"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

5 Questions with author Tom Sturges

1. You've published two great books about parenting. Tell us about your new book Every Idea Is A Good Idea? You talked to a lot of people for this, right?

EVERY IDEA IS A GOOD IDEA is a book about Creativity.  It profiles the methods and techniques of some of the many writers and artists I have worked with, who I signed, or whose story is legend.  Although I spoke with and interviewed many famous people, not every big name got dropped because not everyone knows exactly what happens when they create.  I also look back over the years to describe the process of some of the greatest creators who ever lived, including Mozart and Beethoven and Michelangelo.

2. Getting the most out of creative people came in handy when you were president of Chrysalis Records. What was the best and worst thing about the music industry at that time?

I was actually President of Chrysalis Music, the publishing arm of the Chrysalis Group here in the USA.   These were great years in the industry, and I signed some amazing talent, including Smashing Pumpkins, Outkast and Goodie Mob, Slaughter, Green Jelly, and Tripping Daisy, among many others.  Not usually mentioned was one of my favorite misses, Billy Bizeau, an artistic muse who never achieved his due.  The key to running any successful business, now or then, is to surround yourself with the most creative and talented people you can find and afford, and then letting them do what they do best, whether songwriters, artists, producers or executives.

3. You teach a course at UCLA on the Music Business Now. From the outside looking in, it would seem the adaptable are the ones who survive. Is the model always changing?
Creativity is a disruptive force.  It changes the status quo, in every setting.   Think about how the automobile changed the world when it arrived, how the telephone completely altered the way we communicate with each other, how television changed the way we look at each other and the events that shape our lives.  But nothing has been more disruptive (and amazing) than the internet.  It's effect on the music business was to destroy the distribution model and the marketing and promotion protocols that had been in use for the previous fifty years.  Only the companies and artists that were able to adapt to its complete takeover have been successful.  We teach our students that change is not only the norm, it is the inevitable.

4. Who are the  creative people that inspire you?
I am easily inspired.  It might be a sidewalk artist recreating the Mona Lisa with chalk or my son playing me a new song he's just written.  But at the same time I am struck by the nature of creativity flowing during difficult times in the life of the person creating.  When in doubt about that fact, I listen to the later Mozart symphonies (39, 40 and 41), which are not only masterworks of creativity and harmony and melody, but arrived during the most stressful and financially painful times of his life.  I also find the single vision of a writer like Paul Simon to be a constant inspiration and the fact that he does it on his own, without collaborators, without co-writers, without any external pressure but his own will to leave his mark, leaves me awe-struck. 

5. The book is just landing now. What projects are on the horizon?

I have already finished my next book, a semi-autobiographical noire-ish memoir about how to break up or divorce and stay friends with your ex.  I also wrote a children's book about dogs that figure out how to communicate with their owners.  And I’m working with a writer in the UK on a project about my father's last ten years on this earth, as told through his plays and screenplays, and the letters he wrote to my mother during this period.  

Tom Sturges discusses and signs Every Idea Is a Good Idea on Friday, September 26th at 7pm.

Each purchase of Every Idea Is a Good Idea enters you into a raffle to win one of two signed and cancelled checks from film legend Preston Sturges!

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