This is the first of a planned series in which I interview friends and family about their attitudes toward money. Most of these will be anonymized (and much shorter). Some will not. This first interview is with Scott Durbin, a member of Imagination Movers, a rock band for kids. This band is an entrepreneurial venture that required a huge leap of faith.
Scott, what made you and the other Movers decide to form a band? And why a band for kids?
Once you get into your 30s, you begin to feel opportunities to be creative evaporating. This time in our lives is often devoted to starting families, working for the company, paying bills to stay above the proverbial water, or working on our various relationships (wife-husband, boyfriend-girlfriend, other). I could get philosophical about the conflict and guilt of doing something seemingly self-indulgent versus being a good father/husband/worker, but let’s save that for another day. Luckily I have an amazing wife!
Several forces led to the founding of the Imagination Movers.
1. First, the guys in the group are very creative fellows. Creativity bubbles to the top given an opportunity.
2. Strangely enough, having families created an environment that allowed us to pool our creativity. That and proximity. When the Movers started, we lived within walking distance from one another. We all started having kids at the same time (minus Smitty who is the Mover without children). Kids have birthday parties. Parents gather. A ritual is established, and instead of going to bars or wherever to hang out with your mates, you’re left with your two-year-old’s birthday party as a means of convening. But it’s all good. These gatherings became the second peice of the puzzle.
3. When you have kids, you are immediately introduced into a foreign culture. You acclimate yourself as best you can, discovering the latest coolest educational toys, kids’ music, enrichment opportunities, places to play or visit, restaurants where kids eat free, any video/audio that might make your kids smarter — the whole kit-n-kaboodle. You discover your children want to listen to something over and over and over and over and over again, so as a survival parent, you want to make sure you can tolerate whatever that music is. This was the third key to development of the Imagination Movers.
4. Meanwhile, my wife has a friend who works at the local PBS affiliate. My wife’s friend often asks me to participate in commercials or promos they do. So there I am dancing for a commercial advertising the station’s fundraiser, a Beer Tasting Fest. The commercial is a hit, so I am receiving a lot of local affiliate PBS love which I put on the shelf for later use. This is a fourth thread. (All these threads will come together, so stay with me.)
5. Finally, I am a huge fan of Mister Rogers and Captain Kangaroo — people who possess a sincere desire to better the lives of their audiences and an almost palpable integrity that assures you they are not full of crap. And on top of that, they are REAL and not cartoons. I love cartoons just as much as the next guy, but heck, you know live action children’s entertainment is needed. A cartoon can only model so far or translate so much. It’s two-dimensional. So when Fred Rogers passed away, I felt called to take his place. Sounds crazy, but that become this nagging gut thing for me. I wanted to create a local kids’ show that treated kids like people and not consumers. This was the last factor in the band’s creation.
So here’s where the threads start coming together:
- I mention that I want to start a local kid’s show to my wife’s friend at the local PBS affiliate.
- I talk about the idea with my friends (and future Movers) at parties or the local grocery (the neighborhood essentially).
- As I begin waxing, I arrive at a name for the show — “Imagination Movers” — and a broad concept that Movers work in the other-worldy land of imagination, and it’s the job of a Mover to bring people good ideas when they have idea emergencies.
- I pitch the initial notion to the guys at a party. They’re in. We start writing a treatment/script in the attic of Dave’s house that we plan to pitch to the local PBS station. As we work on the show, music becomes a cornerstone. Rich and Smitty whip out the guitars and jam. Since the first script is about ‘healthy snacks’, most of the songs are in that vein. Well, we start writing songs and sometimes play them at get-togethers. People love the songs. Really love the songs.
- We pitch the show to the local PBS affiliate and they love it, but with PBS-type entities, they have NO money. We are disappointed, but everyone loves the songs. So Rich decides to invest in a home studio and we begin recording the music we wrote for the show.
The rest is Mover history.
So why did we become a kids’ band? For the most part, our children/families were where we were, and what we were about, so our songs became part observations of our lives, part honoring our wee ones (and hopefully creating something meaningful for other wee ones), and a sincere desire to be the new Mr. Rogers. But in our case, Mr. Rogers has been divided into four parts, and instead of wearing a cardigan … wears blue coveralls.
Thanks to Scott for sharing his story. Look for more in the coming weeks.
To date, the Imagination Movers have released the following:
Scott reports that the group has a brand new CD coming out on a major label in March. Want to hear what the Movers sound like? Here’s a song called “Clean My Room” that — among other things — reminds me of Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion”. You can find more mp3s for download at the Imagination Movers site.
Stay tuned for more about the financial implications of this leap of faith. And how did Hurricane Katrina affect the New Orleans-based group? More as Scott’s time allows.