All posts in RM64 Features

Q&A: Bill Armstrong on creating

What was the initial inspiration or motivation to develop Did that change at all during the process?

The initial motivation happened a few years ago when I got tired of talking and hearing about how bad the music business was. Although it is, and was true, I thought I would try to come up with some solutions as opposed of stating the problem over and over. I would say it has definitely evolved over time but the core functionality was always to syndicate promotional music in a more meaningful way.

Did you try to approach creating the site more from the perspective of a label-owner, or music fan – or both? How does it differ?

TheNewRecord's Bill Armstrong

Both. I wanted an easier way to keep up with the labels, friends and bands I was into. As a label owner I wanted to get our music above the static of open platforms. It really wasn’t different as it had to be useful and fun on both ends.

There’s a lot of action in the digital music space happening again right now, how closely do you follow the developments at other startups, and does it effect your expectations or how you are going to roll out TNR?

I check everything out. Ones I think are good or relevant to me I follow closely, but if its not something I would actually use I won’t spend much time with it. For me it has to be useful as well as fun. As far as my own expectations? “Difficult takes a day, Impossible takes a week” – JayZ

So much is made these days in press about the process of licensing music from record labels for new digital services. While mostly it’s in reference to major labels, how did you find the process of signing up indie labels for TNR to be?

Truly inspiring. 98% of the labels I showed TheNewRecord to understood it right away and really went out of their way to show support for the site and more importantly the communal aspect of it. The labels on TheNewRecord are in my opinion some of the best and most forward thinking Labels in Independent music today – so it was a nice reaffirmation about the project when talking to them. Epitaph, Sub Pop, Anti, Century Media, Daptone, Brushfire, Relapse, Paper and Plastic… and there are 30 more I didnt mention – if you can’t discover anything new and exciting from those labels I hate to be the one to tell you…. you have really bad taste in music, please seek help or always wear earphones. I also had the luxury of having been friends with a lot of these folks over the years through SideOneDummy and already had a really good working relationship with them. It has also been really exciting and inspiring to meet new labels whom I have respected over the years but hadn’t done any projects with too.

It seems like a key aspect to TNR is that it isn’t about sheer volume of music, but rather curated and filtered delivery of music to fans – which is something that is missing from a lot of digital services. Is that accurate to say?

I think that’s fair, I approached this with a less is more attitude. 98% of the music that is out there sucks pretty bad, I think we can all agree on that. I really don’t want to spend too much time sorting through the average to find the gems if I don’t have too. We are really only interested in the 2% that doesn’t suck and so far we are off to a great start.

An Italian & Canadian Walk Into a Burger Bar: RM64 Q&A w/ Yeah! Management’s Rev & Mott

After a decade long tenure helping to build The Syndicate into one of the premier music marketing and promotion companies in the business, Dave “The Rev” Ciancio broke off in 2008 to form a new management company.  Along with fellow manager and Canadian, Adam Mott, the two formed Yeah! Management with their sights set on taking their roster of hard rock and metal artists to a new level.  We recently sat down with the pair to discuss the new company and to figure out what the Rev’s fascination with burgers is…

RM 64: Let’s start with your backgrounds and how you got into the business of rock.

REV: I grew up in Detroit and like all parents, mine hated music and my friends, so I naturally gravitated towards hip-hop and metal because that’s what they hated the most. The day of my high school graduation, my best friend came over and handed me an envelope and said ‘here’s your graduation present. You gotta open it right now.’ I’m wearing a suit…my family had flown in and I’m like, ‘dude I’m not opening this… My mom wants us to have a thing where we open presents, take pictures and say thank you’s.’ He’s like no, you have to open it right now.’ I tear it open and it was 3 tickets to see Clash of The Titans tour with Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax and Alice in Chains…ALL my favorite bands. I was like YEAH!!! But then looked and realized, like in an 80’s movie moment with the close up of the ticket and the eyes pop out of the head, that the show started in an hour. Anthrax was on first and they were my favorite band and if we didn’t leave right then we were going to miss the opening of “Persistence of Time.”

But I knew my mom would freak out. Again, it was just like a movie. I was like, ‘ok, pull the car around the house.’ I run to my bedroom, put on my Anthrax “Not Man” t-shirt, my ripped up jean shorts, my unlaced high tops and I go running out of my back porch. I say, ‘thanks everyone for coming to see the graduation…I’m going to go see Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax, bye.’ I’m running across the backyard I jump over the fence, Duke Boy dive into the car and head to the concert. We get there, we pull up, running down to our seats right dead center, row 23, Anthrax comes on…the “Persistence of Time” and I’m like YEAH!!!

