Frankly, 20 years is a short period of time. Has it really been 20 years? Would love to say it seems like only yesterday that Yours Truly was this wild four ear piercings, nose ring and dog collar wearing avant-garde young kid strolling the hallways at shows, yet when it comes to the modern Internet 20 days ago seems like forever. Knowing that simply offering basic advice and how-to articles, plus my senseless ramblings, were fun yet the site also needed to start reviewing gear. Longtime and highly respected reviewer Dick Olsher and others agreed to join Enjoy the Music.com back in those early days and we've continued to grow ever since.
There are many joys, and pitfalls, as sometimes you are a 'victim' of your own success. What once was a nighttime fun of creating content while my day job kept the lights going; eventually the site seemed to take on a life of its own! This is a great position to be in, yet with these added duties came immense responsibility too. Recently a longtime friend was hired by a leading audiophile magazine and my only advice to him was to wield his newfound powers carefully. Once you get more involved in any industry, you also find there are many paths. Some are easy, with those choosing shortcuts for faster progress at perhaps the expense of doing what I feel is the right thing, or taking the road less traveled (he took the road less traveled).
Of course your readership can climb quickly when shortcuts are taken, yet like any company's downfall at first it starts slowly and then happens suddenly. Over the years have watched several magazines and sites come and go. Even the great eTown with tens of millions of dollars in backing fell to the wayside. For those who might not remember, eTown offered excellent articles and reviews by leading experts, yet having great content and developing then new technology to support your efforts are only part of the overall equation. Today, with so many choices being freely available at the click of a mouse it becomes more challenging to successfully manage all the things necessary to achieve an ongoing goal. Then you realize you've reached your earlier goal, yet you've already moved onward building on that to accomplishing something new. You recognize that 'progress' is not an end-game 'goal'; it is a constantly moving target! I can only hope that you, our loyal readers and music lovers, continue to enjoy the evolution we here at Enjoy the Music.com make with each passing year.
For me, high-end audio is far more than just equipment. It is about all the brilliant people! We have engineers (technicians), creative visual designers (artisans), businessmen and of course visionaries. There is such a wide variety of experts in various disciplines that over the years one's thirst for knowledge is not just increased, it opens up more questions. With every door of knowledge opened you quickly realize that there are five more doors behind that. The more you realize you know, the more you become conscious of just how much you do not know. Yes, it is a paradox!
The past 20 years have not been about me, though yes my stories have unfolded describing the trials and tribulations within life, though it is moreso about others. Over the past 20 years have sat back and smiled as many of you get married, and/or watched your children grow, finish school and hearing they now are having children of their own. Unlike more mainstream industries, with high-end audio we all know who the designer is, can meet them at events, and learn from their ongoing knowledge as they, too, have tried, failed, and tried yet again to achieve success. If somehow my meager efforts and those of others here at Enjoy the Music.com have helped you, it means not just food on the table for manufacturers. It means they can send their children to a good school, help them hire others and expand so everyone benefits. If I may, am going to type out something I read online the other day. Odds are you've seen some version of this.
When you buy from a small business you're not helping a CEO purchase a third vacation home. You're helping a little girl get dance lessons, a little boy get a sports jersey... or musical instrument / singing lessons. You're helping put food on the table or perhaps helping them, in turn, help others with a good paying job so they benefit and succeed on their own. When it comes to high-end audio, you are also furthering your life's joy of memorable moments with the magic of music.
Equipment comes and goes, yet it is the people within this incredible industry who keep my world happily spinning. Michael Fremer's always excellent seminars on how to get the best from your turntable... Show promoters like Richard Beers, Marjorie Baumert, Steve Davis, everyone at HIGH END, etc. always happy yet highly stressed during shows ensuring attendees are having a great time (all the while juggling the setup staff!)... Live music by so many performers that there is no way to remember them all by name... There are well over 20 other things I'd love to mention here, yet hopefully you get the idea. Apologies if the following sounds a bit selfish, yet what keeps my (albeit small) world spinning is a combination of constant 'known good' with newfound surprises along the way. It is akin to music, as there is a predictability of the rhythm, even within odd time signatures, that keeps us flowing yet there is always something 'extra' that draws us into discovering something new that we love.
At this very moment I feel completely inadequate. Why? Because there are so many people who need to be thanked as Enjoy the Music.com celebrates our 20th anniversary, yet to name each of them is an impossible task. Furthermore, am 100% sure there are many people I have never met or known who have helped, too. How can you thank someone you've never known or met? My mind is reeling, and a bit boggled, as memories of all the great times flood in. Of course am also right now (literally) laughing at myself for all my errors and things tried and failed... or what seemed like a great idea at the time yet, frankly, really wasn't a 'good' idea in the sense of offering something exciting and new that you would surely enjoy. At AXPONA 2015 one reviewer said to me during a dinner meetup, paraphrased a bit, I tend to throw a lot of shit at a fan and some of it sticks (success). But isn't that kinda how life is? We do our best to, well, do our best and some of it works and some of it doesn't. With each 'failure' is a lesson learned that provides you experience you can build upon in the future that enables one to 'succeed' (however you choose to define succeeding at that given moment in time, which of course is always moving forward and changing).
So in conclusion at this moment in time, which of course is ever-changing, there are many directions I want to take Enjoy the Music.com yet some of these ideas have too small an install base, other ideas have yet to be 'created' on the consumer side to support delivery, and of course some are crazy things so far out there yet am not sure if they are trailblazingly brilliant or stupendously stupid. Perhaps they are right, there is a fine line between stupid and clever.
Thank you, each and every one of you, for everything. None of us live within a vacuum. We all are working together, like a tiny single transistor within a computer chip, to allow the whole to succeed. There is no doubt we love music. Without the abundance of music given to us over hundreds of years aided by constant development of musical instrument and technology to record them, where would we be as audiophiles? As a deep thinker, the first early 'man' who realized that a hollow wooden log would create music.... Perhaps we can trace our hobby back to early man, or the first recording device, or the invention of amplifying an instrument, the microphone industry... The past 20 years at Enjoy the Music.com is not solely our accomplishment. It is simply built on the ability of brilliance in invention and the creation of others. We have all worked together to bring us music lovers where we are today. So as I said, 20 years is a very short period of time. Can't help but wonder where we will all be in the next 20, and the 20 after that. As always, in the end what really matters is that you...