WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES

 

T R E V O R   G A L E

 

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, WRITER PUBLISHER RELATIONS

SESAC

NEW YORK CITY

 

Photograph by Robert Nethery

 

I. My favorite non-business practice that really helps me with my work now is reading the Wall Street Journal every morning. Sounds simple, but the WSJ is so informative and enlightening, not only as it pertains to business, but culturally also. This keeps me up on daily happenings in the tech, politics and social arenas. They all interrelate and therefore help me in my business, music.

II. Mentoring is the key to a healthy industry. If music is going to survive the business, then we need to invest in our future. As executives, musicians, producers and professionals, we must give back. We must reach and help guide, encourage and infuse those around us with knowledge. We must care for those young, gifted and hungry 'next ones'. To me mentoring starts with caring. You have got to care for those you mentor, with no strings attached. It's not about getting points on a project or signing a publishing deal, it's about seeing the art live on. Through the advice you give, the time you spend and the ear you lend, you are ensuring that the art lives on. That individual might just develop and experience new possibilities because you cared.

III. I am for elevating the art of popular music. This is especially important with R&B and urban music, and in some ways that means allowing more voices to be heard. I ask you - how do we keep the genius of the culture both going and growing? This is not an easy puzzle to solve. I believe that increased quality records, together with acknowledgement of artists who are really killing it (so to speak) will begin to get us there. Every day I work to push our songwriters and artist to go higher. They need to be incentivized and be supported so they can get better at their craft. We come from a rich history of great artists like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix and Chaka Khan. They pioneered and they have left us a road map to go further, or at least stop by the spot they rocked. We are discovering truth by building on previous discoveries. We must learn from what they worked so hard for, cherish it, and continue to grow.

 

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WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES

 

S H E P   G O R D O N

 

TALENT MANAGER + PRODUCER

ALIVE ENTERPRISES

MAUI

 

Photograph by Damian Weilers

 

I. I don’t really think about wisdom. I think about compassion. I think about doing the right thing. Wisdom is usually a word someone uses to describe themselves when they’re trying to convince someone else that they know something. There are certain words that scare me: wisdom, and best. I mean, I think there are very wise men. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a very wise man, but that’s not the first word I would use for him. That’s way down the scale. My criteria are sort of different: living a good life, being compassionate, helping people, and working to the best of your ability. I think it’s important, especially for young people on their journey, to have mentors and idols. If wisdom is a word that leads them to work for mentors, that’s fine. But I think maybe experience more than wisdom. I don’t know. It’s just a word that doesn’t necessarily fit in my wheelhouse.

II. I think that being of service leads to happiness. That was where my mentors led by example. Mr. Vergé served everyone. I try to serve everyone. Do whatever makes them happy. By serving them and making them happy, I think that’s a way to make yourself happier. But nobody’s always happy. Life is tough. You’ve got to embrace the downs as well as the ups.

III. It’s very rare that you give a person an opportunity to have a win win situation where they don’t want that. What they don’t want is win lose. If it doesn’t cost you anything, if you can figure out a way where you make money by helping other people, that’s a nice win win situation. A great example is the show we just did with The Hollywood Vampires playing Rockin’ Rio. It’s very expensive to get to Rio. We’re only doing one show. We wanted to get publicity, and we like to do good stuff. There’s a company called Starkey Hearing Aids Foundation, and we arranged with them for 200 deaf people to be in the hotel the afternoon of the show in Rio. Johnny and Alice and Amber fitted them for hearing aids. They heard for the first time in their life. We got the use of the airplane to take them to the concert, so our transportation expenses were gone. We got a moment in life that nobody will ever forget. We had 16-month-old to 93-year-old people who have never heard, crying and hugging us. Remarkable humans. We played a great concert, and then we came home. We got one billion hits off Johnny and Amber putting in hearing aids. So we got amazing press, a free ride down, and Starkey Foundation and Hearing Aids got a great bang for their dollar. It’s a billion people. We felt like we actually had a reason for us to go down and play the show. Plenty of people will now hear sound. That’s a win win win win win. If you direct your energies into trying to do that all the time, it’s not tough to do. That’s what I’ve always learned. I’ve always tried to do the compassionate act. Choose the win win.

IV. I’m very happy to see cannabis about to be legalized. I think it’s a crime to put people in jail for this. It’s a tool that’s really helped me. I think of cannabis in two ways. One is medicinally as a miracle drug. I’ve seen what it’s done for kids with spasms and people who couldn’t eat when they had cancer treatment. I see it as a less harmful crutch in the recreational area. I view it for myself as a crutch. I think life is a tough journey, and I’ve always used crutches for my whole life, for me mostly marijuana. There were times it was cigarettes, there were times it was blow, there were times it was eating. I’m sure I have some kind of self worth issues. With marijuana I go to sleep, and I don’t hurt anybody else. Creatively, it opened my brain. So I think for both sides of it there’s great value.

V. Joseph Campbell talks in his writing about following your bliss. He gives a practical way of doing it. He says go into a room for fifteen or twenty minutes a day, shut the lights, have no noise, and do what makes you happy. If screaming at the top of your lungs makes you happy, great. If listening to music, if doing nothing, if reading a book, if standing on your head, take twenty minutes and go do something that makes you happy. Follow your bliss. And sooner or later, you’ll start to figure out what makes you happy. That’s what led me to cooking.

VI. We need to talk more about how we treat each other and how we can help real artists. As music managers, we need to find a way for real artists to get to an audience without the filters.

 

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WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES

 

T O M   R A V E N S C R O F T

 

Radio presenter + Broadcaster + DJ

BBC Radio 6 Music

London

 

  Photography by Damian Weilers

Photography by Damian Weilers

I. Over the last year I have experienced the fairly common but rather dramatic change of having a baby son. I have been trying to go about things in the same way I have done for the past three years and am slowly coming to terms with the fact that this isn’t possible. The best thing about my job is how social it is, particularly in the evenings; and the boy obviously doesn’t tie in too well with this. What a selfish baby. At first I tried strapping him onto my back, heading off into the British countryside to music festivals, thinking we could have fun together, that he would be my musical companion. We could make discoveries together; have chats from on my back about how great it is that bands are getting noisy again, or how funny it is that Grime has taken over the world. In reality he’s not quite ready yet, in fact it would appear he hates festivals. Even within the home seems to only enjoy techno and 90’s Zimbabwean music.

