Jason Levine And Stumbling Into His Calling
If you’ve ever tuned into Adobe MAX or watched one of our many livestreams on our Adobe Creative Cloud channel, you know Jason Levine, Principal Creative Cloud Evangelist. You’ve no doubt noticed Jason’s energy, iconic hair, and above all else, his passion for Adobe’s products. But who’s the man behind the screen? We sat down with Jason to learn about his journey to Adobe, his passion, and how they coincide.
You’ve been with Adobe for almost 20 years! Can you tell us a little bit on how you started your journey?
Like many of us at Adobe, I came through an acquisition: a small, Phoenix-based audio company called Syntrillium (makers of Adobe Audition, then known as Cool Edit Pro). I had been working in the music industry for about 10 years and was completely burnt out. Recording studios were closing everywhere, and I was essentially moving from state-to-state to find work.
Disillusioned and uninspired, I spent a brief period as an accountant for a dry-cleaning company (yes, true!) before seeing an ad in the newspaper classified section; remember those? The ad said something to the effect of, “Looking for a person with recording skills and musical background for an audio software company. Inquire within.” I was hired as a Quality Engineer, but I quickly rose to being Music Director and Forum Manager, as well as the in-house “Evangelist” for all tradeshows and events. Two and a half years later, as Adobe was putting together the foundations of the Creative Suite (which was then called the Video Collection), they needed an audio app, and we were a very popular one, particularly in Broadcast radio and more specifically, at the BBC. Many of us were hired, I was placed into DVA as a Marketing Evangelist, and the rest is history.
Was there a moment in time where you knew that you wanted to be in production and film?
My parents got me a Sony Hi-8 Handicam and separate editing deck around the time I was 13, so I started making promo films of my recordings. In high school we had a TV station, and despite not allowing freshmen into the program, I convinced the studio director to let me work the cameras, eventually leading to an editor position. From editor, I moved to executive producer, and it was then (my junior year) that I was introduced to the Amiga-800 and the Video Toaster, a revolutionary technology at the time that allowed for 3D text and graphics, and integration with “digital” switchers. I made ridiculous school movies, parodies, narrative pieces, mini-docs, behind the scenes pieces on local recording facilities and was completely hooked. This led to a brief stint working nights at a local TV station, and this set the foundation for learning about traditional editing techniques, as well as exposing me to the new tech of the day.
You also write songs and you’re a talented musician! Can you shed a little bit of light as to how you got into songwriting and performing, and some of your projects outside of Adobe?
I started out as a concert pianist at a very young age, playing in various concerts and recitals in New York. But I quickly grew tired of the classical scene and soon discovered The Beatles. Hearing them, I knew I wanted to write songs and make records. I soon built a recording studio in my home and began my creative exploration. I’d come home from school, do my homework and spend the next 4-5 hours writing and recording, every day, for five years.
By the time I left for college, I had recorded over 500 songs; mostly covers, some of my own. At Berklee College of Music, I got back into live performing (as a bassist, keyboardist and drummer) and this was the beginning of a long love-affair with the stage and engaging with people. Oddly enough, I didn’t really find ‘the writing bug’ until I went to work on Music Row in Nashville. There, I was employed as a studio engineer by day and songwriter by night. I started a publishing company and just began writing. Most of them were terrible and a few were acquired/signed, but I found a passion for doing it. Because of my education at Berklee, I could write, arrange and interpret in any style, so this led to many collaborations and solo recordings in a variety of different styles and genres. All of the commercial releases under my name can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon and everywhere music is streamed or sold; there are even a few on TikTok!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Adobe has afforded me the incredible opportunity to personally engage with customers from over 40 countries around the world (and even more over the last five years, since moving to daily livestreams). In doing so, I’ve learned that no matter where you go, creativity persists. Regardless of social or financial status, skill or schooling, people want to express creative ideas and actively seek ways to do it, all in an effort to “be heard.” As an Evangelist, my desire to share and inspire is equally matched by my desire to listen deeply and learn from others. And hearing from our customers daily, that I’ve somehow inspired them or shared something that ignites their creativity, that is a feeling that keeps *me* inspired, keeps me learning and keeps reminding me how grateful I am to have stumbled upon that little ad in the back of the newspaper that ultimately led me here, right where I needed to be.
Don’t forget to check out Jason’s music! Here’s how he’s using his talents to spread joy.