J A Y   S W E E T






Photograph by Andrew Urban


I. I had a difficult time deciding whether or not I should bring Beck to Newport Folk. While we had started reimagining or programming since I took over a few years ago, having Beck as a headliner would be real stake in the ground about how we were going to build our lineups moving forward. The risk was we didn't want to alienate our older more traditional audience. Just before I made the decision to officially invite Beck, I called our co-founder, Pete Seeger. The fact that I a) had Pete's home phone number and b) could call him up for advice is never lost on me whenever I doubt my good fortune. 93-year-old Pete Seeger answered the phone, and I told him the situation. He told me to email him a link to Beck’s new, unreleased album, and to call him back in a few hours. The image of Pete jamming out to Beck in his cabin still makes me laugh. I called him back. Without hesitation, Pete told me he thought Beck's lyrics were good, and that the new tracks had a lot of world music influences. He told me to book him and not look back. Later, he said that anytime I felt like I was alienating some of the audience, I'm doing something right. Most people complaining about the changes are the ones bragging that they were there when Dylan went electric. 

II. In my past life as a screenwriter, I spent half a year living in Ecuador writing my first full-length screenplay. I sent it to a director friend of mine in New York, who in turn sent it on to William Goldman, arguably the greatest screenwriter of all time. As fortune would have it, I was invited to meet with him a week later about my first script. Remember, this is the man who literally wrote the book on screenwriting, so as a first-timer this is like being a rookie who’s offered batting tips from Ted Williams. I was ushered into his home office, where he sat with his shiny Oscars intimidatingly placed directly above his head. He pulled my script out of his drawer, and I could immediately see it was dripping with red ink. This master craftsman did for me what he has done for the biggest names in the business; he edited my work into something actually worth making. For the next 30 minutes, he asked me questions about inspiration, character development, and pacing. As he held my script, all I could think was that he was holding the key to my future in his hand. Right before our time was up, he flipped through the screenplay one more time, nodded, and then preceded to put it back into his desk drawer. He said, "I think I'll keep this right here so I can compare it to whatever you end up making. I'm sure my version is better, but it's my version, and not your vision."

III. We are the granddaddy of all American music festivals, but we are also one of the smallest. While our small size allows us to be nimble, it also makes us vulnerable to larger, external business forces within the festival sphere. Seemingly the more popular we become, the more the festival behemoths want us to disappear from the landscape. However, we pride ourselves for using obstacles as opportunities to reshape our ethos. For example, when certain festivals told artists they were forbidden to play Newport, we went to the artists directly and told them, while not ideal, we were fine with having them as surprise guests. In the end, these surprise performances became the most talked about sets of the year and continued to separate what we do from the rest of the pack.

IV. We need to talk more about the importance of music education. Even though it helps improve language skills, memorization, reasoning, and coordination, all while offering a unique sense of achievement, it's always the first on the cutting block when it comes to budgets.

V. I am for funding after-school music programs in public schools and local community centers. Nothing can bring a community together faster than music.






J A S O N   I L E Y






Photography by Alex Franco

Photography by Alex Franco

I. When I think about the issues we are facing as an industry, I think about communication, recruitment, and having the ability to adapt to change. There have been many technological changes in the music industry over the years and we have always adapted. We need to continue to think differently, think smart and innovate. The delivery method might be changing but our vision remains the same: Sign the best talent and make the best records.

II. We face rapidly changing times, so finding, nurturing and developing artists is even more important to us whilst we are going through such a massive technological revolution. This affects our own industry as well as related sectors like retail and media. In recent years, we have been very focused on employing future industry leaders and creative minds. The industry needs to do even more to attract exceptional talent. The absolute priority of the labels is to sign and develop domestic acts who can be successful globally. A&R is at the core of our future. Over the past year, we have further developed our A&R base with bright new A&R executives and additional A&R resources. This investment will continue.

III. When it comes to developing domestic acts who have been successful globally, Simon Cowell has enjoyed unparalleled success. One Direction, who Simon put together on the UK X Factor in 2010, has been the biggest UK act in the world for three consecutive years – and has sales of more than 65 million. He and his Syco label have hit after hit, year after year. In his career to date, Simon has worked with artists who have sold more than 380 million records. Also Simon Moran who runs SJM, is one of the most intelligent, unique, forward thinking and all encompassing executives. Simon is, undoubtedly, one of the cleverest and most powerful people in British music. He is encyclopedic in his knowledge and a conduit for the industry. He has successfully evolved with the changing dynamics of the industry throughout his career.

IV. When reflecting on how to improve the public perception of the music business, I believe that we need to be better and smarter at PR-ing ourselves. Unfortunately, the music business has never been good at that which is crazy. The UK business is incredibly successful - having launched some of the biggest artists in the world in recent years - including One Direction, Adele and Ed Sheeran. We should celebrate our break-out stories. We also need more co-operation and support from the UK government.

V. It is important to be giving of your time to communicate with the future talents of our industry. We have a number of executives at Sony Music UK who take time out of their work to run seminars for young, creative people. They discuss and share new, innovative ideas – and think outside the box. I would encourage more people to find time to do this as it is positive on so many levels.

VI. I am for artists and record companies working together as true partnerships.






J A C K   H O R N E R






Photograph by Damian Weilers


I. 2015 has been quite a year. It’s been a year in which I’ve come to terms with loss - the leaving of something I love so much, a team who was always more than colleagues and employees and work that has spanned from the impossibly challenging to the ludicrously fun. I’ve had to consider starting again alone. I founded FRUKT when I was twenty five. It was a huge risk, embracing the unknown, fairly rapidly we established that we were onto something. We grew from two guys and a couple of Macbooks in the corner of a friend's office - to over a hundred and twenty people in seven offices around the world. We work with and are trusted by some of the biggest brands on the planet. I feel immense pride that we created something real - something that hadn’t existed before us, and something that has ended up adding a lot of value back to the artists and related businesses around them. We’ve worked on two Olympics, a World Cup, with brands including Coke, Mastercard, Sprint and O2, I’ve learnt from and work with creative minds including Tony Wilson, UNKLE, Underworld - and I sometimes remember the smaller pieces we did years back - rebranding The Electric Ballroom, defending The Astoria when London Transport threatened closure. 2015 represents a year of change for me - my eyes are wider, my heart is beating faster, my senses are on edge - watching, talking and waiting. I’m also treating it like an open source project - not being protective about ideas - sharing, learning and giving some things away.