II. I don’t really have any dealings with the business side of the music industry, in fact I have no idea what goes on at all. I rather like it that way. In the same way that I can’t play any musical instruments and have no idea how records are put together. It leaves me to just be a fan, albeit a fairly ignorant one. An irritation that has occurred in the past couple of years is the fact that it seems every band that has ever existed has now reunited and is touring again. This has meant that there is less room for new and emerging artists to perform in the larger venues and bigger stages at festivals. I’m not a huge fan of nostalgia in music, I’d like it if fewer ‘legends’ would stop hogging all the stages and give everyone else a go. Unless you’re Neil Young, in which case stay up there as long as you like.

III. Not so much a practice but an activity. I spend a lot of time fixing things up, looking for bit of woods to sand and paint, things to screw down around the house. Partly because I enjoy fixing things and making them look nice but mainly as I can’t just sit in front of a stereo staring at the lights and just listening. Music has to always be accompanying something else I’m doing, something physical. I have to occasionally create things for it to accompany. I bought a house in disrepair a number of years ago and got into the habit of building radio shows and sifting through music whilst trying to make a home. I felt a little lost when I'd finished it, I missed the slightly odd pairing. I have since moved into another wreck to do the same thing again. Piles of CDs under piles of sawdust, I may have developed a bit of an addiction for it. I fear finishing the house I’m in, perhaps I’ll have to move again, I hate moving, especially the CDs.

IV. We need to talk more about music from other parts of the world, other than the U.K and U.S.

V. I am for scrapping radio playlists and allowing more DJ created programming on the airwaves.

 

 

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WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES

 

R O Y   M A R T I N

 

 

Piano Tuner

Recording Studio Piano Technician

London

 

  Photography by Aaron Gaiger

Photography by Aaron Gaiger

I. I've been tuning pianos since I was Twenty and you know what? I never tire of it, never get bored of it. When I was a child the piano tuner would come and after he left I would play and ask my mum “What did he do? It's magic!” Mum had no idea and so I just had to be a magician too. Some people meditate to chill out. I just tune pianos and the world's ok.

II. We need to talk more about Acoustic Pianos. I'm nearly always disappointed when a great artist uses a digital piano rather than an acoustic one. Sufjan Stevens did the Meltdown festival this year at the Royal Festival Hall; he tours with a piano. The most extraordinary gig of this year by miles. Sure he used a Prophet or a Moog and did what they do best. Fat power, sweeping, orchestral, Bladerunner panoramas but real acoustic instruments are complex and more visceral to play. They enhance the task of taking your soul and delivering it into the hearts of your audience. I cried at that gig; a rare event in such a public place.

III. I have supported a local initiative that brought a piano to the station at Herne Hill Station London where I live, for anyone to play. I tune and repair it as best I can and there are bands and singers, workers, shoppers, children and wannabe bands that play it. There is an event where it is used outside in summer as accompaniment for a silent film. Hundreds attend and a short film was made: The People's Piano. It's on Vimeo and was entered in several film festivals. There were plans for a full feature film about the history, influence and decline of the everyday piano. The life affirming effect on a community it has, the way people smile and relax when they hear it. We tried crowd-funding it but didn't reach the target. I would love the support to be instrumental in making that happen. It all started when artist Luke Jerram installed his 'Play Me I'm Your's' project in cities across the world. Our little hamlet managed to wrestle a piano from the big bad city and it has transformed the ambience of a little Victorian corner of south London. Then came a very cool lady called Maureen Ni Fann who contacted Luke Jerram's office and worked with the community organisers to promote the piano, make the short film and being inspired by the street piano movement started filming the trailer for the larger project. It has a birthday party every year! I would love to see this film made and enlist some artists to feature playing and being interviewed. The piano was at the heart of most ordinary homes but since the rise in technology pianos have been abandoned and homes aren't big enough for everyone to own one. There is a story to be told about the rise of the street piano movement and I would love to help tell it.

IV. I am for more female piano tuners and technicians.

 

 

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WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES

 

P R A V E E N   B H A T I A

 

ATTORNEY + PARTNER

COLLINS LONG

LONDON

 

Photograph by Aaron Gaiger

 

I. The last year has been an exciting and challenging year. A year ago I left the big brand media law firm where I learnt my trade and “grew up” to join a small boutique law firm as a partner, and launch my own practice. With two small children, it’s cool to be my own boss and work the hours that suit me. That’s been invaluable, but at the end of the day it’s still been a lot of work, and a big investment in terms of time.

II. I have had the privilege of being instructed by some great and talented people from CEO and President to artist and entrepreneur. In the last year I have been instructed by more and more women, at very exciting times in their careers, as artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and executives. I still come across horror stories though of women being undermined just because they are women, usually around the time they have children. It’s sad and frustrating that with so many good things going on in this industry, there are still dark hidden corners where women are still treated like this. Women need to know their worth and to be firm about this, and for the industry to be open and innovative in the way it approaches women in music.

III. Rights exploiters still trying to stitch up the artist, own everything, have total control. I’ve noticed a shift in attitude over the years with labels and managers genuinely acting with integrity and wanting from the outset to do fair deals with their artists but there are people in music who work in an incredibly selfish and self-serving way and still look to completely control and exploit the artist. The manager who wants to own recording and publishing and tie the young artist into a six year deal with no break clause; the production company asking its artists to sign over everything, forever, for a terrible deal. It’s an outdated way of thinking and it’s depressing that some up and coming folk are still thinking in this way. Also, artists are more educated these days, and can do their own research.

IV. I have some very cool clients, doing different things, at different stages of their career and across different genres of music, creatives and businesses but what they have in common is that they don’t have fixed name labels for themselves. These clients have a number of projects on the go at once, and they are comfortable and confident about that. It’s great, and I enjoy working on these projects, as it’s how I work professionally too, so I get it. It’s great to have some of the boundaries in music come down. I love that the artists I work with can still be pure about their music, and they are also sharp about the deals they do, and the fine details. As for some of the businesses I work with, some of the success stories at the moment are people with multiple skill sets, within music and sometimes in other sectors as well. I admire Marium Raja who has worked at top labels and then in the tech sector. She has a very determined and impressive vision with her Nation of Billions platform. Music is core to her business and what she is passionate about, and around that she’s built a platform that incorporates great content and lifestyle, and although it’s still young, people are talking about it and it’s being used as a reference point by established brands and names within music and in the media. To grow a lifestyle brand in music that fast is skillful.

