DAVID CHATFIELD: A LIFE IN MUSIC 

By Harvey Kubernik  

    As the music business has further evolved this century into the sonic entertainment industry, coupled with the digital streaming platform distribution world, young and veteran artists, songwriters, record producers, re-mix engineers, performers and content providers require legal advice, guidance, management and futuristic career planning. 

    There is one extremely qualified and proven multi-hyphenate record label owner/former touring musician and author, David Chatfield, whose achievements and business acumen far exceed his impressive resume and the list of clients he has served and protected for many decades.

    During 2022 I conducted a series of bio-regional-themed interviews with the Southern California-based Chatfield, like me, a Child of Hollywood.   It is not often that I interview a fellow native of Los Angeles. We went deep into David’s local and international music history as well as his knowledge and expertise about the constantly changing world of recording and supporting artist music rights.  

Q: What projects are you currently working on and planning for the future?

A: I have two BMI publishing companies, Chatfield Music and By Sound Image Music, and I am continuing to amass a catalog of master recordings for sync licensing. I also have two independent record companies, Harmony Records and Sound Image Records with new releases. I also have distribution for the sale of CD’s from two retro 80’s rock groups through Retrospect Records. On March 18, 2022, I released a full album of great pop material recorded by the band, The Secrets (formed by two of the three members of The Aerovons who recorded Resurrection at Abbey Road Studios in 1969 for EMI). The Second Single from the Album, “Don’t Say Goodbye” was released on June 17, 2022. The recordings were produced by me, with Kim Fowley, and David Carr (founding member of The Fortunes, whose hits include “You’ve Got Your Troubles (I’ve got mine)”, “Hear It Comes Again” and “Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again”. The Fortunes’ hits earned them slots on dates with The Beatles in the 60’s. Carr was classically trained at the Royal Academy of Music and arranged the Secrets songs for the cream of the L. A. Philharmonic Orchestra’s accompaniment. Fowley’s strong Beatles association is well documented. The Beatlesque pop album Secrets from the Aerovons is currently available on all streaming services and for purchase on CD from my record company, Harmony Records, contact David@ChatfieldEntertainment.com

At the end of May 2022, I was in the studio producing the Official Remix of “Where I’m Going” by retro alternative rock/pop group Sumthing Strange. A song reminiscent of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance’, Psychedelic Fur’s “Love My Way” and Pet Shop Boys “West End Girls”. Like Bowie, Sumthing Strange is an alien presence in pop music. The group brings a dramatic sense of flair and theatricality to their music. Mastered by Maor Appelbaum at Maor Appelbaum Mastering, this remix is radio ready, scheduled to be released July 1, 2022 on all streaming services, and is fully cleared for sync licensing. I also did some creative consulting work for Sumthing Strange’s version of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” that is being released as I write this. I am currently in co-production on Sumthing Strange’s new song “Electric Eyes” for release in late July 2022. Our plan is to release a five song EP from Sumthing Strange, all songs either co-produced with Sumthing Strange or remixes produced by me for my label, Harmony Records, on August 11, 2022. In mid-June 2022, I was in the studio with Sumthing Strange co-producing their next single, “Electric Eyes” that is scheduled for a July 29, 2022 release. A raucous rendition of a wall-of-sound song reminiscent of Depeche Mode or 80’s Pink Floyd. “Electric Eyes” is radio ready, will be available on all streaming services, and is fully cleared for sync licensing.

In July I am scheduled to produce a remix of Steel Breeze, originally produced by Kim Fowley, (David Carr and me uncredited), with Taavi Mote engineering. The remix album will include the Steel Breeze top ten hit “You Don’t Want Me Anymore” and top 40 hit “Dreamin’ is Easy” along with six or seven other songs from that album. The Chatfield Remix of Steel Breeze’s Lost In The ‘80’salbum will be released on Harmony Records and distributed on all digital platforms by the end of July 2022. 

In late July 2022, I will be remixing Evan Beigel’s Emotional Waves EP which featured singer/guitarrist Mikel Japp (“Marmalade” and wrote songs for Paul Stanley, KISS, The Babys, Michael Des Barres and others.) The EP was originally recorded by Taavi Mote under my direction. The Chatfield Remix of “Emotional Waves” will be released by early August 2022 on Harmony Records and all digital platforms. 

I am helping my friend Tony Moore spread the word about his great new single, “Let Your Heart Begin to Sing” released on June 3, 2022 “as a tribute to his mother whose dementia inspired him to write this song for her.” The song and video are available at  https://youtu.be/Cd50-XRGajg  and all streaming services. It is a catchy pop tune with positive and inspiring lyrics that has already been picked up by Caffe Nero for their in-store playlist and has been played in every Caffe Nero in the UK repeatedly in pre-release. Tony began his career in music as a keyboard player in the band Iron Maiden and became the keyboard player in Cutting Crew (“I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight”) in the mid 80’s. Tony has been awarded the much-coveted Gold Badge award for services to the UK Music Industry and was the sole inductee in the Music Managers Forum Roll Of Honour in 2004. 

I am working the new Keith Chagall album Sail On Betsy Ross released on Spotify on June 18, 2022 (coincidentally Paul McCartney’s birthday.) This record received an early review by Paul Zollo of American Songwriter whose first descriptive word for the album was “Stunning”.  Zollo writes; “It’s as if Brian Wilson and his band teamed up with Paul McCartney and his band…Linked musically to both the past and future – the timeless with the timely – these are songs and tracks of richness and moment…Especially now, in these dissonant times so teeming with chaos and distortion, the sound of real voices unified in harmony is especially welcome, and nourishing. It’s the sound of authentic human triumph, of music over noise…the music of The Beatles, Beach Boys, Eagles, The Band – is resplendent sounds of humans in harmony…The title song is beautifully Beatlesque, as is “Mr. Lennon”, while “Senator Please” resounds like the best Eagles song they never sang…The photographs are by the legendary Henry Diltz, who captured iconic cover images for so many classic albums...Sail On Betsey Ross follows boldly in that tradition, and stands as a love letter to rock & roll and the expansive spirit from which it came. An album for the ages.”

 

I’m working with Ronnie Laws and his publishing company assisting with his new EP release that is now streaming on all platforms. Ronnie Laws is the most synched and sampled artist of all time. Laws’ new tracks are cleared and available for sync. Laws has recently agreed to a new record deal and we are in final negotiations with the label as I write this. I continue working my By Sound Image Music BMI publishing catalog and Sound Image Entertainment’s wholly owned masters are available for sync licensing. Sound Image’s popular recordings of “The Storm” and “Brickyard” are available on Retrospect Records. The label has informed me that the last production run of CD’s for those two bands is now sold out and Retrospect is taking orders for the next run. By mid-July 2022, the songs from the Sound Image artists’ master recordings will be available on all streaming platforms. I just finalized deals for writer/producer Taylor Sparks for the licensing of 7 songs to Def7 Music Group for BMG Production Music. Sydney Alston, Taylor Sparks and I are in discussions to revive our production company, the United Music Group, and are doing A&R for an upcoming in-house project featuring modern California Country Rock ‘80’s style with lots of guitars and harmonies. Authentic voices from the Southwest anyone? We are looking and listening for you. 

 

Q: Once in a while I actually get to interview a local Angelino! Let’s go to the beginning of your musical journey. 

A: I was born in Saint John’s hospital in Santa Monica and my mother and father lived near Hollywood and Vine where they took me after release from the hospital. My father worked at NBC in Hollywood. When NBC moved to Burbank the family moved to the Valley. I grew up in Van Nuys on this small street with a television station general manager, a Mouseketeer, Lawrence Welk’s music director, the owner of the Palomino music club, and Shorty Rodgers. My parents were both in the television and music industry. I grew up in the entertainment industry. 

 

My father was the head of on-air promotions for NBC (in fact he invented the concept) and as a result I starting meeting and associating with music, television and motion picture personalities so long ago I can’t remember. Dinah Shore painted a picture of me when I was 4 and hung it in her living room, we have home movies of Milton Berle, Dick Clark, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Johnny Cash, Tennessee Earnie Ford, baseball players, etc. I met all my dad’s “friends,” when I was a child and then an adolescent. What I learned was that every “star” had a unique thing about them that they exploited in their career. 

My mother became a very successful Emmy nominated television writer. She helped break the glass ceiling for women writers. I learned from her that a star needs a script, just as a singer or a band, needs songs. I learned from both my parents that there has to be a support team…a management and production team…in order to complete a commercially acceptable final product. I worked on my first production job as a slate boy at 10 years old while Bryan Cranston worked holding up a garden hose to make rain on the independent film “Trauma.” We were kids, four years apart, and we still laugh about it when we see each other.

My father started bringing me records when I was very young. He brought me Beach Boys records when I was 10, but he had started giving me records when I was 8. “Sixteen Tons”, “The Cat Came Back” are among the first popular records my father promoted. My performance history began when I was 5 when every Christmas season my mother would gather all of the neighborhood children, spend weeks of rehearsing Christmas carols, and then during Christmas week, we would travel from house to house, entertaining our neighbors with Christmas songs accompanied by my mother on her accordion (the one she started using as a child in parades in Boulder Colorado as a pre-teen.) The neighbors grew to look forward to this every year for a decade or so. It was about that same age that my father gave me a drum set and my mother started my piano lessons. My dad worked with and was friends with Dick Clark and he and my mom really loved music. I saw music being performed in television studios and on stage both in LA and Las Vegas before I was 10, not in the audience only, but from the production side as well. 

By the time I was 11 when the Beatles released their first single, my international music education began. My mother had a writer’s club friend that subscribed to an English rag called Today Magazine. Every week he would give my mom the new issue and, to me, it was all about the music, musicians and culture of what came to be called the “Merseybeat Sound”. The Beatles, the Animals, The Rolling Stones, The Searchers, Dave Clark 5, Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Fortunes, The Swinging Blue Jeans, Cliff Richard…etc. were all covered, and I was miles ahead of all my friends in what would develop into the British Invasion.

 

 

 

Q: The AM radio stations in Southern California played a big part in your musical development. 

A: I loved the music, so I walked a mile to my local music store, bought a Silvertone electric guitar (I couldn’t afford the amp yet) and took it home. Down the street from me was a kid we called “JP” and he was a year older than me. I shared my Today magazines with him and in exchange he created guitar charts for me so that I could learn the chords on the guitar. Then I walked 2 miles to Wallichs Music City and bought the first Beatles Album. I lent it to JP and he gave it back to me a couple of days later with all of the guitar charts for the chords that were used in the songs. I had the chords, but it was up to me to figure out which chords went where in each song. That’s when I began to learn to “play by ear.” 

From the age of 11, I learned to play every song I heard on the radio – which at that time was KRLA, KHJ, KBLA – and every song played on American Bandstand. I put my transistor radio under my pillow at night and listened to music until I fell asleep. Shortly thereafter many other television shows showcased bands like Hullabaloo and many local shows in LA. like the Lloyd Thaxton Show. (He is known as the father of music videos.) I would sit in front of the television playing along with the songs and remained sitting there for hours after the shows were over to get the songs right…note for note on my unplugged electric guitar and analyzing every word spoken by each band member. 

I had the ability to “play by ear,” which was a major contributor to my being able to determine what was going to be a commercial hit before it happened. This became very important in my future professional music career. Like my parents, I was always a writer. I have memories as a young boy of my father running off multiple copies of the weekly neighborhood news on a mimeograph machine that I would pass out to our neighbors. I later wrote for the student newspaper at Grant High School and the USC Daily Trojan.   