II. Leadership needs vast balls, so to speak. Senior people need to learn what the fuck it is kids are doing. Mentors need to come from places other than the bosom of an industry which has far too much of its fat ass still in the ‘glory days’ of the eighties. Everyone needs to look outside of their myopic little sphere - smart shit is mainly happening elsewhere. Management need to look at the top heavy salary issue and invest in the next generation.

III. Wisdom is about thinking and believing in good business at a basic level, in the core and at the soul of a business. It doesn’t need to be a Live 8, it can just flow through everything and everyone. It’s the three dimensional education of staff, talent and audience.

IV. Steve Jobs talked as apologetically as he could about how his ideas weren’t new - they were just existing thoughts put together, he just did it better than anybody else. If the old expression GIGO - garbage in garbage out - holds true then so must the opposite. I share this philosophy - filling my head with ideas, techniques, facts, sounds, images, businesses, people and places that I seem to have a knack for rapidly combining into new and more interesting things. It helped with making sense of the context the music industry sits within, it helped as I’ve moved through a career in digital innovation and then onto brand building and creating. Now it’s already helping spawn exciting and new thoughts about where I go next.

V. The only tangible thing I have done in this transitional year is register the URL joinerofdots.com - when you strip me back to the raw mechanicals, to the philosophy, I am nothing but a joiner of dots. Ideas to people, people to people, investment to ideas, business to channels, channels to partners and so on.

VI. We need to talk more about how to attract the most sharp minds, the bravest idealists and open minded listeners. We need it more than ever.

VII. I am for extreme change. Turning shit upside down. There will be blood.






F A I T H   N E W M A N






Photography by Robert Nethery

Photography by Robert Nethery

I. Wisdom is essentially the intelligent use of knowledge and life experience that leads to a place of quality awareness, critical discernment and sound judgement.

II. As I approach fifty, like most maturing adults I have become more wise. I have learned from my mistakes and from other people’s mistakes. In my ever evolving wisdom I have become more of a realist. I have learned how to focus on the big picture and not let ego distract me from what I need to focus on. My true wisdom comes with the pain, failure, fear, self-doubt and rejection that life has brought me. It has been not easy but still my journey has been incredible, blessed and wisdom producing.

III. The biggest part of my job is acquiring repertoire, so to that end I have sought out particular music catalogs of that era that have been neglected and forgotten in popular culture. For two years I sought to procure a record label and music publishing catalog of R&B music from the late 1960s/early 1970s. The catalog was in danger of being lost to history but contained such a wealth of amazing music. I had to track down original tapes, contracts, general memorabilia and the surviving people involved. In the end it was all worth it because I gave new life to something that would have disappeared from our musical landscape and the company made back its investment in two weeks when one of the songs in the catalog was used in a major ad campaign.

IV. My life was on a decidedly upward trajectory for a long time in the music industry until I had to come face to face with the limitations and inequity of being a woman in a male dominated industry. I had to experience having my male mentee become my boss, and not getting the kind of support I think I deserved, because I did not fit into the male culture. It was devastating at the time but it was also a wake up call. These sorts of experiences not only strengthened my identity but also my love more for the music and artists that have kept me in the game for the long haul.

V. One of the biggest issues today is how recording artists are paid for their work. As physical products become a thing of the past and downloading wanes, the focus has to be on properly monetizing streaming. Artists deserve to be paid for their intellectual property. There is an entire generation of young people who believe that music is free particularly because it can be grabbed from any number of platforms that don’t require fees.

VI. When the music business becomes unprofitable, nationally and globally with all of the free access to music, it is the artist who loses out. We need to put new laws in place to protect both the artist and music industry, so that is it fair, profitable, and able to bring the fans the most exciting and relevant music.

VII. Aside from paying attention to the financial health of the music business, I also think the music industry, and Hip Hop music in particular needs to connect and respond to the larger current social issues like police brutality, gun violence and black/brown male incarceration. The music industry must step up and lead way and give back to the community who supports it.

VIII. We need to talk more about the celebration of guns and violence in Hip Hop music because Black Lives Matter.

IX. I am for justice for recording artists who have been ripped off, cheated and robbed of participating in the money made by the music they created.






W O Z Z Y   B R E W S T E R






Photograph by Nerissa Nortje


I. My life is pretty busy. Bringing up my son, Reece, as a single parent for the past eleven years has not been easy, but I am surrounded by beautiful people who have played an integral part in nurturing my son. You know what they say: "It takes a village to raise a child." 

II. This year has been challenging running a music education and artist development charity, especially considering the current funding situation in the UK - we have a government that has a lack of understanding of the importance of creativity and the true value of how music plays an important role in young people's lives (all of our lives really, but my focus is young people). I spend more than 70% of my working hours applying for funding, managing funds, writing reports and applications. 

III. This year I have written the three year business plan and confirmed three-year funding from both the Arts Council England and Lewisham Council, as well as successfully attracting continuation funding from the Tom Ap Rhys Pryce Memorial Trust and the City Bridge Trust for our children's music education programme, Budding Musicians Club, and the Deaf Rave Music Production Access Programme. 

IV. The main challenge for MMC is keeping abreast of developments in music technology and updating our software/ hardware. It has literally taken me two years to fundraise for new music production hardware and software for our MIDI teaching room, access rooms and studio...finally cracked it with funding from the Clothworkers Foundation - BIG THANKS! 

V. I feel that with record labels shifting from the traditional approach of investing in artist development over the past decade, it has become the role of organisations like ourselves to champion this aspect of the business, supporting emerging talent and providing access to resources, studio time, links to industry and creating networking opportunities. MMC runs a creative industries careers advice service, CICAS®, which gives young people aged 16 to 30 access to information, advice and guidance, along with access to rehearsal and recording facilities, artist development, songwriting support, and PR/Marketing advice. 