V. We need to talk more about encouraging and supporting innovation from within the music industry, instead of just changing practices as a reaction or as a defence. I believe there is so much talent coming up in the industry, fresh ideas, and proactive innovation and evolution. These people need to be supported.

VI. I am for authenticity and integrity.

 

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WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES

 

P A O L A   P R E S T I N I

 

Composer + Co-Founder of VisionIntoArt

Creative Director of National Sawdust

New York City

 

  Photography by Phil Knott

Photography by Phil Knott

I. This year is the creative explosion of many of these different avenues of my life and my brain and my heart. Productions at BAM, LA Phil and the Walker Arts Center have been beautiful, but I feel prepared because many of the works were four or five years in development.

II. Intuition informs my work. That’s one of the really hard things to trust in myself is this little instinctive power. I tend to not meditate tremendously on decisions, I tend to trust decisions I make so that I can move swiftly and so that I can accomplish the enormity that’s on my plate at the moment.

III. The thing is that you have to always keep in touch with what your values system is and why you’re doing things, and as long as that resonates true, I think that it’s very possible to find some strength to get up every day.

IV. We must act on education in schools and education in the community and a sense of activism on the government’s part, but also on the artist’s part to make change, to find ways to fully integrate the arts into the fabric of our society. There are many people who are doing that, there are artists that are practicing it. A thing I look for in an artist is optimism, obviously talent, and complete control of your craft and specific voice more than anything. Also a mix of entrepreneurial strengths, activism, and a desire to educate. If you don’t have any of those properties, I find it very troubling because it means that you’re going to be completely practicing in a vacuum.

V. I plant seeds very early, so there’s not necessarily something I’m thinking of that I haven’t done. When it hits me, I do it. So one of the things is creating a bridge right now with Africa, and that’s something I’m really excited by and creating a bridge with different countries. Some of the seed we’re planting and that we’re working on is a cross culture bridge with Norway, a cross culture bridge with South Africa, a cross culture bridge with Zimbabwe and slowly as we get to know different artists it opens different doors. So I believe in that kind of very organic evolution of ideas, and I think it’s super important for us here in America to have a cultural bridge to other countries, and to understand each other artistically, grow from each other’s practice, and open up dialogue because I think that helps a general understanding.

VI. When I was younger, I really wanted people to tell me how they did it, and I very quickly realized that none of it really mattered. I often like to think about a story that I read, John Cage’s Silence, about a young man who goes to study for the Suzuki master. Every day he goes to him and the Suzuki master says no no, come back, I can’t see you now, and so he goes back, and he cleans his house, and he sweeps his leaves, and he does this repeatedly throughout a certain course of time, and finally at the end of the year, he goes and says thank you master, you’ve taught me so much.

VII. I am for listening to your inner guide.

 

 

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WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES

 

N I H A L   A R T H A N A Y A K E

 

Broadcaster and DJ

BBC Radio 5

London

 

  Photography by Damian Weilers

Photography by Damian Weilers

I. "Things are only as complicated as you want to make them." -My dad.

II. I am a British Asian raised just outside London of Sri Lankan descent. Growing up in a predominantly white area meant that I had to be adept at fitting in, spotting allies and enemies and knowing when to attack, call for those allies, or just run. When I was in my early teens I realised that I could freestyle rap, this gave me so much kudos in the playground and Hip Hop culture really gave me a sense of an identity, as a minority, that was different but should still be celebrated.

III. I define wisdom as listening, processing, taking a breath, and then speaking. Wisdom is the humility to admit that you don't know it all but the confidence to make a decision when that may not be the most popular decision. Wisdom is also the ability to admit you are wrong.

IV. At each stage of my career I've looked five years into the future and assessed whether that future is the one that I want. When I was an MC I saw no future for me as a British MC and made that move into journalism. I saw longevity in being behind the scenes. When I became a publicist working for artists like Elton John and Mos Def I looked into the future and saw that that would not fulfill me going forward. Five years into my tenure as a BBC Radio 1 DJ I decided that I wanted to also do talk radio for the BBC and that that would equip me with an entirely different skill set. I no longer enjoyed DJIng as a profession and wanted to branch out. I now curate events, host big awards ceremonies, advise a new generation of artists for major labels and generate ideas for radio and TV.

V. If you look around your office and everyone is essentially the same profile as you then your creative business will fail in the long term. Equality of class, gender, colour, religion, sexual orientation, disability is the absolute starting point. It's simply not good enough to say I'd love to employ more (insert Minority definition here) but they simply don't exist. That's because you are not looking hard enough and those people are out there creating their own networks and eroding your relevance day by day. Talent over tokenism, and aspiration over apathy.

VI. My mentor is a man called Shabs Jobanputra who is the boss of Relentless Records. Shabs is so good at spotting new talent and nurturing it so that the individuals in question are given the armoury to connect their experiences to a wider world. He did that with me nearly twenty years ago. I've done ok.

VII. Learning how to connect communities is a challenge. How do you exploit the music generated by your large ethnic minority communities? Can you exist in niches and use the digital tools at your disposal to turn a local niche into a global movement? Ten per cent of under thirties in the UK are from a South Asian background. Is the music industry missing a trick by not engaging enough with that community?

VIII. We need to talk more about the lack of diversity at the highest levels of the music industry.

IX. I am for all Arsenal fans (a soccer team) being either demoted or sacked. As a Tottenham Fan I am well within my rights to ask for such a thing.

 

 

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WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES

 

N I C H O L A S   S A N S A N O

 

ASSOCIATE CHAIR

TISCH SCHOOL OF THE ARTS

CLIVE DAVIS INSTITUTE OF RECORDED MUSIC

NEW YORK CITY

 

Photograph by Robert Nethery

 

I. Wisdom is confident, yet unassuming, learned form of holistic intuition that is best developed through repeated experiences of collapse and recovery.

