Cliff Goldmacher, Evolving with a Song
October 5, 2021 / Share:
We live in Nashville – a city full of entrepreneurs, and growing more every day. With this special mini-series of our hit Circle Back podcast, we are excited to hear from five celebrity entrepreneurs across music and entertainment.
In the fourth episode, we hear from The Reason for the Rhymes founder and Grammy-winning songwriter Cliff Goldmacher, in conversation with entrepreneur, NFL player, and TSU head coach Eddie George.
“It’s about the power of music and the power of song for me.”
For The Reason for the Rhymes founder and Grammy-award winning songwriter Cliff Goldmacher, music is more than just entertainment; it’s a powerful force to connect the world – and to start a business.
At 53 years old, Goldmacher has lived all over the world; from New York to Southeast Asia, California, Memphis and Nashville. For 10 years, he took classical piano lessons, but it wasn’t until he started school at Stanford for political science that music truly made its mark on his life.
“Messing around with that guy across the hall’s guitar unlocked something. So I began to play guitar. By the end of school – even though I had already taken the LSAT, I thought ‘Okay, if I give up music now, I’ll never come back. But if I try music, and it doesn’t work out, it’s not like law school’s going anywhere,’” he said.
At 21, with aid from an internship at the French embassy, he moved to Aix-en-Provence, France for a year, where he taught English 8 hours a week, and spent the rest of his time pursuing the new passion that he decided to make his first career.
“It was in that year that I got a gig playing at a French cafe six nights a week, and that’s when I decided, even though I’d already taken the LSAT and was set to come back to the States to go to law school,” he said.
With the support of his family, his course was set, beginning his 30-year career in the music industry writing with artists like Keb’ Mo’, Ke$ha, Lisa Loeb, Chris Barron and Grateful Dead drummer, Mickey Hart, among others.
He’s had to reinvent his career dozens and dozens of times, as both he and the industry he loves has evolved. The latest iteration? Starting his entrepreneurial journey with the launch of The Reason for the Rhymes, which provides educational workshops for companies that harness participant creativity and grow innovation skills.
“There’s so much about living a life where you follow your passion. It’s about your ability to continue to keep yourself motivated – what can I do that will make me wake up hungry to keep working?” he said.
After 20 years of writing songs, he began to produce educational content for songwriters, from writing articles to hosting workshops, and in 2015, a fateful plane ride where he shared his new idea to meld songwriting and corporate development with a leader at Deloitte sealed the deal for what would eventually become The Reason for the Rhymes.
“Two weeks later, I’m on a call with her team. A couple weeks after that, I’m teaching the early version of the songwriting workshop to execs inside of Deloitte. There’s no better word to describe it other than joyful,” he said, recounting the experience.
Every skill that’s needed to write a song is also a skill necessary to being an innovator, Goldmacher posits, and that’s the draw of The Reason for the Rhymes.
In his sessions, Cliff channels his music business savvy and entrepreneurial spirit to help executives build skills in lateral thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration, empathy, risk-taking, and idea diffusion — by writing a song.
Even if participants are scared or nervous at first, the exercise can help to take already existing important ideas, and make them more nuanced, interesting, and memorable. It’s a method that has worked for an extensive list of customers so far, including Google, Dell, and Southwest Airlines.
“Not only was it fun for me, but to see them transform in the process was beyond anything I ever imagined,” he said.
Between sessions, Goldmacher is still writing for himself, but he sees starting The Reason for the Rhymes as a crucial evolution and maturation of his craft, a way to connect with people, and a good use for his decades of music industry and business experience.
“The hope is that as I continue to explore how the principles of songwriting apply in a larger world, I’d like to expose more and more people to what learning to write songs can bring to a life.”
A New Stage is brought to you by the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, in partnership with The Beth and Randy Chase Family, Haws Goodwin, UTXO and the Nashville Post. We are a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to helping entrepreneurs connect with the resources they need to increase their chances of success. Learn how we’re fostering new and innovative music and entertainment teams at www.ec.co/programs/project-music or hear more episodes of Circle Back and A New Stage at www.ec.co/podcasts.