Sam Rothberg



EP 47: Sam Rothberg (autogenerated)

Dane Reis: [00:00:00] You booked it, episode 48, Hey, entertainers and performers of the world. I’m your host, Dane, Reis, and welcome to you. Booked it. Where I chat with inspiring entertainers, seven days a week by digging into their journey. We’re going to discover everything you need to do to be a successful entertainer, you know?

[00:00:25] Cause. Training, usually skipped that part about how to actually make your skills work. Were you in the real world, fellow entertainers, my drive here at UT you booked it is to share the inspiring and incredible journeys of successful entertainers. We are here to support your journey. So go to

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[00:01:09] So you don’t miss an episode, leave a rating and review and to show our appreciation for your fingers crossed five star rating and review. I will give you a shout out on an upcoming episode at now. Let’s do this. Okay, let’s get started. I am excited to introduce my guest today. Sam Rothberg, are you ready for this Sam?

[00:01:33] Sam Rothberg: [00:01:33] I am ready, Dave. 

[00:01:35] Dane Reis: [00:01:35] Fantastic. Sam. It is a pianist bandleader arranger and entrepreneur from New York after receiving his bachelor degree in music theory and composition from the university of Pennsylvania, he spent several years floating on the ocean as a keyboardist and the musical director for carnival cruise lines.

[00:01:54] Since then, Sam has co-founded lime entertainment, a talent agency placing musicians, dancers, and other performers on. Cruise ships. He also co owns the Dukes of circuit, the new, a wedding, and a corporate band that plays high profile gigs all over the news. Northeast Sam’s latest focus has been on Lyme Academy and offshoot of lime entertainment that offers an innovative take on music, education through mentorship, his hobbies and passions include tennis, chess, painting golf, disc golf, scramble, harmonica boxing crosswords.

[00:02:30] And of course. Mayonnaise now, Sam, that is a quick intro of who you are and what you’ve done, but why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself, filling the gaps, who you are, where you’re currently calling home and a little bit more about what you do as a professional in the entertainment industry?

[00:02:48] Sam Rothberg: [00:02:48] Sure. Dan, well, before I get started, I just wanted to say thanks for having me on the program. It’s been a long time since we worked together almost about 10 years. I think even back then, It was really great hanging out with, you always seemed like a cool dude. And I feel like we were just kind of getting used to who we were.

[00:03:07] We were still young back then, and it’s really cool to see this podcast coming together and you always seem like a super wise guy. So it’s, it’s really a pleasure to be here. And I hope that we can give some folks some, some of that wisdom back. So 

[00:03:25] Dane Reis: [00:03:25] thank you so much. 

[00:03:26] Sam Rothberg: [00:03:26] Yeah. Or it’s it’s it’s it’s very cool.

[00:03:28] So. I think everything that you’ve said is it’s pretty, it’s pretty active, especially cause I gave it to you. But my name’s Sam and yeah, I run a music Allen agency and I also run a wedding band and I am currently located in Martha’s vineyard in Massachusetts. And I usually perform quite a lot in summer, myself, probably upwards of 70 or 80 gigs when there is not a pandemic.

[00:03:57] Right 

[00:03:57] Dane Reis: [00:03:57] there is that all right. Let’s move on to this next section here. And look, I am a sucker for a good quote. What is your favorite quote? You’d like to share with everybody? Sure. 

[00:04:10] Sam Rothberg: [00:04:10] So I don’t really have specific quotes that I live by that are say tacked up on my fridge or above my work desk. But I feel like one that’s in line with my values.

[00:04:22] The way that I choose my life goes, life is too important to be taken seriously. 

[00:04:28] Dane Reis: [00:04:28] I love that. And how have you applied that quote to your daily life and your career? 

[00:04:33] Sam Rothberg: [00:04:33] I think it’s about perspective, both on a micro and macro levels. So every day there’s hassles and annoyances, and then you have 2020, which has been almost apocalyptic and it’s events and the atrocities are witnesses.

[00:04:48] And I think that if you don’t maintain a sense of humor, All that negativity can crush you or at least leave you pretty depressed, unhappy, angry, resentful, bitter, and so on. I think one concept that I like is that if something seems critical or troubling or all important than just zoom out and keeps you moving out and at some point it should become funny or at least give you the perspective that we’re all just teeny tiny cogs in a really big wheel.

