WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES
M A R I A E G A N
PULSE MUSIC PUBLISHING
Photograph by Pete Thompson
I. I define wisdom as the ability to see reality clearly, act ethically and keep an open mind.
II. I would like to see the idea of patronage coming back into the music business. Maybe billionaires could support musicians the way many are collecting emerging visual artists. Not for profit, just for legacy. The avant garde musicians that keep the art form vital, but may see little financial rewards in this climate, may need the modern day Medici families.
III. I try and see everyone’s different strengths, understand their personal goals and help guide them to the best path for them. When talented people find what fulfills them and then focus their energy there, rather than on what other people are doing, they can excel and magical things happen. My job is to support that process of individuation in my clients and my staff.
IV. It’s important to know yourself. I took a risk in voluntarily leaving the major label system. I had a great A&R job at Columbia but I could see companies like Pulse becoming more important in artist development and I knew I wanted to be part of building something new and truly artist friendly. I am motivated by the idea that I can make a difference in music and in creative people’s lives. I believed a boutique would give me more opportunity to make a direct impact without a hierarchy above me. I realized I thrived in situations where I had more control and Pulse offered me that authority.
V. Martha Graham, the most influential dancer and choreographer of the modern age, has a quote on creativity that addresses this beautifully: “There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time. This expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open."
VI. In any creative career disappointment is inevitable. I’ve had my fair share. Great signings I didn’t get, songs I was sure would be hits that weren’t, artists that had potential but couldn’t quite go the distance. I accept the heartbreak as the price one pays for the privilege to work in the arts now. The best antidote is to keep my focus on my passion for the creative process and love of the art form.
VII. It’s harder to see the clients struggle with disappointments - especially the younger ones who tend to come with such high expectations of themselves and unrealistic expectations of the business. When they realize how much luck is involved and how hard it is to have a stable creative career they get very demoralized. It’s a daily conversation with the clients to keep them inspired and not discouraged by the reality that maybe 5% of their work will make 95% of their income.
VIII. On the commerce side I think the business needs to gain a deeper understanding of the new generation of consumers. Music companies are generally far behind other industries in market research. We are leaving behind old business models to engage a new generation that’s behaving and consuming music very differently.
IX. We need to talk more about art. Great art creates its own demand.
X. I am for always learning.