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.