II. One day, one of my most talented students, who was ill prepared for series of performances and recording sessions, responded to my displeasure by saying, “whatever that gene is that makes you worry about things, sweat every detail, and be afraid to fail, sorry, I don’t have it”. The person was being somewhat apologetic for being a fearlessly creative individual. These sentiments were echoed almost verbatim, unsolicited, by a well-established and prolific recording artist, in a casual conversation. The lack of fear, specifically fear of failure, enabled these talented people to dig deeper into their creative potential than others. By presenting failure as something to embrace rather than something to hide or escape, I have seen real change in the quality of student work, and felt a sense of relief from the group. In presenting talks about the successful artists and entrepreneurs ranging from Thomas Edison to Raphael, from Aretha Franklin to Nikola Tesla – I was able to show them that failure made all these people who they came to be. I also began to see a fear of self-discovery. I found that many of my most artistic and creative students are in fact afraid of discovering who they are or who they might be. They were fighting the process that would allow them to realize who they are artistically, and the potential of their talents. The message of, “it is OK to fail, in fact it is essential that you fail,” allowed the access to creativity and self-discovery I was searching for. Allowing them to feel uncomfortable with what they may discover about themselves, allowing them to feel uneasy about the potential success that may lie ahead, allowing them to fail miserably - in fact encouraging it – enabled them to get past themselves, and get out of their own way.

III. We need to talk more about the value of original content in real and precise monetary terms. Thank God for publishing and the value of the copyright, but in many cases even that is not enough to sustain an artist, much less the development of a young artist. Many people touting this new paradigm – make money on the road, and with merchandizing, licensing, etc... as being a valid shift, have in fact not had to live the shift. Clearly, as evidenced by the dwindling quality of the recorded product, these often-compromised ancillary flows of income are not making it back to the professionals who help develop and create the work. Like a city crumbling, or never reaching its full potential because of lack of infrastructure support, artists, regardless of how educated and entrepreneurial they may be, do in fact need a support network to avoid mirroring this scenario, and thrive. At the very least artists, writers, vocalists, instrumentalists, arrangers, programmers, recording engineers, artistic managers, music directors, producers, etc., need to be valued in principle. From my point of view, it seems a large segment of pop music professionals are expected to toil and train for years and years, and then give away the best of what this sacrifice may yield, free of charge.

IV. I am for developing the gifts of creativity.

 

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WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES

 

M I K E   S Y M O N D S

 

Digital Business Development

Warner Chappell

New York City

 

  Photography by Robert Nethery

Photography by Robert Nethery

I. From my time in the music business I have learned that when it comes to a project it’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish. I’ve learned that plans need to be flexible because nothing ever goes to plan, something will always come up unexpectedly and you need to be able to adapt rapidly to changes as needed.

II. Creativity can strike at any time, anywhere and usually when you least expect it, or just when you feel you are at a low ebb. I’ve been lucky to see several ideas of mine come to life. It’s such a thrill when something makes the jump from thought to reality. It’s hard to pick one but right now I am thinking of The Titanic, my tiny involvement in the successful search for the vessel in 1985 and then twelve years later, working on a project with the World Ice Dance Champions to choreograph and perform a routine to the theme song to the movie of the same name. Watching the first ever performance of that routine was an unforgettable experience. I have a deep admiration for many execs I worked with who pulled off so many more amazing projects over the years.

III. Disappointment is part and parcel of the business I am in. If everything I ever worked on actually yielded the desired result, if every promise made to me had been kept, if every star stayed in perfect alignment, then I think things for me would be very dull indeed and I would have learned little. Disappointment teaches us about circumstances, expectations and people’s limitations. It teaches you to appreciate your success, but not crow about it and enjoy it too much. You deal with disappointment, learn from it, then move on.

IV. I am very pro-artist. I am concerned about the ability of performers, as well as writers, producers, mixers, engineers and everyone else passionate about working in music to be able to make a living in this rapidly evolving industry.

V. Local music is vital to the well-being of the industry as a whole. We need to continue to harness new ways of helping artists thrive and find their audience. We need to remind tech innovators and the government of the importance of a thriving creative community. Fortunately, we have many terrific industry organizations who work tirelessly on behalf of our industry to promote this message. There is always more that can be done.

VI. There is great value in music, something which I think is often forgotten. Folks need to remember that a huge amount of toil goes into making a record. I know of no other industry where outright theft is allowed. What if people started driving cars off the lots of auto dealerships en-masse without paying? Can you imagine how the manufacturers would react to that? They would not tolerate it. The most obvious way for people to be responsible when it comes to the health of our music industry community is to not use pirate music sites and to at least consider paying for music. I wish they would support great local music venues and the artists who play them.

VII. We need to talk more about helping those in our industry community to make a living. We must never lose sight of the value that all parts play. From the bottom to the top.

VIII. I am for artists. I am for all of us who choose to work in this incredible industry.

 

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WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES

 

M I K E   D E L G U I D I C E

 

SINGER, SONGWRITER, + MUSICIAN

NEW YORK CITY

 

Photograph by Phil Knott

 

I. Wisdom is Jesus, as a concept, as a person, as an ideology, and as a way of life. Of course there are many other great spiritual leaders who also demonstrated this same concept of selflessness.

II. Without life's lessons, my creativity in songwriting would simply be empty words. As a songwriter, the most important thing is honesty. The problem is that means your life, your hurt, your emotions and inner thoughts, basically your personal diary is out for the world to see. For some reason the listener is far more affected by brutal truth and honesty. 

III. Usually the biggest part of attaining wisdom is failure and the destruction of ego. In 2002 I received a phone call regarding the Billy Joel musical, "Movin' Out" on Broadway. At the time also I was working four to five nights a week, having my share of excesses and late hours so when the time came for my audition all I can say was I really did not take it seriously and I didn’t get the part. This bothered me for years. Fast forward fifteen years and I got the call to do Billy Joel's rehearsals, and then asked to join the band and I can honestly say, had if it hadn’t been for failures like that, I'd never be where I am now.

IV. It’s important that we remain who we are as artists and not just follow the latest styles. With the internet and downloads, earning music from CD sales has become increasingly frustrating. Playing live even for major artists, seems to be the way money is being earned in the modern age.

