover performances to the next level, but he also quickly learned that he had a knack for writing his own music. Within a year-and-a-half of discovering his musical talents, Altman was performing in front of 17,000 at PSU’s 46-hour dance marathon supporting pediatric cancer, which has since become an annual tradition that he is “thankful to still be a part of.”
“Being up on the THON stage is a magical feeling,” he said. “It is certainly intimidating to perform in front of 17,000 people, but I focus on connecting with the families on the dance floor. When I see their faces brighten up, I know I’ve done my job. I’m there to take their mind off cancer, even if it’s for a short while.”
Although though he took a few years off from performing after college, Altman, currently a relationship manager at City National Bank, now performs regularly on the weekends at venues throughout the Hoboken and New York City areas. By day, Altman helps companies manage their cash, and by night, he enjoys bringing people together through his music.
“Ironically enough, we’re the ‘Bank to the Stars,’ so we bank all the Broadway shows and a lot of entertainers,” he said. “I’m not in that division, but it’s cool to be associated with that.”
In his previous job at JPMorgan Chase, Altman said he was shy about discussing his other life as a musician, but has since gained the confidence to talk openly about it. In fact, he said he has developed countless new friendships and business relationships because of music’s ability to “help us all connect.”
Over the last two years, he has been playing three-hour cover shows every other week and taking gigs wherever he can. More recently, he has connected with fellow musician Max Perkins, now his co-writer and band-mate, for full-band performances consisting of all original songs.
“The Bitter End (on Bleecker Street in New York) has been my favorite place to play,” said Altman. “That’s where Neil Diamond got his start, and Billy Joel, Taylor Swift, Lady GaGa—it’s a very iconic New York venue. I had been playing just acoustic solo for about five or six years, but we’ve played three full-band shows now and it’s been incredible—they’re so much more fun than just playing alone.”
Today, Altman’s goal is to brand himself as an independent artist rather than only a cover performer. With his new single, “Come Find Me,” he is making himself known as a solo artist with what he hopes comes off as a “Jason Mraz or young John Mayer vibe.”
“There’s a really positive message for this song about supporting your friends and family and being there for them, which is why I chose it over the others,” said Altman, who will release four singles in the coming months. “I was home in December for the holidays and my sister, Hayley, had bought me a leather-bound book to write songs in. At the end of the week, we were talking about some of the big life decisions she had made and how I was there to help her, and so I started writing about that and the concept of ‘when you need someone to be there for you, I’ll be there to help you.’”
In the few weeks prior to his big release, Altman entered a songwriting contest through the music blog IndieNation, and emerged as one of the winners of the IndieNation Distribution And Marketing Package thanks to all of the fans, friends and family who voted for the unreleased demo of his song “Little Did I Know.”
His first song is now being distributed through The Orchard, a music company owned by Sony Music Entertainment, which will allow his music to be distributed on all digital platforms, including Pandora, Spotify and Apple Music.
In fact, this accomplishment puts him in the same company as one of his inspirations, John Mayer, whose new single “New Light” was recently distributed on the same platform.
“Winning the IndieNation contest within the last couple of weeks helped potentially get the song a little bit more reach than it would have normally gotten if I was just independently releasing it,” said Altman. “For those people who connect with the message (always being there to support family and friends), I'd ask they share the song on social media, add it to their Spotify playlists, and help spread to others in the community.”
As he reaches for success, Altman also remembers where he started and who helped him get to where he is now.
In addition some of his oldest friends like Esposito and Alec Friedman, another Livingston native who helped Altman land some of his first cover gigs at Pizzeta Enoteca, Altman is keeping it in the LHS family by using the expertise of fellow alumni anywhere he can. He credits Phil Silverberg for taking his professional photos, Rachel Glasser for being his graphic design artist, Brian Seltzer for playing saxophone in an upcoming show and Ryan Canney for filming the music video for “Come Find Me.”
Altman said he is excited to have Seltzer be a part of his first-ever brass section in his upcoming gig at Piano’s in New York City on July 21, where Altman will also premiere the music video produced by Canney.
His next single, “Is He Thinking of You,” will premiere in the week prior to the show. Tickets to see Altman play at Piano’s at 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 21 are $10 each to those 21 and over, and can be ordered in advance HERE or at the door.