VI. I am a firm believer in taking a holistic approach to life; mind, body and spirit. I practice Yoga on a daily basis and attend regular twice-weekly Hot Yoga classes, plus I meditate every morning, which allows me to bring a sense of calm to the start of my day. 

VII. How can the music business evolve if it does not nurture the young? Every professional in the industry has a story to tell, a tip to share and a wealth of experience. If you have a problem in a specific area ask someone who is doing what you would like to do, if you don't understand how you can grow your business or idea find someone who will give you a couple of hours per month to discuss your project. 

VIII. No one achieves success on their own so networks are extremely important. Join a relevant industry body to ensure that you receive regular updates on what is happening in the music business. Read industry publications - maybe there is an interesting story that highlights someone who has knowledge that will help you. 

IX. We need to talk more about Diversity and fairer representation of all genres on radio, regardless of the socio-economic status, ethnic background, gender or disability of an artist. UK Music launched an Equality & Diversity Music Charter a couple of years ago so it would be good to see what the outcomes have been since its implementation.






S T E V E   S T R A N G E







Photograph by Aaron Gaiger


I. We need to talk more about the future of the business. If everyone depended on a label these days, we’d all be fucked. Don’t get me wrong, there are labels out there and they are trying their hardest. The business has changed. So you have to change with the business. And as an agent you have to go and seek new opportunities. Essentially that’s what we did with Queens of the Stone Age last year when they did Reading. We weren’t the bridesmaid, we were the fucking bride. Or as I would say, the fucking daddy. That answers that question.

II. I am for rehabilitation and building. I am for organic build, and I want to be quoted on that. I am for organic building, and building bands on rock rather than sand, because with that statement, it means that you’re actually building things properly, securely, and steadfastly. You’re not building on false foundations. The pop world can be a fickle market place, and very fast moving. You’re only as big as your next single. The Hip Hop world can also be fickle, as well as very money oriented, sometimes putting big unrealistic cheques ahead of thought out vision. But at the same time, you have to build acts that last for 10 to 20 years. The only way you can build things for 10 or 20 years is to build it properly. And build it stone by stone. I’m a firm believer of longevity.

III. The key to longevity is teamwork. It’s to have the right, proper well-rounded team. So you’re all united for the passion in the way and you are all fighting for the same cause, and you work as a team. Teamwork is the most important thing in my business.

IV. How do you achieve teamwork? You can’t achieve it by yourself. It’s very much led by the management. They can help you achieve that. As an agent, we’re only one part of the building process. If you can get the right team where everyone is likeminded, passionate, and talk to each other and help each other by building an act, then you have a foundation. For instance, in the early days, the press officer has an act that he knows is going out on tour, and he passes that information on to you and says, by the way, such and such is going on tour, that would be a great act for our band to tour with. That information is crucial because he will know it before anyone else. If you’ve got a great band, and you‘ve got great people that are working with that band, you can create monstrous opportunities because everyone’s equally passionate.

V. Longevity and loyalty go hand in hand. Generally, if you do a great service to someone and you build up a great relationship, a respect with the artist, then you can last for as long as you feel passionate. For example, there are bands like Ash, who I’ve been working with for 22 years. I’ve been working with them since they were 15-year-old kids, and had just come out of Belfast. I’ve had some very, very successful years with them, and I still do. I built them up in Southeast Asia, Australia, Japan, where they’re still a big artist to this day. In the UK, they’re going to sell out Shepard’s Bush Empire this time around. The venue’s up around the 1500 mark, which I think is a big testament to their hard work, good songwriting, and organic build. It all circles back to that word, longevity. It all comes back to organic build.

VI. You cannot turn a silk purse into a sow’s ear. You can’t polish a turd. Star quality is built within. It’s a personality. And then what you stand for, which is the songwriting. Combine yourself with these qualities and then you’ve got yourself a proper band.






S T E V E   R E I C H





Photograph by Isaac Rosenthal


I. When I first started then working with tape loops, I was interested in sports recordings from the 1940s. If you pick out the right part of it then you will discover it has a melody to it. When you focus in on those fragments of speech which are very melodic, it isn’t the same as when a composer sets words to music. Your voice is as much who you are as a photograph of you. Perhaps more so. How people speak is how we relate to them.

II. You realize that no matter how much you rehearse, no matter how well you know the piece, you are going into uncharted territory with each performance. From the start of the piece, to the end of the piece, you are swimming around and trying to hold onto something which is inherently irrational. And yet you are trying to get from one rational place to another rational place.

III. I have a short fuse. It’s gotten longer as I’ve gotten older, because I just don’t have the energy to have a short fuse. But it’s still too short! If you can control that, that’s a step for your betterment, for the people around you, and for the world in general. That’s the only way the world really progresses. Jews say, when will the messiah come? Well, the messiah will come when we let him in. When human action has reached a level where things are really good, we’re really acting good to each other. 

IV. Bob Hurwitz at my record company always says: the first 90 seconds, otherwise you’re dead. Otherwise it’s like fast forward, or next track and that’s the world we’re living in. I think that music you either fall in love instantly, or you can learn about it, but I’ve never found something that I’ve disliked and then later on I grew to like. I’ve always continued to dislike it, but respect it in retrospect but the magnetic attraction, for me, has always been instantaneous.

V. There’s a concept called Lashon Hara. The evil tongue; it's the concept that if you know something bad about somebody, seek out the good. When human action has reached a level where things are really good, we’re really acting good to each other.

VI. When these black people were shot in Charleston, they were all church people and came out and showed sympathy and forgiveness to the guy who did this monstrous thing. I’m struck with the enormity of the content of their character; these people are giants. So whenever people are able to do something really good, like the guys who jumped the terrorist on the train, the three American guys, it becomes wisdom when it is manifest. It’s in the doing.

VII. I am for the religion of doing.






S E T H   K A L L E N






Photograph by Robert Nethery


I. When I first started managing artists, someone said to me “You work for the artist, the artist does not work for you.” Ten years later, I apply that to everything I do every day - my role as a manager is always to help the artist achieve what they want to achieve. I’m lucky enough to work with brilliant people and musicians, and if I can help them on their journey, I’m grateful.

