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Time May Change Me…

Mike Lawson • July 2021Perspective • July 10, 2021

Musician, publisher, editor Mike Lawson as photographed for the Instrument Head collection by Michael Weintrob

This will be my final column of Perspective as an employee of Timeless Communications, who have employed me in this role for nearly seven years. It has been a lot of fun, and I have enjoyed the work immensely. So much so, now I own the job. 

Well, to be clearer, I actually acquired four magazines from Timeless Communications, those being School Band & Orchestra, Choral Director, JazzEd, and Musical Merchandise Review (MMR). They are now owned by my company, artistpro, LLC and we will publish the August issues forward. So, if you have a beef with something I say, or just want to brag about me to my boss, well, I’m my boss now. Sorry. But I’m sure I’ll reprimand myself if you’re really unhappy.

This isn’t how I saw things shaking out when I first took on the role in 2014. But, when opportunity knocks, you have to answer the door. Not a lot will change going forward, we will have the same sales team, same art and production manager, same nearly 20-year executive editor at the helm on MMR. Some little things will change here and there to ramp up a better website experience (and we are off to a good start there). We will reconfigure some columns and other changes, but they will be good changes. 

It’s a grand time to be taking over the operation as schools begin to re-open, with the pent-up demand for student travel, festivals, and roller coasters making for fun coverage. We’ll explore safety issues surrounding it, and how to start planning if you find yourself behind the eight ball and need to get busy fundraising, making reservations, getting administrative permissions lined up, and all this means. A lot of our faithful advertisers were severely hurt by the pandemic. They are ready to help you get back to “normal.”

And here’s the good news… It is coming back. There are already weeks sold out for  many springtime student travel destinations. I’m personally looking forward to visiting with student groups and reinvigorated band directors ready for some normal in their lives. I’m looking forward to security lines, long delays, and connecting flights. I’m looking forward to hotel beds and hoping the crazy rental car prices come back down to earth. Festivals are fun to watch, I really enjoy getting to meet the adjudicators, and see them lay down some knowledge on the groups they are adjudicating. Travel is a big carrot on the stick for recruitment and retention. How many students joined band because they knew the band was going to New York City to march in the Macy’s Day Parade, and that student had never left his home state, maybe not even his rural town? We will never know the answer to that, but I suspect it is a lot.

Mostly, I hope that this critical tool helps pack the band programs again, because recruitment and retention are some of the biggest concerns now. This is part of the new normal, too.

As the new owner of SBO, I hope finding a copy of the magazine waiting for directors in their band room will be part of the return to the new normal. My special thanks to my longtime friend and now former boss, Terry Lowe, for making me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I’m excited about continuing these magazines for the next generation of music educators to garner inspiration and ideas from, as they create the next generation of music makers.

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