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VOL. 126 | NO. 70 | Monday, April 11, 2011

‘Glass Half Full’

Crow brings message of empowerment to LPBC

By Andy Meek

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The Nashville-area recording studio Robin Crow created has played host to such marquee acts as Faith Hill, Neil Diamond, Jewel and Taylor Swift. It’s where the band Matchbox 20 will be recording soon.

Motivational speaker, author and entrepreneur Robin Crow speaks to the Memphis Music Foundation on Thursday, as part of a visit sponsored by the Lipscomb & Pitts Breakfast Club.
(Photo: Lance Murphey)

And it served as Exhibit A in the message of empowerment that Crow – a recording artist, author and motivational speaker – brought to attendees of a reception Thursday night at the Memphis Music Foundation and to a few hundred business leaders Friday morning at the Lipscomb & Pitts Breakfast Club.

The short version of the story: Crow was 39, and he had just been dropped from his record label. He was, in his words, “too old to rock and too young to die.”

Getting from that point to the development of his Dark Horse Recording Studios in the 1990s and to its establishment as a go-to facility for some of the biggest talent in the industry is among the stories he tells to audiences around the world, sometimes as frequently as once a week.

He did it in Memphis at the end of last week as the featured speaker at April’s Lipscomb & Pitts Breakfast Club, the popular monthly series sponsored by the Memphis insurance company.

And despite coming from the world of music charts and recording artists and the bright lights of celebrity, Crow brought a presentation that nevertheless resonated with the business leaders he met in Memphis.

Their stories – and his – are about seizing the day, avoiding the status quo, exceeding expectations and getting the job done, all of which are key themes he shared.

In his industry, those themes are now more important than ever.

Pointing to the Internet and especially YouTube and similar services, he noted, “You’ve now got the ability to create something that five minutes later everyone in the world can see.”

Crow said it’s resulted in an industry that’s less monolithic than ever before, where the decision makers are all now looking for “that one Tiger Woods winner at the top.”

Robin Crow, right, speaks to Chip Forrester as part of a visit sponsored by the Lipscomb & Pitts Breakfast Club.

(Photo: Lance Murphey)

Visible Music College founder Ken Steorts asked Crow at the Thursday night reception what makes a businessperson who speaks the language of the bottom line want to take a chance on investing in a musician – especially an unproven one.

The school Steorts founded is a music and worship arts college that seeks to create those very artists.

“People love the idea they can be a part of something extraordinary,” Crow said in response.

At the same time, he pointed to industry trends like the rise of the digital age making it possible to turn unknowns into worldwide superstars faster than ever before. He used that to make the point that now is a great time for musicians to embrace business-oriented concepts like branding and marketing.

“It’s definitely a glass-half-full syndrome,” Crow said about his way of looking at the world.

Any of the business leaders in Crow’s audiences who’ve ever made a bad call probably haven’t made one that was as much of a resounding failure as one that Crow relished sharing. It involved a recording company executive from the 1960s named Dick Rowe.

Crow recounted the story of a band that sent some demos to the executive’s record company. They were turned down.

That band was The Beatles.

When the unlucky record executive ran into Beatles guitarist George Harrison later, he proved that he’d learned his lesson. When he asked Harrison what bands he was listening to at the moment, Harrison mentioned a group called the Rolling Stones.

The executive immediately flew to meet them and get them signed, Crow’s story goes.

“You can be forgiven for not signing The Beatles if you have the presence of mind not to miss the Rolling Stones,” Crow said, generating a round of knowing laughter from his audience.

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