When I was 12, I starting forming bands in grammar school and by the time I was 16 I was frequenting the under 18 clubs in Hollywood to see bands like Love, the Seeds, the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, the Doors and many, many others. I was at Ulysses S. Grant High School that had produced Micky Dolenz of the Monkees and jazz musician Tom Scott of the L.A. Express. 

One of my best friend’s dads played in The Tonight Show band. Another classmate’s father founded Dunhill Records. The kids who were playing music in our pickup bands had fathers who were famous and accomplished musicians. I had no idea how special this was. Playing with extremely talented musicians, some of which went on to play with Linda Ronstadt, Boz Scaggs, Steely Dan, the Association, before forming their own bands…like Toto. 

I erroneously didn’t believe I had the talent to be a professional musician because of the high level of talent in my life that I was comparing myself to. I picked and played the records on the quad at lunchtime with Tom Trumbo who became an A&R manager with Chrysalis records. That’s when I learned that I had a talent for picking hit songs and hit artists. At Grant High School I also performed in the Psychedelic Rock Opera Four Saints in Three Acts written by Gertrude Stein. The music was played by the elite jazz musicians (parents) Marty Paich, Joe Porcaro, Shorty Rogers (who lived on my street) and others. I was an infrequent visitor at the Porcaro’s house in Sherman Oaks where I met Jeff’s little brothers Steve and Mike, playing music in their garage and listening to Gentle Giant (progressive music). It seemed that all my friends had parents involved in music. Everyone at my school was stoned but me and my bandmates. Because of that we made it through each of our gigs without passing out like our professional mentors playing on the Strip. We developed our work ethic at 16. Our band bought our equipment from the Strawberry Alarm Clock who lived near us and broke up after their Billboard number one hit “Incense and Peppermints”. They inadvertently taught us about how fleeting success was if you don’t have hit songs. My keyboardist, lead singer, got their Farfisa organ and I got some great Fender Amps.

Q: Before attending college you still continued playing music. 

A: When I graduated from Grant High School I went to the University of Southern California, where, in my second year, I auditioned for the USC Trojan Chorale, the school’s popular music production entity. I also auditioned to write concert and record reviews for the USC Daily Trojan with a review of Cat Stevens at the Shrine Auditorium. I passed both auditions and music performance was again central in my life and I had a recurring entertainment column in the USC Daily Trojan. Therefore, writing was something that I appreciated and liked to do. I had some infrequent instances of brilliance, like when I won the USC Freshman essay contest with a paper I had written that my English composition teacher had submitted for review without my knowledge. 

While I was at USC, I was the entertainment writer, interviewing and reviewing everyone from Eagles to Loggins and Messina to David Bowie. My first concert review was Cat Stevens at the Shrine auditorium. That was my audition to write for The Daily Trojan…they liked it so much I got my own column each week. Record company college promotion departments became my friends and I was given tickets to almost every music event in town. There I met and interviewed many incredibly talented artists. I was at all of James Taylor’s performances at the Troubadour and Billy Joel’s first performance of his initial release backed by his producer and the Elvis Presley band from Las Vegas. 

I was sent every new album prior to release from all of the record labels. I would listen to all of them, but only review bands and records that I liked. There were so many to choose from that I preferred to choose my own cream of the crop. I was given the records before they were released, many of them from unknown artists. Yet, I was able to pick out the hits and review the artists before they became famous. I didn’t know that most people couldn’t do this. I loved turning on people to good music. Robert Hilburn, the music editor at the Los Angeles Times, offered me a critic’s job but I declined when he said I had to write reviews of bad records as well as good ones. 

Q: Being involved in music was always the main gameplan. 

A: While I was at USC, I was in the Trojan Chorale and was the president of the Chorale my second year with them. I was awarded the USC School of Music annual convocation award in 1973 (even though I was not a music major). I took one of the first moog synthesizer classes ever given from Paul Beaver of Beaver and Krause. I sang in the Britten Spring Symphony Choral Symphony conducted by Daniel Lewis, sang spirituals with Jester Hairston, and performed in USC’s production of Fidler on the Roof. So, I was a musician first, playing with the elite on the progressive edge. 

We were rehearsing the original production of the Tommy Rock Opera at USC and the first production of Jesus Christ Superstar (un-licensed). I played guitar and bass and sang some. We toured the West Coast with Superstar in 1971-72. The director built the rock opera around the album. During that time, unlicensed productions were being shut down by courts. I guess the courts couldn’t keep up with our bus! We played San Francisco, Sparks Nevada, Half Moon Bay, Pasadena, Los Angeles at USC and the Greek Theater and even Compton. My roommate at USC was Brian Grazer, who co-founded Imagine Entertainment with Ron Howard who I met at USC Film School which I attended. I grew up with Brian as his mother was my mother’s roommate at Endicott College.

After the tour, I told my mom I had reached my life’s goal to play the Greek Theater or Hollywood Bowl. I asked, “What do I do now that I reached my dream by 21?” She said, “be an attorney and you can do anything.”

Q: You graduated from USC. 

 

A: Bachelor of Arts in Political Science USC. Law school University of LaVerne. Certificates from USC Law Center in the Practical and Legal Aspects of the Music Business, two music business courses with Don Passman at USC. At UCLA Music Business Extension I took Personal Management from Ron Weisner; Concert Promotion from Jim Rissmiller, and Radio Programming from Jeff Pollack and Rick Carroll. 

 

During law school I worked full time in the general counsel’s office of Nissan Motor Corporation where I became assistant General Counsel when I passed the bar. I loved sports cars and Paul Newman was driving ours. Then, when I completed my post law graduate courses at USC and UCLA. I quit Nissan and went into management and production along with practicing law in partnership with another lawyer who also was an engineer (he helped design the Rockets that launched satellites for Hughes and helped engineer the systems for the US defense department in Washington DC.) 

 

After I passed the bar, I was ready to find a band and put into practice what I had learned throughout my life. So, the day I was sworn into the California Bar I signed up for Music Business courses at USC Law Center and Music management school at UCLA. Ron Weisner was the teacher. Each week as the class read chapters on how to find, develop and manage a band, I actually did it…acting out each step as I was being taught.

By the end of the class, I had signed a band, met Kim Fowley, created a production vehicle to raise money to record masters in famous studios and deliver finished product to the major labels that made it high up on the Billboard Charts. I got an A in the class. In the concert production class from Jim Rissmiller, he had us each do a concert promotion at the Country Club in Reseda. Mine was Missing Persons…it was a sellout.

Q: You were poised and prepared somewhat for the music business…

A: I became an attorney with a desire to be involved in the music, television and motion picture industry in Southern California as a creative businessman. When I was approached to do a project that I believed in, I pursued it. As a lawyer I studied the practical and legal aspects of the music business. I met Kim Fowley David Carr and Taavi Mote, because I recorded and produced music independently (at Major studios including my studio run with my partners that included Saga’s Jim Chricton and Producer Pat Regan), and because the music I did was real music you could hear on the radio, literally. I became a 35-year member of the Recording academy (in May 2022) because I have developed artists from all over the world, I have lectured internationally, and because I picked genius mentors, and because I took all that knowledge and made high ranking contacts in the music business, I have a uniquely deep and thorough knowledge of the music business. 

I found a band, “The Secrets”, developed them, showcased them live in Hollywood (including the Troubadour), and then Kim Fowley discovered the band. Kim and I decided that the band’s music was so intricate and required an orchestra to properly record it. This was just before synthesizers became popular. Kim taught me how to take the band into the rehearsal studio and cut apart the live performance versions of the songs and put them back together as recordable versions.

Kim brought in David Carr to work on the orchestral arrangements, play keyboards, and help develop the harmonies and counterpoint vocal arrangements required. The three of us took the group into the studio and produced a full album after raising a major label size recording budget. We were recording in Larabee’s studio B while Fleetwood Mac was recording Mirage in studio A. That’s where Kim introduced me to Mick Fleetwood who had worked with Kim on the Runaways, while David Carr was recording musicians from the LA Philharmonic for the orchestra portions of the recording. 

Q: Can you comment on your mentors Jerry Heller, Al Bunetta and Kim Fowley.  

A: Kim became my artist development and producer mentor and Jerry Heller (Journey, Crosby Stills & Nash, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Who, Black Eyed Peas, Above the Law, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Dr. Dre) and Al Bunetta (Robbie Dupree, John Prine, Steve Goodman) were my management mentors. Seymour Stein of Sire Records told us at Midem that if you want to do something in music, find a mentor, or two or three of them. From Jerry Heller I learned how important discipline was in managing artists. I learned to keep my eye on my artists and use my intuition to determine how to get the most out of each artist. I was taught how to delicately (or not so delicately depending on the circumstances) guide artists through their development and hone their talents. He taught me how to fight the tendencies of highly talented artists and motivate them. He introduced me to some of his artists and let me watch him work in his office for weeks on end. What an education that was.  

Al Bunetta taught me the importance of the song. The song is the most important thing and the performances of the artists enhance them. Al took me under his wing because he, and his brother Peter, loved the music I had done with the Secrets. He took me to recordings and even photoshoots of his friend, Glen Frey, and I had Steve Goodman drop in on my birthday dinner with Al. Sometimes Peter would run into the office with a new unpolished gem to listen to. Peter’s son, Julian Bunetta, wrote hit songs for One Direction, Fifth Harmony, Jason Derulo and others… “hit songs” is in the Bunetta family bloodline. I ended up doing what Al taught me to do, all phases of the music business from artist development to operating a label all centered around hit songs. 

 

Kim Fowley taught me about hit song structure, how to arrange songs and how to work with a band in a rehearsal studio to make their songs better. He taught me record production. He taught me discipline in the recording studio. There were no drugs or alcohol in any of our sessions. It was serious work for us. 

 

He taught me how to get the best out of every musician and how to improve the performance of the lead singer. (He once went out to Hollywood Blvd and found a sexy girl for the lead singer to sing the love song to.) He taught me to be inventive in coming up with unique sounds and he taught me the importance of utilizing extremely talented engineers. He taught me how to manage and control the recording sessions. I learned musicians were fragile and need support while they are under the unforgiving microscope of the recording studio. 

 

David Carr taught me how to take an ordinary song and polish it to be a gem. His years of classical education, pop-writing, performing and recording gave him unique wisdom that he shared with me on many projects. I am forever grateful. He taught me to trust my commercial instincts and if the artist under-performed in the studio, he taught me how to replace the part myself after the end of the session. In my career, I produce music and manage artists. I have written and sold television scripts, produced and directed television shows, worked with film editors (Rambo, Commando, Top Gun), worked with remix engineers, and developed talent in all media. 

 

Q: Where did your music production background emerge? 

 

A: I was in the studio every minute of each recording I worked on since day one. It was my classroom and we produced hits. I learned some more about music production from Jim Crichton (Saga) and Patrick Regan at Sound Image Entertainment, a company founded by Marty Eberhardt (deceased) and myself in the early ‘80’s. We had a nationally distributed independent record company and a production facility in the Sound City Center. Jim Crichton was our production partner for about 25 years, while at the same time recording 20+ gold records for his band SAGA. Many, many famous producers and artists came through our doors. Macy Gray ·Jessica Simpson ·Dave Navarro ·LeAnn Rimes ·Ryan Cabrera ·South Park ·Chad Smith ·Slipknot  ·Raekwon ·Duran Duran ·Ozzy Osbourne ·Mr. Big ·Motorhead ·Lou Graham ·Gene Simmons ·Minibar ·Yes  ·Niacin ·Strife ·Mystic ·Phunk Junkeez ·Reach Around ·Moloko ·Rick Springfield ·The Go Go's ·Sepultura  ·Sinomatic ·Saga ·Badi Assad ·Gus Gus ·Masters of Reality ·Vin Scully ·Carmine Appice ·Steven Segal ·Survivor Glenn Hughes ·Bob Newhart ·Bahamadia ·Billy Sheehan ·Denny Lane ·Stroke 9 ·Jonathan Winters  ·Spontaneous ·Rick Latham ·Louie Bellson ·Rocket From The Crypt ·Gene Loves Jezebel ·Bruce Dickenson · Bobby Womack ·Magnum ·Ty Herndon ·John Frusciante ·Ed Shaughnessy ·Rickie Lee Jones ·Flavor Flav

 

When Sound Image slowed down, I reconnected with Kim Fowley and we developed artists that he or I found all around the world. We had regional top 5 hits with very young developing international talent who garnered critical acclaim and won regional artist of the year awards both here and abroad. When Kim died, Bambi Moe introduced me to Sydney Alston (we had both been guest lecturer’s at her Music Business class for California State University) and we formed one management company and a production company with Dean Dinning of Toad the Wet Sprocket and Taylor Sparks. We produced a few tracks that won some regional awards but the production company disbanded in 2017. 