[00:05:17] And I think to be clear, I’m not advocating apathy or Shodan Freud or anything like that, but it’s a good exercise in humility to enjoy life and learn to laugh at ourselves and all our inconveniences and troubles. What are we doing here on this planet? If we’re not taking time to appreciate and to laugh and to practice gratitude for the things we take for granted.

[00:05:39] I realize I’m probably almost maxing out the cheese on meter. We just started here, but 

[00:05:46] Dane Reis: [00:05:46] I love it though. I think the perspective is, is fantastic. And I think that everyone can benefit from having a little bit more of that perspective in there. And. Let’s move on to this next section. So damn, of course you are a professional in this industry.

[00:06:03] I am a professional in this industry and I think you’d agree that the entertainment industry is one of the most subjective, brutally, honest, personally emotional industries in existence. And you know, as well as I. That to create and to have a successful career in this industry. Like you’re having now, it takes a lot of dedication and hard work and wild yeah.

[00:06:28] Was an outrageous amount of fun and excitement being in this industry. There are also our fair share of obstacles and challenges and failures years we experience and we have to move forward through. So tell us, what is one key challenge, obstacle or failure you’ve experienced in your career and how did you come out the other side better because of it.

[00:06:50] Sure. 

[00:06:51] Sam Rothberg: [00:06:51] So there’s a lot to talk about, but something that I, I thought maybe wouldn’t be touched on by some other performers. It’s just the idea of staying inspired and motivated over a long period of time. And Hey, maybe other people have talked about it too. I have to go back and listen to the podcasts that are coming out already.

[00:07:09] But in any case, Regarding staying inspired. I’m honestly not sure that I’m out the other side of it, either that I figured it out. Cause it’s hard. And there’s days when you think. What am I doing or great this slog again, I’m sick of it. I want to do something different and so on. I think that even the most passionate and creative people in the world struggle with productivity and progress.

[00:07:35] And for the rest of us, myself included, it’s a challenge that requires consideration and attentiveness. So addressing the issue, being in touch with how you’re feeling, revamping your routine. Carving out time to think and reimagine, finding ways to relieve pressure. And I think sometimes it’s taking a look at your life outside work in order to make work itself more enjoyable or purposeful.

[00:07:59] Dane Reis: [00:07:59] Yeah, absolutely. And I completely agree that whether it’s rehearsing, whether it’s in proving your skills or creating a business, it is outrageously difficult to. Keep that motivation to keep that drive, to keep moving forward. Because when you’re in the thick of it, the day to day is quite mundane.

[00:08:21] There’s not a whole lot going on, but it’s when you can look back and see, Oh, look at all those little things that I did have all compounded into something pretty cool. 

[00:08:30] Sam Rothberg: [00:08:30] Sure it’s incremental. So a lot of the progress that we make is almost imperceptible, especially the us, then there’s setbacks on top of it.

[00:08:40] I think some days you feel like you’ve regressed, even this is whether it’s performance based or entrepreneurial business in the space or anything in between, but it’s, it’s quite difficult, I think, to keep going and. And then even if you reach your first goal, right. You know, so you should set, I think, many small goals instead of one goal, I’m sure.

[00:09:02] Dane Reis: [00:09:02] Lots of 

[00:09:03] Sam Rothberg: [00:09:03] motivational speakers who would say the same thing. And so then when you reach a goal, it’s easy to then become complacent. There’s all sorts of challenges that lie, I think, in, in figuring out different ways to stay motivated and stay curious, keep learning. 

[00:09:20] Dane Reis: [00:09:20] Absolutely. And let’s move on to this next section to a time that I like to call your spotlight moment.

[00:09:29] That one moment in time you, I realized, yes, I am going to be an entertainer for a living or maybe it was, yes, this is what I need to be doing in the entertainment industry. 

[00:09:44] Sam Rothberg: [00:09:44] Sure. So in the spirit of incremental progress, I don’t think for me, there was one specific moment when I felt like I was doing the right thing, that I was meant to be an entertainment.

