June 14, 2019


Arterial Drive performing

From MSUB classrooms to concert venues



University Communications and Marketing, 657-2266

MSU BILLINGS NEWS—Arterial Drive is a band name that you’ve probably heard of.

One of Montana’s up-and-coming groups, the six-member band played over 200 shows in 2018. From Symphony in the Park to “awkward nooks,” local breweries to the baggage claim area of an airport, there is no space that the group won’t come together in. Their self-proclaimed “ability to GROOVE” will be showcased on their first full-length album that drops later this summer. It’s an impressive start to a band that formed two years ago.

But the band’s success started several years back on the Montana State University Billings campus.

Band member Drew McDowell credits the classes he took while a student at MSU Billings as being part of the reason for the groups success, outside of their unique ability to bring together different sounds and styles.

“Marketing with AJ [Otjen], economics with Dr. [Scott] Harris, human resources with Dr. [Don] Larsen, and management with Professor [Mary] McNally were all valuable classes to me after I left the school,” noted McDowell. “They were able to lasso in my creative brain and allowed me to start thinking ‘marginally’ about business matters including promotion, product development, smart political moves and managing a band of fragile egos!”

McDowell graduated in 2016 with a music business degree and was, at the time, part of the band DDX. After DDX’s breakup, Arterial Drive was formed. Other band members include Juanillo Chavis, Meg Gildehaus, Konnor Stiles, Josh Reedy and Ryan Supola.

Supola and Stiles also have MSUB ties. Supola is a music performance student for trumpet and piano who is currently taking a year off from his studies, while Stiles is a music performance and music education major who will graduate in 2020.

McDowell, Supola and Stiles were part of the Jazz Club and Jazz Band at MSUB. McDowell, however, is the only band member who pursued the business option for his degree.

The marketing plan that was created in Otjen’s class has been of particular value to McDowell and Arterial Drive as they have continued to grow. “I used my marketing plan that I created in AJ’s class to develop market segments that the band wanted to specifically target,” said McDowell. “Also, the development of our product and finding a way to create connection/value for our audience was learned in [her] marketing class.”

The band’s unique ability to connect to their audience has helped them bring in multiple accolades. The group was the winner of the 2018 Battle of the Bands in Livingston, Montana and took home eight awards at the Magic City Music awards in Billings last November.

McDowell notes how the professors in the COB taught him about emotional intelligence; the importance of developing sound relationships not only with employees and bandmates, but with clients, too; the importance of being a trusted leader and how to be open-minded to help realize other’s ideas and how to think marginally, politically, and legally, in some cases. The lessons he was taught in MSUB have extended far outside the classroom and have impacted the band’s growth in profound ways.

The journey is just getting started for Arterial Drive. Looking forward, the group is working toward national recognition and large festivals and tickets shows. They are pushing for radio play after their first full album, Isn’t Everything Amazing, drops this summer. Check out Arterial Drive at Alive After Five at Tiny’s Tavern on July 18.

Start your success story at MSUB with 29 associate degrees, 53 bachelor’s degrees, and 10 master’s degrees to choose from. Learn how a degree in business can impact your own life here.

For more information about marketing at MSUB, contact AJ Otjen, Ph.D., at 406-657-1653 or aotjen@msubillings.edu. Those interested in becoming a student can call 657-2888.