Welcome to the Q&A page on Music Historian’s blog Hear, Let’s Listen. The latest entry on this page relates to the Op-Ed article I published, “Keeping music alive in a time of crisis: How the NY Philharmonic worked with their musicians and audiences.”
Here I share with you questions from some of the 150+ attendees of the webinar “New York Philharmonic – Managing a Crisis,” which Baruch College hosted on Tuesday, March 9th, 2021. These inquiries were collected in advance of the webinar and read to the panelists by a mediator. The panelists who spoke at the webinar, Deborah Borda, Peter May, and Larry Zicklin, provide answers.
Question 1: Given the current situation, what are the challenges and opportunities for future players?
Deborah Borda: [We] are more open to thinking of new ways to make music and effectively manage the product. It is an exciting time to be in arts administration.
Peter May: It is an exciting time to get involved as a volunteer to the board.
Question 2: What steps is the NY Philharmonic taking to get people interested in returning to the hall when it re-opens?
DB: We are asking audience members how comfortable they would feel with returning. What are your concerns? We must reassure people of their safety.
Question 3: What were orchestra members’ feelings a year ago?
DB: Musicians were very worried. Seeing their colleagues from the MET be furloughed, it was our job to reassure them they would keep their pensions, healthcare, and 75% of their base salary.
PM: We were able to maintain our Fall and Lunar New Year Galas to help retain some revenue. Some musicians are also teachers, and they were able to maintain lessons over Zoom. People stayed in communication.
Question 4: When will Larry Zicklin go to a live performance again?
Larry Zicklin: When I feel most comfortable.
Q&A: Sheira Rosenberg, Marketing Communications Professional in the Music and Creative Industry says Passion Trumps Everything
While there are so many ways to be involved on the business side of music – either through marketing, advertising, public relations, media production, sales and promotions, social media, royalties, or copyright laws – those working towards these types of positions will still run into obstacles and challenges.
Personal issues like family and financial matters, sickness, as well as emotions like fear or doubt, or problems of an external nature which nobody can control like miscommunication with team members or a lack of resources within a company which sometimes leads to layoffs of employees will emerge for any developing professional.
Sheira Rosenberg an integrated marketing expert, musician, lover of children and business woman has met many challenges and obstacles throughout her experience in the creative industry. She learned the following lessons which helped her recognize the positives in her career development and move forward: listen to your heart and body; have a good attitude; and never take things personally. At the present moment, Sheira looks forward to continuing her work with CRee8 Group and furthering her motivational speaking and empowerment program, Motiv8: 8 Ways to ROCK Your OWN World.
Reflecting on our conversation for Music Historian’s Q & A segment on Hear, Let’s Listen, the most important lesson I think anybody can learn from a professional like Sheira is passion attracts positive results.
Music Historian: You are an award-winning marketing communications professional who has had extensive experience in music and the creative services, and one of your interests is songwriting. What got you interested in music?
Sheira: I’m classically trained on the piano; [I have been] since the age of 11. I used to play a lot of Mozart and Beethoven. Then, when I was 17 years old, I started to write my own music and orchestrate my own melodies; and years later I found my niche in children’s music.
My husband and I developed a children’s program, and I contributed many songs to that show which ran on Public Television from 2005-2010.
What inspired you to make music and television programming for children?
I’m a huge children lover, especially of my own. We [Sheira and her husband] wanted to create a show that talked more about cultivating life skills in young kids; including honesty, compassion, respect, cooperation. That’s what led to the creation of the show, Dittydoodle Works. All the show’s songs, messages and themes are all based on teaching kids these life skills.
It [The show] had a long and successful run?
Well, yes. We didn’t get it to where we wanted – on PBS National. If your show is on PBS National, then you are hitting 85 million homes; but our program was picked up by APT-American Public Television which means it went from station to station to get added. Although we were able to get it into 30 million homes, we were not able to reach that tipping point.