II. Running my own business, I’ve learned that making decisions is exhausting. They call it decision fatigue, I believe. It’s hard not be a control freak but the more I let go of the reigns, teach and let my team make their own decisions - I find that the right decisions are made and can use my mental energy elsewhere.

III. Artists and friends always ask me the same question - “How do you decide to manage an artist? Do you need to see a Facebook following, or do they need to be signed to a label?” For me, if I fall in love with the music first, then I fall in love with the people involved. Being a fan of the music and being inspired by it every day is the most important thing to me. I have been with all of my artists from day one and because of that, the successes feel that much bigger, but the failures and struggles feel that much more intense from the time and care you put in.

IV. About two years ago I was at a major crossroad in my life. I had left my old job at MCT Management, and had thought my next move was joining a new management company, or plugging myself into an existing structure somewhere. I had options on the table, and on paper, I saw no reason not to do it. Why wouldn’t I want a salary, benefits, and some structure? Why wouldn’t I want to be comfortable? I ended up at the Summit Series in Utah, and met an amazing woman named Angie - an astrologist and in that conversation she said to me, “Seth, there are some people who will not be happy unless they are building their own vision. You are someone who at your core, needs to be building something for yourself.” She was absolutely, 100% right. I left that day, called my now business partner Josh, and we formed our management company This Fiction. Once the decision was made, I became very self aware, knowing that at my core I’m an entrepreneur. 

V. Artist development is dying. It’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. The music and talent are out there, and the avenues to exploit and grow these artists are growing every day. Yet the executives with pockets deep enough to invest in the talent are afraid to take risks and afraid to spend the time with an artist. We need people to nurture talent, and put the time and energy into supporting artists from the early stages. 

VI. We need to be putting more time and energy into educating the global music community and fans on how to support the arts. I get it, people will no longer pay for music. We need to teach the next generation that there is value in supporting the music financially, because if the artists can’t feed themselves, there will be no more music. No art. With that education, perhaps people will pay a premium for unique live music experiences. The thirst is out there, as people are consuming music more than ever. We just need to find creative ways to inspire people to support the music. 

VII. We need to talk more about entitlement. There are too many record labels, producers, brands, and more who feel that the early support they’ve given to an artist means they are entitled to owning and controlling everything the artist does. Many young bands do owe a lot to the people that have invested and supported them early, but with the profit margins shrinking as the music business suffers, greed is driving partners to push for too much.

VIII. I’m starting to think about building small, boutique music festival properties. Festivals like the MECA Festival in Brazil have the formula - they create an amazing, intimate experience for the artists and fans, and inspire something special for those who attend. I want to build a live music experience for people who remind us why we love music and why we connect.






R O B   S T E V E N S O N






Photograph by Robert Nethery


I. Wisdom is something you know to be right or wrong, not in your head, but in your gut. I believe that a person’s first reaction to a situation or a song is the most honest. Those reactions, if you pay attention to them over time, create wisdom. 

II. From my experience, you learn more from failure than you do from success. When you are passionate about something, failure forces you to really take a close look at what you’ve done wrong and what you’ve done right. From that analysis you gain wisdom. I love working with artists that have been signed and dropped. These are people who dealt with the heartache of having their dream ripped away from them and are coming back for more. The learning is on the other side of the heartache. That extreme experience gives them insight and desire that is a huge competitive and creative advantage. 

III. The process of A&R is best explained as long periods of frustration punctuated by short bursts of elation and excitement. Luckily, the elation is so strong it carries through the down times. 

IV. My first real A&R job was at Island Def Jam working for Lyor Cohen. He was famous for some pretty great quotes, but one that has always stuck with me was: “I will take an artist with bad songs over an artist with bad instincts any day. The one with bad instincts just takes more time and money to get to the same place.” When I first heard him say this I didn’t agree, but over time, that has proven to be a very true statement. 

V. Once you have listened to yourself and made a decision, you need to act on it no matter how many people say you are wrong. When I signed The Killers I was one of the last A&R people to hear them. The truth was, a lot of labels had seen them and for one reason or another passed. When I heard their demo I felt like I had won the lottery. Half of their first album was on that demo CD and the songs were just so good! They felt like the band I had been searching years to find. 

VI. I make myself available to all of our interns and will do informational interviews with them if they simply ask. It’s amazing how many don’t take me up on it. Before they have even asked, they talk themselves out of it with excuses like “He’s too busy,” “He wouldn’t really meet with me.” Neither of these are the case and we need to show people they need to make their own luck. Lyor Cohen was a big influence. He’d tell this story about when Run-D.M.C first went to London, and it wasn’t just packed, roads were blocked. There was no way they were getting out because the whole place was surrounded by people. As they were about to go on, the tour manager realized he forgot the record bag at the hotel. so Lyor went out on stage and said, “How many of you here have any of the Run-D.M.C. 12 inches?” And all these people raised their hands. He took the first 10 or 15 that were in the front and he said, “Give me the records and they’re going to sign them and give them back to you after.” He took the records back, and they did a live show on the fly off of the records they'd been given. The show was a huge success. 

VII. Artist development needs to be re-imagined. We need to deconstruct every process in making and marketing music and examine it under the unforgiving light of day. One strong myth is that if you break the US market you will break the world. In this streaming ecosystem, it has never been harder for a new artist to gain enough momentum in the US to push through to the rest of the world. 

VIII. I am for transparency. We are squabbling among ourselves while other industries are taking advantage of the chaos. The more our interests are aligned, the better we can protect the interests of our artists and their partners.






M A R S H A   V L A S I C






Photograph by Andrew Urban


I. 2015 was really about my Moving to AGI, which I did in September of 2014, which I did after five years at ICM. Coming here, I guess you could consider was a big decision to make, with my age and my timing. I just felt that I wanted to have more of a legacy. Personally, I’m very fortunate to have a wonderful family. I have two sons, one of whom has a child so being a grandmother to Myles Storm Vlasic is everything in the world to me and my husband. Personally, I just passed my 40th wedding anniversary, and that’s a big accomplishment. 