V. Trust in God, always try to do the right thing in every situation, be good to others, forgive often and good things will happen to you and usually when you least expect it. In a million years I never thought I would be in Billy Joel's band... What I did do, I think, was stay the course and be as diligent as possible.

VI. We need to talk more about love and forgiveness. Without these principles, you will create nothing but horrible Karma for your life and career. True success is becoming a person that treats everyone with respect, love and goodness.

VII. I believe we need to transform music education in this country and to give children an actual opportunity to learn musical things in school that can aid them in earning a living through music. The time has come for us to shake up the curriculum completely and to celebrate modern music in our schools. 

VIII. I am for frequent failure that leads to growth.

 

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WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES

 

M I K E   E A S T E R L I N

 

GENERAL MANAGER

FUELED BY RAMEN + ROADRUNNER RECORDS

NEW YORK CITY

 

Photograph by Isaac Rosenthal

 

I. The biggest challenge facing the music industry is the transition from downloads and album purchases to streaming. We all need to do a better job of promoting streaming to fans. It is crucial that more people pay for music. There is so much amazing music being made, and what record companies offer from a marketing standpoint to a band can’t be matched. Ultimately, we need to fight for the value of music to be properly recognized. 

II. The wisdom of the people I work for has never been more important to me than it is right now. I transitioned from a radio promotion job to the general manager of two labels three years ago. At that time, I had a primary focus: airplay. I now am responsible for all aspects of an artist’s career, from the rollout of a project to the deal with the artist in legal terms. It was a world I had little experience in prior to taking on the job. My bosses Julie Greenwald and Craig Kallman have been instrumental in walking me through each part of this process, but have also allowed me to take risks and learn on my own. I am beyond fortunate to have bosses that are always happy to share their wisdom.

III. One thing that I try to always tell an artist is that we never treat any two artists the same way. The rollout of an album should be unique, and the ideas that we put out should never feel like we took the easy way. One campaign from the last few years that stands out to me was the last Panic! At The Disco album launch. Brendon Urie, the lead singer of Panic, actually came in and sat down with each department to share his overall vision. The campaign was all focused around the Hunter S Thompson book “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. We even purchased a car from the film with Johnny Depp, a 1972 Cutlass Supreme convertible, which we used in videos, the photo shoot, and eventually gave away as part of a national radio campaign. The record jumped up almost 200,000 from their previous release.

IV. I think anytime a record doesn’t come home it’s a disappointment. Sometimes it just doesn’t connect. You try to look back and reflect, but much like a sports team, you can’t spend a lot of time looking back because other artists are depending on you. The fact is, not all things are hits.

V. The music business is cyclical. Every few years we go through a transition. The next couple of years might be challenging, but I have never been more optimistic about the world of music. Touring is up, merch sales are hotter than ever, and music is being consumed in massive ways. In times like these, we are pushed to be more creative.

VI. We need to talk more about managing people.

VII. I am for our artists.

 

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WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES

 

J U L I E   P I L A T

 

Head Of Curation And Artist DevelopmenT

Beats Music

Los Angeles

 

  Photography by Stefano Galli

Photography by Stefano Galli

I. I would think wisdom is the intersection of experience and instinct. We have so much in our wisdom, and if you have the patience to let things happen, it’s really remarkable what can manifest.

II. I do transcendental mediation. It’s been phenomenal because not only does it energize you, it’s magnificent that in three years there’s never been one morning that I’ve wanted to hit my snooze alarm instead of meditating, because I know when I do meditate, I’m so energized by it.

III. One of my friends gave me a piece of advice and he said 'Sometimes the best place you can be in is knowing you have no idea'. Because a lot of times we’re constantly chasing something, or thinking we need to be at a destination, but being in that moment where I didn’t know was powerful and coincidentally, it just happened to be the time I started meditating, and then the universe just unfolded.

IV. I’ve been introduced to so many new sounds in 2015 ranging from listening to one of our artist led programs like Josh Homme or Elton John, I’m learning about classic records I’ve never heard. This was the first year I was introduced to Rebel Sound or David Rodigan; to be able to tap into that, it makes you think, what else is out there that I didn’t know about? Who else is the David Rodigan of Ireland or Cape Town? So this year for me musically has been just excitement and international vibes, and also a year of discovery. It’s so phenomenal, I’m more in love with music than I have been in a really long time.

V. One of the most powerful pieces of advice that I got was always to be a mentor and always have a mentor. So I’ve carried that with me for my entire career. I’ve lived in Los Angeles for about thirteen years now, and over the years programming radio, there were so many young people coming up interning, and in college, and in school, that I supported and mentored, and then maybe they grew out and went on to continue their career elsewhere. I was really excited because when we launched Beats 1, I got to go back and bring some of those people into our project.

VI. I think community is so important and you have to have your team around you whether it’s a work team or a best friend team, people you can go to and talk things out. Because just holding it all in isn’t going to serve you. And a lot of times, people in business also identify with vulnerability, and if you open yourself up, you connect deeper with somebody.

VII. I am for education.

 

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WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES

 

M E G H A N   S T A B I L E

 

 

FOUNDER + MUSICIAN

REVIVE MUSIC GROUP

NEW YORK CITY

 

  Photography by Isaac Rosenthal

Photography by Isaac Rosenthal

I. Wisdom is revelation. It is taking time with your thoughts. It is learning to honor your word. It is knowing that you don't know and being open to all of the questions that need no answering.

II. I started my company at 24 in my last semester at Berklee -- I've always had a fire in me. I'm a fireball and I've learned to control it. I always say I met Jazz at Berklee, I met live music at Wally's Jazz Cafe, and I met a real musician when I met Igmar Thomas, a young trumpet player who played at Wally's Jazz Cafe on Tuesday nights while also attending Berklee. Through him, through my peers and through my education I learned the truth about the first great musical art form, Jazz.

III. I was sexually assaulted several times by a male babysitter at the age of five. I think many whom have suffered with this have struggled between who you've become because of it and who you are not because if it. My wisdom in it, is that I am a child of God and I come from love, nothing less. Part of my wisdom of self is to acknowledge the pain it's caused but to seek healing so I can help to heal others.