[00:10:01] And this goes for both business and for, for performing as well. But I do feel like when I first felt. In a performance environment that there was this synergy, it was connecting with musicians on stage, creating something organic and having it be truly fun. That was when I felt that I keep pursuing it because quite a while, I didn’t really think that I was going to pursue a career in performance in music.

[00:10:32] One thing kind of led to another. And then all of a sudden I was playing music fair amount and making money doing it. And I think that at some point I could have chosen to leave that behind, but I think for me, it’s been about the times when I really connect with musicians, that’s less than being a spotlight moment.

[00:10:51] It’s just the validation. That, what I’m doing is worth doing that. It’s pleasurable for me. It’s not always going to be that way, but there’s the experiences that truly are, that are truly just kind of fun and exciting that have made me want to continue being at least being a musician. 

[00:11:13] Dane Reis: [00:11:13] Yeah. I love that.

[00:11:14] And I love that you connected that to your quote and about the incremental growth, because. It’s your journey. And I love that. And now let’s piggyback on that question and let’s talk about your number one, booked it moment. Walk us through that day, the auditions and call backs. If those happen to be a part of it, what was going on in your life?

[00:11:38] And what about that moment? Makes it your favorite book moment? 

[00:11:43] Sam Rothberg: [00:11:43] Sure. Well, I am going to talk about my audition for carnival cruise lines back in 2006. And it’s a, maybe a slightly unusual story because I didn’t have much experience playing the piano, but I had just graduated college and I thought. Why not, I’ll go audition for carnival.

[00:12:05] And I brought my trumpet and I also played some piano in college and I played some trumpet and I played some piano. I didn’t know it at the time, but they were desperately in need of pianists. So they asked me what I wanted to start after. I’d played about seven notes on the piano. I told them a month and a half and they set everything up and I was off and.

[00:12:30] I was not very good. So if I had had a musical director who. Despise me. I mean, I think he probably did anyway, but he really, he sent me away that there would be no one there to replace me. So I’m very thankful that he didn’t fire me. But as a booking agent, now I wouldn’t have hired me. I wouldn’t have even come close to hiring me.

[00:12:52] So I was very lucky in that respect that I didn’t get hired. And I looked around and the band was terrific. And so I practiced a lot every day. And by the end of the contract, I felt like. They were probably thinking to themselves, okay, he’s not miserable to play with anymore. He can, he can hang. And it kind of went on from there.

[00:13:12] But I think if there is a moral there, it’s just to put yourself out there and any sort of audition is going to be healthy. I mean, it’s going to be good practice for future additions and future experiences like that. I mean, I suppose there might be some negative experiences here and there, depending on the way they’re run or who’s running them, but in general things happen.

[00:13:37] Good things happen when you put yourself 

[00:13:38] Dane Reis: [00:13:38] out there. I could not agree more. And I love that story. And let’s take a moment to talk about the present. What projects are you working on now? What are you looking forward to? And of course, We are amidst this global pandemic. How do you see the entertainment industry moving forward in the next couple of 

[00:13:59] Sam Rothberg: [00:13:59] sure.

[00:14:00] So, as we mentioned before, my main gig is running a music talent agency. I say music and we hire for musicians and dancers and singers and comedians. So it’s a multi kind of multipurpose agency within the entertainment department, but. There is no cruises happening as most of you, if you’re not living under a rock, no.

[00:14:24] And there won’t be for quite a while. So what my company Lyman for came in has done is we’ve started to pivot into online education, a very specific kind. And we’re calling this program, the Lyme Academy. And the idea is that it’s mentorship through some of our top musicians that have worked with us over the years.

[00:14:45] And they’re here to take other musicians to the next level in a way that we believe they can’t get from other kinds of education, whether it’s YouTube videos or even university or private lessons with folks at home, we feel that it’s quite an unique and niche project, but then a lot of musicians can use it.

[00:15:08] And. It really digs into the practical side of things. So starting off, you know, you, you, you come out of university and they teach you a lot of stuff, but they don’t necessarily teach you the things that you need to know in order to work as a professional. So those are some of the things that we tried to delve into with our mentors who have done all these cool gigs from syrup to ban leading on cruise ships, to running their own shows, that sort of thing, that sort of thing.

[00:15:37] So. We’re pretty excited about that. And as for the entertainment in general, it’s, it’s a real challenge. And I think lots of folks are trying to figure out the answer, but I think we need to figure out how to retain value as an industry when edutainment is non-essential other businesses are and gigs and entertainment are some of the last things that will come back, specially.