As I’m sitting there head banging and I see these people walking around the stage with laminates on that are handling guitars, checking guest-list or bringing bottles of water, doing things like that, and I said ‘that’s what I fuckin’ want to do with my life.’ I want to be the guy who helps Anthrax rock out at the Pine Knob music theatre in Detroit. A whole bunch of shit happened after that and now I’m sitting in your living room but that was the moment.

AM: I don’t know how I can top that one. I played in a band and did that route… I’m from Toronto, Canada and I started playing guitar at 13, 14 and the next thing you know I went to school one day and I was like, ‘I’m gonna be a rock star.’ When I was I 18 went to another school called Fanshawe College, which was known for producers. Our teacher was Jack Richardson, who worked with the Guess Who, Alice Cooper and on many other records. After that my band got signed to EMI and I continued playing in bands until I was 29 years old.

The Rev (L) & partner in crime Adam Mott (R)

RM 64: What was the name of the band?

AM: Supergarage. We were big in Canada and we did okay in the UK, but we couldn’t get arrested in the states.

RM 64: What were your first industry gigs?

AM: Well I played in that band for a while and the next thing you know some guy calls and ask if I want to be a manager. I was like, ‘are you kidding me? Alright.’ So I did. I started being a manager, started a record company and then met this guy. Where did we meet?

REV: Of all the great places in America, Warped Tour in Camden, New Jersey.

AM: A friend introduced us, and the next thing you know, we start talking and he was like, ‘do you want to move to the states?’ I said yes! So I packed my bags and sold my company and moved to the states and it’s been all downhill since then (laughs).

REV: Mine is a really long story so I’m going to skip most of it… But basically I was in college and couldn’t go home for the summer so I had to stay at school and needed a summer gig. I was moving furniture and one of the guys that moved furniture worked at the college radio station and one day the program director asked if my friend would cover for the heavy metal host who couldn’t be there. My friend didn’t like heavy metal so he came in and asked me, ‘do you want to host the heavy metal show?’ So I went in one day and he was pulling records and asked, ‘You wanna pick some songs?’ I said, ‘yeah I want to pick some songs.’ Hey says ‘do you want to go on air? Yeah, I want to go on air!’ So I did the break and the emergency phone rang in the back and a voice asks ‘who is this?’ ‘My name is Dave’ I say. He asks if I liked metal, and I said, ‘I fuckin’ love metal.’ Then he asked if I wanted to be on the radio, and they end up hiring me to host the metal show the next week. I become the program director of the radio station, start talking to all the promo reps at all the promo companies and record labels and then I graduated college and got a phone call (phone rings in office) and there it is (laughter). I got the phone call, ‘hey do you want to move to New York and be in the music business?’
I was at WDBM, 89 FM at Michigan State University for a year and half. From there I moved to NJ where I worked in radio promotions with Anya Feldman

RM 64: Moving on to the beginning of The Syndicate; was it a slow steady build or did something spark and set things off quickly?

REV: It was definitely a spark. It was 1997 and I was doing college radio promo and some retail promo for AIM Strategies. Paul Yeskel, who owned the company, had started out doing promo but because his business got so big, he had to run the company and not do promo anymore. Eventually he walked in one day and said ‘I love you guys I love this company, but I miss doing promo. I don’t like running a company.’ It was October 17th and he told us December 17th was going to be the last day the place was going to exist. The five of us who were doing 80-85% of the business looked at each other and said, ‘we can do this, we just need to figure out the administration stuff’. And literally December 17th 1997 was the last day at AIM and on January 5th in 1998 we opened The Syndicate, it was almost overnight.

We got a real small personal loan from some family members, and then we were sitting in a warehouse space in Wehawken, NJ with no heat and no lights in the first week of January. All we had was little terminal stations and a phone. I remember sitting there in a wooly cap and gloves calling stations thinking ‘I can’t feel my hands.’ The Syndicate started out of the necessity of finding a job and it was one of those things where we saw a hole in the income stream and we just took it. We went 6 months and not one of us took a paycheck. I was DJ’ing at a nightclub until 2AM and pocketing the cash, but I would go back to work in the morning always excited about doing metal radio promotion.

RM 64: Who were the five original principles?

REV: Tracey Zucatti, Marc Meltzer, Bernie Mueller, Jon Landman and myself. A couple years later we expanded with The Street Syndicate and Chris Elles came to join us from CMJ.

RM 64: After the first 6 months, where did things go from there?

REV: Things were going really well. In a job like that you aren’t creating a product, but providing a service, so since the service was good people kept hiring us. But after about a year and a half of calling radio, I was bored. You’re in charge of a project for 6-8 weeks, and then Iron Maiden doesn’t care about you anymore, but I still cared about Iron Maiden. So I wanted to get into management. At the time I was trying to help a band called Shadows Fall get a deal because they were friends of mine. And when they got a record deal I was just kind of helping or consulting I guess.