IV. I started singing literally out of nowhere. I was 7 or 8 years old. I would run around the neighborhood knocking on neighbors doors and once they'd open the door, I'd start signing with all my heart and soul. I love it. I felt called to sing from that age on. At 14, my aunt gave me a guitar for my birthday and I wrote a song that same night. No lessons needed, I knew chords, I know scales and I knew keys. It was as if I had always played. She brought me to a blues/ rock bar once to sit in / open for the house band. I wasn't afraid. I was free. And I played, wrote and sang from then on. Unfortunately, growing up in a semi-small town there was no outlet for me to grow and I always yearned for something better or something more. After a tough road, I was accepted to Berklee and all became clear. I had the perfect opportunity to blossom but instead I ran from my gift in fear. While at Berklee you are amongst the greatest of the great from all over the globe. If there's any shadow of a doubt or insecurity -- it will come to light. I wasn't ready to bare my soul so while simultaneously being inspired by the business, I was plotting to never sing again. Singing is a very sacred thing to me and my disappointment is that I wasn't strong enough to accept being vulnerable.

V. Someone can make a beat with three notes and have no idea how to play an instrument yet they are called a producer and win Grammys -- I'm not undermining the art of beat making -- but as I say that -- you must know and understand there is an art to beat making and there are innovators of that art form.

VI. I would like to seed courage. I see too many people afraid -- they are too afraid to take risks not even knowing that the risk is just a small part of learning what true courage is.

VII. I am for service. I can remember, even at a very young -- even when I was going through bad times -- I felt I was called to some kind of service. I believe to really be of service, you are at some point confronted by your fear, resentment and ego.

 

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WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES

 

M A R I S A   H Y L T O N

 

ARTIST + SONGWRITER

AOSOON

LONDON

 

  Photography by Aaron Gaiger

Photography by Aaron Gaiger

I. Wisdom to me is a tool along this journey as a human being to understanding self. What we do with it on the other hand is completely our choice. When we respect it, I feel like we can face circumstances where if we chose to be connected to our hearts and truthful to the words we think/ speak the frequency of our being can penetrate false ideas or society's ideas. I’d call a moment like that enlightenment. Wisdom leads to enlightenment.

II. Writing my first full song was such a cool creative moment. Flew in to London for two weeks while on break from music school. The OG rhythm guitarist Pathik Desai at MI had just given us a class that was still fresh on my mind about how a lot of great songs can be made out of two chords and an effective strum pattern. So I started messing with two chords and I’m fully just feeling what the notes are giving me and then the first line popped up. I wrote the entire first verse that day, the second verse came months later.

III. In secondary school I remember we had one of those days where you go into school in your own clothes. So of course I’m excited for this I’m ready to go to school and show out in my new pink tracksuit, and so I did. I just remember everyone stereotyping me as this hood black girl all day, which I pretty much was but it was in that moment I realised I didn’t want any of that. I started to dress differently. I fell in love with electric guitar. I stopped listening to ‘urban’ music. And before you knew it I’ve moved school and I’m the black girl who wants to be white! People would shout hateful things across the corridors sometimes and I remember I was on my way to my guitar lesson at school and my guitar teacher at the time had witnessed it, I actually kind of broke down in front of him and he told me that one day you’ll get praised for who you are, that it's a great thing to be different, that they are the idiots not me. That talk sticks with me to this day.

IV. I feel there is a strong lack of belief in real artists these days, it's very draining to try and do anything out of the box, here in London anyway.

V. A bunch of seemingly random encounters with people who had seen a vision for our music led us to our publisher/guardian angel Sam Winwood and team in 2014. He invested in us with no fear, he understood it could be hit or miss with the ‘artist approach’ because he has seen things come and go so many times, but he trusted our vision of what it meant to be artists as well as songwriters and really gave us an upper hand to do more of what we love. Two black kids from London got a publishing deal off the back of a 4 track EP? Yeah... We stay masterminding and slowly but surely the creative world and community will become more a part of what we do.

VI. We need to talk more about internalised emotions.

VII. I am for clarity.

 

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WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES

 

M A T T I   M A R A N D A

 

GUITARIST + BUSKER

NEW YORK CITY

 

Photograph by Isaac Rosenthal

 

I. The past year personally, it was spent in Chicago at my parents' place. I didn't have much of a social life due to the fact that most of my friends moved kind of far away or were just busy with their wife and kids. I don't even have a girlfriend.

II. Professionally, I was a food runner at a sports bar that specialized in mainly chicken dishes. Imagine a vegan (me) working serving chicken all day or night. It sounds messed up to some, but I needed a job and that was the only place that hired me.

III. The challenges I have faced in life? There are so damn many: trying to find a job I can tolerate, trying to keep working as hard as I can for what I want, skateboarding was and still is the biggest challenge for me because if you're careless, you just end up getting hurt. Life takes a lot of focus doing the things you love.

IV. The concept of wisdom: wisdom is simple: you learn from your mistakes and other people's mistakes. If something didn't work right before, why should it work now? I think it also involves being creative and just messing around and experimenting with things. When I play music, I constantly change the settings on my effect pedals to see how they interact with each other. I've learned by just trying new things with the pedals.

V. Always carry a spare pair of socks, shirt, deodorant, toothbrush/paste, condoms, tampons if you're a female, napkins and a water bottle everywhere you go. Trust me, they come in handy.

VI. I encourage taking a journey to anywhere you've never been. Road trips are the best. When my friends and I were still in our teens, we drove through Indiana, Kentucky, we went to Nashville, just all around. We stayed in a house that was under construction so we bathed in the Louisville fountain, washed our clothes in there, it was the funniest thing ever. I'd love to do something like that again.

