Been in Los Angeles eleven years.
There’s something poetic about coming to this city on your own, map blank other than a destination. It’s no matter, you assume you’re getting there and the part in the middle will work itself out.
I still remember the night in a Seattle recording studio that I realized I needed to course-correct. Move the product development thing into the background and find a path back into the music business.
I can’t believe everything I’ve been a part of since. I’ve worked with some of the greatest musicians on the planet. I’ve learned business from staggeringly successful practitioners. I’ve forged friendships with people I admire and respect. And I learned that I am an entrepreneur to my core and that will never change.
I have so far to go, but at times like these it’s immensely valuable to stop and reflect. Hit pause on the never-ending aspiration and just enjoy what I’ve built. Be thankful for those that have seen something in me and given me a platform to achieve greatness.
And to that point, happy 90th birthday Norman.
Who knows how long I’ll be in Los Angeles and what the future holds, but since I’ve achieved what I came here for, now I’m just going along for the ride.
The single most consistent lesson I’ve learned in life is that if you find passion, dig in with all your might. Be relentless, be ambitious, contribute more than what your job description defines, never accept what you know to be false, wake up early and go to sleep late – whatever it takes to keep it bolted to your foundation.
I’ve been fortunate to make a career out of applying my passion to those in need of my skills. My dad teaching me to hack an Apple IIe when I was six, coupled with music being equivalent in importance as air and water made the path clear. But as we learn daily, most people never get to take music beyond a hobby – at best it becomes a spectator sport if you chase it.
In 1994 I set out on a path that started in college radio, took me through three record labels, my own digital marketing agency, contributing to industry organizations, a decade of speaking engagements all over the country, and now to a company I’ve admired and followed since I was a young teen.
I’ve enjoyed almost every job I’ve had – all the way back to rocking the photo department at Sav-On in 1993. There’s only one job I had that was so far removed from my true self that I ran out the door screaming, cloud-of-dust style. Three days later I was employee number six (thirteenth ever) at a software startup in the basement of a downtown Seattle bookstore. I went from utter discontent to a feeling of zen in a weekend.
That was a long time ago, and it taught me a very valuable lesson – knowing what you don’t like is usually more important than having a rigid definition of what you’re after. We can’t all have careers that would impress our 14-year-old selves, but as long as wherever you find yourself is infused with passion, you’re doing it right.
Some of the most powerful resources you have in the music industry have nothing to do with music.
I read plenty of music biz news sites and blogs, and it helps keep me aware of what’s on most of my colleague’s minds. But if it’s in those blogs, people are already talking about it and you can’t do it first.
What I care about is figuring out what’s next. Finding more efficiency. Creating something that hasn’t been done before. Taking an old concept and applying it a new way.
The best wisdom often comes from sources far from obvious. Find the tools you need, combine them with the wisdom you can find, and create something bigger than you thought.
Read Seth’s Blog to get perspective.
Use Evernote to boost productivity.
Fire up Chat Roulette for creative purposes instead of just showing people your junk.
RSVP for every single SXSW party, but don’t get there before me and take my spot.
I have a pretty big CD collection. Not big compared to some other music obsessed friends, because I keep it pared down pretty tight, but bigger than a lot of people’s at somewhere around 2500 CDs. Physical CDs.
My CD shelves are split in two sections – most in the living room and then some more down at the end of the hall. Last night I went through the living room section trying to find CDs to demote to the hallway. Needed to make room for the stack on the floor that I’ve acquired lately and that need to find their way into the prime shelving.
You know the drill. It’s one of those things you do at the beginning of a year, or when the stack is so big you have no choice. I’m squarely in the middle of those scenarios.
My music taste isn’t for everybody. It’s certainly not for the general public. But, a reasonably large and musically experienced set of people would agree it’s mighty comprehensive and shows a solid understanding of the past 5 decades of music. I deeply get a specific subset of genres, mostly in the connected corridors of punk, post-punk, hardcore, metal, hard rock, and goth. And I also have amassed what most would agree are the essentials any learned music fan should have and appreciate.
My collection travels seamlessly from Dr Dre’s “The Chronic” to “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash” and from Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” to MC5′s “Kick Out The Jams.” Deicide is only a few slots from Neil Diamond; the Swans’ “Cop” is only a shelf away from “Ice Cream Castles” by the Time. Big Black lives near Black Tape For A Blue Girl, and Pavement lives squarely between Parliament Funkadelic and Quicksilver Messenger Service. You get the point.
I often tell people my music selection runs from Neil Diamond to King Diamond. That pretty much sums it up.
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