Finding his passion early
Hewitt's Zack Zarrillo found his as a teenager
“The blog started as an accident. No one in the city understood any of the music or art I was interested in, so I started to talk to other people."
Zack Zarrillo, 21, on how his blog, propertyofzack.com, came to be
BY GINNY PRIVITAR
HEWITT — Imagine finding your passion in life at age 16. That’s what happened for Zack Zarrillo, when he combined his two loves of music and technology and created his own punk music blog at propertyofzack.com. Two years later, at the ripe old age of 18, he sold his blog to Buzz Media, but he’s still the founder and CEO and responsible for all content.
“The music I cover is in the punk world,” Zarrillo said. “Punk music is a meshing between aggressive music and outspoken culture where all ideals are safe and can create a greater community. It has such a rich and long history.”
Why punk? “In its purest, chaotic state – chaotic in a good way — it’s appealing to someone who doesn’t feel understood or able to explain their passions to the people they deal with every day.”
Now, at 21, Zarrillo is involved in four music industry businesses. Besides the website “propertyofzack,” he co-owns the record label “Bad Timing” and is working to reboot a once-famous record label called “Jade Tree,” which he described as one of the most influential punk labels It’s his job, he said, to bring it back to its greater glory. He also works for a management company, Synergy, where he manages two bands and is an assistant for two others. As if that wasn’t enough, “My fifth job is college,” Zarrillo said. He’s a music industry major at Drexel University in Philadelphia. He’ll be glad when he graduates next year, he said, since he needs a break. Chances are, though, he’ll fill the extra time with music.
Zarrillo grew up in Manhattan, but his family always had a home in West Milford. He considers West Milford home. His best friend and fellow West Milford resident, Matthew Romeo, introduced Zarrillo to punk music when he was just nine years old. Eight years of guitar lessons followed. Zarrillo’s interest in punk music really grew when he attended The Browning School, a private school for boys, in Manhattan.
“The blog started as an accident,” Zarrillo said, when he was a junior in high school. “No one in the city understood any of the music or art I was interested in, so I started to talk to other people,” via the blog.
The blog was one of the first of its kind — not many music blogs existed then, but others soon sprang up.
“I did not know you could have a blog and that showed everyone it was possible.” Zarrillo said,
Although he doesn't own it anymore, Zarrillo still runs the blog. And it has grown.
“We have a volunteer staff of 20 or so; everyone has different roles. I handle news posting and content; we also have writers, videographers. I’m not editor-in-chief — we have one — but I oversee all content…Music is my job, but tech is my first love. The website is using both together.”
Zarrillo did not get his computer savvy from his dad.
“My dad is the worst person with computers that I know," he said. "My mother, Orit, has owned a graphic design business, The 'O' Group, for upwards of 30 years.”
His dad, Paul Zarrillo, a member of the Greenwood Lake Commission, does promotional and merchandising work for The 'O' Group.
And both parents have contributed to his success: His mother designed his logo and his dad did all of the early merchandising.
“My mom and dad always encouraged me.” Zarrillo said, “Growing up in that environment helped shape my success.”
Managing a band and making records.
Zarrillo moved into a more active role in the music industry almost by accident.
“I was only doing the website and a friend asked me to manage a band she worked with," he said. "If you had asked me before if I would be managing a band, I would have said there was never a chance of me doing that.”
At Synergy, he manages two bands and is an assistant for two more.
His Bad Timing label produces vinyl records. Zarrillo said there’s been a resurgence; every year for the last 10 years vinyl record sales have increased. He sells thousands of records a year. Why vinyl records?
“In a digital age, people want to have something (physical) to collect and support bands and the art they put out in the world,” Zarrillo said.
Work is play
Zarrillo said he’s worked all day, every day, for about five years, but he’s certainly not complaining. His job includes going to concerts and talking to the people he meets. He loves that. Opportunities for future business are born there, he said.
And although he learned his business savvy on the cultured streets of Manhattan, West Milford has had a big influence on Zarrillo.
“All my success is from West Milford. I got business savvy from Manhattan, but West Milford has shaped everything I do," said Zarrillo. "West Milford and Greenwood Lake are the two best things in the world.”
Zarrillo said he sees himself continuing in the punk field. Why not? He has found success in following his dreams. Romeo, his friend who introduced Zarrillo to the genre, said he knew from the beginning that his friend had found his passion.
“I knew from the moment that Zack started his first blog that he had found his passion," said Romeo. "He always was very strong-willed and determined. Zack would not do anything he did not want to. Music was something he loved; he soon took control of his own destiny and led it where he wanted to go. He is certainly proof that if you dream it, you can do it.”
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