 

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WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES

 

M A R T H A   D I A Z

 

FOUNDING DIRECTOR

HIP-HOP EDUCATION CENTER

NEW YORK CITY

 

Photograph by Phil Knott

 

I. After being disillusioned by the music and entertainment industry in the mid to late 90s, I started to think about what I could do to challenge the status quo. I ended up leaving my job at MTV to pursue my career as an independent filmmaker as I wanted to document hip-hop and all if its artistic elements (DJing, B-Boying, Writing, MCing) as a global cultural movement. I soon realized that there was a need for a hip-hop film festival so I created the Hip-Hop Odyssey (H2O) International Film Festival. I invited filmmakers, industry professionals, activists, and hip-hop artists to join me in this venture, altogether over five hundred people volunteered and thousands of people participated in screenings, panel discussions, workshops, and the Odyssey Awards. The hip-hop legends came out to support. Kanye performed Jesus Walks for the first time, Grandmaster Flash rushed from the airport to receive his award, and Ice-T got emotional on stage after hearing Aja Monet perform. We made history and bonded as a community. We celebrated hip-hop, cultivated new and existing talent, and discussed the ways we could use media as a tool for social change. During the five years of the festival I started to notice that some of the filmmakers were also educators like me. I teamed up with Tricia Wang, who at the time was working for MNN Youth Channel and helped us create the youth category for H2O, to launch the first summit on hip-hop-based education. Like H2O, the H2ED Summit kept growing and expanding each year, but I couldn’t get the monetary support from corporate sponsors to stay afloat so in 2008, I enrolled in NYU’s Gallatin School for Individualized Study. I designed my course of study around hip-hop, media, education, and social entrepreneurship. In 2010, I founded the Hip-Hop Education Center (HHEC), the first institution to distill research, conduct evaluation and training, and catalog relevant hip-hop education related resources. There are now entire high schools and college programs that are utilizing hip-hop-based education.

II. The industry has to step up and work together with the community. They have to shift their mindset to believe that it's more important to build up people than to exploit them for profits. If not, they need to be held accountable for the garbage they put out. Strip clubs, violence, and drug dealing can’t be the norm for rap music. Radio stations are also culpable for the heavy rotation of the same ten songs. Hip-hop is part of a long legacy of African American and Latino history, traditions, and culture that has allowed us to resist and survive injustice. We deserve more respect and dignity. I know this may sound a bit ambitious but there is an urgency and the moment for reform is now. We can’t afford to have 1.1 million American high school students drop out every year. The school to prison pipeline is making matters worse. According the ACLU there is “a disturbing national trend wherein children are funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.” The U.S. has over to two million people incarcerated, more than all the prisoners in China, Russia, and North Korea. I can go on and on ... but instead I want to do something. The field of hip-hop education can make a difference.

III. We need to talk more about metaphysics beginning in kindergarten. When we study our existence, our nature, space and time, cause and effect, we begin to understand our purpose and the meaning of life. Metaphysics challenges us to think about our humanity and connection to the world. When we have knowledge of self and our community (5th Element of Hip-Hop), we become more present, empathetic, and spiritually linked because we know that we belong to each other.

IV. I am for peace, Unity, Love, and Having Fun! (Afrika Bambaataa)

 

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WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES

 

K E N D E L   R A T L E Y   S H O R E

 

VP OF COMMUNITIES

KICKSTARTER

NEW YORK CITY

 

Photograph by Andrew Urban

 

I. I believe that we are facing two key issues in our business in 2015: The relentless pursuit of monetization and fear of trying new things. 

II. In music today, we are so focused on the goal of a sustainable business that we sometimes lose sight of the things we need to do to get there: building lasting and direct connection to an engaged audience; understanding where fans are and what experiences they are seeking; building products around the intersection of music fans' interests and artists’ needs. 

III. Despite the common understanding that making it in music in this era is nearly impossible, the discussion about “how to make money” is ubiquitous at every level of the music industry. You’ll be hard pressed to find a music conference programming schedule that doesn’t include a panel about or referencing “monetization.” That’s a high bar to reach for artists who are just starting out, and sets the tone for what musicians should expect from a career. Music is about so much more than money: it’s a community, it’s a shared experience, it’s a passionate audience of people who feel connected to your work. Along similar lines, success in music today seems to have a narrow definition: land a record deal, sell as many albums as you can, sell out tours, sign a publishing deal. Do all this, and you get to do it again, and again. I would love to see more stories about alternative routes to success.

IV. I think there is a lot of enthusiasm and interest in mentoring new talent, but it takes a lot of time. We are all so stretched thin, finding opportunities and individuals we want to mentor is a challenge. To create a culture of professional growth, all sides must participate. For mentorship to flourish, companies must build opportunities into the organization’s workflow: mandate mentorship and set expectations for the leadership. Systematize it across the organization and provide time out of office. Acknowledge and reward those who make it a priority. Mentors, too, must provide access and invite the community to reach out to them. Ask your friends for mentors (like you do when you need an intern). Cultivate a profile for sharing experience and wisdom: write about about your experience, case studies, etc. AMAs on twitter, accept LinkedIn requests, and offer to do coaching sessions at conferences. The tools are out there! Mentees – whether their relationship is ongoing or limited to a single interaction, should be appreciative of their mentor’s time and come prepared: do your research, don’t just ask, “how did you get here?” but find a specific experience or moment in their career to start the conversation. Set the agenda, be ready with specific questions. And finally, pass it on. Share what you’ve learned with your peers. By being transparent and helping each other, we can level up the work in the industry, together.

V. We need to talk more about how failure, false starts and delays are part of making things. The more people know they are part of the creative process, the less scary making something will seem and the more it will encourage experimentation.

VI. I am for transparency in the music business. Transparency is punk rock.

 

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WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES

 

J U D I T H   H I L L

 

ARTIST, SINGER, + SONGWRITER

LOS ANGELES

 

Photograph by Stefano Galli

 

I. Wisdom is the ability to make good decisions based on information given or lack thereof. My life as an artist is constantly filled with unknowns. I can play out in my head the different scenarios based on my past experiences. The rest I leave to faith.

II. Once you enter the world of creativity, it sweeps you up and takes you to other dimensions. Sometimes I find myself never coming back to the real world for weeks if I let the inspiration flow. There are many times when I find myself overwhelmed by the business aspect of music and if I’m not careful, I can spend my whole day dealing with it and leave no room for creativity. That’s why it’s important for me to set aside undistracted time everyday for cultivating creative ideas. It’s a sacred world that needs to be protected.

III. Throughout my life, I’ve turned to my friends and mentors for advice. While it's great to have this kind of support, I’ve found the best ideas come from within. When I listen to my heart and follow it, there is an honesty and sincerity that speaks greater than any other path. The more you reach within, the more you will find that unique quality that separates you from everybody else.