 

I worked with Seymour Stein on a band that Sydney and I managed, End off Ever, but that did not work out due to personnel problems. Then came COVID and we all took a year off. Sydney has been developing Erica Tham (best known for her role as Corki Chang on Make It Pop). I represented Sydney in his negotiations with Erika and consult with him regularly. Erika’s initial release is currently burning up on YouTube, Spotify and all other streaming platforms. There is a bright future ahead for young Erika. Sydney also currently teaches a Music Business class at UCLA.

 

Q: You had an existing history with a band called The Secrets two of whom have a side story as part of the Aerovons in 1968-1969 with the album they recorded being released in 2003. What a fascinating saga history.  

 

A: I found The Secrets playing in a bar in Long Beach, I later discovered that two of their members’ first band, The Aerovons, had recorded at Abbey Road and were signed to the Beatles’ record company. Their record was produced and engineered by people who were, at the same time, recording the Beatles in the other studio at Abbey Road. They had seen London, gone out to clubs and met Paul McCartney and Jimi Hendrix, borrowed equipment from John Lennon and spoke extensively with George Harrison. 

I had found something special, two of the three members of The Aerovons, the group that EMI hoped to be the American Beatles. The founder of the Aerovons who wrote most of the recorded material, Tom Hartman, was not in The Secrets but we corresponded for years. Tom later told me that Mike Post signed him and released his solo recordings after the Aerovons broke up.  Recently I found Tom’s new 2021 “the Aerovons a little more” recording of 8 songs written and produced by Tom Hartman is wonderfully reminiscent of earlier Beatle material, yet fresh and appealing. 

Fowley and I raised enough money to hire brilliant arranger/keyboardist David Carr, whose band the Fortunes had hits and opened for the Beatles in the 60’s. It was a brilliant paring that is evidenced by the merging of the Carr’s majestic orchestrations with Mike Lombardo’s catchy pop tunes. The sound on this full album is reminiscent of their Beatles influenced earlier recordings but different…Bostonish guitar touches with sophisticated piano and production style verging on Steely Dan meets The British Invasion. Multilayered harmonies abound and there are hints throughout the album harking back to Mike and Bill Lombardo’s Abbey Road — and Kim Fowley and David Carr’s — Beatles connections. 

 

The basic tracks were recorded at Wizard Recording Studio in Hollywood on a Trident series 80 console. Overdubs and orchestrations were recorded in Larrabee Studio B, the album was mixed at Conway Recorders. The recording and mixing engineer was Sherry Klein. All analog. This was a union project for chosen members of the LA Philharmonic and David Carr and his orchestra went into “golden time” at Larrabee. The album was mastered by Tom Weir at Studio City Sound in 2020 with additional post mastering and editing by Taylor Sparks at Revolver Recording in 2021. 

 

Mike Lombardo told me he played the album for Alan Parsons who said he liked it very much. Alan confirmed Mike’s statement with me and reminisced about his time with the Lombardos and Hartman at Abbey Road when I was talking with him at the Audio Engineering Society convention a couple of years ago. Tom Hartman says that Alan Parsons almost became a member of the Aerovons after their lead guitarist was sent back to the states leaving just Hartman and the two Lombardo’s in the studio with Alan. (Robot Nature, a critically acclaimed band managed by me and Sydney Alston, opened for Alan Parsons at Burning Man in 2019 and one other time.) 

 

However, due to the recent death of John Lennon, and the tribute song (“Old Friends”) to those musicians that had passed on including Buddy Holly, Elvis and John Lennon, despite the great music, the Secrets’ recording was a hard sell, partially owing to politics at Columbia. 

Kim and I shopped the Secrets album to Les Garland who was then VP of Atlantic records. He loved it. He said he would sign it except it was Friday and Monday he was leaving to go to New York to start something called MTV. We had a great meeting with Russ Regan at Polydor, but he showed us a room that had what must have been 5,000 envelopes with demos in them and he said they weren’t signing anybody. 

 

I took the Secrets to Tom Trumbo at Chrysalis who liked it but said his orders were to find the next Journey. I immediately went to Kim’s, told him that we needed to find the next Journey, and he pulled a demo tape out of a bag of tapes from the Madam Wong’s nightclub trash can and said “We have It!”  He played the demo of “You Don’t Want Me Anymore” by Steel Breeze and I agreed it was a hit. We flew up to sign the band in Sacramento from Burbank Airport, got on the wrong plane to Phoenix, but I found out in time and dragged Kim and his gold and platinum records onto the right plane. It was our “hustle” as Kim called it. But it was music history.

 

Meanwhile, one of my manager mentors, Jerry Heller, got Dick Asher at Columbia Records to agree to sign the Secrets. But the paperwork was weeks late and never came with some inner Columbia turmoil. (The executive turntable). Kim and I were then deep in Steel Breeze with Tsunami on deck. 

Kim and I and David Carr had “relocated” the drummer of Warner’s Tasmanian Devils to beef up Steel Breeze’s rhythm section, reworked the songs in the rehearsal studio, and were well into recording the new project, Steel Breeze. When we were done, the band was immediately signed to RCA (we had multiple offers) and their first single “You Don’t Want Me Anymore” debuted on the Billboard Charts at 32 and made it near the top ten which the huge hit landed them on tour with Kansas and later the Who. During this time my other manager mentor, Al Bunetta, taught me the importance of placing the right song with the right artist. Cover songs. He also showed me how to start and run an independent record label. Al had just started his own “Oh Boy Records” with John Prine. 

At Midem in 2016 Doug Morris (CEO of the Universal Music Group from 1985-2011 and Sony Music Entertainment from 2011-2017) and I reminisced about us negotiating a deal for Steel Breeze with Atlantic in the hallway at Rusk Studio after we played him side one of the album. Neil Portnow and David Anderle also wanted to sign Steel Breeze but could not as both of their companies were going through big changes. 

I learned from Kim during the Steel Breeze experience that getting a record company executive to come to the studio to hear the mixes on those giant hyped speakers created immediate interest and led to multiple negotiations in the studio hallway. It makes sense right? I still do that today. I still don’t record demos. Taavi Mote and I always treated the album versions of the singles he was re-mixing as demos with him creating the masters. “Sweet Freedom”, for example, was thought by the label to need a lot of help…and help it got. 

When Columbia reneged on The Secrets and RCA screwed up Steel Breeze by putting their second best song (and Doug Morris’ favorite) as side B on the first single and refusing to release it as the second single, I was upset and started my own label, production company and recording studio with Marty Eberhardt working with producer/engineers Jim Crichton, John Henning and Pat Regan called Sound Image Entertainment with its own recording studios, record label and publishing company. We recorded several albums, arranged for manufacturing, national distribution, and retail promotion, had the cover of Billboard twice and videos on MTV, some radio success, and the catalog is currently available on Retrospect Records. I was also managing the best remix engineer in town, Taavi Mote. He bought me into the studio at times to comment on his single, dance, and album mixes that he was doing. Many, many, many hit singles were the result.  

Q: The legendary engineer and re-mx engineer Taavi Mote was a dear friend and client for years. 

A: Taavi Mote, of Estonian descent, was the engineer Kim Fowley brought on to record our Steel Breeze project. Taavi and I got on very well and mixed the Steel Breeze record together with Kim. Taavi and I became fast friends. Both David Carr and I were uncredited co-producers on that record. Taavi worked on another project with me for The Secrets and then in the mid-80’s Taavi asked me to manage his hectic career as a remix engineer and producer. At that time, Taavi and I produced several other artist projects as well including the Evan Beigel Project featuring Welsh singer/songwriter/guitar player Mikel Japp (“Marmalade” and songwriter for Kiss, Paul Stanley, The Baby’s, Michael Des Barres and John Waite, among others.)

Taavi and I were so close that he was the best man at one of my wedding ceremonies and we went to the Grammy’s together. My job was to take control over Taavi’s schedule and build his career. He used me as his intermediary with the record companies that were paying him. I got budget and overrun approval, for example. I sometimes worked with Jeff Lorber’s manager on scheduling, as Jeff’s production and programming was an integral part of many of the Taavi Mote hit remixes. 

I formed Taavi’s company Ruff Mix for him and elevated his credits on his mixes from engineer to producer. Taavi trusted my musical instincts and he would sometimes bring me to the studio and ask for comments. 

I remember one time when Taavi invited me to the remix of Michael McDonald’s “Sweet Freedom” single. I was there when he played Bruce Sweiden’s original mix for Louil Silas Jr., Jheryl Busby and Jeff Lorber and watched their reactions to what was a consensus “whimpy” mix. Silas and Busby told Taavi what they thought the remix needed. These remixes would go for hours and hours and hours with Silas and Busby checking in on the progress and giving critiques over time until the track was finally acceptable to them. When Jeff and Taavi were done with the remix, it was fantastic. It became McDonald’s last top 10 hit. Taavi did a lot of work for Louil and Jheryl who were the heads of MCA (Silas Records) and Motown, respectively, at the time. 

Taavi and I sat in a studio on Cahuenga mixing Harold Faltermeyer’s “Axel F” theme for Beverly Hills Cop. As far as hit instrumentals go, Taavi also remixed Jan Hammer’s “Miami Vice Theme.” I remember hanging out at one of the Pointer Sister’s places and becoming good friends with her manager while Taavi was working on a hit “Tight On Time” for June Pointer. I remember Taavi working on a song for Prince at Kendon, Taavi working on the U2 “Desire” Hollywood Remix and many, many other hit singles. The U2 Hollywood Remix included extensive overdubs (vocal and instrumental) and producing and programming. 

Taavi was credited as co-producer of the remix with Louil Silas Jr. with Jeff Lorber credited for additional production and programming on this nearly 10 minute long remix. It got to the point where it seemed like Taavi finished a singles mix during the week and I was hearing the song on the radio at the beach the following week. There were dozens and dozens of projects we worked on. One time he excitedly brought me his mix of Madonna’s “Causing a Commotion” fresh from the studio to my home. I learned how to remix recordings from the best!

Taavi also engineered albums for many artists on Solar Records. Taavi left a good impression on every artist he worked with. For example, I spoke to LA Reid at Midem in Cannes about Taavi’s work on his band The Deele with Babyface, and Reid had nothing but superlatives to say about Taavi. 

