What happens when a seasoned musician meets a renowned tech executive? They tour the world from the comfort of their own studio and become superstars in Brazil.
That’s exactly what happened when Brad Hallen and Christopher O’Donnell teamed up as The Providers. Hallen, a 63-year-old bass player has been a household name in Boston's music scene since the 70s. Meanwhile, his new partner, O’Donnell, is better known in the tech sector for his decade-long stint at HubSpot.
The two met 16 years ago. Back then, O’Donnell was far from the corporate world and still pursuing his own dream of "storytelling through music.” Hallen came in for a session in O'Donnell's New Hampshire recording studio, and their chemistry was undeniable.
They met again under stranger circumstances when, unbeknownst to O'Donnell, Hallen was part of the band playing at his wedding. That unexpected reunion may have been the reason that O’Donnell reached out to Hallen on a whim, asking if he wanted to come over and jam out to some Jimi Hendrix.
This led to a friendship that would blossom over fifteen years, though neither could have predicted the circumstances that would have led them here.
Despite his appointment as Chief Product Officer of HubSpot this year, O’Donnell yearned for more. Once again, he found himself reaching out to Hallen.
“After years of climbing the corporate ladder, [O’Donnell] faced the cold truth that it wasn’t what made him happy,” The Providers’ website reads. “It was killing him — literally — and everyone close to him felt something needed to change.”
That change came in the form of a partnership between O’Donnell and Hallen, that went back to the roots of their friendship, and for O’Donnell, his ultimate passion—music.
Today, the two friends—who may seem like opposites at first glance—have teamed up as The Providers. The Boston-based duo creates anthemic classic rock with a penchant for soaring balladry and the warm hum that can only be described as a distinct Massachusetts flair.
It’s a strange time for musicians, whose salaries are primarily made on the road, touring. The global pandemic has brought live music to a screeching halt, but O’Donnell’s corporate background has prepared him for this very moment.
To gain a larger audience for their music, the HubSpot executive targets specific audiences based on their age, location and taste in music. He also uses software to make one-on-one connections at scale through platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook. This ingenious marketing has earned the duo a blossoming fanbase in Brazil.
“It’s actually been a great testbed for what I do at work,” O’Donnell told The Boston Globe.
This passion project has been more than about O'Donnell utilizing his tech background. For Hallen, it’s been a source of respite after being in isolation for much of the pandemic. And while for now, The Providers aren’t making a fortune doing what they love, they do have big dreams for what comes next.