Perfect Pitch: Greg Spero
Founder, CEO, Musician
Current City: Los Angeles, CA.
Current Job and Entrepreneurial Focus: Founder/CEO of Pitch, focused on building the next generation Creator Economy.
Notable Prior Jobs:
Pianist for Halsey Founder Tiny Room Studios (tinyroom.com)
Music director for Quincy Jones' Founders Award at MoPOP Founder/education Weekly Piano (www.youtube.com/weeklypiano)
Pianist in Miles Electric Band Founder of "Lean Mean Learning Machine" (educational software platform)
Founder/composer for Spirit Fingers (spiritfingers.live)
When I Started Performing: I began playing at age 3, and started playing professional shows at age 14 with my father's band "The Slack Daddys."
Performing Arts Background: My entire life and philosophy has revolved around music. My father is a pianist/producer whose career has spanned from 80s arena rock to modern blues and country, and everything in between. My mother is a classical pianist, who helped support the family by teaching piano lessons all throughout my childhood. I would listen to cassette tapes of my dad’s band while he was on tour, and I would hear my mom’s piano playing for hours every day as she taught local students. Around 13 years old, my dad bought me a book on HTML, and he got the family our first Apple computer. I read the book, and began programming websites. My first website was “gamecodes64.com,” where I had thousands of visitors per day visiting to see the latest cheat codes for the gaming system Nintendo 64. This was at the same time as the first banner ad sales, so I began selling ad space on my site, and making enough money to collect a robust catalog of musical gear. By the time I was 14, I was playing in my dad’s band The Slack Daddies at bars and concert venues around Chicago. When I was 15, I branched off and joined a group called “Bucket Shop,” lead by guitarist and investor Mark Cavanagh, who remains a friend and supporter to this day. When I was 17, we recorded our first album “Fossil Fuels in the House that Mouse Built,” and when I was 18 I decided I would major in music at University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana. My website business had grown into a company servicing 8 clients and employing 6 people by this time, but I was still set on music being the centerpiece of my life. I studied jazz and classical performance, and music composition at UIUC, but after my classes I would work on my tech company, and took CS and design courses to augment my technical understanding. After college, I moved back to Chicago and was performing 6 nights a week at different clubs in the city. Eventually I went on tour with the Miles Electric Band, and then with the Buddy Rich Big Band, which I used to extend tours as a solo artist in the UK. As my own group grew in notoriety, I also toured with other artists including John Blackwell. In 2013, I won the award for Best Jazz Entertainer in Chicago, and decided to move to LA to try my hand at pop music. It was after 2 years of hustling on the LA scene that I met Halsey, and we began to build her project from our first show with 80 people in the audience, to selling out Madison Square Garden 4 times. By the end of my tenure with Halsey, we had appeared on almost every US late night talk show and toured the world on the highest level. In 2018, after our SNL debut, I ended my tenure with Halsey, and built a studio in LA with the goal of consistent creativity. I held sessions every day, music parties every night, and made the studio floor my home, sleeping under the grand piano. For 2 years I brought in my favorite musicians, and built the studio into a high-production audio/visual recording space, releasing content with Ropeadope Records and gaining distribution on NPR for what I called the “Tiny Room Series.”
How did your performing arts background supercharge your entrepreneurship? At their core, the foundational principles that manifest greatness are congruent, if not identical, for all types of creation. This applies to the creation of a great jazz ensemble, a great work of art, a great composition, a great business, a great life, etc. The ideas of balance, critical thinking, self-correction, team-building, practice of fundamentals, tapping intuition, discipline, and more can be described with almost the same words, no matter what type of greatness you are trying to bring to life. Nothing will teach you team-building more than touring on a budget with a scrappy quartet, dealing with musicians’ egos, working to curate an ensemble that can perform at its best every night together. Nothing will teach you discipline more than understanding the chasm between the depth of skill of you and one of the legends on your instrument. The understanding that one must sit for hours every day repeating the most basic fundamentals until they are second-nature, is the same understanding that it takes to understand an industry. The deeper you go into your core understanding of music, or business, or tech, the better your performance is going to be. At the same time, to create truly impactful art, one must keep a broad perspective. The greatest artists find excellence in their lane, but keep an open mind and spirit of constant learning with a wide aperture, drawing many aspects of culture into the stew that has the base of true excellence from years of practice. In my studies of business, I’ve found that the same principles apply to building a great company. Jim Collins describes it amazingly in his book Good To Great, with examples like Walgreens, where the founder spent his first 7 years as a single store practicing his model before expanding eventually to hundreds of stores by the time of its original founder's death, and global expansion thereafter. Another fundamental that my arts background has instilled in me is discipline. When you know that you’re not going to get the piece right until you sit uninterrupted for 10 hours a day for weeks on end, but every fiber of your being wants to acquire the ability to perform it at its best, you become well acquainted with the many aspects of one’s psyche that try to pull you away from that discipline, and build the internal tools and strength to overcome them. To be able to sit and work for 10 hours is something many people in today’s society will never know. The pervasiveness of immediate personal gratification in the form of social media, among many other things, has made the idea of uninterrupted work a foreign idea to many people. However, to become truly great at an art of any sort, this uninterrupted focus is essential, and requires the practice of true self discipline.
Favorite Performer: Herbie Hancock.
Follow this Performer:
Twitter - @gregspero
Instagram - @gregspero
Facebook - iamgregspero
LinkedIn - /in/gregspero