It was April 1st 2000, I remember the date exactly, and I’m at a really horrible bar in Queens with the band. They were playing this awful little club on their first national album tour ever, and they look at me and ask ‘we hear you’re thinking about getting into management’ and I said ‘yep, just waiting to find the right band’ and they said ‘so what are you waiting for?’ ‘You trust me to manage your career?’ I asked. They said ‘we don’t trust anybody but we know where you live so give it a shot!’ And so I started managing Shadows Fall and that sort of took off and from there we picked up Thursday, God Forbid and literally within a year I was doing management full time. Within two years there was a three person staff doing management. And it just really became something.

RM 64: What brought about the formation of Yeah! Management?

REV: Ten years after forming The Syndicate, the management division and the marketing division were going in two different directions. I walked into my partners one day and said ‘I love you guys, this place is amazing, but I need to take this show on the road, because my goals are not matching yours and vice versa.’ Two weeks later I called Adam (Mott) on a Sunday night and asked him what he was doing. He said ‘I’m watching football in my pajamas.’ I asked him to come meet me at a bar in midtown. I told him the deal that night and that I wanted him to come with me. The next morning we told Jackie and that afternoon I told my partners. Two weeks later we were gone.

Read more…

Q&A w/ The Viper Room’s Nathan Levinson & The Other Berko

The Viper Room is one of the most recognizable and famous nightclubs in Tinseltown. Actor Johnny Depp was among one of the owners of the club when it opened, and the venue quickly became a celebrity hangout. It received worldwide attention when actor River Phoenix died outside the club on Halloween night in 1993. Throughout the years, the venue has seen many transitions in L.A.’s live music scene, while a host of the biggest names in music got their start on the Viper Room stage. And for many years it has been an industry hotspot to check out new talent.

While the music business has changed dramatically in recent years, the club has transitioned as well with new faces and a changing atmosphere, particularly when restaurateur Harry Morton purchased the venue in 2008. An effort to return the venue to its prominence and influence during the club’s heyday seems underway. Current Viper Room players Nathan Levinson and Sarah Berkowitz, who handle marketing and promotion, stopped by RM 64 headquarters to share what’s in the works.

RM64: Tell us what it is you do at The Viper Room and how you came to be there?

NL: I came to The Viper Room last February. Before that I was a senior ad executive at the alternative news weekly in Salt Lake for 3 years…Salt Lake City Weekly is just like the L.A. Weekly here.

I needed to get out of Salt Lake and came here in pursuit of a screenwriting dream but needed a job. I saw an opportunity for a marketing position at the Viper Room and started doing a bunch of research, for instance how Harry Morton had purchased the company the year prior.

I had a lot of experience in nightlife marketing because I ran all the club stuff in Salt Lake for the news weekly and did a lot of club relations on the advertising side as well. I’m pretty savvy in the digital world in my own efforts and they were looking for someone to launch a heavy digital campaign. In terms of online or digital at the time, there wasn’t much going on here. Sarah was completely overworked and that was part of what she was trying to launch, but the manpower just wasn’t there. Around the same time, they were changing out a lot of the staff, particularly to try and have a friendlier atmosphere. There was a presence starting to be built there, but it wasn’t what it could be and that’s when I came in and started working closely with Sarah.

SB: I started working at the Viper Room as an intern and was hired on when I graduated. I started as an all around assistant to special events, talent buyers, operations managers and basically did a little bit of everything. When Nate came onboard, the duties were able to shift and he focused more heavily on the marketing and I was able to move more into event coordination.

NL: About a month after I had been at the Viper setting up the digital landscape, Casey our national talent buyer came on. He is extremely digitally savvy as well so it was a great match. He brought in Chelsea our local buyer a month later, which completed our team.

Looking to the future: Viper Room's Sarah & Nathan

RM64: Where does the Viper Room see itself going as a venue? World-class club and smaller destination for larger bands wanting an intimate show, or is it a neighborhood bar that happens to have a history?

NL: I would say it’s both. It’s clearly a destination club because of the brand and the name, so there’s always the tourist element – those who want to go there to say they’ve been there. Internally we care about the quality and experience of the music, and also the building of the community vibe. We want not only music regulars to love it, but also the locals who want to come hangout at a great scene, and it helps that we’re blessed with an amazing staff. A lot of them are in bands or television shows, and it’s really a talented and dynamic group of people all with wonderful personalities.

SB: At the same time, the music quality is absolutely our focus.

RM64: Tell us about Viper Room’s Friends and Family list that you guys recently started.

SB: We have live bands every night of the week. There is a lot of industry that come out to see bands every night. Instead of constant guest list requests, we wanted to open it up. Provided that it’s not a benefit show, an outside promoted night or it’s sold out, you can come in free plus one. It’s free entry and drink specials.

