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In Gratitude... I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

Today is my birthday and today I have a great deal to be thankful for. To have a long career in the music business is something I’m very proud of. These past 12 months have been an incredible journey and I want to acknowledge a few people that have made it a year to remember.

And I want to remind us all about something Derek says, It all starts with who you know and it’s our connections to each other in the world that make us.

Derek Sivers

Most of you know (and worship) Derek. The reason why is because you have probably met him, and because he has probably given you great advice on how to make your music career better (or better yet, he has written you a check for your music). Even though he’s not in charge at CD Baby anymore, what he created so lovingly and well lives on with his spirit intact.  But there’s a part of him you may not know.  He’s an impeccable friend.  When the phone rings it’s never “how are you?”  It’s always….  “Have you ever thought about what you would do if one day (fill in the impossible, and most thought-provoking question you can think of…)  Derek is always helping me push my limits as a creative entrepreneur  and my the re-invention of my business has a lot to do with him. Derek remains my sounding board in this business. On days when I get discouraged and think it all won’t fly couldn’t fly, he is my biggest cheerleader and thought provoker and idea generator.  Thanks D…

Millie Millgate

If I had to nominate the hardest working woman in the music business,  Millie gets my vote.  As the head of Sounds Australia , her job is to make sure all Australian artists who attend international music conferences (SXSW, CMJ, Liverpool Sound City, Great Escape etc.) have a platinum experience, and because of her they do.  Its so easy to go to a conference and get swallowed up by the overwhelming experience but Millie ensures that this won’t happen by  getting her charges connected to all of the right people to not only play in front but also meet and network with. She never stops thinking about how to make each conference better and more effective for artists, label owners and managers. Her book on how to tour Australia, where she covers every possibly angle and answers every possible question you may have is like everything she does detailed , meticulous, and impressive.  She inspires me when I watch her in action…. She graciously invited me to Australia last September, and introduced me to APRA who hosted a series of master classes, and I’m here now at Song Summit celebrating my birthday in gorgeous Sydney.

Shelley Nordstrom

I had never heard of the ECMA’s when Shelley first invited me to come speak at The East Coast Music Awards conference and ceremony.  What I‘ve discovered is some of the most incredible talent I have ever seen (Hey Rosetta, Joel Plaskett, and David Myles are just 3 examples). Shelley ‘s job is to invite international delegates to attend the conference and experience the jaw dropping talent and ensure that that talent leaves the East Coast of Canada.  She and the entire conference make guests feel like complete rock stars.  I have never been so well taken care of at any conference, and because of Shelley, I have met life long best friends and colleagues, 2010 was my third trip to the East Coast of Canada and I’ll go back every year (if I’m invited).

Anna Hildur

In September 2008, Anna Hildur, the head of IMX, The Icelandic Music Export, invited me to Reykjavik to speak at the fabulous You Are in Control conference. She chose me not only because she wanted someone to speak about how social media is affecting musicians, but also because she wanted more women to speak at the conference and I was honored to be included. To watch Anna in action is marvelous. She wields two cell phones and switches between her sing-songy Icelandic and English, (depending on which one is ringing) and I can’t find one Icelandic artist who doesn’t know her personally. When the financial crisis hit Iceland, Anna, and I co-developed an online course to help Icelandic artists fully master online marketing and PR so that they could get exported the most efficient and cost –effective way she could think of.  I have been introduced to so many amazing musicians through that experience and have had the great pleasure of working with over 40 bands and musicians from the land of fire and ice including Ólafur Arnalds, Sunna Gunnlaugs, For A Minor Reflection and Dikta

Derek, Millie, Shelley & Anna, I couldn’t have done my dream without you,… I believe there is no luck in the music business. Luck comes concurrently with dedication and hard work and by having others help you along your journey.  My journey would look profoundly different without you.  Thank you from the bottom of my soul for all you do for me and for musicians around the world, and for all you do for me.

Reader Comments (3)

The Kids Saving Kids Campaign and Becca Levy are still looking for a few good musicians in New York. If you want to help raise awareness of drunk driving prevention with your music, visit You must be the age of 18 or under and have an original recorded song.

Get more information and submit your music to

For more on Becca Levy, visit

Save Lives with Your Talent!

Nicole Van Eden
Vice President/ Public Relations
Illumina Records & Promotions

June 21 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

Happy Birthday!

As an english resident and having family in Sydeny i can imagine that you embraced this years celebrations.

Its good to hear there are 'friends' within your line of work, i repeatedly get told that it makes bad business.

I never smile and learn as much as a i do on this website and i have a big list of routinely read bookmarks, thankyou!

June 22 | Unregistered CommenterMartinT

"I believe there is no luck in the music business. Luck comes concurrently with dedication and hard work and by having others help you along your journey."

I think I know what you mean, Ariel, but then again. I concur that it is important not to mistake the help of good friends with the randomness of luck. But I do not concur that "there is no luck in the music business", and I believe it is an unhealthy thing to believe. Of course there is luck in the music business, since the music business is a human affair. We are born with different talents (some of us are e.g. mentally handicapped in various ways), and--to make the point bluntly--to make it in the music business is to some extent a matter of not being mentally handicapped, and therefore a matter of luck.

Failing to recognise the role played by luck in life can--in the worst case--lead to the illusion that "I am solely responsible for my success and failure", which is rubbish. And I can tell from your post that you agree with this.

So, let's recognise that luck plays a HUMONGOUS role in the music business, and let's also recognise that everyone with great friends is, ultimately, very lucky to have them.

June 22 | Unregistered CommenterSome Guy

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