Welcome to my first column. As founder, guitar player, and manager of Twisted Sister (as well as many other artists) for 42 years, I'll be writing about how my basic business sensibilities helped to make the band the worldwide brand and success that it has become.
I'll be posting twice a month, and some posts will be written during our annual worldwide tour. This year, we will be playing in nine countries, to crowds upwards of 80,000. Being both a performer and a manager is very rare, because the skill sets for each are so different. That perspective has given me a greater insight to the relationship between managers and partners. As you'll discover while reading this series, I have never been high on stage, ever. The band looked down on musicians who had a drug or alcohol problem and passed through our lineup. As weird as that may seem, substance abuse has no business in business. Period. Rock 'n' roll is no exception.
This won't just be a column about the music business. The lessons and takeaways will apply to almost any kind of company. I hope you enjoy my experiences and possibly see yourself and learn from what I have experienced.
Finding Your Big Bang Moment
Whether you are an artist or an entrepreneur, your story usually begins with passion, a moment that goes something like this: "The first time I either witnessed, touched, smelled, felt, heard [this object of passion], I just knew that I would do anything, risk anything to be a part of this life..."
That Big Bang moment truly defines you. Most people can tell you the exact date and time that this tsunami of inspiration and passion washed over their brain cells, rendering them helpless to the immutable forces that drive the human spirit.
My Big Bang happened on February 9th, 1964 at 8:03 p.m.
That night, I (and 73 million other Americans) saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show. I was 11 years old, but I emphatically told my mother that I wanted to be a rock 'n' roll star on that very night. Over the next couple of weeks, after reading every Beatle magazine that appeared magically the day after the Sullivan show, my actual goal started to crystallize: I wanted to make great rock 'n' roll music, play to screaming girls, get a gold record, and be a millionaire!
Like many entrepreneurs who are first starting out, I had no idea how any of this was going to happen. I just knew that it had to happen. But achieving your goals not only takes passion, it takes patience.
I did finally get that gold record. It happened in July of 1984, 20 years and five months after I set my goal. It was a long journey, but it taught me every lesson that I ever wanted (and didn't want) to learn, including how to market a brand, how to negotiate deals, how to handle a crisis, and how to manage some big personalities. But without passion, without that Big Bang, I would have never had the drive to get started--or to keep going.