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How a contemporary composer I randomly met unknowingly led me to start a successful company.

In the spring of 2008 I was a junior in college and the main thing going on in my life was playing in a rock band with my friends. One especially exciting weekend, my bandmate Ben and I were driving from Cleveland to Williamstown, MA to play a big show at Williams College. En route however, we had lined up some time to stop by a major recording studio in New York City called Clinton Recording Studios (RIP) to be considered for internships for the summer. We arrived outside the studio but our contact there said he needed more time because Yo-Yo Ma was recording and going over-time. We needed to wait somewhere close by and Ben had a cousin who was working as a line cook at a restaurant called Esca, just a few blocks from the studio. We headed to Esca to hang at the bar.

As per usual when we'd kill time, Ben and I ended up talking music. Since at the time we were each deep in music history classes at school, we were talking about pretty esoteric, OLD music. I don't remember exactly what we were discussing but probably something in-between Gregorian Chants and Einstein on the Beach, and that was enough to get the attention of the gentleman sitting next to us. The stranger jumped in and started enlightening us to a number of aspects about the pieces we're discussing that we hadn't learned about. The three of us proceed to nerd out on everything from the romantic era to the The Talking Heads and it's a lot of fun. When we finally ask who he is, it turns out he's an acclaimed contemporary downtown composer named Mikel Rouse. Cool! Eventually we leave for our interviews at Clinton, head up to MA, and prior to crashing in the hotel I friend Mr. Rouse on MySpace (remember MySpace?). With no expectation that meeting him would provide any relevance to the rest of my life, I go to bed.

Fast forward to the fall of 2008. Now I'm a senior in college. A senior who majored in music in college. I knew I needed to spend most of my time finding a job for after graduation.

The majority of my time on campus during those college years I spent cooped up in a recording studio. So it made sense to me to find a job in the audio/production world. But I had spent the summer of '08 interning for a major Manhattan recording studio (not Clinton) and realized that many of the people that end up working in that environment just weren't happy people. So I thought I'd take a look at post-production instead. I applied to intern/work/whatever at every reputable mastering house in NYC. No one responded.

I had thought I ran out of leads when one bored night I went back on good old MySpace and saw that I was still friends with Mikel Rouse. I decided to look him up and saw that he had his own writing studio in Manhattan. I looked up the address and noticed that on Google Maps there's another business located in the same building called "Vault Mastering". I look up that business and lo and behold, it's another Mastering House I hadn't yet applied to! Amazing. I read the bio of the principal engineer and he just so happens to have the same alma mater as my school, The Cleveland Institute of Music, and interned at the same company while in school as I did, Telarc International! I was furious that my school hadn't already connected me to him, but that's a different rant. I contacted the engineer, and got an interview for my next visit to NY. Long story short, he couldn't afford to hire me, but very kindly introduced me to a very successful mastering engineer who had just purchased a legendary mastering house, Masterdisk. I got an interview at Masterdisk and was accepted! Second semester of my senior year hadn't even started yet and I had a job lined up. Mission accomplished.

You're Going to Be the One Doing it Anyway

On Tynan

When I was a kid, my parents would tell me to do something reasonable like clean my room. I'd probably do it, or at least make a token effort. Sometimes I wouldn't do it, and my mom would do it for me. Or maybe I'd be out at school and she'd be sick of me having a messy room, so she'd just clean it without asking me to do it first. In school I'd be assigned stuff to do. Usually I'd do it, but when I didn't, there weren't really any consequences. I'd get worse grades, but the impact of one assignment on a grade always seemed so tiny, and I never really cared about grades beyond not getting in trouble with my parents.

I got used to the idea that if I was supposed to do something, but didn't do it, it didn't really matter. Maybe someone else would just do it for me, or maybe the problem would just go away. There are probably a million different reasons that people procrastinate, but this was probably the biggest one for me. It wasn't that I thought that I would prefer to do something later-- it's that I sort of subconsciously thought that if I didn't do it now, maybe I'd never have to do it.

In real life, though, this isn't how things work. If I don't do something right now that needs to get done, then I'm going to need to do it later.

I remember the first time I came face to face with this. Two thousand three was the first year I made a significant amount of money gambling online. I think it may have also been the first year my parents stopped filing taxes for me. They told me to take care of my taxes and even told me how to take care of them. April fifteenth came around, and I kept thinking about how I should realy get to those taxes, knowing I wasn't actually going to do them. On the sixteenth, taxes felt just like a missed assignment. Too late to do anything about it now!

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