Taavi’s discography includes his work with Bobby Womack, Joe Sample, Stephanie Mills, Patti LaBelle, Klymax, New Edition, Ready For The World, BB King, Network, Jeff Lorber, Michael McDonald, George Duke, Pebbles, Jody Watley, Bobby Brown, Barry White, Madonna, U2, Al Jarreau, El Debarge, June Pointer, Curtis Mayfield, The Gap Band, Mellissa Manchester, Five Star, Karyn White, Janet Jackson, the Runaways, Cher, Helen Reddy, Al Wilson, Kim Fowley, Shalamar, Lakeside, the Sylvers,  Steel Breeze, the Deele, The SOS Band, Midnight Star, The Whispers, Natalie Cole, Atlantic Starr, Jan Hammer,  Herold Faltmeyer, the Jets, Kim Wilde, Gladys Night and the Pips, Anita Baker, Nu Shooz, the Jacksons, Teddy Pedergrass, Jeffrey Osborne, Morris Day, Calloway, and many others. 

If you were at a club in the ‘80’s they were dancing to Taavi’s music. Taavi’s board of choice was SSL with automation called “flying faders”. Although I know that sometimes he utilized sounds from different boards to improve the tone of a guitar, for example.

Q: In being in bands, then studying bands and musicians, representing bands and artists, locally and internationally, pre-deal or distribution, can you suggest some key aspects you have learned about artist representation and development that are part of your ongoing process of producing and managing and as a lawyer legally protecting clients. Do you think the song(s) or the material is the most important key behind all the related endeavors supporting your multi-tasking efforts?   

A: What I learned was that every “star” had a unique thing about them that they exploited in their career. 

 

My current management partner, Sydney Alston, calls it “the special”. I describe it as the “it” factor that is a unique charisma that you can feel when a star walks into a room. It is the quality that allows you to identify an artist within the first 3 notes. I grew up with unique singers like Jagger, Rod Stewart, Eric Burden (who my company later managed along with Robbie Kreiger), John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Diana Ross, Joe Cocker, Roger Daltry, Jon Anderson, Roger Waters, David Bowie, Ian Anderson, Huey Lewis, Don Henley…you know, the people who you loved to listen to and had a unique voice. I am working with a new band, Sumthing Strange that has “the special”…an alien presence in pop music like early David Bowie who I met in 1972. But I have learned through experience that charisma is only the start of the equation. 

In order to complete a commercially successful product the artist and the team must have chemistry. It’s the magic that takes an ordinary music group or singer and turns them into stars propelled by hits. Its intangible and only the smart people can tell when the magic is happening. And the dumb people dissect the energy by changing key team members.

For a time, Sydney Alston and I managed LA based Carsten Lindberg, a Danish remixer/producer, who told me that he worked for Louil Silas Jr and Jerill Busby after Taavi had moved on. Carsten and I remixed a song from a Manchester band I was working with and it was considered for the opening credits to the last James Bond film. I currently represent writer/engineer/producer Taylor Sparks who was managed by Randy Jackson. Taylor just signed 7 sync deals in Canada for BMG Performance Music. I continue to assist in the development of the careers of the music business professionals I represent. 

This May marked my 35th year with the Recording Academy. I am a member of the Producer’s and Engineer’s Wing of the Recording Academy. The pandemic really put the breaks on things. I am looking forward to a bright new year ahead. I recently took on Ronnie Laws (the most sampled artist of all time) as a new client and am assisting him and his publishing company with his new release and another new album that is in the works. I had hoped to reunite with my world-wide music business contacts at Midem in 2022, but it looks like Midem, in its current iteration, is gone. So, I will have to do a lot of traveling around the world instead of meeting in one place. I read in Variety that the city of Cannes has bought Midem, is reassembling it and I’ll see all my old music business friends at the Palais des Festivals et des Congress in Cannes in June 2023.                      

I developed rules based upon what I had learned from my mentors that I will discuss further down. In my humble opinion, there are thousands of talented music artists around the world (it is a worldwide business now more than ever). However, 99% of those artists will not be successful because of their own self-sabotage. 

Also, in a group situation, there is a chemistry that makes a band “special” and many groups make changes that destroy the chemistry. Hit records is a team sport. In order for an artist to become successful, the artist must work with a team that magnifies “the special”. This team includes a personal manager, producer, arranger, engineer and later, both live and record promoters. 

An artist who does not want to work as a team, fails to take advice from the personal manager, producer, arranger and engineer, will fail 99 times out of 100. And once you find that “magic” in the studio, it is best to not make changes to the team or the magic will dissipate. 

Finding the right song for an artist is also very important. For example, one of my friends is Heather Holley, best known for developing Christina Aguilera. Heather played me the songs she had written and I fell in love with one of them called “Fearless.” In my mind, I was meant to find the right artist to perform the song. 

So, after a year went by, one of my other friends, Bambi Moe (Disney, Unencumbered Productions), said that she knew of an artist on the Voice who was looking for her first single off of the show. I carefully studied the artist, Kat Perkins, and decided that she would be perfect for the “Fearless” song. Long story short, the song went to number 5 on the Itunes chart the day it was released (with the help of a supportive tweet from Adam Levine.) This song was so inspiring that Kat Perkins developed an empowerment program around it and took it to many schools in the Midwest for years. She is a successful live performance artist still today. 

Q: And your concepts of artist development. 

A: Developing an artist is very difficult, almost impossible. During the artist development process you will learn whether the artist is manageable or not. The unmanageable make up a large part of the 99% of failure. The manager works for free for two or three years taking someone who knows nothing to being a star. This involves developing a unique image for the artists that will set them apart from all of the other stars. This unique image, or “the special”, is part of the magic that is being created. Resistance from the artist during development is to be expected and must be overcome. Failure to be manageable here makes up another part of the 99%. 

Once you find the right image that fits the artist (it has to be authentic), then you have to find hit level music for the artist to perform. Some artists write and you have to develop their songwriting that includes introductions to other professional and successful writers to mentor them. Other artists do not write their own material and have to rely upon other writers/producers to present them with material. 

The artist may not be the best judge of what material works with them and they have to listen to the professionals that they have hired to give them advice and direction. Failure to do this makes up another part of the 99% failure rate. Are you starting to get the sense of the difficulty of this? I can give specific examples if you want. 

Today, many artists record their own material and put it on Spotify or Sound Cloud looking for “a deal”. Most major record companies do not like to deal directly new artists and are looking to see if the artist’s “team” is acceptable to them. A manager with no experience is thought to be a detriment to the artist. Sometimes the material is so strong that a record company is willing to take an artist and try to build a team around them. This is very difficult, expensive, time consuming and risky. 

Picking a manager with contacts in the industry is important. When I had my first hit and it entered into the charts, the record company executives who I could not get to the week before, were now calling me on the phone asking me what else I have. The A&R guys I dealt with at the labels in the ‘80’s became label presidents 30 years later. Those long-term relationships are important. 

So, what is the secret sauce? It is a combination of things. You have to start with a manager that can recognize special talent and good material when they hear it. The artist has to have “the special” and be willing to take advice from other professionals. The manager has to have relationships in the business and find the best material and producers for the artist. The songwriters/arrangers/producers working with the artist have to enhance “the special” with compatible hit material. The recording must demonstrate “the special” and most hit songs make you feel the music coming out of the speakers. That means emoting and the producer has to get that out of the artist. 

So, what I do is I find artists that have “the special” and charisma, put them together with songwriters that help them write great material, and find a producer (sometimes I produce) and engineer that can deliver a recording that does not lose the feel of the song and the artist that makes it “special”. And the baby artist is not permitted to participate in the mix. They can comment on initial mixes, but generally they are too close to the material to know what works and what does not. 

It's like a guitar solo that the lead guitarist worked on for months before recording it, that has to be edited, removed or replaced, because it does not work in the mix. You would not want the lead guitarist in the mixing room when those decisions are made. In my experience, sometimes a band hated a mix when they first heard it…but after it went into heavy rotation on the radio…they thanked the producer and engineer for the great mix. 

After a song is completed, the manager has to take the song to a reputable company to represent the artist for sync licensing. Nothing can accelerate a new artist’s career faster than a good sync. I have developed good relationships with publishing companies who have entered into sync representation deals with my artists on certain songs. I also am a member of the Guild of Music Supervisors that gives me more access to land a sync. Most times, you only have a short window to accept an offer for a sync license and its best if the rep has the authority to do that with some reasonable level of artist approval.

Today new artists have a myriad of distribution sources but if you want a major push on your artist/song, you need a major label subsidiary or better to pull those strings. I believe that music conferences are still valuable for maintaining and creating international relationships. I have a lot of advice for managers working in this new music world that I can discuss later. Right now the artist is somewhat forced to develop a social media presence of substance, have a large number of monthly listeners on streaming sites, and have a million streams or more on each song. What cuts through the thousands of other artists on the streaming sites is what I explained above. 

The artist must be unique, the song must have a hook, and these days everything must seem authentic. You see, the qualifications for stardom have not changed since pop music developed in the 50’s and 60’s. You just have to follow the rules I laid out, or break them in a spectacularly attractive way. 

Of course, the artist has to find someone who can tell a hit song when they hear it…otherwise all the work is for naught. What you end up with is called “a polished turd” that no one wants. I hear a lot of turds these days. And the artist has to have a thick skin throughout this process. They have to be able to withstand criticism and failure. Success generally does not happen immediately and fast. Failure to withstand setbacks is another reason for the 99% non-success rate. 

Before his death, Kim Fowley thought we are coming to a time when there is room in the music business for a new vocal band, like a new Eagles done new century rock style. The classic rock bands are unfortunately going to fade away as members pass. But they have demonstrated that there is a market for good live bands. I think that recently social media has demonstrated that songs with social commentary may be on the way back. But let’s keep the messages positive and empowering. 

Why do I keep doing this? Because I love good music, because artist development is difficult and exciting, and because when I first hear the song that we worked on for so many months come out of the speakers from, say, Spotify, or a radio station, I have to pull my car over to the side of the road and cry. It’s like giving birth to a baby. I like looking in the mirror while the song is playing and saying “I did that.” 

Q: The world of digital streaming and downloading. 

A: Streaming and downloading...This is a “garage band / high-tech” world. A new artist – without a record label - can record music at home, design their artwork and prepare their lyrics, pay a service like CD Baby to distribute the music to all of the streaming services, and then pay a service to get playlisters to listen to their music and perhaps add the song to their playlist. But there are thousands of playlists. Technically, every artist can create a playlist. 

The first challenge is to create a song and find the popular playlisters/curators that play your format of music. The first time round you will find that only about 2% of the playlisters submitted to will add a new artist’s first song. Then the artist has to look at the feedback and determine how to further develop their songwriting and record a second song. This process can go on for years as the artist develops by themselves…which is something I recommend against. Why?

The competition is stifling. Spotify is seeing a new track uploaded to its platform every 1.4 seconds. That’s 60,000 tracks per day. By the end of 2021, Spotify was the home to over 90 million tracks. And by early 2022, it will surpass a catalog of 100 million for the first time.

90% of streams on Spotify today are shared between 57,000 artists. Spotify paid out over $5 billion to music rights-holders in 2020. 7,500 artists are now generating over $100,000 per annum from Spotify. 7,500 is both a significant number of artists… and a long way off the 8 million competing artists. In fact, these numbers mean an individual artist’s chance of generating over $100,000 on Spotify this year (i.e. as one of the 7,500 people within those 8 million creators) is… 0.094%. This is all bad for a new artist trying to build a following and garner some income. 

 

Thus, we come back around to the general rule. You have to be a truly uniquely talented artist with an experienced team around you to find success in streaming to get your music career rolling. And there is an over 99.99% failure rate. Of the 7,500 artists who generate over $100,000 per year, probably 75% have managers, production teams, and record companies supporting them.

Only the most truly talented and unique artist can develop alone to the point where they have a large enough monthly listener base and streams to attract a manager, producer or label. 

