Speaker Series: Tomas Salcedo

Though I graduated the Concert Career Pathways (CCP) program in May 2018, I’m happy to still be a part of the CCP family and have opportunities to attend inspiring speaker sessions. Recently, we had the pleasure of meeting the guitarist for Fantastic Negrito, Tomas Salcedo. Fantastic Negrito is an Oakland-native singer-songwriter with lyrics as powerful as his stage presence. Salcedo told us that the first time he met Negrito was on a street corner in Oakland, playing a guitar. Salcedo then accompanied Negrito with some bongos and later offered to become his guitarist. Within the next five years they would be winning a GRAMMY for Best Contemporary Blues Album, winning NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest in 2015, and going on several tours of North America and Europe. “This whole thing just from that time on the street corner,” Salcedo says.

Tomas Salcedo describes his path in the music industry as “unorthodox,” finding his niche when he was part of another small Oakland band who would tour in a carved out school bus. According to Salcedo, the band didn’t have much business structure when touring so he took on that role and became the one who would want to take touring seriously by implementing some business aspects. He pointed out that when he was touring with other bands they didn’t appreciate his way of thinking but when he worked with Fantastic Negrito, his thoughts were appreciated. Negrito wanted to surround himself with people who also wanted to take touring seriously.

“What it allowed us to do was to then structure our money intake so we can take out our stipend for [necessities] and save the rest for emergencies. If no emergencies happened then we would have money to take home! The first time I was able to pay my rent off of a tour that we had done, that made it real to me.”

It was a pleasure talking to Tomas about his experience in the music industry. As someone who who doesn’t play many instruments and has never been part of a band or tour, it was a great reminder that business skills are still incredibly important to a successful band. It was especially appreciated coming from someone like Tomas who has both business and musical skills. I loved the fact that Tomas covered topics that were relevant to everyone, from artists to office workers, so everyone learned something. He stressed how important it is for the Bay Area to help build each other up in order to succeed in the music industry. If we build Bay Area talent, then artists don’t have to move to places like New York or Los Angeles in search of that support. Tomas Salcedo made me realize how grateful I am to have met all these wonderful people and how integral they are to helping me build my future.


– Isaac Resendiz, Development Associate/Merch Coordinator