[00:16:05] Live. And so we need to figure out new ways to make ourselves relevant and connect with people. We can’t just be performers in waiting who are going to their watch and the clock and hope this tandem against, because I think there’s just, there’s a lot to be learned from it. And there’s probably going to be similar, similar circumstances in the future.

[00:16:30] Where we’re also going to have to be creative and figure out how to be relevant, stay relevant. 

[00:16:36] Dane Reis: [00:16:36] Yeah, I agree. And I love your, I love your insight and your take on that. And also I want to talk about the Lyme Academy that you were mentioning before that I, I love that you are connecting people with true professionals that are actually working currently in the industry.

[00:16:56] Because it great as university systems can be sometimes the professors that are teaching you while they may be incredibly talented musicians or artists or whatever their talent or skill may be, perhaps it’s been a decade or more since they’ve worked professionally as an entertainer, as a musician and by connecting people with current professionals is massive.

[00:17:18] And I can only imagine that the amount of value that anyone joining this Academy. is going to get is going to be mind boggling. 

[00:17:26] Sam Rothberg: [00:17:26] Sure. I think that sure. Sometimes professors and teachers are out of touch, even private instructors. Maybe they haven’t played a gig in years. And also professors I think have conflicted interests or a certain idea of what they want.

[00:17:41] They’re musicians or they’re entertainers in general to be. And a lot of times that’s not a crucial musician. And so this is even broader than the Lyme Academy, but. But extends to lime entertainment in general, which is that it’s, it’s a challenge to get performers excited to work on ships. When in fact it’s an incredible opportunity and will continue to be an incredible opportunity once ships start sailing yet, but the amount of professional experience and that’s a whole different con conversation.

[00:18:13] But I think, you know, we want more teachers that are encouraging. Their students like our mentors to explore different possibilities if they want to try out cruise ships. Great. But if they want to do other things, that’s great too, to give them the tools to do that, essentially. 

[00:18:33] Dane Reis: [00:18:33] Absolutely. And I think you’re right, at least for the performer side of things.

[00:18:39] Cause that’s, that’s my wheelhouse that there’s always been a bit of a stigma with cruise ships, but it’s certainly turning around. In the last couple of years, especially with some of the big musicals that are going on cruise ships as well. It is really becoming known that cruise ships are a fan tastic contract and gig to have.

[00:18:58] Sam Rothberg: [00:18:58] Yeah. Oh, they are for sure. I mean, this is, this is my job, so I’ll be the first to preach about it, but it’s, it’s at the same time constantly a battle to get great performers interested still. I, I do think there’s a slow trend towards appreciating what cruise ship industry is, but we have a long way to go and everything we can do to make it known that it’s an incredible opportunity.

[00:19:25] Regardless of where you are in your life, but especially when you’re a bit younger, especially coming out of school or even skip school. That’s a whole different conversation too, that I would love to talk about. But skip school, go work on a cruise ship instead, get your education there instead of having money, you’ll get paid for it.

[00:19:42] So, yeah. 

[00:19:45] Dane Reis: [00:19:45] Yeah, absolutely. Well, it’s time to move on to one of my favorite sections of the interview and I call it the grease lightning round. I’m going to ask you a handful of questions. I want you to answer them as quickly and concisely as possible one after another. Are you ready? 

[00:20:04] Sam Rothberg: [00:20:04] I’m ready, Dan. Let’s do it.

[00:20:06] Dane Reis: [00:20:06] Alright. First question. What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career in the entertainment industry? 

[00:20:13] Sam Rothberg: [00:20:13] Well, I actually talk about entrepreneurial side of things, which is that I thought that I needed a greater skillset and more knowledge to start a business, but that turned out that like a lot of things you actually don’t need that much.

[00:20:29] You need an idea and a little bit of execution and some dedication. 

[00:20:33] Dane Reis: [00:20:33] Absolutely. And the second question, what is the best piece of advice you have ever received? 

[00:20:40] Sam Rothberg: [00:20:40] Well, I don’t remember exactly what he said, but when my now business partner for the Rios asked me if I wanted to start lime entertainment, I told them no.