Artist development seemed to have almost ceased in the 1990’s when record companies discovered they could just make money reissuing all of their old hit LP’s onto CD’s. This continued into at least 2010 and has never reached the level of support artists received in the 70’s and 80’s. There used to be something called a “development deal.” Now, occasionally managers work with record company executives and producers to develop a “project” to the point of signing. 

We did that with Seymour Stein and End of Ever. Unfortunately, as happens, the band could not withstand the pressure and came to an end. My experience is that many times band members in the studio for the first time cannot withstand the pressure and have to “take a break” while we bring a professional in to play their part. Then the band member learns the part later and forgets that someone else played it on the recording. 

Physical product is almost non-existent in the US, the world’s biggest market for music. Did your new car come with a CD player? New cars come with USB ports and Apple Airplay. 

As cited above, streaming should generally be used as a promotional tool. Streaming audio and video is a very good promotional tool, but the artist has to be ready in order for it to work. If you are intending to develop an artist who makes money in touring, syncs, merchandise and a relatively steady $100,000 from streaming, this is what I recommend. Find an artist that writes or co-writes their own material in a genre that is played on the radio, synced to television and film, and could be used in commercials. 

The artist must be capable of touring at some time in the future. The artist must be young enough and manageable to go through a development cycle of 18-24 months of intensive work. The artist must be able to work with other people. The artist must be talented enough to garner interest from pro writers/producers who can assist in the development. 

In my humble opinion, you should not distribute an artist’s music for streaming unless it meets the definition of commercially acceptable. That is, the song must be well written, professionally arranged and recorded and the finished product should be master quality. Then you are giving a manager something that can be worked with. The manager can do things that make the artist attractive to algorithmic playlists and other discovery tools that suggest songs to listeners. Curators, critics, social media, playlisters, all play a part in this. And you have to repeat that sequence probably 4 times with 4 great songs before big things can be expected to happen. 

During the process, once the streams start adding up, information becomes available as to where the artist’s music is being streamed and to whom. That gives the manager insight as to where and when the artist should play live or seek local radio and syncs. All of this activity will keep the record companies - that the manager has been in contact with during development - interested to the point of making an offer.  

Q: You’ve always seen the big picture of the music business. 

A: Remember, the majority of an artist's revenue comes from touring, selling merchandise, licensing their music for things like television, movies, or video games, and partnerships or side businesses. Historically, getting a record deal will get you an agent who represents brands and tv and film production entities that can get you synced more easily, and can result in getting the artist more radio airplay and on more curated playlists. The artist must accept that music is a BUSINESS.

Because my music business positions have been so varied, my contact list has everyone from musicians to engineer/producers, managers, agents, songwriters, publishers, sync reps, record company executives, distributors, organization members, radio programmers, live show promoters, royalty collection companies, performing rights society executives, chart serving companies, marketers, promoters, touring agents and bookers, and the US Department of International Trade Administration Global Media and Entertainment Team Leader.

Q: You have certainly taken on many roles for different clients.

A: My various roles have been, for example, manager, producer, remixer, attorney, record company executive, production company, publisher, and consultant. I am very conscious of potential conflicts of interest. Many conflicts of interest in the music business cannot be avoided so, in such instances of a potential for a real conflict of interest acting as an attorney, although I may give some practical or creative advice to a client, I do not also formally manage them or produce them. I’ll give you just a few examples. 

When I managed and produced Secrets, I did not represent them as their attorney.

When I developed, arranged and produced Ravan, I did not act as their attorney.

When I managed Taavi Mote, I did not act as his attorney.

When I represented The Whereabouts as their attorney, I did not manage them. I introduced them to their future managers, Sterling McIlwaine, Steve Strange, and Andy Gould. 

When I managed Carsten Lindberg, “Sol”, “End of Ever”, and “Robot Nature” with Sydney Alston, I did not represent them as their attorney. 

When I represent MAD Management as their counsel, I do not manage their artist, Erika Tham who is currently exploding on YouTube and Spotify. 

When I represent Taylor Sparks as his attorney, I do not manage him.

When I produce or remix Sumthing Strange, I do not represent them as their attorney.

When I represented film editors as their attorney, I did not manage them. 

When my record company, Sound Image Records or Harmony Records put out a record, I did not represent the artist as their attorney. 

When my production company, Sound Image, produced David Aldo, the Storm, Brickyard, etc, or the company managed an artist like Eric Burden or Robby Kreiger, I did not represent the artists as their counsel. 

When United Music Group, which was formed by me, Sydney Alston, Taylor Sparks and Dean Dinning from “Toad the Wet Sprocket”, signed artists to the production company, I did not represent the artists. When Donna Kanter and I optioned Genya Ravan’s book for exploitation, I did not do so as an attorney. I did not act as Donna’s attorney or the attorney for the author. 

Obviously I am an attorney and have legal knowledge, as many managers have, of the entertainment business and that legal knowledge benefits my management clients. However, each client is encouraged to retain their own counsel for legal advice, beginning with the admonition to seek counsel to negotiate their management agreement with my or a company I am involved with. 

Each role I take on has its own duties and responsibilities. When I sign an artist to legal representation, for example, I help them get their demo material up to what I consider to be master quality and then, depending on the artist, I then utilize the industry contacts I have developed over the years. This includes contacting managers, producers, record company and publishing company executives, synch agents and marketing and promotion people — world-wide. I have gotten my clients international distribution with major companies by attending Midem. 

Q: You have traveled internationally and attended the Midem conference. 

A: At Midem, I averaged 1-2 meetings an hour starting at 9 in the morning and going until 5 in the afternoon, including a lunch meeting each day. Then, in the evening, I attended industry events and made additional contacts. Kim Fowley trained me on how to get the list of attendees, determine who I needed to meet with and then schedule meetings weeks ahead of Midem so that I had a packed calendar when I entered the Palais du Festival on the first day. I usually meet with high level individuals. 

For example, in my last few trips I met with the senior VP of Sony Music in Japan, met with and signed distribution agreements with the President of Shanghai Synergy in China, met with indie reps from the Far East, most countries in Europe and the US and Brazil. I have had brief meetings with many presidents of US record companies over the years. I met with Lucian Grainge, Charman and CEO of Universal Music Group, backstage at CES where we discussed development of new artists. Although I met LA Reid and Doug Morris at the last Midem I attended, it was my meeting Seymour Stein two years in a row that resulted in his agreement to fly to LA to see “End of Ever” play at the Mint. Sydney Alston and I were representing “End of Ever” as they managers, and the LA Showcase initiated Stein’s involvement with the Band. 

I also met with the European president of many publishing companies including the Buddes of Budde Music and Nigel Elderton of Peer Music, the latter of which ended up in a synch representation agreement for my clients. David Aldo (7 number one international hits) and I went to Midem together a few years back and there we obtained and negotiated a UK deal with Right Track/Universal and met with promotion candidates in the UK booth, one of which, Jo Hart of award winning Heart Media in London, we hired to run his campaign. 

I made a deal with ABC-Disney Music world-wide for one of my artists (It’s interesting that you can get a meeting with executives of major companies at Midem who you cannot get a meeting with at their home office.) Where else can you meet with the top executives of streaming services like Spotify in one place and discuss how to get on their playlists?

I remember before streaming was producing much income to artists Gary Gersh spoke at Midem and said that the melding technology companies with streaming services internationally over the next few years was the future of income the Music Business. Then he immediately went from record company executive into the concert touring business at AEG live.

He recognized where the future money was going to come from after streaming created promotion. Apparently paying attention to Gersh, and listening to everyone else at Midem, the head of Reed Midem left Midem to head up Spotify. You only had to be there and listen to understand what was happening in the future and where to take your artist. 

I also spoke at the Liverpool Sound City Conference and met many valuable contacts. I have been a guest speaker at several university music business classes and have been on many panels at US Conferences. Kim Fowley shared all of his contacts with me both in the US and Internationally. I traveled, for example, to London to meet with Nigel Elderton, the European Director of Peer Music in London, a meeting that opened doors creating opportunities for my management, production and legal clients. Nigel went to Midem and encouraged me to use him as a reference there. And I discovered that he was contacted by several veteran highly placed executives to check me out before working with me.  

I became a part of the Rock The House official music competition held by the English Parliament by representing the winner of the competition and attending the award ceremony at the US Ambassadors residence. I met several members of Parliament and see them when they come to the States. I also met the European Director of Yamaha, YES keyboardist Rick Wakeman and Tony Moore (Iron Maiden, Cutting Crew.) I also met and spoke with Rod Smallwood (“Iron Maiden”) about his experiences at the Sanctuary Record Group, which he founded in 1979 and went on to be the largest independent record label in the UK and the largest independent management company in the world until its closure in 2007. I have developed contacts in the world-wide music business, from the artists to the top distribution and publishing companies. I have learned a lot from my international business contacts. 

I have been a member of the Recording Academy for 35 years. I have been a longtime member of the Association of Independent Music Publishers (I have two BMI publishing companies), California Copyright Conference, the Music Supervisor’s Guild (my first synch was in a 1987 Blake Edwards movie), the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. My AIMP membership gets me a spot in the A2IM (American Association of Independent Music) booth at Midem. I regularly attend the NAMM, AES and sometimes the NARM and CES conventions. There I renew old relationships and develop new ones. I used an A2IM invitation to their digital music event recently to learn how independent labels are creating excitement with Dolby Atmos Music. I am on lots of event lists that, without my Midem and professional association participation I would not be privy to. It’s an important edge.

Q: Classic rock recordings are still very popular and always being streamed. 

A: Let's talk about classic rock touring. In the live event business, when you were filling a venue prior to covid, the first 50% of sales went to cover the overhead of the live show. The second half of the sales was split between the promoter and the act. When venues opened to 50% capacity, there was no profit in the business. Selling 85% of tickets is roughly the break-even. Now, if the capacity is increased, the live business can reopen. However, as a consequence of the year+ closure, 50% of the venues have closed, especially smaller venues.

In December of 2020, the CEO of AEG announced their solution to coming out of COVID stronger was to construct new venues, rehab old venues and utilize high-tech in their business. Marciano estimated that AEG's work would be completed by the fall of 2021 when they estimated that the industry would reopen. As of this writing, I am being solicited by ticket companies, touring classic rock artists, and venues for concerts in 2022. The latest information I have is disheartening for new bands, as the classic rock acts are touring with other classic rock acts. For example, Journey is touring with Billy Idol and Toto as supporting acts at different parts of the tour. 

 

It appears that classic rock bands are sticking to arenas in 2022. I really do not know if the current mask and vaccination mandates will affect ticket sales. But it might. Only about half of the baby boomers have been vaccinated. You would think that the current vaccination and mask mandates for mega events (both indoor events above 1,000 seats, and outdoor events above 10,000 seats) would be dropped but we’ll see. And then there are the artists like Eric Clapton that refuse to play a show if vaccines are mandated. My projection is that the classic rockers will do ok on tour in 2022, but new acts may not. This year I have seen live or will see live, Dave Mason, Brian Wilson, Chicago, John Fogarty, Ricky Martin (with the LA Philharmonic), and the Who.

 

Is new music dead? Far from it. But there is so much of it, one finds it hard to cull out the good from the bad...and how do you find the great new artists? New artists are getting their promotion from their listeners on streaming services and their videos on YouTube. One would have thought that by now there would be some video service/tv show previewing new artists and new songs on a weekly basis so that new artists could be showcased. Just playing the songs from Spotify's weekly new playlist is uninspiring. Having your band play at a club for 50 people is not going to do it for you either, unless there is a buzz about you and industry folks are in the audience. 

