My New Gig


I am sure many reading this would agree 2020 has been quite challenging. It has been a crazy and (at times) exhausting year. Personally, things have been a bit more hectic as I relocated from AZ to FL to start my new gig with Virgin Voyages as their Manager – Music Production & Operations.


The cruise industry was not on my radar when I was looking for the next chapter in my career. Having worked on ships as a musician and later operating as a booking partner for all the major lines. I just didn’t feel that the cruise industry aligned with my goals. I was looking to create something new in the live music industry and in my opinion that doesn’t happen too often at sea. But when I came across the gig listed for Virgin Voyages it caught me as different. I felt compelled to apply and I am lucky that I did.


My enthusiasm to hit the high seas quickly elevated as I made my way through their interview process, spoke with their team, and learned about the Virgin culture. If you don’t know, Virgin got its start as a record club on the streets of London.  Shortly after, they opened a recording studio called The Manor, which morphed into a record label. Their first release Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield would eventually become the theme for the 1974 classic The Exorcist. In 1977, Branson himself convinced The Sex Pistols to join Virgin and together they dropped a piece of Punk Rock history called Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols.


When you join the Virgin namesake you quickly witness the correlation between their early days as a record label and what the (dare I say) conglomerate has become today. One where it doesn’t matter if you create progressive cinematic rock like Oldfield, screamed for anarchy like Johnny Rotten, or are made up of an eclectic group fronted by an openly Irish gay man like the Culture Club. If the product is good and you care deeply about it, Virgin has your back.


And so here I am. A Virgin employee getting ready to help launch our first ship – The Scarlet Lady with two more visible on the horizon. I am surrounded and supported by some of the most driven and intelligent cruise and non-cruise people in the game. The excitement of what we are creating is powerful. It has motivated me to reclaim my passion for music in ways I never thought the cruise industry could provide.

Never Stop Learning

Note: The following article is copied from my LinkedIn feed. Follow me by clicking here

While on, what I call a drumming sabbatical, in 2005. I traveled four to five hours by bus every month from Berlin, NH to Boston, MA to study with legendary drummer Kenwood Dennard.

The hour-long events turned out to be MUCH more than just lessons on how to become a better drummer. Kenwood is a highly spiritual individual who views drumming, and the world around him, in a very metaphysical way. After each lesson, I would ride home for four hours in a state of intellectual brain drain.

After reviewing my homework from our first interaction during our second lesson, he explained his grading system something like this.

If you prepare accordingly and nail the parts, I will give you a 90. If you prepare accordingly but present the material in a new unique way, say use your feet instead of your hands. I will give you a 95. The only way you will get 100% is if President Bush calls me up and says. “Jeremy’s drumming was so good that I am pulling the troops out of Iraq and declaring world peace.”

At the surface, Kenwood’s grading system seems comical, but I assure you it is not. Rather, it is an important life lesson – you ALWAYS have room for improvement and you should be striving to better yourself every day.

I have carried that lesson with me across oceans and careers. I pushed myself as a drummer bettering my technique, knowledge of music, and reading ability even writing my own book in the process. And while I no longer drum professionally, I still hit the kit six to seven days a week working on these skills.

As for my career as an entertainment and venue manager, I continue to study. I read books on everything from leadership to sociology, marketing, management, and finance every day. I watch YouTube videos on stage design, rigging, sound, and lighting among other subjects. I use LinkedIn’s premium service to study new skills in areas such as Machine Learning, Tableau, and Executive Leadership. I even spend ten to thirty minutes a day learning Spanish.

It was reported that when one of the greatest leaders of our time, President Theodore Roosevelt passed away. They found a book under his pillow. A man who is the only president to receive both the Nobel Peace Prize and the Medal of Honor was still learning up until his last breath. While I would NEVER compare myself to Teddy, I encourage those reading this to not dismiss the power of being a lifelong learner. You may not change the course of history as he did. However, you WILL change the course of your life.

There is Some Truth in “Fake” News.

Early on in my career, I worked for a Pulitzer Prize winning editor. This was before the 24-hour news cycle and the Internet. Howard James was a brutal boss for his reporters, because he demanded perfection and absolute impartiality in our reporting – core tenants of the prize he earned. While working for Howard, I watched the news industry radically change as we ushered in the use of computers, digital film, and eventually the internet.  With the introduction of this technology, we watched the news-cycle speed up to the point that decisions constantly needed to be made regarding the balance between thoroughly vetting a story versus “scooping the competition.” This problem continued to compound with the rise of 24-hour news stations and fast-moving online and social sources. In addition, the low barriers to entry for online participants led to increased competition looking to upend established news brands, which has led to organizations looking for other competitive advantages such as focusing on, and adjusting their messaging towards, targeted demographics.


Over-time this has led to nearly all news organizations adjusting their messages to appeal to the particular demographic they seek to capture. Put simply, all sources of news are biased in one form or another, so, yes, “fake news” does exist and you cannot escape it.