Now, we are trying to resurrect that program to an online portal. We have good feelings about it.
As a marketing communications specialist, how long did it take you to get ownership of your expertise and talents in a mental and emotional sense?
When I actually found my niche in children’s music – writing all of those songs and seeing people’s responses and reactions to the music and the program – I would say it took a good ten to fifteen years before I was able to make my dream come true. It is a journey and a process. I think you truly have to allow yourself that growth and try not to get discouraged.
You created a richer resume of experiences, and throughout that you carried that love of music with you. I see you worked at CRee8 Group, and at this job, you also took care of social media, branding and collateral, event planning, video production…
My history in the marketing and advertising world has not always focused around music. Sometimes I worked at ad agencies or promotion companies. CRee8 Group was a nice hybrid of music, production, advertising and marketing. We completed work for new talent on the music side. We also worked for clients in health care. Currently, we are developing an incredible online portal for families with special needs children called Abili-TV.
The work for Abili-TV encompasses all of these competencies like marketing, video production, and more. We created the portal from scratch, and it is currently in beta-testing.
People will be able to upload their own content through the UGC (User Generated Content) module. The website will also have original content. This online portal is going to focus on giving families with special needs children every resource they need. They can go directly to this online portal and find everything they need like information on insurance agencies, special teachers, doctors, and schools. Everything a child and their caregiver needs will be on there.
What ‘needs’ will Abili-TV address?
Initially, it will address Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. Eventually, we want Abili-TV to be synonymous with any special needs, disease or sickness, including bulimia, obesity, death, divorce; whatever ails a human being, its resources can be found on Abili-TV.
Do you feel a sense of community and giving back?
Absolutely. One of my main projects right now is a motivational speaking and empowerment program that combines my music and messages. The name of the program is Motiv8: 8 Ways to ROCK Your Own World targeted to teen girls and mothers. I’ve been doing this for a while now, and it is my absolute passion – talking to girls and moms about how to reduce stress, increase awareness and improve the relationship both with themselves and with each other.
This program teaches kids stress reduction techniques. It also teaches kids and their mothers about better communication and de-cluttering the media-minds [everything that young girls see on the big screen that is promoted as physically and behaviorally attractive and acceptable].
Thus far, I have taken it to schools, community centers and libraries. Now, I’m bringing it out to the Long Island Sheraton in Hauppauge on my own on October 20th.
Many individuals look to work on the creative and marketing side within the music industry with a company like CRee8 Group although sometimes they might not have the chance to talk to the right person with experience. It is a difficult industry to get into. What is your thought about this?
It is very difficult. I feel that if you have passion, patience and perseverance then you can definitely make anything happen.
I think passion trumps everything. That is my advice to anybody looking to get into that competitive environment. People feel the passion when you speak about something you know is your purpose in life, and they are drawn to that.
When you were a young girl in the music world, did you ever feel there was a lack of female empowerment?
Yes, 100 per cent. Still, until this day. There is an issue, and it is not really to bash men or society in general. [The issue] is really more about women owning their power, greatness and contributions. Blaming society [and widely accepted ideologies] is easy, but I believe women are amazing.
We should not apologize for being amazing. I think once we speak up and really trust ourselves and have confidence in ourselves that [power and greatness] will translate to the outside world.
[In addition], there is still a tremendous amount of the ‘Boys Club’ in many aspects of society. Yet many women are paving the way and accomplishing great things. Like I said, if you stay focused on what your passion is, then doors will open up for you.
Do you look up to any female artists as role models?
There are several, like Beyonce and Lady Gaga, even artists that were popular a few years ago that are still out there, like Alanis Morissette, and many more. Beyonce embodies that female power. That is why both women and men are drawn to her. She owns what she does.
What were the most powerful lessons you learned in your career development?
Listening to your gut is one of the most important things you can teach anybody.