 

The average live music customer wants to "experience" something. Locked down in their homes, Apple and Dolby bet on immersive music and Atmos. I'll bet audiophiles like that...but not the kids on the streets. They want festivals where they can experience the music...and drugs...(the drug part is not recommended). So what do they do? Do they travel through the Metaverse in their hologram to meet their friend at a concert half-way around the world? Some predict that. But for now it seems that new artists will have to grow their own fanbase on streaming services, try to sell merch off their websites, and hope that their management can convince a record company or concert promoter to underwrite their touring efforts which are money losing efforts for an unknown band. 

 

Alan Parsons says that syncs have been very good for him...but he has some fans who are producing movies and he has hit songs from the 80's. Syncs are not new. I worked on my first recording to be used in a Blake Edwards movie in 1986. Syncs are always available if you know the right people or have signed to the right rep who believes in your artist's recorded material. 

 

With Midem gone for the moment, the artist's representatives will have to find new ways to reach record company and publishing executives to interest them in a new artist. Record company and publishing companies want to see real numbers from the streaming services before their interest becomes serious. Festivals are great, but there are too many artists playing at them to find the next new thing. 

 

There is no room to percolate to the top of the crowd. You can play virtually all of the festivals in Europe and still be broke and un-discovered. For example, the only band that made an impression on me at Liverpool Sound City several years back was "GOASTT" (Ghost of a Sabre Tooth Tiger) with Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl. 

 

So, what to do. Go out of the box. My partner, Sydney Alston, and I produced the first Virtual Reality lyric video for streaming after watching a 3d demonstration by Ricoh at YouTube Space LA and asking Ricoh for one of their new VR cameras. That got Seymour Stein's attention...but not until I played it for him in person. I worked with another manager and director on the first slow motion video filmed entirely on an Iphone. I have two certificates from the YouTube academy and made many connections with big YouTube artists for potential collaborations. A good way to grow an artist’s subscriber base.  

 

Representation and the songs are still the key. Your manager - thinking out of the box now - should jump into this Metaverse vision and see if there is anything there that can propel the artist into the minds and hearts of new fans. Is the Metaverse the future of the music industry? Keep watching. 

 

So right now, the place for a new artist to be is on Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music and touring. How to get noticed on Spotify and get on a tour is the artist's manager's problem...but not an unsolvable one. Figure out the new roles of record and publishing companies, and new technologies, use creative new ways to illuminate your artist in the dark world and you will have created a roadmap to success. Bruce Garfield wrote that Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records, had a poster over his desk that said in enormous letters “WHEN YOU DON’T PROMOTE A TERRIBLE THING HAPPENS; (and in tiny type below was the word “nothing”.’

 

Now, you just need to find a uniquely talented artist, build an innovative team around them (including someone with contacts in concert promotion) to magnify and illuminate them, find great songs worthy of their talent...and then plug them into your plan. The product is, as it always has been, the music and performance. It's the delivery device and income stream that has changed. 

 

I learned – as a teenager from English weekly magazines and through my travels to Europe starting in the 80’s – that music was international. English language music was played all over the world. In the 21st century I used the internet, social media, Midem and my travels to play in the international music business and get my artists distributed internationally. I had great mentors, like Kim Fowley, who understood the importance of the International music community. In 1981 Kim was introducing international music business executives to me. By 1989 I was finding that my independently distributed records were being sold at a premium in London record stores. It never surprised me that the world’s largest streaming service is from Sweden. 

Q: Can you offer essential tips and rules about working with people in collaborations and career planning? 

A: The most important rules:

1. Create and Maintain Positive Relationships.  

2. Teamwork. (don’t break up a successful production or writing team)

3. Courage. (don’t give up your vision no matter how many no’s you get)

4. Dedication to Vision. (work as hard to make your music as your manager does to promote it)

5. Promote in unique and interesting ways.

 

On every project, I have worked with a team. For example, I have been a team member with two managers and a live agent in developing a band, I have been a member of several production companies recording and exploiting masters for developing artists, and I have had management partners on many projects. 

When I discover a developing artist or work with an accomplished artist, the steps may be different, but the effort and measure of success is the same. I feel that one of my most important jobs is to convince the artist that they are better than they believe they are and then create a team around them to demonstrate the validity of that conviction. In return, I expect them to give their all and be emotive on stage and in the studio.

The importance of building the artist’s team smartly is paramount. What are the qualities I look for when building a team? A team member must love what they do, have the courage to pursue our goal despite obstacles and setbacks, have the knowledge and experience to achieve the goal, and carry on working forward in a positive and empowering manner. Talent development has many aspects to it. I, and my team members, surround ourselves with experts in each area of need, be it running a label, publishing, arranging, producing, distribution, promoting, marketing or anything else an artist needs. 

“Believe in the best … have a goal for the best, never be satisfied with less than your best, try your best, and in the long run things will turn out for the best” – Henry Ford

Courage and Dedication to Vision: When I started a management company with my great friend Sydney Alston he had business cards made that said “C&A Management, thinking out of the box.” I said to Sydney, “I don’t see no box!”  Being a personal manager has to be the hardest job on the planet. Seymour Stein says it takes a uniquely special person to be a manager. (I don’t know if that was a compliment or not! Lol)

I believe I am a successful person and I believe I am right. I do not stop learning and taking chances. This keeps my mind young…and I feel young. My dad taught me to be a technology junkie when I was 10 and we built a kid’s space capsule to go to the moon out of parts in the garage, so when electronics in the studio changed, when the internet and streaming came, I was delighted and felt right at home. 

I do not think about failing, let alone fear it. I learned that failure is simply a lesson, an opportunity to start again smarter. I tell my artists and their team that this is a very competitive and difficult business they chose and the closer they get to success, the more resistance they will face. Those who give into resistance (the majority of people) lose, and those who break through resistance win. An airplane takes off against the wind, not with it, does it not?

Q: You’ve written a book Taking Control: Cracking the Code to Happiness.

A: It was done to motivate people, inspire them to be their best selves, to encourage them to fight their fears, to show them the way they could form and maintain better relationships in their personal and professional lives. I demonstrated that if they had failed or suffered a disappointment, they should learn a lesson from the experience and seize the opportunities that present themselves to them afterward. 

I explained that opportunities do not always come wrapped the way we expect them and therefore they should be open to things. I explained that they will meet the right people along their journey and usually find out later why they met them. I challenged them to pursue their futures optimistically with a positive mental outlook. I wanted to help change people’s lives for the better, and changed myself in the process. It motivated me to get rid of the toxic, negative, energy sucking people in my life so that there would be room for more positive and empowering people. 

What happened was a great deal of people found the book helpful to them. Different portions of the book spoke to each individual reader. People called me crying because it created a breakthrough in their life. I received emails from people who said they have read the book, followed my advice, and changed their lives to become happier…and had succeeded. 

 

My book went to number one in its categories on Amazon shortly after release in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. I didn’t earn riches off the book because I virtually gave it away for cost in the Kindle edition. As always, I went into writing the book with no expectations and was therefore not disappointed. I wrote a book that made a difference in people’s lives. That was my reward. Being number one was not bad either.

 

Taking Control: Cracking the Code to Happiness. 

Earlier in this decade I had a large following on Facebook and Instagram. I was working with artists to enhance their life and careers by giving them motivation and advice for success. My daughter was born and raised in sunny Southern California, but by the time she was 18 she found herself in damp, dreary, and cold Eureka CA at Humbolt State University. She was having trouble getting up in the morning to go to classes so I began to write inspirational Facebook messages to help motivate her. She has now finished her internship in her medical field and is now making more money than most new lawyers. 

I was apparently also motivating my other Facebook “friends” because when I stopped writing the daily posts at the end of the school year, my “friends” complained, writing “don’t stop! You are getting us out of bed too”. I decided to write a book for everyone. So, I took my year or so of Facebook posts, organized them and started filling out the rest of the contents of what turned out to be a number one best seller in Amazon in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. I had the book translated into Spanish and it also became an Amazon number one best seller. It received 5-star reviews in multiple countries. I sold most of the copies at cost so that everyone could have access to them.  

The book is designed to put people - who feel out of control of aspects of their lives - into a position to change their attitude and way of life so that they can become happy. One reader from the UK wrote me on Thanksgiving telling me that he had read my book, quit his job, moved, and started his dream business. He went from being miserable to being happy in short order he said. 

 

My book is like the combination to a safe that holds happiness inside it. When you read the book, each chapter builds upon the other, resulting in a shift of consciousness that results in giving the reader the ability to create happiness in their life. Read the chapters and you will be Cracking the Code to Happiness. There are chapters on living with integrity, getting rid of the energy vampires, losing fear, turning disappointments into opportunities, goal setting, getting rid of your baggage by forgiving the past, and health and wealth chapters as well. If you read the book, it will have a positive effect on you. 

This book explains to cultural creatives that they must take risks, they must ignore their fears, they must breakthrough resistance and surround themselves with positive empowering people. The song “Fearless” written by Heather Holley and performed by Kat Perkins describes many of the positive messages contained in the book and was used as the music for the promotional video of the book. 

When I thought about “Why can someone trust what I am writing about?” I remembered all of the inspiring thought leaders that came before me and I even quoted them in the book extensively. The ideas in the book are time proven and inspiring. Successfully people had many of the same ideas that I consolidated into a book in one easy to read roadmap to your own well-being. 

As an extra bonus selection, I included Hollis Mahady’s The Reconnection Movement essay. Hollis is the lead singer of several international power pop bands including “Hey Hello with Ginger Wildheart” and “Love Zombies”. The video of her song “Be Honest” won best video in the UK a few years ago. This essay is about fighting technology’s resultant disconnection of human beings from each other. I felt it was a good fit for my book. For a time, I managed her with Steve Strange from X-Ray Touring who we sadly lost recently. 

The book promotion states: For those who feel out of control, depressed, stuck, disillusioned, defeated, rejected, dejected, afraid, confused, this book will help you take back control of your life and give you the key to crack the code to happiness. You can get what you want, be the person you want to be, and most of all, you can be happy. 

The lessons in this book are time-proven, reliable, easy and fun. You will learn to live with integrity and gain the trust and confidence of your friends and family. You will learn about positive and healthy relationships, how to form them and how to maintain them. 

You will learn how to disconnect from toxic relationships. You will learn how to get what you want out of life. You will learn how to lose all types of fear. You will learn not to take yourself too seriously, not to settle for less than you want, and how to take disappointments and turn them into opportunities. In the final quest for happiness you will learn how to forgive and forget. There’s also some practical information about how to take control of your finances and your health. As New York Times Best Selling Author Laura Corn says, “This book will change your life…in a good way.”

Q: Not lost on me is a supplemental career you have had in the television business. Reflect on your TV endeavors. 

A: Writing the Virus teleplay: In about 2002, I received a call from a producer at a company producing content for BET. The producer was referred to me from one of my television producer clients, Nancy Wiard (20 year producer - Young and the Restless) because she knew that I enjoyed the Coast to Coast AM radio show. I was told that BET was contemplating a series that would be a dramatized television version of Coast to Coast AM. The series was called Conspiracy and I was asked to write the pilot episode. 

I wrote a teleplay entitled Virus which was a dramatization of how the competition to develop a vaccine for polo and the inappropriate use of chimpanzees resulted in the creation of the “X Virus” in Africa that likely resulted in the accidental creation of AIDS. As with all of the episodes, at the conclusion of the episode the viewer was left with the question, “coincidence or conspiracy”. The episode I wrote was so controversial and compelling, the head of the network declined to air it. Ironic in perspective.

Road Stories with Frankie Avalon was a sixty-minute variety show starring Frankie Avalon. I co-wrote, co-produced and directed the pilot episode with special guest Bobby Rydell (there was also an episode with Jose Feliciano.) 