II. Legacy is important to me because this has been a miracle career for me. It was never planned. I feel that for future generations and future women, I really want to be able to be recognized and see that it’s possible if you want it. In the 70s as a female in the music business was a real challenge. Convincing them that I could help them do the Deep Purple or the Rod Stewart tour or the Uriah Heep tour and things like that. Being married and having children and being able to juggle it all certainly wasn’t easy, but I was determined. As I reached each plateau, I wanted to go higher and higher. It was almost like a drug. Building careers, and seeing artists that I worked with from day one. AC/DC, Highway to Hell, be on the stage of Madison Square Garden. Elvis Costello, to reach Madison Square Garden. 

III. While developing as an agent in this business I came up against a lot of chauvinism. A lot of the people that I worked with didn’t want to accept the fact that I was more successful than them, and I think a woman who is successful has to yell out, scream more, work harder, be heard. It takes much more. 

IV. I’m a fighter. I’m from Brooklyn NY. I came from an extraordinarily poor family, really, really poor. My father had gone bankrupt when we were very young, and I didn’t have a happy childhood. My parents didn’t have a happy marriage. The poverty was overwhelming, my father became a very sick man, and his illnesses were all the time and chronic. He died very young at 56. I was always the mother. I was always the one that had to take care of everybody. 

V. There are lots of agents that sometimes take the steps too quickly for artists, and they wind up in buildings that are too big for them with lots of empty seats. I try to call it right. I think building a career is really important. I’ve been Neil Young’s agent for 40 years, and we’ve grown together. For me, it’s about the relationship and it’s about the managers, and working with the managers, and working with the artists. 

VI. I think this generation that attaches itself to a single or a YouTube video isn’t that generation that wants to go out and buy a ticket to sit in a concert. I think that’s our biggest challenge. How do you get future generations to want to find the next Beatles? That’s our challenge. 

VII. This is a business that you need to put yourself in 100% or 200%. There are times where you need to be with your family, of course, but you learn how to juggle that. On my 40th wedding anniversary, I was on a plane to LA because Silversun Pickups had some very special shows in LA. Silversun isn’t my biggest band, but I felt that this was an important event that I needed to be at. I care for them. I also love my husband. It’s a way of life, rather than a job. 

VIII. I am for looking to the long term. It’s about building the career of the artist.







M A R I A   E G A N






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.






L A N C E   D A R Y





Photograph by Andrew Urban


I. Years ago in the mid 1970’s when it was obvious music was going to be my career path, my father told me when whatever you do for a living becomes a job then it is time to get out of it and look for something else. In other words do it for the love of it. Make a living, but do it for the love of it. 

II. My family inspires me most. My future wife and I moved 1200 miles from home. My family back home in Massachusetts and my wife and daughter in Tennessee have always supported me and loved me no matter how long my “job” has kept us apart. We have kept our family relationships strong and that has been very important. Knowing I have this love behind me has always kept me strong and inspired me to be confident that everything will be OK at home. 

III. Creativity must come from within one’s self. It cannot be contrived. I have had the great pleasure of working with some of the most creative people in Nashville for thirty years. Some of these you have heard of such as Randy Travis, Patty Loveless, Mark Collie, Sara Evans, Jason Sellers, Tony Brown, Emory Gordy Jr, Kyle Lehnning and humbly, thankfully many more wonderfully creative songwriters and musicians that I am honored to call friends. 

IV. I am just a guy from a small town in Massachusetts who grew up with a lot of music in my family. Listened and played all types of music, mostly country, bluegrass in my youth. Then 70’s rock in high school, then everything from Elvis to Disco to Night Ranger in the early 80’s. Moved to Nashville in 1986 after a visit out to the Academy of Country Music Award Show. While attending an after show party, I ended up being invited to play at a jam session and found myself among performers from the ACM show. This jam changed my life forever. I met Patty Loveless that night, it grew into an audition several months later and before I knew it I was on my way to Nashville to start touring in Patty’s new band. That was thirty something years ago and I haven’t stopped enjoying this town and its music community since. 

V. I think one of the hardest issues for an artist today is not to chase radio. Know who you are as an artist and have the guts and belief in your music not to give it away. Too many new acts just give their music away just to get heard. Get out and pound the pavement and play everywhere you can, whenever you can. Let other people worry about your social media and promotion stuff, and concentrate on your singing, writing and performing. Don’t let all that other stuff get in the way. The music always comes first! Nashville in an awesome place for music, it is a real music community. Writers, musicians, recording artists, studios, record labels, management companies, publishers, cartage companies, sound, lighting, etc. all providing a living and employment for creative people in this business. All of these people together take great pride in the creative product that comes out of this town. There is a great responsibility to put out the very best product. Because of today’s technology there are many ways to get product to the consumer. This makes it easier for more creative people to try to get heard. However, the market is saturated and it is hard for the consumers to find the very best because they have to search for what they enjoy between everything that is promoted to them. Personally I believe it is up to the producers, record labels, and radio that the best product gets to the consumer. Artists are competing for the same airtime, the same concert venues. As an artist you have to offer something that is your best, because your audience deserves it. 

VI. We need to talk more about the music, music that means something. Music today has been watered down. You don’t have to sing a whole line correctly, you do not have to play a part all the way through. It all can be fixed by a good engineer and producer. There are times that technology is handy but a lot of artists and musicians rely on it too much. 

VII. I am for knowing your craft. Always striving to learn something new and get better at your craft. Respecting the people that paved the way for you. Playing music for the love of it. Someday that is all you will have is the love of it, so why not start that way. Fame & fortune is hard to achieve and not everyone will achieve it. If you do, it is only for a certain amount of time. It does not last forever, and can end at a moment’s notice.