One of the lessons I have learned, and talk about in my motivational speaking and empowerment program, is how to tell the difference between listening to your gut and being fearful.
When you feel expanded and expansive, and you feel butterflies [in your stomach] because you are excited, some fear might be there when you ask “can I do this?” However, when you are closed and collapsed then you know that this feeling is coming from fear.
I think the most valuable lesson is listening to your heart and body. When you feel open to something, that’s when you know you’re on the right track. Even if signs around you say otherwise; you have to stay focused.
That’s why I teach girls about meditation; it is important for them to be able to hear what is going on inside of them. Often, their inner feelings are cluttered with all that happens in the world, the media, cell phones, their parents, their teachers and their friends. Sometimes people don’t have time in their lives to step back and listen to themselves.
Attitude is also top in my mind: when you have a good attitude, and you give off a vibe that people want to be around.
What were some of the challenges you experienced in your industry?
Stopping to have kids. People just roll along, and [sometimes] don’t have the patience or compassion necessary [to understand]. That took me back a couple of pegs.
Dealing with the collapse of the economy; our show lost funding and that was very difficult. [While] that can feel like falling off a cliff, you have to brush yourself off, mourn the losses and get up and start walking with one foot in front of the other.
People breaking their promises; when we first aired this television show locally in New York it was supposed to be picked up every day by our entry station. Over the years, they never expanded it to every day and that really hurt us. They kept saying they would expand it to every day, but then they broke their promise. That’s what happens, and you have to deal with reality.
Life is always going to throw you, and everybody, curve balls. How you deal with these curve balls, is what matters.
I know what you mean. Sometimes people you work with directly make a promise to you, but for whatever reason, whether it is economical or related to viewership, their boss might decide not to follow through on that promise.
Yup; and do you know what is another truly important lesson? Never take things personally.
Everybody has their own laundry basket of situations they must deal with – their boss, schedule, or problems. So you can learn not to take things personally, especially in the music business, the creative industry, and in your own life in general.
You can repeat to yourself, “they broke their promise,” “I must not be good enough,” or “they did not follow through on something,” or “there must be something wrong with me.” Our minds tend to go to these beliefs that are not true.
Stay true to yourself, and stay on your path. Also be nice and kind, persistent and just persevere.
What are you looking forward to in your future projects?
My vision for myself as a songwriter, an empowerment speaker and a creative person in general is to use my music, messages, and [sense of] humor and presentation skills to impact people in a positive way. I want to help them think differently about themselves and their situations. I want to show them that they have a relationship with themselves.
Many people forget they have a relationship with themselves, and if that is not strong then there is a weak link somewhere.
My hope, my goal, is to make this empowerment speaking program, which has a lot of music incorporated, my full-time career. I also want to be an author, a coach, and to help young girls, women, and moms all around the world.
That is a great endeavor to pursue. I wish you the best.
Thank you very much. Music and young kids have always been a great combination for me. Even though the show [Dittydoodle Works] was not wildly popular, or, I should say, not popular yet; I feel fortunate and blessed that I got to do that children’s program. Now, I’m putting that [passion] into my Motiv8 program. We’ll see what happens from there. I’m feeling good about it!
Q & A: Daylle Deanna Schwartz, author and former rapper talks about the music business, self-love and empowerment
Prior to becoming the founder of the Self-Love Movement™ and the author of How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways, Daylle Deanna Schwartz, first left her mark on the 1980’s music scene in New York City as the first white-female rapper. Shortly after, she would become one of the first women to start her own record label.
When I listened to Daylle’s song, “Girls Can Do” I initially thought, “how charming.” Then I listened with my Music Historian ears, and heard a song that encouraged women to value self-respect and break the feminine stereotypes that lingered in both society and the music industry during the 1980’s. That stereotype being that a woman could not achieve everything she desired without compromising her emotional self, femininity or well-being, especially when it involved music or any profession.