[00:20:50] And then his response, which convinced me to do it was that all other agencies that were doing what we were doing started, similarly, they started as musicians. They didn’t have business experience. And so the idea behind that was just to take the leap. And go for it. And that was, that was pretty solid advice almost a decade ago.

[00:21:10] Dane Reis: [00:21:10] Love it. And the third question, what is something that is working for you now, or if you’d like to go pre COVID, what was working for you before our industry went on? Pause? 

[00:21:23] Sam Rothberg: [00:21:23] Sure. So continuing with this theme. It’s my relationship with my business partner, which has been a wonderful experience since the beginning.

[00:21:32] And I think the more and more I learned about the industry and also learned about working with people, I realized how lucky we are and how rare it is to have a business partner whom you trust like a brother and. Not only that Sarah and I are kind of like yin and yang. So we, we have different interests.

[00:21:52] We like doing different things and it is the perfect partnership in that way because he tackles things that I don’t like doing and vice versa. I do the things that he’s. It doesn’t like her isn’t great at, and so it’s, it’s hard to find, but I think worth searching for, especially if you’re somebody that wants to start something, but doesn’t want to go it alone, which is super, super hard.

[00:22:16] And, and, and kind of the continuing search for finding someone to go into business with, or to work alongside, even if it’s in a performance career, like a songwriting team or something like that. 

[00:22:30] Dane Reis: [00:22:30] Yeah. Great. And the fourth question, what is the best resource, whether that is a book, a movie, a YouTube video, a podcast, maybe a piece of technology that you found is helping your career right now.

[00:22:43] Sam Rothberg: [00:22:43] Right now, as I continue to listen to podcasts, I feel like they’re just good for content and I will start to devour yours Dane, because now it’s, it’s live and. And already started, but one of, one of the podcasts that I like a lot is the converter show. I also like how I built this. And similarly entrepreneurial shows that, you know, they’re about the, kind of the one in a million stories, but.

[00:23:13] I feel like they helped demonstrate more than anything that everybody has their own style. There is no right answer. And so trying to copy any of those people that they have on those shows is. Yeah. I don’t know if it’ll get you very far, but it’s worth kind of internalizing that idea to try a bunch of things and see what works.

[00:23:32] And there’s also books that I have read that I like called seven habits of highly effective people. And that’s a great one for really, for all of humanity, but also one that was helpful for business. 

[00:23:45] Dane Reis: [00:23:45] Fantastic. I love both those podcasts you mentioned, and as well as the book, and I think you bring up such a good point in saying, yeah, those are kind of the one in the million stories and really it’s about.

[00:23:57] Just absorbing all of that information, similar to why I’ve created this platform, this podcast. So doing exactly what one person did throughout their entire career doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to yield you success. But by hearing multiple stories from a lot of different people, we start seeing the through lines start seeing those fundamentals start seeing the specific things that might pertain to you.

[00:24:21] And that’s how we are able to make better decisions and better calculated risks moving forward throughout our careers and our lives. 

[00:24:29] Sam Rothberg: [00:24:29] Absolutely. Dan and I think sometimes we need more podcasts and more content from just kind of ordinary people who have found some success in their industry because everybody wants to have on their show, the big names and.

[00:24:46] Sometimes their stories aren’t as easy to follow or we’re kind of not necessarily lucky, but just some sort of anomaly that is harder to make accessible for yourself. So by listening to people that are just kind of ordinary entertainers, like say you or me, or who run small businesses, but whom you’ve never heard of before.

[00:25:09] A lot of times those, the people who did things in a more practical way that you probably can take a lot from and use in your own 

[00:25:16] Dane Reis: [00:25:16] career. Absolutely. Yeah. It’s, it’s hard to listen to Elon Musk’s story and then decide to be him. 

[00:25:25] Sam Rothberg: [00:25:25] Yeah. You can just list your companies that you want to found, you know, like one after another that are all going to be billion dollar unicorns and that’s half the 

[00:25:34] Dane Reis: [00:25:34] battle.

[00:25:34] Yeah, totally. And the fifth question. If you had to start your career from scratch, but you still had all the knowledge experience that you’ve collected from your career in this industry. What would you do or not do, would you do anything differently or would you keep it the same? 