L I Z Z Y   P L A P I N G E R


Singer and Co-Founder

MS MR + Neon Gold Records

New York City


Photography by Isaac Rosenthal

Photography by Isaac Rosenthal

I. At school I booked bands and big shows; I had a radio show during those four years and worked as finance director for the station one year, and music director another. In my sophomore year of college, my best friend Derek Davies and I decided to realize our teen dream of starting our own record label. I cannot express how magnificent the year we first started the label was: to be our own boss, it gave us a foundation to reach into all corners of this industry. We embraced everything in a very DIY manner and used the tools of the internet to build and establish ourselves from the very beginning. I’ve always felt like wisdom was a term reserved for the elders in the industry but with the way the world is changing it’s leaning on the wisdom, practices and foresight of the youth. You are more wise and equal than you know. Don’t wait for someone to pass the baton to you. Make your own.

II. A discussion about mentoring is really the perfect next step to this discussion. While I truly believe that kids are more wise than they know, it doesn’t mean they’re above learning from the people who came before us and have survived through all the changes in this industry. No one is too good for advice and even if you don’t necessarily agree up front, always hear someone out who is feeling generous enough to offer it to you. It’s also important to know when to ask for help or guidance and who from. Some things you can learn from a far - looking at the trajectory of someone you admire and the kinds of steps they took to be where they are. I cannot tell you how often I do this, but there is something crucial to attaching yourself to someone in real time who is a few steps ahead and has the foresight to help guide you in your own path. Don’t look at a mentor like a guidance counselor. No one has all the answers, they just have another perspective, it’s up to you to choose what to do with that information.

III. I’ve never really seen music in a competitive light where one artist has to succeed by outshining another - one of the beautiful things about art is that it can coexist and hold one another up in interesting and new ways. Do we really only need to recognize only one album as the definitive best of the year? I’d love to create an awards show that recognizes more of the online bands, new categories that acknowledge new mediums. It wouldn’t need to be televised; it could live online in its own space, like the YouTube awards, and would need to combine a number of outlets to help support and piece it together. I think Vice would be an exceptionally good partner for this.

IV. We need to talk more about the music itself and less about the celebrity behind it.

V. I am for artists and songwriters being properly compensated and recognized for their work.






E L I A H   S E T O N






Photography by Robert Nethery

Photography by Robert Nethery

I. I grew up singing. My grandmother was an opera singer, and trained at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. I sang in a classical choral group, big works like Verdi’s Requiem, Carmina Burana, and Handel’s Messiah, on stages like Avery Fisher Hall and Carnegie Hall. In college, I sang in an a cappella group. As the General Manager of that group, I got a taste of being a manager, a label, and an agent, all while being a performer. It was an extraordinary experience to be 22 years old and know that I had found the thing I wanted to do in life: be in music. I wasn’t going to be able to feed myself if I stuck to performing, so I decided to get a business education. After I went to business school, I got my first job in a major label system, working at Warner Music Group. It was an alumus from my college a cappella group who hired me. This is a very nerdy story.

II. ADA is a distributor of independent labels and artists. Before I joined, I hadn’t worked within the indie community or for a distribution company. I knew I wasn’t the obvious choice for this job, and I knew everyone else did too. My first priority was getting to know the team, and working with them to develop a point of view on our future. I was lucky enough to join a wildly passionate and experienced group. I met people like David Orleans with his incredible knowledge of our industry from over 20 years in the indie community, Kenny Weagly with his pioneering approach to A&R and deal- making, and Brandon Squar with his outstanding expertise in digital.

III. The first thing I did when I came into this job was sit down with each person who works on the ADA worldwide team. It was at least a single one-on-one meeting with forty people in a few different offices to put a face to a name, get a sense of what they do every day, and get a sense of what’s going well and what’s not going well. I would put that experience under the umbrella of wisdom because if I came in with little wisdom on day one, by day 61, I had a lot more because I was borrowing from everyone else. It was an education to hear
people’s own experiences and what they see from their perspective.

IV. Some distribution companies act like we’re becoming a commodity business, but we reject that idea. We want to have deep and lasting partnerships with labels making extraordinary music. To do that, you have to make their lives easier, and you have to bring them opportunities that they wouldn’t find anywhere else. To make sure we stay ahead, we’re constantly improving our core distribution offering, adding new firepower in key areas like radio promotion, updating our technology and systems, and strengthening our global approach.

V. We’re doing deals not just with indie labels, but also directly with artists and management companies. ADA has always prided itself on serving the best indie labels, and now that artists and managers are becoming their own labels, we’re partnering with them too. The music I'm hearing right now in so many genres, from all corners of the industry, is phenomenal.

VI. We’re working on our analytics and reporting. This is hugely important for us and our partners. We want to create a future of increased transparency, and that starts with information.

VII. Indie labels are experimental. The indie community is most often the birthplace of influential music and potent new ideas. I am wildly excited about our future in this amazing business. The model of the modern day record label is in flux. If we can provide a bespoke set of label services, provide easy-to-use technology and reporting, and be a truly global business for our labels and artists, then we are the most attractive option for any artist across any genre. We can provide access to the major label system while also giving an artist control of their own creative process. We’re a servant for the artist, indie label, and manager in a way that puts the music first.

VIII. We need to talk more about inspirational, good deeds.

IX. I am for originality, the real thing.






D O N   W A S






Photography by Robert Nethery

Photography by Robert Nethery

I. Last night I was watching a viral video that turned up on a news website. It was picked up by a surveillance camera and showed a man walking down a sidewalk next to a very tall building. Suddenly, a big plate glass window comes falling from the sky at breakneck speed, grazes the guy's shoulder, and shatters into a million pieces right next to him. What does he do? He gets right up, turns around 180 degrees and quickly walks back in the direction he came from. You can kind of read his mind: I know what to do. I'll go back to the place where glass wasn’t hurtling to the ground! He had the thought to return to a spot where windows had never previously fallen. But as far as preventing another pane of glass from subsequently landing on him, or a bus jumping the curb, or lightning striking him? Forget about it. Fact is, we don't know a whole lot, and maybe we're not meant to. Accepting the fact that we are not capable of possessing more than a tiny sliver of wisdom, and more to the point that we actually control very little in this lifetime may be a good piece of wisdom to hang onto.

