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Career Lessons from Little Steven

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If you're a Bruce Springsteen fan or a Sopranos fan, you've probably already read Unrequited Infatuations, the autobiography from Little Steven—aka Silvio Dante, aka Steven Van Zandt, aka Miami Steve (shown above with Bruce Springsteen in 2003). It's a rollicking, uproarious recounting of his half-charmed, half-cursed life from growing up in New Jersey and helping Springsteen realize his artistic identity, then leaving the E Street Band just before Born in the U.S.A. to pursue his own musical and political vision at the expense of his commercial viability, through his acting roles up to his current gig running two SiriusXM stations, his own record label, and a foundation that brings rock 'n' roll education to schools.

Along the way, he takes credit for too many achievements to possibly count—or to be true, for that matter, although he was indeed absolutely crucial in bringing down apartheid in South Africa with his Sun City project and clandestine negotiations with all of the major opposition parties. My father-in-law likes to say, "God writes in crooked lines," and Little Steven's life progression has been crookeder than most. But his Forrest Gump-like fortune, along with a deeply analytical mind inside a guitar player's body, has found him in the middle—or at least behind the scenes—of more of pop culture's moments over the last 5 decades than you probably realize. Even better, the book is loaded with his lessons and wisdom on all manner of matters musical, sartorial, and political.

Now that streaming media is easing into its fourth decade, our industry boasts its own fair share of personalities who've always managed to be in the right place at the right time. It's not a matter of luck either. People like Darcy Lorincz, Ralf Jacob, and Michelle Munson (to name a few) have always skated where the puck is going, to quote Wayne Gretzky. Itinerant, to be sure, but always in pursuit of not just the next big thing, but the next important thing. As we head back into trade show season—in person this time—we'd all do well to seek out the folks who've been pushing our industry forward for the past few decades. And don't get too comfortable in one place.

Photo credit: Anthony Correia via Shutterstock

[Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the Nov/Dec 2021 issue of Streaming Media magazine under the title "I Don't Wanna Go Home."

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