NL: The Friends and Family list was a big turning point for us in order to get the industry back in the room and saying good things.

RM64: Is that list now closed?

SB: For the moment it is.

NL: We did a good job with saturating the industry really quickly.

RM64: What are some of the things you’re doing in terms of being more artists friendly? It seems like a place more people want to play now.

SB: For starters our production staff is amazing. Our production manager wants every band to have the best time and gives them everything they need. He has instilled that in the rest of the production staff too. So everyone works really hard and we constantly get emails back saying, ‘we had a great time. Your entire staff is amazing.’ That’s the first part, because bands talk to other bands and if they have a great experience at a venue, they’ll tell other bands and the other bands are going to want to play. The other part is the marketing.

Read more…

Missy Worth Shares Her Artistic License with RM64 in Our Last Q&A of ’09

Missy at the Artistic License mgmt office

When industry veteran Missy Worth finally agreed to a Q&A session with us, we knew we were in store for some great industry stories. Today she manages prolific punk rockers Rise Against along with indie stalwart Spill Canvas, but she has also guided the early development of artists such as Jeff Buckley, Alice In Chains and OneRepublic, among others. Her career spans a very colorful and exciting time in the business. A resume that includes running labels, concert promotion and artist management, while working with some of the industry’s most powerful and iconic figures —Irving Azoff, Michael Lippman, Donnie Ienner and Sandy Gallin to name a few. Pay close attention. She shares a lot of insight and perspective. You might learn a thing or two. We certainly did.

RM64: What was your first job in the music business?

MW: I worked at (entertainment law firm) Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, through a temp agency. I was 17.

RM64: Did you have aspirations to be in the music business at that time?

MW: I did. I was sitting in history class in Northridge and I was ‘what am I doing here?’ I only care about music and movies, anything to take me out of my life. I didn’t want to make movies because I couldn’t compete with my dad, he was just too good at it. I went home and said ‘I’m not going to school anymore.’ My parents said if I wasn’t going to go to school then I had to get a job. I called Apple Temp Agency on Sunset and they got me in as a temp in the file room at MS&K.

RM64: So what happened next?

MW: I meet attorneys Abe Summer, Milt Olin and Peter Lopez who were working in the music division. I suggested that they get a scout because they wanted new developing acts. Then I brought them The Motels and Milt became the band’s lawyer. Interestingly enough it also led to my next job. Michael Lippman wanted to manage The Motels because he had just left Arista Records and wanted a young rock band. So Milt introduced me to Michael and I left MS&K and went to work for Michael’s management company. I told him I was 18 and he didn’t get the band, but he did get me.

RM64: So you lied?

MW: Yes. (laughs) I was still 17.

RM64: What was your role with Michael?

MW: Well, first I was his receptionist. Then I became the production assistant for Ron Nevison and Harry Maslin helping with producer duties, like booking the studios , watching the budgets, getting food for them, very glamorous. I also worked with Eric Carmen and Melissa Manchester as kind of their day to day assistant. I worked for Michael for a long time, he taught me the business in a way I’m very lucky to have learned. He taught the big picture, record company, publishing, imaging and touring. If you knew that you could manage, if you didn’t, you had to learn it all. Nothing has been more valuable to me.

RM64: So you became a day-to-day manager?

MW: You didn’t call it that then. None of those fancy terms came about. You were paid no money. You didn’t get a TV. You got phones thrown at you and you helped throw their parties. There weren’t any ‘day-to-day’ managers or anything like that. You were their assistant. And you did whatever you were told to do. There was no entitlement, that started in the 90’s. And you were really happy to do it. I remember I got Eric Carmen the wrong blow dryer and it was a disaster. Literally, he kicked me out of the apartment. He was screaming ‘how am I going to do my hair now!’ I don’t know if you know anything about Eric, but his hair was perfect…

RM64: Quaffed hair?

MW: Yes, but it was perfect and it took him like an hour to do and I got him the wrong blow dryer. I almost got fired for that!

Eric Carmen with his perfect quaff

RM64: That’s funny. Back to management…

MW: Yes in today’s terms you would call it being a day-to-day manager. Back then you were just the assistant and you were really happy to be learning. But you could read all the contracts and deal memos that came in. And all the phones had mute buttons. It was awesome because you were on the phone taking notes for your boss, but you were really learning an immense amount. You were hearing how they manipulated the whole situation and how they negotiated and how it all worked by hearing both sides of it. Now I think people don’t even sit in the offices with their assistants. And they certainly aren’t allowed to make phone calls for you anymore or any of that stuff, but that’s how I learned everything. I sat on the couch across from Michael and I was on the phone all day.

