This is it. The week of the 2018 Winter NAMM show in beautiful Anaheim, California! We're packing our bags and leaving on a jet plane. Don't know if we'll be back again (oh we will, trust me). But wait, how did we get here? How did Octave Media get from its roots as a side gig to attending the largest event for music merchants? It's time for a trip down Penny Lane, er, Memory Lane.
Before I was a marketing geek, I was a band geek.
That's right Tom Sawyer. This God awful story takes us back as far as when I started out on the snare drum in 5th beginner band (damn that snare case was heavy for a kid my size). I thought I was the coolest thing on two legs. I knew it was just a matter of time before the 6th grade girls were clamoring for a drum solo so they could scream and faint.
Once I figured out the 6th grade girls didn't know who I was, I got over that part of my fantasy and moved onto the drum set. It turned out I wasn't half bad and was hired as the only drummer in our grade school (without pay, typical musician style).
In 7th grade my parents bought me my first drum set. You see, up to that point I only had the school's kit, and it was kind of falling apart. Especially when I would shred those awesome Mike Portnoy-style beats (cough).
In 8th grade I was progressing more and more into musician lifestyle mode. I was the first dude in my class to get his ear pierced (you rebel you!), despite having to take it out daily as part of the private school dress code (major fail kiddo). I started taking private lessons from a couple of different instructors at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and a private in-home instructor. All in all, they gave me a great foundation for honing my craft and how to bounce a tennis ball with fancy wrist motions (drumstick exercise).
To wrap this up quickly so you don't fall asleep, in high school I was first chair for our section, drummer for the pep band, marching band, pit band, jazz band, and concert band (because our high school was kinda small), competed several times in the annual Solo Ensemble competition, and was a member of 2 rocks bands (Overlive - 2000; Planet of 9 - 2003) and a live performance band for Australian R&B artist Felicia Alima (2009, super fun).
Last but not least, I am honored to have become an active member of the Madison music community. In 2004, I made my first connections in the music scene, and it led me to become involved with a then-active local music newspaper, join the board of directors for the newly founded Madison Area Music Association, and take the reigns for the Madison Area Music Awards' front of house, live streaming and red carpet events. Since 2009, we've tried to make these experiences closely mimic the glitz and glamor of any major Hollywood award show so that local artists can have their time in the spotlight too.
DJ, bring that beat back to inbound marketing
Now for the marketing throwback (holla!). In high school I took an interest in website development when a fellow classmate showed me that he was building the first website ever for our high school. IT. WAS. DA. SHIZZLE. (can you hear the coolness leaving my body?)
From there I helped with some of the work for the high school site, as well as started working on small business websites around my hometown, including a credit union, a lawyer, a pool cue maker, and an insurance agent. Not to mention my high school rock band's website. The era of freelancing had begun.
I moved to Madison, Wisconsin after graduation to go to college and eventually earned my no-longer-useful Bachelor's Degree in Computer Information Systems. Once I came to the realization that software development wasn't in my DNA I stuck with the web development jobs, both freelance and full time.
In 2013, I was a web developer on a small marketing team for a pharmaceutical company and was sucked into a project to help learn this new fangled concept called inbound marketing. We were tasked with evaluating different marketing platforms that we could then present to management and give our recommendation as to which one to purchase. We ended up selecting the HubSpot platform, and life has never been the same.
Since that happily fateful time, I have been blessed to be able to attend HubSpot's annual INBOUND conference in Boston three times, became inbound and HubSpot certified (with more certifications coming this year!), and converted my long-time freelance business into an inbound marketing agency.
Things were on the up and up, or so I thought (insert dramatic soundtrack here).
2017: the year the universe dropped "a beat" on my life
December 14, 2016, 12:10pm. A date and time I won't soon forget.
Bad news: we have to lay you off. (bass drop)
Good news: there was a silver lining.
My lifelong dream was able to get a chance. My passion was able to sprout legs. The universe had just given me a blessing in disguise. It just took a good part of 2017 to fully realize it.
My wife and I got up, dusted ourselves off, made some changes, made our household work within its new boundaries, and got through the year with a whole new outlook on life and a feeling that we could do anything we put our minds to:
Exhibit A: My wife advocated for a new position to be created within her company for over a year and she just started in that role at the beginning of the year. (such a proud husband)
Exhibit B: Our kids didn't notice the turmoil that was happening.
Exhibit C: I was given many blessings in the form of the tech, music, business and startup communities in Madison. I met a lot of people who have been helpful, supportive and guided me through the muddy waters. Towards the end of 2017, I was given an opportunity to come a perfect circle and give back to an industry that had played a major role in my musical upbringing: the music retail industry.
The Winter NAMM Show: A Dream Come True
The pieces really started coming together for Octave Media when we decided to get some help from a business coach to help steer us and get us on the right track. That sole decision led us to carve out a better niche and get back to our musical roots.
Once I realized that my past decision to name the agency Octave had something to do with who I should be helping and serving, all the floodgates opened and the puzzle pieces started to fall into place. We were home.
My wife and I are both lifelong musicians, piano and drums. While we aren't going to force it on our children, we hope they decide to love the art of playing as much as we do someday. The return to music in both business and hobby gives a sense of comfort and hope.
2018 is starting out a thousand times better than 2017 did. Let's do this NAMM. I'll see you soon.