II. Record producers should have an idea about what the song's about before they go into the studio. I produced a Bob Dylan record called "Born In Time.” When we cut it, I was thinking: 'Born in time? In time for what? In time to watch the Lakers game?' I was an idiot. It took me ten years to see it in a different light. I wrote him a note apologizing for being closed, and we had a long conversation the next day. It was quite personal, and I'll go to my grave without repeating it to anyone else, but I will say this: Bob never actually said that he wrote the song about being born into a world of time. That's just my interpretation. Bob, like other great writers I've had the privilege of working with, knows that one of the hallmarks of a great song is that they are poetic enough to allow each listener to project their own unique inner lives onto the framework. These writers have the wisdom to know that, if they revealed the specifics of what the poetry personally meant to them, it would ruin the experience for everyone else. It's a very generous act on the part of a songwriter to keep their intentions private and allow the listeners to claim the song for themselves.

III. Acceptance of the things we can't change is the biggest issue facing us. Selling tracks to consumers is no longer a viable business. It was great while it lasted, but those days are gone. We don't want to act like a bunch of blacksmiths sitting around in 1910, complaining about how automobiles are killing our business and holding conferences about how to sell more horseshoes! It might be wise to stop worrying so much about first week chart positions and market share, and focus on innovative new ways to monetize music for us and for the artists. It's our responsibility to make sure that artists continue to have the funding necessary to create new music. It's not hyperbolic to say that it's of great social importance: people need authentic new music to help make sense out of their lives. It's a privilege to be a part of such a noble process, and a great way to spend your life. Be grateful, stay positive and be creative. Let's figure this shit out.

IV. We need to talk more about you! I want to know more about you.

V. I am for free love and free lunch.






K A T R I N A   S I R D O F S K Y






Photograph by Stefano Galli


I. I was raised by two commercial artists. My father was a professional cartoonist who worked for an ad agency and my mother was a fine artist, animator and book illustrator. They were both brilliant people but neither of them could keep a meal on the table. I learned very young that people with rare or exceptional gifts of creativity really do often have a very difficult time with the more mundane demands of society or even day to day living. I also learned the extreme level of selfishness of the artist.

II. In working with artists you can really see the difference in the process when they have those truly free and creative moments within themselves. Those moments when no-one is chasing a chart position or a dollar or overthinking a lyric or a chord. It happens because the artist is free and true in the moment of expression. Those are the songs, paintings, films that remain evergreen and are referenced by generations.

III. I have found that for myself going with my first instinct is imperative. The one that you actually feel in your stomach when you think or speak about it with others. I find that when I move too far away from that, things don't work out as well. For myself I can embrace any outcome without regret so long as I follow the honest instinct. Acceptance is far more difficult for me when things don’t work out well and I know I didn’t follow through on the initial inspiration. 

IV. Corporate responsibility is a bit of an oxymoron as the very nature of corporations is to legally rid responsibility on as many levels as possible. I like that the concept is being talked about however any real action is only likely to happen when the artists themselves become clear and confident enough to demand change as a whole. Taylor Swift standing up to Apple was huge albeit was a 90 day issue. Perhaps something like it will happen again when artists of that level of power unify and demand reform in the overall business and accounting practices of all of the major companies in our industry. 

V. Creatively I believe we are about to enter a truly amazing time, one we haven’t experienced for many years. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been listening to some great music for a while however with all of the economic, social and political unrest we are about to experience, it is bound to make for some even better art than what we’ve been living on for ages. In terms of the business, the BRIC territories should be an important part of the evolution providing politics don’t prevent it of course. 

VI. An idea I'd like to seed is sharing, mentoring and storytelling between the executives in positions of power and the up and coming independent creatives. More of a salon style industry camp that is about real exchanges and round table discussions. It would be fun to do an industry camp that’s only purpose is this. No awards, no panels, no A&R agendas.






J O N A T H A N   D A N I E L






Photograph by Phil Knott


I.  The challenge for me with the current music business is that there are existing systems, concepts and rules in place that may not be applicable in the future. Do we really need exclusive bonus tracks when people rarely listen to albums? Is radio research really the best method for deciding what works for radio listeners still? Should artists suffer and not be allowed to have their music everywhere because a corporation that owns labels has a dispute with another corporation? As Joe Strummer so eloquently put it, “The future is unwritten”. Unfortunately we are still bound by an old rule book.

II. Eugene McCarthy once said "Politics is like coaching football. You have to be smart enough to understand how the game is played and dumb enough to think it's important." I think this is true of the music business as well. I love watching team sports: baseball, football and basketball. I imagine if I lived anywhere but North America, I would love soccer. A terrific songwriter named Sam Hollander gave me a gift of a Joe Torre autographed baseball early on in my career and said "you're the skipper!" Joe had just managed the Yankees to many World Series wins at the time. I've modeled what I do after Joe and his counterparts ever since. My job is to inspire my players and devise a strategy to lead the team to victory. 

III. What is Wisdom to me? “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” - John Lennon

IV. We need to talk more about transparency. In a digital era, there's no reason royalty statements should be so difficult to read nor should it be so hard to know what a hit song is worth.






D E ' M O N T   C A L L E N D E R


Music Agent

AM Only

New York City


Photography by Phil Knott

Photography by Phil Knott

I. For me wisdom is time, living and learning.

II. The first real tour I worked on, I took an extra step and hit up Just Blaze and sat with him, mapped out a plan for him and his live career. I suggested to him that he should do a song with Baauer. He checked out his music and agreed. I planned to put them together to make a song, and then go on tour together as a duo: young hip hop up and coming artist with a veteran hip hop producer. That was fun, and probably one of most successful and creative tours I’ve done.

III. One of the biggest challenges of my life is this job I have now. I started it six years ago. I had no clue what dance music was, or what being a booking agent means or even understanding what was involved. I worked seven days a week and twelve hours a day for three years. I’m still not the best but in that time I’ve helped build the careers of the artists I have worked with, and I’ve grown up as a businessman. I think I have grown up as a man from that experience.

IV. The biggest issue that the music industry is facing is streaming. Nothing is tangible anymore. Music is no longer purchased the way it used to be purchased, it’s no longer carried around the way it used to be carried. People are streaming their favorite albums for a few weeks, or tracks they like and moving on to the next. I actually think it is quite beautiful if you ask me.