They told stories about their previously untold adventures on the Road and each gave an entertaining musical performance of some of their hits. Produced at our Sound Image Studio in the Sound City Center in Van Nuys, we had a multiple episode order from RLTV that did not happen because of a downturn in RLTV’s investment portfolio we were told. RLTV (previously known as Retirement Living TV) was an American cable television network. The channel targeted a demographic aged 50 years and older. Its topics and programs include health and wellness, finance, travel, lifestyle, reinvention, as well as scripted comedy and drama in its cable era. 

Rock n Roll Road Stories was the classic rock version of Road Stories. This starred Rebecca Grant. This show was to feature interesting and fun secrets from the Rock n Roll road. There was a sizzle reel shot for the show with interview clips of Paul Rogers, Micky Thomas, John Waite and Anne Wilson. However, it was not picked up for a pilot.

Night Moves was a scripted reality show about the people who work at a Gentlemen’s Club in Chicago. My mother co-wrote the script for Sound Image Productions, it had a full budget and we shot the one- hour pilot episode on location in Chicago with the cast and 80 extras. I directed and co-produced the pilot episode. The show was shot for a producer at Showtime who was in discussions with us for an additional 6 episodes prior to an executive change at Showtime that resulted in the show not being picked up. 

 

Strappin’ It On was a reality competition show about the making of female rock n roll bands. A house was filled with 12 female musicians and they were left to form 3 rock bands that would compete and the winner would have an album produced for them. The concept was conceived by Genya Ravan, myself, and Donna Kanter (award winning producer daughter of comedy writer, producer, director Hal Kanter – who worked with Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis and Elvis Presley for both feature films and television.) We spent time with several networks in New York but no deal was ever signed. Donna Kanter and I also optioned Genya Ravan’s book Lolipop Lounge for feature production but could not sell the idea to a production entity. 

 

Dare to Dream TV was shot as the television version of multi-award winning syndicated radio talk show host Debbie Dachinger. The idea for the show developed from my membership in GATE (the Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment – a creation of John Raatz, actor Jim Carrey, and Elkhart Tolle – author of The Power of Now). Debbie’s guests were cultural creatives such as Michael Beckwith, Peter Canova, Jim Carrey, James Van Praigh, Gary Malkin, Ryan Carnes, don Miguel Ruiz, Barbara Marx Hubbard. I was the producer of the show. Although there was interest from several networks, no deal came about. 

Earlier in my career in the 80’s I worked on the pilot for The Stan Kann Showwith producer Beverly Dean (she discovered and managed Kevin Sorbo and Jim Caviezal and was the executive producer on several television and motion pictures.)  The show was a long form rendition of Stan Kann’s Tonight Showguest appearances, only here he was the host and the celebrity guests were spoofed on the show. ```

 

From the 80’s until now, having just completed a new recording for an up and coming band, “Sumthing Strange” and working on the next for late July 2022 release, I’m still living a life in the music business.

 

(Harvey Kubernik is the author of 20 books, including 2009’s Canyon Of Dreams: The Magic And The Music Of Laurel Canyon and 2014’s Turn Up The Radio! Rock, Pop and Roll In Los Angeles 1956-1972.   Sterling/Barnes and Noble in 2018 published Harvey and Kenneth Kubernik’s The Story Of The Band: From Big Pink To The Last Waltz. In 2021 they wrote Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child for Sterling/Barnes and Noble. 

 

    Otherworld Cottage Industries in 2020 published Harvey’s Docs That Rock, Music That Matters, featuring interviews with D.A. Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus, Albert Maysles, Murray Lerner, Morgan Neville, David Leaf, Dick Clark, Curtis Hanson and Michael Lindsay-Hogg. 

 

Kubernik’s writings are in several book anthologies, including, The Rolling Stone Book Of The Beats and Drinking With Bukowski. Harvey wrote the liner notes to the CD re-releases of Carole King’s Tapestry, The Essential Carole King, Allen Ginsberg’s Kaddish, Elvis Presley The ’68 Comeback Special, The Ramones’ End of the Century and Big Brother & the Holding Company Captured Live at The Monterey International Pop Festival.   

 

     In 2020, Harvey served as a consultant on the 2-part documentary Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time directed by Alison Ellwood that debuted on the M-G-M/EPIX cable television channel. During 2021, Kubernik was an on-screen interview subject and consultant for the rock & roll revival music documentary about the Toronto Canada 1969 festival at Varsity Stadium spotlighting the debut of the John Lennon and Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band and an appearance by the Doors. Klaus Voorman, Geddy Lee of Rush, Alice Cooper, Shep Gordon, Rodney Bingenheimer, John Brower, and Robby Krieger of the Doors were interviewed by director Ron Chapman. A summer 2022 theatrical release).   

 

Q: You have certainly taken on many roles for different clients.

A: My various roles have been, for example, manager, producer, attorney, record company executive, production company, publisher, and consultant. I am very conscious of potential conflicts of interest. Many conflicts of interest in the music business cannot be avoided so, in such instances of a potential for a real conflict of interest acting as an attorney, although I may give some practical or creative advice to a client, I do not also formally manage them or produce them. I’ll give you just a few examples. 

When I managed and produced Secrets, I did not represent them as their attorney.

When I developed, arranged and produced Ravan, I did not act as their attorney.

When I managed Taavi Mote, I did not act as his attorney.

When I represented The Whereabouts as their attorney, I did not manage them. I introduced them to their future managers, Sterling McIlwaine, Steve Strange, and Andy Gould. 

When I managed Carsten Lindberg, “Sol”, “End of Ever”, and “Robot Nature” with Sydney Alston, I did not represent them as their attorney. 

When I represent MAD Management as their counsel, I do not manage their artist, Erika Tham who is currently exploding on YouTube and Spotify. 

When I represent Taylor Sparks as his attorney, I do not manage him.

When I produce Sumthing Strange, I do not represent them as their attorney. 

When I represented film editors as their attorney, I did not manage them. 

When my record company, Sound Image Records or Harmony Records put out a record, I did not represent the artist as their attorney. 

When my production company, Sound Image, produced David Aldo, the Storm, Brickyard, etc, or the company managed an artist like Eric Burden or Robby Kreiger, I did not represent the artists as their counsel. 

When United Music Group, which was formed by me, Sydney Alston, Taylor Sparks and Dean Dinning from “Toad the Wet Sprocket”, signed artists to the production company, I did not represent the artists. When Donna Kanter and I optioned Genya Ravan’s book for exploitation, I did not do so as an attorney. I did not act as Donna’s attorney or the attorney for the author. 

Obviously I am an attorney and have legal knowledge, as many managers have, of the entertainment business and that legal knowledge benefits my management clients. However, each client is encouraged to retain their own counsel for legal advice, beginning with the admonition to seek counsel to negotiate their management agreement with my or a company I am involved with. 

Each role I take on has its own duties and responsibilities. When I sign an artist to legal representation, for example, I help them get their demo material up to what I consider to be master quality and then, depending on the artist, I then utilize the industry contacts I have developed over the years. This includes contacting managers, producers, record company and publishing company executives, synch agents and marketing and promotion people — world-wide. I have gotten my clients international distribution with major companies by attending Midem. 

Q: You have traveled internationally and attended the Midem conference. 

A: At Midem, I averaged 1-2 meetings an hour starting at 9 in the morning and going until 5 in the afternoon, including a lunch meeting each day. Then, in the evening, I attended industry events and made additional contacts. Kim Fowley trained me on how to get the list of attendees, determine who I needed to meet with and then schedule meetings weeks ahead of Midem so that I had a packed calendar when I entered the Palais du Festival on the first day. I usually meet with high level individuals. 

For example, in my last few trips I met with the senior VP of Sony Music in Japan, met with and signed distribution agreements with the President of Shanghai Synergy in China, met with indie reps from the Far East, most countries in Europe and the US and Brazil. I have had brief meetings with many presidents of US record companies over the years. I met with Lucian Grainge, Charman and CEO of Universal Music Group, backstage at CES where we discussed development of new artists. Although I met LA Reid and Doug Morris at the last Midem I attended, it was my meeting Seymour Stein two years in a row that resulted in his agreement to fly to LA to see “End of Ever” play at the Mint. Sydney Alston and I were representing “End of Ever” as they managers, and the LA Showcase initiated Stein’s involvement with the Band. 

I also met with the European president of many publishing companies including the Buddes of Budde Music and Nigel Elderton of Peer Music, the latter of which ended up in a synch representation agreement for my clients. David Aldo (7 number one international hits) and I went to Midem together a few years back and there we obtained and negotiated a UK deal with Right Track/Universal and met with promotion candidates in the UK booth, one of which we hired to run his campaign. 

I made a deal with ABC-Disney Music world-wide for one of my artists (It’s interesting that you can get a meeting with executives of major companies at Midem who you cannot get a meeting with at their home office.) Where else can you meet with the top executives of streaming services like Spotify in one place and discuss how to get on their playlists?

I remember before streaming was producing much income to artists Gary Gersh spoke at Midem and said that the melding technology companies with streaming services internationally over the next few years was the future of income the Music Business. Then he immediately went from record company executive into the concert touring business at AEG live.

He recognized where the future money was going to come from after streaming created promotion. Apparently paying attention to Gersh, and listening to everyone else at Midem, the head of Reed Midem left Midem to head up Spotify. You only had to be there and listen to understand what was happening in the future and where to take your artist. 

I also spoke at the Liverpool Sound City Conference and met many valuable contacts. I have been a guest speaker at several university music business classes and have been on many panels at US Conferences. Kim Fowley shared all of his contacts with me both in the US and Internationally. I traveled, for example, to London to meet with Nigel Elderton, the European Director of Peer Music in London, a meeting that opened doors creating opportunities for my management, production and legal clients. He went to Midem and encouraged me to use him as a reference there. And I discovered that he was contacted by several veteran highly placed executives to check me out before working with me.

 

I became a part of the Rock The House official music competition held by the English Parliament by representing the winner of the competition and attending the award ceremony at the US Ambassadors residence. I met several members of Parliament and see them when they come to the States. I also met the European Director of Yamaha and YES keyboardist Rick Wakeman. I also met and spoke with Rod Smallwood (“Iron Maiden”) about his experiences at the Sanctuary Record Group, which he founded in 1979 and went on to be the largest independent record label in the UK and the largest independent management company in the world until its closure in 2007. I have developed contacts in the world-wide music business, from the artists to the top distribution and publishing companies. I have learned a lot from my international business contacts. 

I have been a member of the Recording Academy for 35 years. I have been a longtime member of the Association of Independent Music Publishers (I have two BMI publishing companies), California Copyright Conference, the Music Supervisor’s Guild, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. My AIMP membership gets me a spot in the A2IM (American Association of Independent Music) booth at Midem. I regularly attend the NAMM, AES and sometimes the NARM and CES conventions. There I renew old relationships and develop new ones. I used an A2IM invitation to their digital music event recently to learn how independent labels are creating excitement with Dolby Atmos Music. I am on lots of event lists that, without my Midem and professional association participation I would not be privy to. It’s an important edge.

Q: Classic rock recordings are still very popular and always being streamed. 

A: Let's talk about classic rock touring. In the live event business, when you were filling a venue prior to covid, the first 50% of sales went to cover the overhead of the live show. The second half of the sales was split between the promoter and the act. When venues opened to 50% capacity, there was no profit in the business. Selling 85% of tickets is roughly the break-even. Now, if the capacity is increased, the live business can reopen. However, as a consequence of the year+ closure, 50% of the venues have closed, especially smaller venues.

