Indulge Your Senses: Scaling Intimacy in a Digital World

By Michael Dorf, Paul Keegan

After starting two iconic music venues and surviving the dot-com bust, Michael Dorf offers gripping stories and hard-earned business lessons with a contrarian twist. As technology becomes more deeply woven into our lives, the key to success can be found in satisfying people’s yearning for live human interaction.

“Simply put, Michael Dorf is a true hustler. When the internet upended the music business, he wasn’t romantic about the way things were done and like any great entrepreneur, focused on what’s happening today. It has been fun for me to watch Michael operate in this ever-changing world. There is a lot that can be learned from this man.”Gary Vaynerchuk, Founder and CEO, VaynerMedia; and author, Crushing It

As founder of the iconic Knitting Factory music venue in New York, Michael Dorf became one of the earliest pioneers of digital music in the 1990s and found himself addicted to the seductive promise of the Internet. But losing everything in the dot-com bust led to a renewed appreciation for the sensory pleasures of life and inspired him to gamble big with his latest crazy idea: Launching a wine-making facility in the middle of Manhattan for patrons who could also have dinner in a cozy three-hundred-seat venue while watching concerts by artists such as Elvis Costello, Steve Earle, Suzanne Vega, and Esperanza Spalding.

After surviving another economic cataclysm—the Great Recession of 2008—Dorf found that his City Winery concept worked beautifully and he expanded it into a national network of clubs that continues to grow rapidly. Along the way, he realized why his venues are sold out nearly every night, from Boston to Nashville: Trapped in a digital bubble, increasingly separate from the real world, people are eager for the visceral, sensory experiences he offers.

In Indulge Your Senses: Scaling Intimacy in a Digital World, Dorf tells riveting tales from his wild ride through three decades of business escapades and dispenses invaluable wisdom for readers—entrepreneurs, executives, students, professionals, lovers of music and wine—who are struggling to balance the virtual and the real in a world awash in technology.

“Music, wine, food, and community—not only has Michael Dorf cracked the code on a recipe so many of us crave most in an increasingly disconnected world, he’s also managed to grow a brilliantly successful business while listening to his gut and sticking to his values. It’s a feat that all entrepreneurs would be wise to study closely.” —Danny Meyer, CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group; Founder, Shake Shack; and author, Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business

“The lessons learned in Michael Dorf’s fascinating career make this as much a business book about how to thrive by indulging a customer’s senses in our digital age as it is a gripping tale from an insider in the New York rock and jazz world during a period of massive technological change.”—Steve Case, co-founder of the investment firm Revolution LLC and former CEO of AO

“Sonic Youth, Beck, John Zorn, Cecil Taylor—Michael Dorf showcased them all at his cutting-edge Knitting Factory. Neil Young, Aaron Neville, Macy Gray, Shawn Colvin—those artists and more have graced his upscale City Winery. It’s hard to imagine anyone in New York who has presented more great live music over the past thirty years. This book is the colorful story of how Dorf pulled it off, both before and after the Internet upended the music industry and changed our lives forever. It’s inspiring reading for anybody who cares about music, culture, and wine, and explains how to thrive by offering people a live experience they will always remember.” —Rita Houston, WFUV Program Director