Read more…

Q&A Leftovers: A User’s Guide to the Bidding Derby

RM 64 on deadline...

After Myspace Records’ Jason Reynolds stopped by the RM 64 offices for our interview with him, we uncovered an interesting tidbit left on tape during the post-interview banter. The off-the-record discussions and gossip from our interview sessions have been quite eye-opening. It makes for good industry fodder to post when our editorial staff is feeling lazy or in this case, are nursing a hangover. So we hope you enjoy a little inside story concerning the signing of a certain Australian rock act that went on to sell millions of records. We start with Mr. Reynolds and RM 64 poser-journalist Rodel Delfin reminiscing about their shenanigans and what started out as a bet.

RM64: Jason, a friend asked me the other day about Jet signing to Elektra Records several years ago. He had heard that you and I were somewhat involved with stirring that up. It was definitely a fierce bidding derby. I recall the band was starting to garner a lot of industry attention in Australia, where the band is from. I was the A&R Editor at Hits Magazine at the time, and you and I would talk about new music and bands coming across your scene. And I remember you handing me the Jet demo. How did you come across them and what was happening at the time?

JR: My friend David Vodicka, who was running Rubber Records, also ran a company called Media Arts Lawyers in Melbourne, Australia. Basically, he had found Jet and told me that I need to know about this band. It was one of those things, when I was listening to the demo –like ‘oh holy shit.’

RM64: It’s funny because I pulled the demo from my old archives, and it had “Are You Going to Be My Girl?” and “Cold Hard Bitch” along with four other tracks.

JR: Yeah, it was basically half of the album and actually all of the songs that ended up being singles. It was definitely one of those no-brainer situations.

RM64: So you had it. What was happening in Australia at the time?

JR: All of the majors in Australia had heard about it and approached it. And I know through a couple of those labels it had filtered out a little bit overseas. Then David had contacted me to talk to people over here. He and I had that kind of relationship where I would help him connect the dots with A&R people in the states. And that was it. Then you became my conduit because most of the A&R people weren’t taking my calls.

Read more…

Champagne Superhova: Q&A with BigChampagne’s Eric Garland

In our most enlightening Q&A to date, BigChampagne CEO Eric Garland shares his insight on the issues facing the music and technology business in the last 10 years. It’s a must read for industry insiders in the online and offline world. He recently stopped by RM 64 headquarters to sit down with office janitors Berko Pearce and Scott Sheldon where they also discussed the finer points of Joe Fleischer‘s hair.

RM64: Can you give us a little background on yourself and how you got involved in the music & technology business?

EG: I’m a kid from Texas, most of the family is still there and I’m the one that got out. I take great pleasure in turning SXSW into like a three-week boondoggle and visit every distant relative and hang out on the lake. I played in bands unsuccessfully, knocked around Texas, then did the whole fraternity/sorority circuit for a while when I got out of school. I went to work as a management consultant and got the bug, being entrepreneurial, that is to say basically having a paycheck but not having a boss. So when I got really restless at that, I realized there was no less legitimate place to go, you’re already a consultant, so you can only go to unemployment. So I decided to start a company, what would become BigChampagne really. It was sort of set off like everything was in music and technology at that time, with the explosion and popularity of Napster. Napster happened and we thought there has to be an opportunity here for artists.

BigChampagne CEO Eric Garland

BC's Eric Garland, nice white teeth

RM64: Did you use Napster?

EG: Um, I had an occupational interest in Napster (smiles).

RM64: Strike that from the record.

EG: No, no, no, that’s actually a good story, the one part of my personal story that’s worth telling. I was helping out artist friends who had been helpful to me when I was trying to be an artist. One of my friends at that time, a great artist named Glen Phillips who had been the front man for Toad the Wet Sprocket, was starting his second career as an independent artist. I was sort of quasi-managing Glen, helping him a lot and I launched his first website. He wanted to do the whole e-commerce thing and sell his first solo record on his website, this is late ‘90s or early 2000’s. We were sitting around in the bar at Largo long after closing one night after he had done a little solo set, and he said, ‘What do you make of Napster?’ I said, ‘Just between you and me, I think it’s really cool. Does that offend you?’ And he said, ‘No! And that’s my problem.’ Everybody was so upset about Napster. Lars is going on about it, and Hillary Rosen is banging the drum and everybody’s threatening lawsuit. And he said, ‘As a guy who used to be in a band that people really loved, and as a guy who’s trying to draw some attention to what he’s doing now, I just wish I could let those people know that I’ve got a record and that I’m coming to town, or that I have a T-shirt that comes in lady’s sizes.’ You know, and his take was just so different. He was like, ‘I just think for most artists the first reaction should be that this is a community and it should be a tool set for me, and how do I exploit it to my advantage?’ And I was like, ‘that’s kinda cool.’

