It is with great sadness that I report that Tom Music has died at the age of 31 after a long bout with cancer. Music had a booming voice and the rare ability to entertain a crowd, whether pitching a new idea at Startup Weekend or talking in a lighthearted way about his battle with cancer at Ignite Seattle.
A former Amazon.com employee who later worked for the family business, Advanced Management Systems, Music was diagnosed with lymphoma in May 2009.
I met Tom a on a few occasions at Seattle tech events, and I vividly remember his hilarious pitch for the startup project Obey The Decider at the Seattle Startup Weekend. Taking a humorous slant on restaurant review sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon, Music’s Obey The Decider simply chose where people should meet for coffee, beers or dinner. Nathan Kaiser, an attendee of that event, said people still talk about the pitch to this day.
Most of the startup projects Music worked on had a humorous angle to them, including Haikoo.org, a site where people could collaborate on Haiku poetry.
Music was best known for his dry sense of humor, a skill that was cultivated as an active member of the public speaking group Toastmasters. He was also a skilled programmer.
“He had an incredible sense of humor and humility that made him one of the most approachable people around the Seattle tech scene,” said friend Anthony Stevens. “A staggering loss.”
There was also a drive and passion to learn, something that friend Marina Martin recalled even while Music battled cancer.
“He had his laptop out in the hospital, working on new projects and improving his programming skills for as long as he could,” Martin recalled. “Tom’s Twitter bio — ‘I get antsy when I realize I’m consuming more than I create’ — is probably the single-best way I could ever describe him. He was focused on creating even while cancer consumed him.”
Music worked as a financial analyst and product manager at Amazon.com after graduating with a degree in economics from the University of Washington in 2003. Eric Peters, who helped recruit Music to Amazon, described him as “the most normal eclectic guy I’ve ever known.”