To survive, news outlets must make money and that money comes from advertising. Advertisers pay to reach a specific target demographic and are willing to pay more for the more viewers within those characteristics that agency can provide. This is the lifeblood of any news organization (even NPR, but in a different income model). As such and to remain relevant, the business will put in place persons to adjust its programming to grab as many persons as they can in a targeted demographic. This leads to two forms of bias.  Number one is the “voice” of the organization. E.g. Fox News skews right while CNN swings left. The second comes from “speed bias” where competing stations seek to break a story first. This is nothing new in the news business.  However, the speed at which we disseminate information today is so rapid that it requires many organizations to break stories without all the facts and, perhaps more importantly, without thoroughly investigating the opposing view. Why would they anyway? It could alienate their core demographic (e.g. their purse).  


Ultimately, this means that we are typically only getting half the story at any given time no matter how much each organization touts their “unbiased” views. The current economics of the news industry prevent that, so take a note from this old reporter. Always, and I repeat ALWAYS, get both sides of the picture before you make your judgment. For you Fox folks, that means watching some CNN and for you CNN folks. Watch some Fox news. Just like Howard James taught me, you must remain impartial. More than ever, it is up to the consumer to investigate the information being presented and cast their own final judgment with the understanding that their preferred source does contain, at least some, bias.

Capitalism isn’t a dirty word.

Marx believed that capitalism was purely negative and that it fed the bourgeoisie graciously at the hands of the proletariat. This made sense when he and Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto in 1848. They had yet to see how capitalism would (and continues) to evolve into a driver for social change.

1.1% of United Airlines‘ stock (or $255 million) was lost today, because consumers demanded vengeance due to the Airline’s unacceptable behavior stemming from how they forcefully removed a customer when they overbooked a flight from Chicago to Louisville days before.

Had the government intervened, it would have taken years for this issue to be resolved. Millions would have been spent in lawyer’s fees, regulation changes, committee building, and analysis. However, only a very small percentage would have been paid by the airline in any type of “punitive”damages.

Instead, the company got flogged publicly on social media and lost millions in market cap overnight, which forced the major airline’s hand to “make things right” not just for the man forcefully ejected, but a new breed of consumer. One who demands fair trade coffee, responsibly sourced salmon, and their brethren to fly home without being bloodied by some corporate bully.

Modern day MBA courses spend a lot of time explaining the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility and this is why. Today, the business world moves too fast. One seemingly small error, or worse a hiccup in accepting responsibility and efficiently correcting the wrong, can quickly become a global phenom. And with markets just as fast, that word-of-mouth on crack will transform into social justice.

This is something that Engels and Marx didn’t have to deal with in the late 1800s and while there is still much room for improvement. The proletariat do have a weapon to knock the bourgeoisie off their high horse, which will continue to enhance the capitalist relationship amongst classes.


Reflections in the Ocean


I celebrated my Christmas weekend of 2016 with my family at St. Augustine Beach in Florida. Since the holiday is also my birthday, I get to choose where we spend our annual family time. Having lived on the sea for years, I feel a unique pull to the surf and take any chance I can to get back to those crashing waves, so this year I chose that we hit the beach.

I believe humans are drawn to the sea because of what it represents…life. Great tales have been written about brave men facing the ocean since the adoption of the written word. Homer gave us the Odyssey. Hemingway wrote The Old Man and the Sea and no list would be complete without Melville’s Moby Dick. All of these tales share a similar thesis. They are stories of men challenging what the sea, or better yet…life, is throwing at them. Each sets sail on a journey through uncharted waters seeking to find their own sense of being, accomplishment, and truth. Their success hinging on an understanding that they do not know what may lie ahead and the confidence to overcome obstacles that will undoubtedly exist in both calm and rough waters.

During my ship time, I remember we would sail for days on end and never see land, a bird, or another ship. Much like life, we could go in any direction we wanted. We just never really knew what would lie ahead in our course. The surf could be calm or it could rise-up as if it were trying to force us in another direction. Life is like this as well. You have so many choices of which way you shall live, but each carries with it its own unique risks and rewards. It is up to you regarding how long you shall stay that particular course, choose to re-navigate, or if you will give up and let the current take you away.


It is the last day of my birthday weekend and I am sitting on an empty beach as a storm rolls in. I must be stuck in its eye, because the beach has disappeared into the rainy darkness both to my right and left.  The only clear site is the ocean in front of me. It looks so peaceful framed against the approaching storm. Yet, despite the apparent calm path at my bow the cool gray waves continue to crash on the shore and then return to the deep.

It is as if the sea is reminding me that even though the course ahead looks the clearest. There will always be challenges on my journey. The waves will never stop. It is only up to me what kind of captain I shall become and which course I am willing to sail.

May you all navigate your own success in 2017 and in the process find your own truth.