So I went and found this computer scientist buddy of mine and said, ‘what do you know about Napster? Tell me everything about Napster?’ Just by total chance he had met a group of other developers who had been working in this area of peer-mediated computing. He said, ‘Well, there are a lot of things we could do…’ And I said, ‘I’ve got this artist friend who really wants to find his fans on Napster and let them know what he’s doing now.’ He said, ‘let me think about that.’ Twenty-four hours later he tells me ‘I think I have something for you. I’ll have a prototype tonight at 7.’ Sure enough he showed me this amazing thing that he had very quickly thrown together. It was essentially a search engine that was collecting information about what people were searching for on Napster, what people were downloading and which artists people were adding to a playlist. Then we could segment that for purposes of marketing. So we did this little pilot with Glen Phillips where we approached Toad the Wet Sprocket fans and said, ‘hey, it’s Glen from Toad. I have a new record out and I’m giving away some mp3s, I have a tour calendar, and here it is.’ The conversion rate was unreal, it was getting like 20-25 percent conversions, we sold thousands of his independently released CDs off of, a website that I was maintaining at that point out of my apartment in Fairfax. We just thought, ‘this is it. This is the future of the music industry.’ Little did we know that 10 years later that would almost be true. We were very eager and excited about what that first 6 months would hold, which was mostly pain and suffering.

RM64: So how did BigChampagne come into being?

EG: We did a few more of these experiments with artists after Glen Phillips. There was this sort of word of mouth thing in the artist community. Along the lines of, ‘these guys are doing this crazy stuff with Napster and online marketing.’ Then we started doing a lot of them. We worked with a whole bunch of L.A. bands, Bay Area bands and we got some press for that, and it was like, ‘hey these independent artists have a different attitude about Napster and they’re working with this technology start up.’ At that point there was still no name for it, you know, it wasn’t BigChampagne. It was just some guys.

Then I got a call from Jim Guerinot. And Jim said, ‘we get it, we think Napster is amazing.’ The Offspring wanted to put out their new record on Napster. That did not end up happening for reasons that had nothing to do with Guerinot or The Offspring, which I’m sure you know. But it started a really good conversation, and we did do some stuff to market and promote not just The Offspring, but a bunch of different bands of Jim’s. And through Jim we met the lawyer, of course. They always march the lawyer in, and that was Ken Hertz. He was effectively my co-founder, in that he was the one that looked at this little experiment of ours and said, ‘let’s turn this into a business, let’s build this. This could really be the path for the music industry with respect to Napster. This could be a better approach.’ And so it is, in a roundabout way, Kenny’s fault that I met Joe Fleischer.

RM64: Now at the time did you know of their (Ken & Joe) work with

EG: I was doing real-time research. I was Googling furiously. I guess this is before Google, so I was Yahooing to try to find out what I had fallen into. And yes, I was aware that they had worked together with varying degrees of success in the past.

RM64: Was this right after

EG: It was, it was virtually the same time. It’s when all these companies were falling through the door, were pouring into L.A., mostly from Northern California. And I will say this, completely unabashedly but also un-cynically, it could have gone so badly for us. This is the thing I think back on more often than anything else, you had a couple of smart geeks that had an idea and a little bit of technology. We basically showed up in Hollywood and said, ‘does anybody want to buy a watch?’

In hindsight, we could not have done better. We sort of fell into this little Largo community, where people loved music, were passionate about art and were all friends and invested in one another. That was great and really lucky. Then we caught the attention of slightly more powerful people in the business. During that time we sat down with everybody. And they were dazzled and wowed by the possibilities. It was cool to be knowledgeable and valuable to these people who were legendary. Who were we? We were somebody who knew something about Napster and that was a real currency, the elevator definitely got off on the top floor.

Kings of Pop: BC's Joe Fleischer (left) & Eric Garland (right)

Read more…

Oh how Notable it is: Q&A with Music Publishers Damon Booth & Tom DeSavia

Notable Music Founder Cy Coleman

**UPDATE 9/01/09: Notable Music and IODA announce new partnership, read the press release HERE

With a diverse and impressive publishing roster that includes music legend Cy Coleman and an amazing Jamaican music catalog, the crew from Notable Music is marking their territory in the new music landscape. The boutique pubco’s Damon Booth and Tom DeSavia recently sat down for a little Q&A sesh with RM 64 knuckleheads Rodel Delfin and Scott Sheldon.

RM 64: Before we get into the inner workings of Notable, share with us your industry backgrounds.

DB: I’ll start considering the guy who moved me to LA from Chicago is sitting right next to me. I started my career working for ASCAP in their Midwest office and Tom (DeSavia) was my boss. When he left to work at Elektra Records in the late 90s, ASCAP moved me to Los Angeles and I took over Pop music membership at the PRO. From there I went to EMI Publishing where I was a Creative exec for a few years and then crossed over to the label side, doing A&R at Warner Brothers Records.

