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The Amazing Race for The Amazing Race

Wow. This has got to be one of my all time best stories.

On Wednesday night I was talking to my good friend Jonah and was telling him about the show "The Amazing Race", and how I wanted to apply this year. Jonah and I have gone on a lot of trips together and somehow don't grate on each other's nerves at all. I have a lot of respect for him and his abilities, so I thought he'd be a perfect partner for The Amazing Race. For those of you who don't know about this tv-tastic gem, it's basically a race / scavenger hunt around the world.

I meandered to the application site, downloaded the application, and began to check out the requirements. Guess when the due date for the tape was? Friday at 5pm, which meant that we had one day to create a 3 minute video, fill out the two 11 page applications and get some passport sized photos taken. Not one to back down from a challenge due to complete lack of time, I convinced Jonah to get on board.

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

On Music Lessons w/Marc Plotkin

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.

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