June 1, 2010. I have never made a decision in my life that has provoked me to do so much soul-searching for such a long time. However, after 33 years of nurturing, nudging, prodding, caring for and watching my baby (Music Connection magazine and its highly trafficked websites) grow up to become the most beloved musicians trade mag in the industry, I have decided to step down as president of the company and resign my post as co-publisher/executive editor.
The truth is, I simply sold my half of the company to my business partner Eric Bettelli, who will assume the mantle of CEO effective immediately. Make no mistake, I’ve reached this decision with a genuine sense of peace and gratitude, and EB and I remain best of friends—more like real brothers. Plus, I feel confident that I’m leaving the company with an impeccable reputation of integrity and service to the music community, a variety of outstanding products to offer musicians and a super talented and committed staff of great individuals committed to supporting Eric and sustaining MC for years to come. I’m very proud of that fact that MC (in it’s own humble way) has truly made a real difference in the lives and careers of thousands of musicians and music people all over the world.
Even so, in the past few years I have felt closed in, trapped and consumed by my own creation. There are so many opportunities that have come my way over the years and so many ideas that I’ve wanted to persue & develop. However, I have always felt locked & shackled to the one creation that has made me a good living for so many years and I’ve always used the excuse that the day-to-day commitment of growing Music Connection was paramount over any other intriguing possibilities that came my way.
On the one hand, being the publisher/editor of an extremely respected Music Biz rag has always had many awesome perks and I have met so many interesting and colorful people. To some, I’ve given up a dream job and in many ways that’s true. Never the less I have always been haunted with the following question: ”Are you willing to risk who you are for who you could become?” My answer has always been a resounding YES!
The best analogy I know that explains my recent feelings is my favorite quote by Anais Nin:
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Since I first conceived the idea for MC in 1977, I’ve often wondered what the end would look like. I Started Music Connection magazine for three reasons:
1) To help musicians sort out the challenges of the biz.
2) I was 28 yrs. old and my music career was in limbo and I needed a career breakthrough. I figured if I started the mag I could get up close and personal with A&R execs, publishers, musicians, etc. That part worked beyond my expectations!
3) There was absolutely nothing like MC anywhere—so why not?
I really wanted to get the mag going and then let it run itself while I continued to pursue my own quest for music success. However, it didn’t quite work out that way. Once we launched the first issue I quickly got caught up in the hoopla of running a business and couldn’t stop the momentum. That was three decades ago and unfortunately my music career took a back seat to my day gig. I say unfortunately with reservation. Although my music career plummeted, MC eventually took off and became successful. Perhaps even more successful than my music ever would have—who knows? I do know that writing blogs and books has taken the place of writing songs, and leading seminars and giving lectures has taken the place of performing. An exchange I accept with gratitude.
What I’ve Learned:
— I’ve learned to embrace the unknown: that the recent changes in the music biz have been (and continue to be) larger than any I’ve ever seen in all of show biz and I love the way technology has altered the course of our industry. Who would have thought that two computer geeks, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, could ever impact our industry (and world) as much as Lennon and McCartney. The only difference is the medium.
— I’ve learned that truth triumphs over rhetoric: The way I see it, although things have changed in our biz, it’s those things that haven’t changed that are still the most important; talent, connections, commitment, persistence, honesty to your Self and practice, practice, practice till your fingers are on fire!
— I’ve learned that original music is an expression of emotions and who am I to critique or judge anyone’s feelings. Personally, I either like a song or I don’t. However, having had the grand opportunity to listen to every conceivable type of music on the planet for the past three decades, I have arrived at a profound respect and admiration for any artist in any medium who follows his own creative spirit and expresses his talent with honesty and abandon.
— Finally, I’ve learned to speak less and listen more (many would disagree with that statement). Somewhere in the murky mist of the past few decades I began meditating (circa 1985). I’ve been attempting to tame the beast between my ears almost every day since then and I must say that the balance I’ve found in my life between the hoopla of rock & roll and the silence of my soul is astounding. I’m not sure who I would be without that one simple practice in my life.
What I’m Taking With Me:
— A head full of acquired knowledge about publishing, people, music, business, money and responsibility. And a heart full of acquired wisdom about struggle, empathy, generosity, flexibility, friendship, respect and love.
What I’m Leaving Behind:
— All my promises kept and my affairs in order.
— A slew of good products for the great staff of MC to exploit and share with the music world.
— An open door to endless possibilities and forever opportunities.
— A prayer and good wishes that MC will continue to grow and contribute to musicians and music people for many years to come.
What I’ll Miss The Most:
— The standard answer to that question is “the people” and that’s true for me. I’m proud to say that I’ve made more friends than enemies in this business (former employees included) and I believe most of those friends will be with me for life. I’ll especially miss the great staff of MC; an extremely talented family of folks committed to helping music people achieve their dreams.
— I’ll miss the excitement of holding a brand new edition of Music Connection in my hands, “hot off the press.”
— I’ll miss the process of publishing: Taking words, graphics, ideas and designs and going public with it. Whether in a magazine, a book or a website, I absolutely love the creative and innovative process of publishing. Too bad it has to be shackled to the advertising dollar.
What I Won’t Miss:
— Firing people. Especially good people who really loved their job at MC. In 33 years, it was the worst part of my job. I would agonize and procrastinate for weeks, often months, before I ultimately did what I thought was right for the company. I apologize to those who felt that sting.
What I Plan to Do (I just heard God laughing at my plans!)
Even though I put my 10,000 (Malcolm Gladwell) hours in the publishing world, and even though I’ve published three books, two different magazine titles and 792 issues of MC, plus 5 or 6 different websites, and even though I could easily (in my sleep) publish ANYTHING, I think I’ll try a different direction for a while.
I still love the entertainment business and I plan to spend my time doing what I love most: writing, teaching, leading seminars on a variety of subjects, public speaking and keynotes. Perhaps I’ll even achieve the honor of giving a TED speech someday. However, the thing that’s tugging at me the most is something I’ve always loved to do, and that’s helping and coaching individuals through the minefields of their lives and consulting with groups, companies and corporations who are looking for a breakthrough in the areas of achievement and performance.
So I’m already in the process of creating a company to help others solve their problems. The company is called The Probity Group and it’s a creative “think tank” specializing in innovative solutions to impossible challenges. It’s a consulting/coaching company that draws on the brainpower, practical experience and intellectual leadership of an awesome staff of committed problem solvers in order to accelerate extraordinary results and arrive at exceptional solutions. Our intention is to lend some insight and a helping hand to individuals, groups, organizations, companies, corporations, or anyone that can use some centered guidance and thought leadership.
Sound like fun? Wanna play? Gotta problem you want solved? Gotta project you want to move forward? Just e-mail me your thoughts, I’d love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sometimes I feel like I sold out back then in 1977 when I traded my music gig for an office job and sometimes I feel like this is what I was meant to do. However, music is like a trusted friend who is forever on my side and always beckoning me to “come out and play!”
I cherish my ability to play and perform music as a gift, one that I never, EVER take for granted. And I constantly acknowledge my parents for making me practice! practice! practice! Whether it was piano, drums, guitar or singing they never let me off the hook. I love to sing and play with experienced, seasoned musicians whenever I get the chance.
However, even though performing music is always in my heart, it is seldom on my to-do list. But that’s okay, because whenever I do get the chance to play, my soul sings with joy, my fingers scream in agony, my heart pounds with excitement and I can’t catch my breath from laughing so hard—because I’m having so much fun!
To my friends, family, the great staff of Music Connection and all those who have enjoyed MC for the past three decades, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for filling my life up with such challenge, and my soul with such joy.
Peace & Love Forever,