Insurance professional by day, musician by night

An insurance career can be stable, rewarding, and limitless. For Ethridge Netz, it’s also allowed him the opportunity to continue exploring his passion for music.

Netz, a content creator in Marketing and Customer Experience at Grinnell Mutual, is a storyteller at heart. For Grinnell Mutual, that means visual stories brought to life with graphic design, photography, and videography. After hours, it means making music.

“Really, the ultimate goal is to communicate with people, right?” said Netz. “At the core of everything I do is storytelling. I love to tell a story.”

Deep musical roots

You could describe Netz’s music as roots music — hearkening back to earlier styles. Maybe it’s because his musical roots run deep. His dad toured with the Fort Dodge-based Erv Reutzel Orchestra, playing saxophone. His great-grandfather, great uncle, and cousin formed the LD3 Show in early 1970s, a dance band that performed every Saturday for over a decade across the Midwest.

Netz’s mom joined the LD3 Show at age 7 as a singer, but the band’s venues — dive bars and strip clubs — put her in some unusual situations.

“When the band played in strip clubs she would have to face the other way,” said Netz. “It didn’t matter because the walls were covered in mirrors.”

The day-job advantage

“There was never a time in my life when I didn’t like music,” said Netz “It was always something I wanted to do.”

After teaching himself guitar in middle school, he performed in bands for fun in high school. He realized there were only so many career paths in music and that he didn’t want to teach band or play in a symphony. At the University of Northern Iowa, he majored in Communication: Digital Media-Production and satisfied his musical itch by joining a music ministry at a local church instead of pursuing a degree in music.

During and after college, Netz worked as a freelance artist. He launched Brickroad, a boutique creative services agency with several college friends. But the stability of Grinnell Mutual has given him the freedom to pursue his music — and songwriting. And it’s made him better at turning his passion into paying gigs, too.

“I kind of feel like doing this job gives me a little bit of an advantage,” said Netz. “A lot of musicians start with the music and they don’t know how to market themselves. I feel like now that I know a lot more about marketing, I can market myself and my music better.”

In pursuit of that, Netz has released an EP called “The Wolf” on Spotify and iTunes. “Today’s music is too full of platitudes and shallow love songs. I always try to get down to the gritty details of human interaction with my music and tell a more authentic story about life and love.”

Photo credit: Janet Eckles