By Lonn Friend “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently – they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify them or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some many see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” -Steve Jobs I’ve spent 25 years in and around the music business in various incarnations, most notably as the editor of RIP Magazine from 1987 to 1994. The 4,000 friends I’ve made on MySpace over the past two years since the release of my memoir, “Life on Planet Rock,” often remind me how much that crazy little publication meant to them. It meant a lot to me, too. Because that gig allowed me to do what I’ve always done best — unite the fans to the music they love. If the last few years of personal deconstruction and professional confusion have taught me anything, it’s this: You cannot love life unless you love music. The highest paying least rewarding job I ever had was VP of A&R for Arista Records. Long story short, I sold my soul for a spell, left the media, and fancied myself a talent scout for a billion dollar record company run by a man with a billion-dollar ego. My previous successes on the outside of the kingdom were blunted by four years of failure on the inside. I only signed two acts, The Bogmen and Nerf Herder, but pitched two dozen, all rejected by the suits who obviously knew more about rock ‘n’ roll than I did. You can read about my aborted campaign to sign the Eels in my book. But through it all — from being the most visible media figure during the loudest, most decadent decade in rock history to entering the belly of the big-label beast and witnessing the process up close and prurient — it has always been about the music. Which brings me (and you) to the here and now and this delightful assignment. I am and always have been an independent spirit. Larry Flynt published RIP, my first media mentor. The company was big, yes, but the philosophy was renegade, rebellious and proudly non-corporate. Larry never pulled my strings as Clive Davis did. The ethos of an artist dictates the road less traveled must be traversed to accomplish anything of creative merit. If you bind ones hands, they are doomed at the outset. I once wrote a memo to Clive that said, in essence, give me the wings to fly. I may sour to the sky or crash the ground but give me the fucking wings. Look what’s left of the mainstream music business. It’s imploded on its own greed and disrespect for the independent, freethinking individual that seeks his own path to self-expression. The world has gone digital. YOU own the highway, now boys and girls. Pave it with brilliance and poetic insight. Rock your mile. These are the glory days where you can do it yourself, produce it on your iBook, throw it on MySpace and sell it with PayPal. And it’s still and always will be about the music. Now go! The audience is listening.