During this period I was introduced to an amazing songwriter who later became my brother-in-law, named Cy Coleman. He was also an independent music publisher as he had never sold his publishing and he had this great American Songbook collection. We ended up becoming very close.

When Cy passed away suddenly in 2004, I left Warner Bros. to keep his little boutique company, Notable Music up and running, thus keeping it a family business. I’ve been doing that for three years now and we moved the company from New York City to Pasadena, CA two years ago. And I was fortunate enough to have Tom come on board earlier this year as VP of Creative.

TD: For me, I started as a music journalist for a publication called Cash Box. I was later asked to interview at ASCAP. I got the gig and ended up staying there for seven years before going to Elektra Records where I did A&R for six years. After that I went back to ASCAP for an additional eight years, heading up the West Coast membership staff.

Over the years, Damon and I have been such good friends that joining him at Notable is really like a kid’s fantasy. To have the opportunity to work together after so many years is amazing.

RM 64: On to Notable, how did it start?

DB: Notable was started in 1962 by Cy Coleman. He was widely considered one of the last of the great American Songbook legends. He was the baby of that group which included Cole Porter, George Gershwin, as well as contemporaries like Sammy Cahn and Stephen Sondheim. He had a couple of huge hits during his early 20’s and wrote for Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., collaborators who at the time were much older lyricists than him.

A lot of the writers he was working with didn’t want to sign their publishing away to someone they didn’t know, so they signed with Cy. And he kept signing writers that loved him and that he trusted. And they trusted him.

Cy could identify talent really early, but he wasn’t trying to sign anyone and everyone. His philosophy was, ‘I’m a songwriter, I’m going to take care of my own songs and other artists who I trust and want to work with.’ But he had a career writing and performing everyday. And you know, even though the songs were standards, you have to work them just as hard as a new project because they will fade and people will forget them.

DeSavia (left) & Booth (right) circa early 90s, with their spiritual guide, Francisco (middle)

RM 64: What were some of your goals when taking over the company?

DB:Things weren’t going the right direction when I came in, so we took over the catalog and moved administration through Chrysalis Publishing, who has been amazing partners. Right away they brought up the idea to do a tribute album of Cy’s work. I thought it was a great idea. They introduced us to Dave Palmer, an L.A. based producer, arranger and musician, and we brought in some contemporary singers to do Cy’s songs in new arrangements. The idea was to present something new to these standards so people wouldn’t expect what they heard. We’re trying to bring in a new audience to match the name with the music and keep the legacy going. The tribute album which will be coming out via New West Records features Fiona Apple, Patti Griffin, Ambrosia Parsley, Missy Higgins and a variety of great artists who knew and loved Cy’s songs.

Read more…

Inside MySpace Record’s Artist Development Program; Q&A with Jason Reynolds

MySpace Records has been busy behind the scenes establishing a new unsigned artist development program called the Friends & Family Network.  The initiative provides marketing for all participating artists across the MySpace Music platform to promote releases, tours and videos.

The label has also begun a new series of live shows in Los Angeles called Online [Offline], which features artists from the Friends and Family Network.

We recently sat down with MySpace Records’ Jason Reynolds to get the details.

MySpace Records' Jason Reynolds

MSR's Jason Reynolds in signature shades

RM64:  To start off can you tell us a little about your background?

JR:  I’m originally from Australia where I used to run a record label putting out a bunch of indie rock records. Later I was worked for Shock Records in Australia, which also distributed Sub Pop, so I got to know a bunch of people there.  When I lost my job at Shock, I got a call the day after from Jonathan at Sub Pop and he said, ‘What are you going to do now?’  And I said I don’t know, and he said ‘Come work for me in America.’ So I moved to Seattle in the 90’s, started the publishing company for Sub Pop, and then sort of migrated into working in A&R and doing product management.  I signed a bunch of artists like Damien Jurado, Saint Etienne and The Jesus and Mary Chain.

In the late 90’s after leaving Sub Pop I did a stack of stuff like writing for the NME, music supervision as well as some musicology jobs, and then ended up in management.

I never really intended to become an artist manager, but I was always helping out the artists I knew; anytime there was a problem they kept calling me in to fix it.  The first real client that I had was this kid Patrick Park.  He was just a singer songwriter that I found at Genghis Cohen but he totally blew me away.  He was like a modern day soul singer.  So I ended up managing him and developing it from the ground up and subsequently sort of became the artist development-management guy.