As I personally reflect on my own professional experiences from the past few years, many women today continue to think they need to change themselves in order to get ahead in their careers. I also feel that many women still live with the illusion that personal and professional success is only measureable by material; a belief that causes them to disregard genuine happiness.
As Daylle furthered her experience in the music business, she started to carve room for another passion – writing about self-empowerment for musicians and women. Today, she advises clients on how to manage their own music careers and focuses on growing the Self-Love Movement™.
In my first Q&A segment on Music Historian, I talk to Daylle to find out what she learned about being a woman in the music business, the advice she has for other female professionals, and why her 31 Days of Self-Love Commitment matters.
Music Historian: Tell me about your career as a rapper.
Daylle: During the late 1980’s, I was a teacher, and I remember feeling so bored and creatively stuck. In those times, my students were doing the human beat box in class. I would feel the beat and start to write my own raps.
My students were always rapping in school, and one day they dared me to rap. They would say “you cannot rap because you are a white lady,” but I told them I could rap as well as anybody out there.
In those days, there were no white rappers. This was before 3rd Bass and Vanilla Ice, and the only female rappers before Salt-N-Pepa were Sparky Dee, emcee The Real Roxanne and Roxanne Shante.
Then they [my students] told me I couldn’t rap because I was too old.
How old were you?
I was in my 20’s.
That’s not old by today’s standards.
Yeah, but I was also a teacher. The students would say “we don’t know how old you are, but you must be too old [to be a rapper] because you are a teacher.”
That’s how they assessed me as too old. Although I was in my early twenties, I was perceived as a grown-up. Most rappers typically start when they are teenagers. While they are in school, they build a fan base, then receive a record deal and obtain fame during adulthood.
I wanted to rap to prove a point. I wanted to show my students not to let stereotypes stop them. I didn’t want kids to grow up believing their sex or skin color could stop them.
Eventually, I would go into the streets and rap. At the time, Davy DMX lived in the neighborhood and heard about this “a crazy white teacher rapping.” He sent someone to recruit me, and as soon as I was introduced to him we started working together.
I met Kurtis Blow and a few other rappers. I soon recorded my first record with Davy, “Girls Can Do.” At that time, Kurtis also invited me to come along on his European tour.
In the U.S., mostly Black Americans listened to hip-hop, and it took some time for this music to cross over to different nationalities. Europe had a very different scene. Most of the audience members at the shows Kurtis played on the tour were white kids.
While I was in the UK, I made some contacts, a few great ones and kept in touch with them afterwards. I met a guy who wanted to manage me when I was sure I was going to [professionally] rap. He was the manager for a rock band that was popular in the late 80’s and early 90’s, Fine Young Cannibals.
My manager helped me get onto a few radio shows in the UK and helped me gain a lot of publicity. Unfortunately, though, I couldn’t get signed.
You had all of these fabulous publicity opportunities but still could not get a deal?
Yes, my manager in England eventually said “I give up. They just don’t want a white woman rapper.”
When I returned to the U.S. and to teaching, my students would tell me “You have to shop a deal here.” So I started paying people to shop a deal for me, but they took my money and did not do anything.
Is that when you decided to do Revenge Productions?
My students followed the story, and they would say “You have to get your revenge on them; they’re ripping you off…” That’s when I started Revenge Productions and then Revenge Records.
Revenge Productions and Revenge Records did quite well. I released “Girls Can Do” under this label, and DJs picked up on it, and the song sold, and I got distribution for my label.
Getting ripped off and losing money eventually taught me that I was doing the business all wrong. Then I started doing it right.
Part of my “revenge” stemmed from the fact that people tried to take advantage of me. I also had a mentor that was a very powerful man. He had told my father he would take good care of me. After that though, he tried to rape me. That made me more determined to succeed on my own without having to give up my body.
[The music industry] was very misogynistic then. Every woman that went to a music conference wore a skirt up to the top of her thighs and a blouse buttoned down to her navel. Many women were using their bodies to get ahead.
