Music + Technology + Random Nonsense from the Music Industry by Ethan Kaplan, VP Product, Live Nation

2011: the year that was

This was an odd year. One of those transitional years along the likes that I haven’t had since the year I met Amy, started Grad School and got engaged (2002 that was).

It began like this.

WBR Parking lot, 1-28-11

I started my job at WBR in 2005 thinking, correctly, that it was a dream come true. The four years I spent as a part of Warner Bros. Records were among my best in my life. Every day I came into work with the task being “what can we invent today to make this amazing music we have even better for more people?” I had the job of inventing the future for music, and what could be more fun?

The fifth year at WMG was not as fun. I left after that. On January 28 I pulled my car out of the WBR parking lot for the last time, my car loaded with the remainder of my personal belongings and started what would end up being a longer “vacation” than I intended.

Here in are the highlights of the time between then and now.

Collapse into Now

What would be their final record, and the final one I worked for them. I was in the studio for the final days of the recording and mixing, and I heard all but one song. Here is my reaction upon hearing it.

My reaction after hearing Überlin for the first time.

The album was released in April. I listened to it constantly up to its release, as its 41 minutes of length made a perfect four mile run. At some point I realized that this was a swan song, and the record upset me too much to listen to anymore. I’m over that now.

February, in Kid Rock’s House with Rick Rubin

I played him back Collapse Into Now

Playing Collapse Into Now back to Rick Rubin



SXSW was interesting this year as I was unemployed (and yet promised to someone). I had fun, and it was the last time I was with R.E.M. as a full band together.


My uncle and aunt and my family went to Hawaii for a week and a half. My cousin was nearly a year old, and Eli nearly 2.

Eli and Leah

Begin the Begin

In July or so, I started working on a project. That project became a “job” of sorts in August and around then, the company I had promised myself to started having discussions with another company which now employs me. Complicated, yes. In the end, August, September, October, November and December were spent planning, programming, researching and writing. A fruitful and productive time.

Midway through this two things happened that made some of the good in the way of things diminish.

One was R.E.M. and two was Steve Jobs.

R.E.M. Calls it a Day

I have been an R.E.M. fan longer than I have not. I have been the R.E.M. fan for half as long as I’ve been on the planet earth. I knew the day that did come was coming, but it still caught me unprepared. I had an e-mail from their manager asking me to call him first thing in the morning. I did and he told me the news a few minutes before the website posted it.

I sent off a text to Mike, Michael and Peter saluting them on a great run, and thanking them for letting me be a small part of it for the last 15 years, and then dealt with the website, press, etc.

It’s difficult to put into words what that day meant to me, because it would seem to be over exaggerated to some, and it trivializes it to me. It reads oddly to tell people “I have dedicated a large portion of my life to the expression of fanaticism for a band,” and yet, that’s the truth. When they cease to be, a portion of my life goes with it.

In the end: I have great friends in the band, their staff and amongst fans. I credit the work I did with and for them with more than I can summarize in a blog post, and I know that they did what was right, not what was easy or expected. For 31 glorious years.

Steve Jobs

Another day we knew was coming. I have no need to lionize the man, nor excuse what he did and didn’t do during his lifetime. We are all allowed heroes, no matter how flawed, and their passing takes a part of us that was to their credit with them, however small or large that part may be.

And Now 2012

It is nearly 2012 now. Lets show those kids how to do it fine. Fine.

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