IV. This year, in the wake of introducing my debut album, I found myself battling lawsuits with my former record label. For a few months I was unable to move forward in my career. I had to learn how to find true contentment not in what I do but who I am. More importantly, who God says I am and His love for me regardless of how successful I am in the world. I let go of all expectations for the future and understood that no matter what the circumstances are, I can live in happiness and joy. This is true freedom.

V. As a culture we are oversaturated with information. Music serves as a stimulant or drug to help people who have short attention spans. This determines what type of music sells. Everything is broken down to its BPM and sound banks that stimulate the ear. Artists’ lives have now become a channel that people tune into. You have to have a steady flow of content to gain more followers. We’ve lost the mystique of being an artist. It is now the Truman Show.

VI. We need to bring back music education in schools. Rebuild the value and art into people’s minds and help them regain a deeper connection to music. Influential trend setters need to use their platform to cut through all the information and advocate music that is substantial. Everybody is looking for a leader these days. As a culture, we are desperate for new inspiration.

VII. We need to talk more about building communities. In the era of Motown, we see how a community of artists influenced each other and created excellence. We have to build back environments that bring talent together. A renaissance can happen when like-minded people come together.

VIII. I am for live music. I believe the true value in an artist’s career comes from their ability to captivate an audience. Aside from the studio, the stage is the most important place.

 

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WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES

 

J O N A T H A N   M A Y E R S

 

CO-FOUNDER

SUPERFLY PRESENTS

NEW YORK CITY

 

Photograph by Phil Knott

 

 

I. Meditation. It's helpful for me to down shift, focus and cut out the BS, which impacts me both personally and professionally. I also genuinely love being out in the world. Whether going to a book store, record shopping, checking out a new restaurant, talking to people, those interactions influence and inspire me. I like to think of immersing myself in these environments as an anthropological study of what's happening around me, learning about new communities, markets, trends, interests. For example, our partnership with David Korins Design, who designed and built the Bonnaroo arch and Outside Lands' Ranger Dave statue and who is also a theatrical designer, has inspired me to go see more broadway shows, to live in his world more and to better understand that space. How can I bring what he does to the work we're doing? Those experiences spur new concepts and ideas that are reflected in my work.

II. To me, wisdom comes from your accumulative life experiences. The successes and failures along the way make up your being, how you look at the world, how you grow and improve, you learn just as much from the failures as the successes. In fact, failure is what led us to creating Bonnaroo. As promoters in New Orleans we had been trying new concepts in unique venues, and booking some of our favorite bands but the more shows that we booked, the more money we lost. We knew we wanted to continue working in live music but we needed to take a step back and re-evaluate what we were doing and what our purpose was. We had decided from there to pursue a festival experience, we found out about this piece of property in Tennessee, which was around a days drive or less for a large part of the population, and we jumped in the car and drove there from New Orleans to check it out and that was it. It was definitely a high risk high reward situation, but that's where we were in our lives at that time. We had to be bold in order to make a change. We'd found the land, we built a first class team around us, and we went for it. Which raises another point that I identify with wisdom, which is learning from the people around you. One of the smartest investments we made from the very beginning was hiring the best operations and production teams in the business. We knew that talent was not the place to cut corners, and it's paid off. Our team brings a lot of experience to table. Who can teach you, and being open to learning in that capacity is one of the keys of our success.

III. We need to talk more about the “why?" aspect. Why do we do the things we do? We fall into this pace of just doing and not taking a step back to ask what's the purpose of my work and what's the purpose of my time. Asking “why" is such a valuable question. We don't ask ourselves this enough.

IV. I am for being out in the world.

 

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WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES

 

J E N N I F E R   F R O M M E R

 

HEAD OF BRANDED CONTENT PRODUCTION

CONDÉ NAST

NEW YORK CITY

 

  Photography by Robert Nethery

Photography by Robert Nethery

I. To me, wisdom is about getting over fear. In my early days, I wouldn’t feel comfortable expressing my ideas in meetings, or in brainstorm sessions. I’d hang back and later forward my ideas to the person running the meeting. Years later with a lot of experience in a myriad of different situations, I’ve learned how to be fearless in my expression. From writing to singing to coming up with marketing ideas, I am not afraid to bring my ideas to the table and to not take things personally.

II. I was kind of blind- sided in a job I once held. I thought I was killing it as I had been delivering for the company time and time again. I was totally giving my all to this role, to this company and I had been very successful in this position for years. As a result, a lot of my identity was wrapped up in this role – the role was defining me, I wasn’t defining the role. I thought I was solid in the job and with my colleagues, but as it turns out, the company had other plans and I was not a part of its future. I was really taken aback, shocked almost as there wasn’t any real, concrete reason as to why I wasn’t being included in its future plans.

III. I find wisdom to be intertwined with courage. It’s taken me lots of time to fully realize that you can accomplish many things in ones life just by having the courage to put yourself on the line, ask for something, speak up. I also didn’t realize that I kind of always did have courage inside of me, but wasn’t giving myself credit for tapping into it.

IV. I’m a total hybrid. I’m creative but a business person, I’m all over the place, but totally together all at the same time. I was the type of person who was friends with every clique in high school – stoners, cheerleaders, nerds, I really spanned the gamut. A great example of this is a day I had last week; I started out early morning, attending a board meeting for one of the organizations I chair. I then spent time with a young woman whom I’m mentoring followed by a business lunch with the head of a large apparel company. Later that day, I shot and produced a video for a Branded Content campaign, then rushed to a panel at Google about advertising trends, followed by a women’s networking dinner. Then I rushed home to get ready for a gig I had late in the evening (I sing in a rock band). I think that sums up who I am. I’m always running from one thing to the next and each thing tends to be disparate. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but it’s who I am.

V. As a music business community we are facing issues of fragmentation! How, where to engage with music. It’s great that we have so many choices, but at the same time, that makes it really hard to learn about artists, great videos, new labels. Oddly, I’m still finding recommendations from my friends to be the best way for discovery.

VI. I am for my hometown of Rockaway, NY. It really pulls at my heart.

 

TM