Although I am not sure whether I was the “first” woman to start her own label, in those days, I never met another woman that started her own record company. I knew women that created labels with their husbands like Monica Lynch who was married to Tommy Silverman and she started Tommy Boy Records with him. I did it all by myself, and that was another reason I had difficulty being taken seriously as a business woman.
Since being nice did not get me anywhere I started to be aggressive and tough. People did not like me, and I did not like myself either. I had to learn to manage myself in a way where men could take me seriously without having to act like a perennial bitch. In fact, many of my lessons in my book Nice Girls Can Finish First come from my experience learning to carry myself in a way in which people would like me and also know that I meant business.
Many young professionals today continue to struggle with finding a position that will make them feel empowered. Sometimes they think that in order to obtain that appropriate role, they have to change. What do you say to this?
I focus on this a lot in my writing. Women often feel like they have to play on a man’s level and usually that does not work. Men don’t like women that act like men. While several men might easily be excused for behaving abrasively and aggressively, yelling and screaming, and using inappropriate language; a woman that behaves in this manner is not accepted. A woman has to walk that fine line between asserting herself and making sure people still like her.
Women also have trouble separating doing favors for people and charging money for their services. A young professional, for example, may know how to build a website, but everybody wants to have one created for free. Many women struggle with saying “this is my livelihood and I get paid for it.” I see this happen all the time.
In my personal experiences, I hear from individuals trying to break into the music industry or write a book, and they will approach me and ask me to read their manuscript. I will say “all right, here is my fee…”
Women must always remember they needs to understand there is a personal and business side of themselves.
In addition, many young women who cannot obtain that one position that will empower them actually start their own opportunities. However, even the most entrepreneurial individual might be afraid of not making enough money, being creatively restricted or coming to a dead end job. What do you say about these fears?
If you face your fears, they go away. It is a matter of passion, drive and desire. You have to want it [that position, job, record deal, raise, etc.] bad enough to face your fears.
In my book I Don’t Need a Record Deal, I ask many people “Do you truly want to do music or do you want to be a rock star?”
Sometimes you cannot always do what you want, especially in the beginning. I will advise musicians “play a couple of weddings and Bar Mitzvahs because it’s really good money.” I received responses like “I don’t want to play covers” and I [rhetorically] ask “isn’t that better than waiting tables?”
Whether it involves singing back-up at someone’s gigs, going on tour, being a music teacher, or playing on someone else’s tour, musicians have many opportunities to earn money. They might not be making their own music, but they are still getting paid to do music, practice, sing or play, and they have the chance to meet people.
This also applies to people searching for any careers. Some company presidents start in the mailroom of that company. For them, that’s where they learn about the business, and that’s where it all begins.
Many of the musicians I interview on Music Historian have second jobs to support themselves; whether it is teaching, singing at weddings, or a second profession.
Music has always received a reputation as a tough career choice. But now that I think about it, there is something difficult about every career path.
Absolutely, you have to earn a living. I never tell anybody not to earn a living. You must willingly give up certain things in order to enjoy the things you love, and you have to make time for what you actually want to do.
If you want to tour, you have to give up your free time to dothat on the weekends, even if you have a day job. You might dedicate your vacation to touring instead of simply enjoying yourself.
Since writing is my passion, I make time to write. Every time I travel, I take my laptop along. I schlep it everywhere I go. On vacation, whether I am at the beach or in the mountains, I take that time to write peacefully. There is nothing else I want to do except off-shoots of my writing, like speaking.
Since we are on the subject of your writing, tell me a little more about the 31 Days of Self-Love Commitment on your site HowDoILoveMe.com.
I founded The Self-Love Movement™. I grew up a doormat and felt immensely unhappy and disempowered. I hated myself growing up [for several reasons]. I didn’t think I was good enough because I was not slim.