[00:25:53] Sam Rothberg: [00:25:53] Sure. I probably wouldn’t even start an agency.

[00:25:55] The market is saturated, but it’s worked out so far. I’d probably take something like computer programming classes or something completely different. But I would say that within the industry, something that I’ve certainly learned is to milk your resources. So information you can’t get enough of it and people for mentorship for advice.

[00:26:15] Relationships are key. Yeah. I mean, I might sound obvious, but those are. And always will be incredibly important. And I would also say don’t shy away from making necessary investments. So for example, if you’re looking to gain traction on your YouTube channel, you need to buy a great camera. You need to buy lights and a backdrop, or, you know, if you just want to be a better performer, you need to put in the time you need to invest in yourself.

[00:26:45] So I suppose there’s, there’s quite a lot to talk about, but those are some of them. 

[00:26:49] Dane Reis: [00:26:49] Love it. And the last question, what is the golden nugget knowledge drop you’ve learned from your successful career in the industry that you’d like to leave with our listeners? 

[00:27:00] Sam Rothberg: [00:27:00] Yeah, that’s a lot of pressure. So I would say just continuing from the previous answer, there’s no substitute for hard work.

[00:27:10] Anybody who thinks I always like using the Rubik’s cube as an example of this, where people look at, I mean, at least some people see the folks who solve it and think all of that, that guy’s brilliant. And it’s just a series of algorithms that somebody memorized. And the same thing goes for chess, for example, where the best chess players they’ve spent hours and days, and months and years pouring over the chest for memorizing positions and then their, their mood come from that giant wealth of knowledge.

[00:27:43] So certainly hard work. And I would say if you’re passionate about something, stay resilient. And if you’re not sure what you’re passionate about, then stay curious. And also even if you’re passionate about something, 

[00:27:56] Dane Reis: [00:27:56] I love it. I love that you mentioned the Rubik’s cube. That was one of my pseudo life goals.

[00:28:00] I would call it. and I know how to do it now. No problem.

[00:28:09] Sam Rothberg: [00:28:09] Yeah, no, that’s, that’s great. Congratulations on that because actually you made it, it’s still not super easy. You have to memorize a whole bunch of things and then you’re tying yourself from wanting to get better. But yeah, it is one of those things where I think once you realize what it is, it becomes way more attainable.

[00:28:23] And I think that’s important for a lot of people that say you’re a musician or a dancer, and you look at somebody who’s really good and you think I could never get there. I can never do that. But again, it’s, it’s incremental. You start somewhere. And a lot of times it is somewhat formulated and a lot of that formula is just do it today and do it tomorrow.

[00:28:43] And figure out how to practice right to dedicated practice. That’s very specific as opposed to just your 10,000 hours, which won’t necessarily get to get you to where you want to go. 

[00:28:54] Dane Reis: [00:28:54] Absolutely. And to wrap up this interview, it is time to give yourself up lug, where can we find you? How do our listeners connect with you?

[00:29:03] Is there anything you want to promote? 

[00:29:06] Sam Rothberg: [00:29:06] Well, it would be great. If folks are interested in the cruise ship industry, feel free to chat God, our website, which I believe is in the description for lime entertainment. Also feel free to check out Lyme Academy, which we’re continuing to work on. And I’m really excited about, as I said before, and if anybody’s interested in just.

[00:29:26] Chatting with me about stuff. Then my personal email is Tammy That’s S a M M Y or GHB ERG at Gmail and folks are welcome to email me there. And I’m happy to talk about anything. I enjoy talking about lots of things and, and really like hearing people’s stories. And I love learning.

[00:29:48] Dane Reis: [00:29:48] Fantastic, Sam. It has been an absolute pleasure to have you on today. Thank you so much. 

[00:29:54] Sam Rothberg: [00:29:54] Thanks, Dan. It was great. 

[00:29:56] Dane Reis: [00:29:56] Thank you, you so much for joining us today. My one call to action for you is to go to and join our free email community. Where we dig deep into a continually growing resource of truly actionable things you can be doing right now to help you advance your entertainment career.

[00:30:17] Don’t miss an episode. We have a new guest, seven days a week search for you, booked it on Apple podcast or your favorite podcast app and subscribe today. All the best to you. We’ll see you tomorrow.