V. When I think about the implications of these changes, we are possibly coming back to an industry of those who have the real passion. I think that a lot of people got rich under the old model, and the times have slowed down the big machine. There is not much we can do to fix it but what we can do is help it by putting out good music. You have to really love what you do now, and have a genuine love of music making, because getting paid is not as straightforward. People will purchase what they love, and what resonates with them, to support their artist. I just purchased two projects this week. My motivation is that I really believe that these artist deserve it because they are making music for the world.

VI. We need to talk more about how we can continue to evolve the culture and push it to new boundaries. There is still so much more that can be done, that has not been done.

VII. I am for Spotify, and all streaming sites as long as they play fair with the artist.






J A Y   W A S H I N G T O N






Photograph by Andrew Urban


I. I am originally from the Bronx, but my musical taste definitely comes from Harlem. I have had the good fortune of being able to intern for labels like Uptown Records and Bad Boy Entertainment. I also worked for Benny Medina before eventually going out and brokering deals on my own. Now I own my own company called Landmark Recordings. I gave it this name because I wanted it to convey a message of integrity and substance. For me, a landmark is an event, a discovery, a change and turning point. I want my artists to know that they are at a place where we are creating history together. 

II. The concept of wisdom comes back to learning from past failures, taking those lessons learned, then applying them to your next venture. Mark Cuban is a great businessman and also gives great quotes. One of the lessons I’ve taken from his commentary is this - “It doesn’t matter how many times you have failed, you only have to be right once.” I used to despise my failures, however after years of experimenting and failing, I came to realize that as long as I keep practicing and held my focus, my day of being “right once” was inevitable. 

III. While my peers were out on dates or partying I was up at night researching and studying. I always strived to be the best whether it was writing songs like Monica’s “One In A Lifetime” or Karina Pasian’s Grammy nominated song “Just Can’t Find The Words,” or artist development and the art of brokering a deal. I saw how hard people like Clive Davis and L.A. Reid worked so I knew I had to work harder. Study your idols until they become your rivals. 

IV. I founded Landmark Records because I feel there is a major lack of mentoring and artist development in the music industry today. One of the biggest challenges artists will face early on is simply not knowing what to do. A solid mentor can help you determine the best strategy for achieving your music career goals and show you how to do so in a quick and effective manner. I think it’s important to help an artist understand that they have to be willing to have doors slammed in their faces and to appreciate the No’s because they make the Yes feel that much better. 

V. My favorite mentoring examples would be those of Andre Harrell and Sean P. Diddy Combs. To this day Andre and Sean are great friends and Andre still helps Diddy with some of his business ventures, most notably RMC (Revolt Music Conference). Another great mentoring duo was Def Jam’s Lyor Cohen mentoring Jay-Z who is currently conquering new business’s frontiers such as sports management. 

VI. We need to talk more about the need for Artist Development. In this current climate we are taught to look for instant success. There is a strong need for artists to develop skills such as media skills, choreography, and vocal coaching. A lot of hard work and dedication is behind a fully developed artist. 

VII. I am for the support and nurturing of talent.






J A N E   S L I N G O






Photograph by Peter Plozza


I. It has been a big year for our little family – our daughter Milla turning one, learning to walk, run and first words. The challenge for any parent is to juggle that balance between work and home life, to do what you need to do, whilst remaining present for your little ones and each other. It’s a cliché but these years do fly and you don’t get this time back. Professionally it’s been a good year as well. My role with EMC (Electronic Music Conference) has evolved over the last few years to where it is now, which is heading up the programming for the conference. I can’t tell you how fulfilling it is for me to work on this event. I’m a firm believer in the strength of a platform like EMC, which allows the industry to get together over a few days to be generous with their time, knowledge, experiences and insights. Both of my artists have been writing most of this year, and it’s been a joy to see them both flourishing as artists, and bravely venturing into new musical territory. I’ve also stepped back into agency land this year, consulting and project managing for a couple of clients on music campaigns. 

II. The internet has been amazing for artists and businesses, but it's moved to a place where the competition for airtime from artists, from media, from labels, from festivals has made it such a challenge for excellent music to cut through and have the impact it should. We’re seeing the same ideas, the same sounds, the same strategies rolling out. I feel as though we’re in the pop will eat itself zone at present. 

III. As an industry we are still facing gender inequality. This year I have worked really hard to seek out and secure the best female speakers possible for EMC. I’ve been amazed at how many times an invitation has been declined, because the female I’m speaking to isn’t comfortable with public speaking. All of these women are confident, smart, efficient and really amazing at what they do. Yet there’s this reluctance or a fear about being in a room full of people to share their wisdom, experience and insights. 

IV. An issue we still face as a music community is transparency around the commercial models behind new technologies and platforms for music consumption. I cannot, no matter how hard I try, get my head around why in 2015 we are still seeing situations where there are NDAs in place that stop clear information of how the income is siphoned between the parties who all own the music. Why aren’t the artists allowed to know this? They are the key and essential ingredient to this business, so to have this strange veil of secrecy around how the money is divvied up for me is suspicious, wrong and it’s holding the music business back from operating in a truly forward thinking way. 

V. We need to talk more about the lack of education for girls in developing countries. Why? Because all of us can help with this issue in some way, and if more of us chose to do one small thing to help this cause, we would see a dramatic shift in the world in the decades to come. girlrising.com is a great place to start if you’re interested in this issue. 

VI. I am for taking a journey to somewhere where you can give yourself to a cause or a need of someone or something other than yourself. This reminds me of a story when in 2008, following a horrendous three years in business for me, I felt a strong need to get as far away as I could from my own woes and give my time to some people who needed help much more than me. I volunteered at a little orphanage in Aceh, Sumatra which was the area most devastated by the Boxing Day Tsunami five years earlier. Aceh had been mostly rebuilt in terms of construction and infrastructure, but the communities and families there are still faced with a deep and painful loss of their loved ones at the brutal hands of mother nature. What I actually did there was very simple, it was just teaching English to the 9 children at this orphanage and simply hanging out with them, living with them for a month. That month was a life changer for me in so many ways. A lesson in gratitude.