The Oppy staff is starting a new feature for the paper called “Stern Somebody” to tell the stories of remarkable classmates and how they became the exceptional people they are today.
It is with great pleasure that we present Todd Lewis Kramer as our inaugural “Stern Somebody.” Todd is a songwriter and singer from a sleepy suburb of New Haven, CT, and has been playing and singing his songs around New York ever since he moved to the city in 2009. He started singing in high school, but once he realized he wanted to write his own songs, Todd taught himself a few chords and started seriously writing toward the end of college. He released his first album, One Pair of Eyes, in 2012, and since then his catalog has steadily grown, with his last album released in January 2019 (the album is creatively titled January). Todd’s music career has coincided with a 9-year stint as a Technical Operations Manager at Disney Streaming Services (formerly MLBAM and BAMTECH). In addition, he started his MBA in fall of 2018 as a Langone student, specializing in Entertainment, Media and Technology. I had the opportunity to sit down with Todd and ask him about his musical career…
So Todd, you have quite the interesting story. When did you realize your ability to sing? Do you come from a musical family?
“I realized I could carry a tune when I was probably 12 or 13. The story is kind of weird but funny…I was singing in the shower and it was definitely loud enough for the whole family to hear, and it seemed to go over well in the household. My family is indeed pretty musical, and to my parents’ credit, they encouraged each of us to pick up an instrument early on. My first choice was obviously drums. But while it was fun to bang on things in those days, I wasn’t too keen on practicing or taking lessons, so I joined my sister as the other family singer. I guess the rest is history.”
What has been the biggest break in your musical career? In your professional career?
“Hmm. I can’t say I’ve had a huge musical break, but probably the most fun thing I’ve done is perform as part of a musical comedy bit called the “Instant Songwriter Battle” on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon back in, I think, 2017. Sadly, the YouTube clip from that performance is gone, but wow, talk about everyone in your life coming out of the woodwork to offer some congrats. That was pretty cool. As for work, getting acquired by Disney and being thrust into a front-line role on the Disney Plus launch has been pretty fun as well. “
What made you want to go back and get your MBA?
“Well, to be honest, the real driver was that my GMAT score was going to expire. But once I got into Stern and explored the curriculum and did some research on the part-time program, it made a lot of sense for me. I thought it would be a good way to combine my background in music and technology with some new business skills (of which I had/still have very few and see where it could take me.”
What are your musical/professional goals?
“I guess the two are somewhat intertwined, but musically, I’m very realistic. I’m in my 30’s now and I’m not holding my breath for it to blossom into anything full-time. That said, I’ll do it forever, and I’ll never stop writing songs, so if playing shows for my own personal satisfaction with some family and friends in the crowd is the outcome, that sounds fine to me. I’ll always make time for it. Professionally, I’m in a pretty good place with plenty of growth opportunity at Disney, but I’m definitely interested in exploring ways to combine my music and tech background with this degree towards something, so we’ll see what happens once I wrap up at Stern!”
How will Stern help make this happen?
“Well, everything I learn here is new to me, which is great. I often feel like the least capable person in any class I’m in, so I probably don’t even realize how much I’ve learned. I know it’s been a lot, though. The few EMT classes I’ve taken so far have been great, and building that network within the entertainment, tech, and music sectors, and building relationships with professors, is a goal of mine. The whole education will give me a more well-rounded skill set in anything I do, though.”
When and where is your next show?
“Friday, March 13, 8pm, Rockwood Music (Stage 1). It’s Free!”
If you would like to nominate a classmate for future features of the Stern Spotlight, please email the Oppy staff at Oppy@stern.nyu.edu.