Some of the other artists I worked with were The Belles from Lawrence, KS, Forward Russia! from the UK (on Mute), Every Move A Picture from San Francisco who got signed to V2, and then one of the biggest artists I managed was Isobel Campbell – who was previously in Belle and Sebastian.  The first project that we did together was the record that she made with Mark Lanegan, Ballad of the Broken Seas.  Crazily enough it took her from selling 10,000 records, which is what her previous record had done, to having a UK Top 40 album, getting nominated for a Mercury Music Prize and selling 150,000 copies of that record.

A little after that I dropped out of the music business for a couple years to become Mr. Mom.

RM64: So how did you end up at MySpace Records?

JR: I had been helping out the GM of MySpace Records J. Scavo.  Every time he had a question, often times it related to international issues, I answered it.  So he called me out of the blue one day and asked, ‘What are you plans?’ and I said ‘I don’t know’ and he said, ‘I’ve got a job for you.’  A large part of my position was to do international stuff for MySpace Records, but the main reason I got brought in was to run the artist development program that we have which is called the Friends and Family Network.

And that’s what I do on a daily basis.  We have 130 artists signed-up, and what I do is I build marketing campaigns for unsigned artists on MySpace.  The logic behind it being that we could have the next Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys or whatever in the program and we help build them from their 300 friends to 30,000 friends or their 250 plays a day to 70,000 plays a day.  And it’s great.  Now I do artist development and somebody pays me a salary for it.

RM64: So could you give us a little overview how of the MySpace Friends and Family program works?

JR:  So the way that it works is that we dig around on MySpace Music to find unsigned bands that appeal to us, from the charts as well as traditional A&R and various ways you find out about bands through a friend, musician or whatever it is, and we sign them up to the program. The concept is we give them a set of marketing tools, so when they’re releasing an EP or have a tour or a video, I help them market their band on Myspace.  So say an artist has a record coming out in the next couple months, I’ll build a marketing campaign with them.  From there we have various tools to help them really hyper-target their marketing and get in front of users who we, collectively, think might like their music.

We also aid in getting editorial coverage. So if they have a video we will give them a music video feature. If they have an EP or album coming out, we’ll approach the editorial team at MySpace Music to try and find the right “look” for them, or if they have a video we will help with coverage on the music video page, which are amazing opportunities for unsigned artists.  And then we have this one particular music ad that runs on the main music page where we promote tours and things like that as well.  So really what we do is give them a tool kit to say ‘here you go, this is what you get allocated in a year –go crazy’.  And it’s good. We have this particular artist from Long Beach that when I started my job they had 3,000 to maybe 5,000 plays a day.  I would run marketing and see it go to maybe 10,000 plays a day.  And now nine months later I run marketing, and they get 70,000 plays a day.  That’s what the concept of it is, you’re building an artist from a small level to a big level.

Read more…

Post 4th Catch-Up

Audra Mae Signs to SideOneDummy

Welcome back from the holiday weekend (we decided to delay our post for those who REALLY enjoyed themselves), we hope it was a good one.  Also, thanks to everyone who made it to last Thursday’s Rumble L.A. event, it turned out to be another great night with some amazing performances.  Here’s a little catch-up on what’s happening out there…

The usually steady landscape of performing rights organizations have seen some shakeups of late on the west coast, particularly with the open director position at ASCAP that had many throwing their hat in the ring.  A little birdie tells us that the field is narrowed to a short-list and the final selection is imminent. Speaking of chirping, inquires about a similar west coast opening at BMI have started coming in due to a recent departure in the creative/membership department. Will we see a similar parade of applicants? Or will there be an in-house hire of one of their own creative execs who’s a rising star?

On the signing front, one of our favorite artists of the last year, Audra Mae, has signed with uber-indie label SideOneDummy Records.  Kudos to Warner Chappell’s Blue Hamilton who signed Audra early on the publishing tip, and manager Marc Pollack, who recently returned to Hits joining The MGMT Co..  On the east coast, RCA Records A&R exec David Wolter, in tandem with Nick Burgess in the UK, has signed L.A.’s Funeral Party (formerly on Fearless Records). Meanwhile, the Ben McClane-repped Secret Secret Dino Club has signed with Drive Thru Records

Currently in the mix is Marissa Renee, who is slated to appear on P-Diddy’s new MTV show, has performed with Kanye West and is currently writing for the Clique Girlz on Interscope. Quite impressive for the 19-year-old Phoenix native. We hear publishers are circling in…  Speaking of Arizona, which seems to be an artist hot spot of late, the Tempe-based This Century appears to be finalizing a one-off arrangement through a Warner Bros. Records imprint…  Finally, we recently mentioned that multiple labels were taking notice of the John Branca-repped AMD with label showcase requests piling up for the female-foursome.  At press time, we hear there are offers in from majors on both coasts, while calls are still coming in.  Stay tuned…

Load More