Pianist Lorie Line tells of her life as entrepreneur
Lorie Line is probably best-known in Duluth for her annual Christmas concert extravaganza at the DECC, but she is also an entrepreneur who has parlayed her piano-playing talent into a business that has overseen the sale of 5 million compact disks...
Lorie Line is probably best-known in Duluth for her annual Christmas concert extravaganza at the DECC, but she is also an entrepreneur who has parlayed her piano-playing talent into a business that has overseen the sale of 5 million compact disks, as well as concert tours and songbooks.
Today, Line is CEO of the largest woman-owned independent record company in the nation, Time Line Productions, which does business as Lorie Line Music. In an interview, she described it as "a $5 million business."
Line spoke about her business success to more than 300 people Wednesday evening at the Greater Downtown Council's annual dinner meeting at the Holiday Inn.
She has made 27 albums and released 20 books of music. She also has her own recording studio and a touring orchestra. She seems to have just the right appeal for her audiences, with elaborate costumes, gowns and sets -- and her own unique music arrangements of popular music.
She has been recognized by no less than the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award program for her accomplishments in business.
Dressed in a bright yellow pantsuit, Line told the audience of having perfect pitch, receiving a piano as a gift from her parents on her sixth birthday in Reno, Nev., practicing because her mother made her and earning the first college degree in the family. After meeting Tim Line on an airplane, she told her mother he was the man she was going to marry. Tim Line is now her husband of 20 years and the company's president.
The Lines moved to Minneapolis shortly after they were married. In addition to doing marketing work for a construction company, Lorie Line played the piano 28 hours a week for shoppers at Dayton's department store.
Seeing that she had fans, a year later in 1989, she cashed in her husband's $2,500 401(k) to record a CD. She hoped to sell it at Dayton's but her boss said no. She went up the ladder, but everyone she asked at the store turned her down until she reached a company vice president, who agreed it was a good idea. And in fact, it was. She said Dayton's made more than $1 million from her CDs in the five years she played there.
Always on the lookout for opportunity, soon afterward she staged a concert in Minneapolis that sold out.
That was when she started Lorie Line Music with her husband. Today her annual Christmas tour includes more than 50 performances, mostly in the Midwest. She does concerts at other times of year as well, from coast to coast.
Her tour is a monumental undertaking that involves three semi-trucks, one of which carries her personal piano, and two buses. This year she and her orchestra expect to be on the road 85 days. "I never do tire of it," she said in the interview.
But for a business person, she has one unusual dislike. "Dealing with the money is my least favorite thing I do," she said during her speech. She must make $15,000 to $20,000 per night to make the tour work because putting the show on the road costs $2 million, she said. "I'm scared every year," she said.
This year, however, Line said her company hopes to sell $6 million in concerts and CDs.