When I was in middle school, and elementary school, every student had to be weighed in gym class. That to me was traumatic because the teachers would call out everybody’s weight. Since I am big-boned, my weight sounded gigantic to everyone else. Everyone teased and laughed at me the moment they heard my weight.
That started it, I just felt so big and fat, and this made me set limits for myself. I never talked to the cute guys because I didn’t think I was worthy enough.
I never honestly liked myself for years. Then in my adulthood, I started building good self-esteem by doing music and being successful. I began to be kinder to myself, and that motivated me to take care of myself.
I built self-love through showing myself kindness, and doing nice things for me that made me feel good. This included exercise or doing something I have always wanted to do. By saying “no” to someone, you are saying “yes” to yourself. As a result, I created the 31 Days of Self-Love Commitment, a pledge to do something kind for yourself for 31 day.
I launched The Self-Love Movement™ in the Fall of 2012 and have given away almost 10,000 copies of my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways, so far.
Do you hope to take on any additional projects in the future?
My eventual goal is to get The Self-Love Movement™ program into colleges. I have many Self-Love ambassadors. Now I’m looking to recruit young self-love ambassadors that are involved in sororities and student unions at their schools. I believe they can encourage other students and their colleagues to sign the 31 days of Self-Love Commitment.
These young self-love ambassadors will go to a representative stationed next to a computer, and they will sign their name digitally. Afterward, they will receive a pass code within an email. They can then go onto the website, HowDoILoveMe.com and enter this code to download a free copy of the book.
I feel that self-love can really help the many students experiencing depression, eating disorders, or thoughts of suicide.
I am also working on the plans for a video that will spread the word about the movement. I plan to use Hoobastank’s song “The Reason.” At the moment in the video when the following chorus is sung I found a reason for me/ to change who I used to be/ a reason to start over new/ and the reason is you, the actors in the video pick up mirrors and see themselves. I’m working on getting sponsorship, and I am really excited about finding someone that will make the video for me.
Based on your research, why do you think people have a difficult time loving themselves?
We don’t learn to put ourselves first or to feel worthy. A majority of this stems from childhood. They receive a lot of criticism when they are young and don’t feel accepted. They might not feel good enough, or they might not get what they want because their parents withheld what they desired.
Dysfunctional childhoods come in many forms, and children usually grow up not loving themselves. In my case, body image issues played a role. And many women experience this issue.
I have women in my workshops often saying they need to lose weight even though they are slender. I’m just astounded. I see women that constantly exercise at the gym or resort to eating disorders to stay thin.
I actually interviewed a model for my book, and she expressed to me, “If you want to know how lousy you could feel about yourself, try being a model and then having your picture airbrushed because your body is not good enough.” You can be slender and think you look really good. Then, they [the editors] air brush you. [Often] we compare ourselves to images that are not even real.
Many women feel happiness is based on having a lot, whether it is money, food, many beautiful physical features, a ton of things…
It’s a band aid. Feeling the need to make a lot of money, overeat, or overspend is a band aid. They look to soothe themselves with food, or overspend on retail therapy. And the same applies for guys too.
I knew this one man years ago who would work from 8 in the morning until 8 in the evening. One day, he came to my office very late because he was busy all day completing jobs for other people. While he was working on my computer, he was constantly answering his phone and making appointments for later in the evening.
I asked him “is this your every day?” and he said “yes. I just run from one place to another.” I asked “why?” He made decent money, and he was exhausting himself.
Then, he opened his bag and inside he owned every tech toy. “I need to have the latest smart phone, laptop, iPad, I need to have it…” he explained. Again, I asked “why?” He just looked at me and said “because I have to.”
I thought to myself, “You are one unhappy guy.”
Finally, how do you define success?
If you are happy with what you are doing, that’s success. It also means doing something meaningful and satisfying for you.
Personally, I think I will feel successful getting the word out and the message across further about The Self-Love Movement™. Having a happy life is success.