In December of 2020, the CEO of AEG announced their solution to coming out of COVID stronger was to construct new venues, rehab old venues and utilize high-tech in their business. Marciano estimated that AEG's work would be completed by the fall of 2021 when they estimated that the industry would reopen. As of this writing, I am being solicited by ticket companies, touring classic rock artists, and venues for concerts in 2022. The latest information I have is disheartening for new bands, as the classic rock acts are touring with other classic rock acts. For example, Journey is touring with Billy Idol and Toto as supporting acts at different parts of the tour. 

 

It appears that classic rock bands are sticking to arenas in 2022. I really do not know if the current mask and vaccination mandates will affect ticket sales. But it might. Only about half of the baby boomers have been vaccinated. You would think that the current vaccination and mask mandates for mega events (both indoor events above 1,000 seats, and outdoor events above 10,000 seats) would be dropped but we’ll see. And then there are the artists like Eric Clapton that refuse to play a show if vaccines are mandated. My projection is that the classic rockers will do ok on tour in 2022, but new acts may not. 

 

Is new music dead? Far from it. But there is so much of it, one finds it hard to cull out the good from the bad...and how do you find the great new artists? New artists are getting their promotion from their listeners on streaming services and their videos on YouTube. One would have thought that by now there would be some video service/tv show previewing new artists and new songs on a weekly basis so that new artists could be showcased. Just playing the songs from Spotify's weekly new playlist is uninspiring. Having your band play at a club for 50 people is not going to do it for you either, unless there is a buzz about you and industry folks are in the audience. 

 

The average live music customer wants to "experience" something. Locked down in their homes, Apple and Dolby bet on immersive music and Atmos. I'll bet audiophiles like that...but not the kids on the streets. They want festivals where they can experience the music...and drugs...except if they get too excited they might get injured, see Astroworld. So what do they do? Do they travel through the Metaverse in their hologram to meet their friend at a concert half-way around the world? Some predict that. But for now it seems that new artists will have to grow their own fanbase on streaming services, try to sell merch off their websites, and hope that their management can convince a record company or concert promoter to underwrite their touring efforts which are money losing efforts for an unknown band. 

 

Alan Parsons says that syncs have been very good for him...but he has some fans who are producing movies and he has hit songs from the 80's. Syncs are not new. I worked on my first recording to be used in a Blake Edwards movie in 1986. Syncs are always available if you know the right people or have signed to the right rep who believes in your artist's recorded material. 

 

With Midem gone for the moment, the artist's representatives will have to find new ways to reach record company and publishing executives to interest them in a new artist. Record company and publishing companies want to see real numbers from the streaming services before their interest becomes serious. Festivals are great, but there are too many artists playing at them to find the next new thing. 

 

There is no room to percolate to the top of the crowd. You can play virtually all of the festivals in Europe and still be broke and un-discovered. For example, the only band that made an impression on me at Liverpool Sound City several years back was "GOASTT" (Ghost of a Sabre Tooth Tiger) with Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl. 

 

So, what to do. Go out of the box. My partner, Sydney Alston, and I produced the first Virtual Reality lyric video for streaming after watching a 3d demonstration by Ricoh at YouTube Space LA and asking Ricoh for one of their new VR cameras. That got Seymour Stein's attention...but not until I played it for him in person. I worked with another manager and director on the first slow motion video filmed entirely on an Iphone. I have two certificates from the YouTube academy and made many connections with big YouTube artists for potential collaborations. A good way to grow an artist’s subscriber base. 

 

Representation and the songs are still the key. Your manager - thinking out of the box now - should jump into this Metaverse vision and see if there is anything there that can propel the artist into the minds and hearts of new fans. Is the Metaverse the future of the music industry? Keep watching. 

 

So right now, the place for a new artist to be is on Spotify, YouTube, and touring. How to get noticed on Spotify and get on a tour is the artist's manager's problem...but not an unsolvable one. Figure out the new roles of record and publishing companies, and new technologies, use creative new ways to illuminate your artist in the dark world and you will have created a roadmap to success. Bruce Garfield wrote that Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records, had a poster over his desk that said in enormous letters “WHEN YOU DON’T PROMOTE A TERRIBLE THING HAPPENS; (and in tiny type below was the word “nothing”.’

 

Now, you just need to find a uniquely talented artist, build an innovative team around them (including someone with contacts in concert promotion) to magnify and illuminate them, find great songs worthy of their talent...and then plug them into your plan. The product is, as it always has been, the music and performance. It's the delivery device and income stream that has changed. 

 

I learned – as a teenager from English weekly magazines and through my travels to Europe starting in the 80’s – that music was international. English language music was played all over the world. In the 21st century I used the internet, social media, Midem and my travels to play in the international music business and get my artists distributed internationally. I had great mentors, like Kim Fowley, who understood the importance of the International music community. In 1981 Kim was introducing international music business executives to me. By 1989 I was finding that my independently distributed records were being sold at a premium in London record stores. It never surprised me that the world’s largest streaming service is from Sweden. 

Q: Can you offer essential tips and rules about working with people in collaborations and career planning? 

A: The most important rules:

1. Create and Maintain Positive Relationships.  

2. Teamwork. (don’t break up a successful production or writing team)

3. Courage. (don’t give up your vision no matter how many no’s you get)

4. Dedication to Vision. (work as hard to make your music as your manager does to promote it)

5. Promote in unique and interesting ways.

On every project, I have worked with a team. For example, I have been a team member with two managers and a live agent in developing a band, I have been a member of several production companies recording and exploiting masters for developing artists, and I have had management partners on many projects. 

When I discover a developing artist or work with an accomplished artist, the steps may be different, but the effort and measure of success is the same. I feel that one of my most important jobs is to convince the artist that they are better than they believe they are and then create a team around them to demonstrate the validity of that conviction. In return, I expect them to give their all and be emotive on stage and in the studio.

The importance of building the artist’s team smartly is paramount. What are the qualities I look for when building a team? A team member must love what they do, have the courage to pursue our goal despite obstacles and setbacks, have the knowledge and experience to achieve the goal, and carry on working forward in a positive and empowering manner. Talent development has many aspects to it. I, and my team members, surround ourselves with experts in each area of need, be it running a label, publishing, arranging, producing, distribution, promoting, marketing or anything else an artist needs. 

“Believe in the best … have a goal for the best, never be satisfied with less than your best, try your best, and in the long run things will turn out for the best” – Henry Ford

Courage and Dedication to Vision: When I started a management company with my great friend Sydney Alston he had business cards made that said “C&A Management, thinking out of the box.” I said to Sydney, “I don’t see no box!”  Being a personal manager has to be the hardest job on the planet. Seymour Stein says it takes a uniquely special person to be a manager. (I don’t know if that was a compliment or not! Lol)

I believe I am a successful person and I believe I am right. I do not stop learning and taking chances. This keeps my mind young…and I feel young. My dad taught me to be a technology junkie when I was 10 and we built a kid’s space capsule to go to the moon out of parts in the garage, so when electronics in the studio changed, when the internet and streaming came, I was delighted and felt right at home. 

I do not think about failing, let alone fear it. I learned that failure is simply a lesson, an opportunity to start again smarter. I tell my artists and their team that this is a very competitive and difficult business they chose and the closer they get to success, the more resistance they will face. Those who give into resistance (the majority of people) lose, and those who break through resistance win. An airplane takes off against the wind, not with it, does it not?

Q: You’ve written a book Taking Control: Cracking the Code to Happiness.

A: It was done to motivate people, inspire them to be their best selves, to encourage them to fight their fears, to show them the way they could form and maintain better relationships in their personal and professional lives. I demonstrated that if they had failed or suffered a disappointment, they should learn a lesson from the experience and seize the opportunities that present themselves to them afterward. 

 

I explained that opportunities do not always come wrapped the way we expect them and therefore they should be open to things. I explained that they will meet the right people along their journey and usually find out later why they met them. I challenged them to pursue their futures optimistically with a positive mental outlook. I wanted to help change people’s lives for the better, and changed myself in the process. It motivated me to get rid of the toxic, negative, energy sucking people in my life so that there would be room for more positive and empowering people. 

What happened was a great deal of people found the book helpful to them. Different portions of the book spoke to each individual reader. People called me crying because it created a breakthrough in their life. I received emails from people who said they have read the book, followed my advice, and changed their lives to become happier…and had succeeded. 

 

My book went to number one in its categories on Amazon shortly after release in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. I didn’t earn riches off the book because I virtually gave it away for cost in the Kindle edition. As always, I went into writing the book with no expectations and was therefore not disappointed. I wrote a book that made a difference in people’s lives. That was my reward. 

Taking Control: Cracking the Code to Happiness. 

Earlier in this decade I had a large following on Facebook and Instagram. I was working with artists to enhance their life and careers by giving them motivation and advice for success. My daughter was born and raised in sunny Southern California, but by the time she was 18 she found herself in damp, dreary, and cold Eureka CA at Humbolt State University. She was having trouble getting up in the morning to go to classes so I began to write inspirational Facebook messages to help motivate her. 

I was apparently also motivating my other Facebook “friends” because when I stopped writing the daily posts at the end of the school year, my “friends” complained, writing “don’t stop! You are getting us out of bed too”. I decided to write a book for everyone. So, I took my year or so of Facebook posts, organized them and started filling out the rest of the contents of what turned out to be a number one best seller in Amazon in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. I had the book translated into Spanish and it also became an Amazon number one best seller. It received 5-star reviews in multiple countries. I sold most of the copies at cost so that everyone could have access to them. 

The book is designed to put people - who feel out of control of aspects of their lives - into a position to change their attitude and way of life so that they can become happy. One reader from the UK wrote me on Thanksgiving telling me that he had read my book, quit his job, moved, and started his dream business. He went from being miserable to being happy in short order he said. 

 

My book is like the combination to a safe that holds happiness inside it. When you read the book, each chapter builds upon the other, resulting in a shift of consciousness that results in giving the reader the ability to create happiness in their life. Read the chapters and you will be Cracking the Code to Happiness. There are chapters on living with integrity, getting rid of the energy vampires, losing fear, turning disappointments into opportunities, goal setting, getting rid of your baggage by forgiving the past, and health and wealth chapters as well. If you read the book, it will have a positive effect on you. 

This book explains to cultural creatives that they must take risks, they must ignore their fears, they must breakthrough resistance and surround themselves with positive empowering people. The song “Fearless” written by Heather Holley and performed by Kat Perkins describes many of the positive messages contained in the book and was used as the music for the promotional video of the book. 

When I thought about “Why can someone trust what I am writing about?” I remembered all of the inspiring thought leaders that came before me and I even quoted them in the book extensively. The ideas in the book are time proven and inspiring. Successfully people had many of the same ideas that I consolidated into a book in one easy to read roadmap to your own well-being. 

As an extra bonus selection, I included Hollis Mahady’s The Reconnection Movement essay. Hollis is the lead singer of several international power pop bands including “Hey Hello with Ginger Wildheart” and “Love Zombies”. The video of her song “Be Honest” won best video in the UK a few years ago. This essay is about fighting technology’s resultant disconnection of human beings from each other. I felt it was a good fit for my book I managed her with Steve Strange from X-Ray Touring who we sadly lost recently. 

The book promotion states: For those who feel out of control, depressed, stuck, disillusioned, defeated, rejected, dejected, afraid, confused, this book will help you take back control of your life and give you the key to crack the code to happiness. You can get what you want, be the person you want to be, and most of all, you can be happy. 

The lessons in this book are time-proven, reliable, easy and fun. You will learn to live with integrity and gain the trust and confidence of your friends and family. You will learn about positive and healthy relationships, how to form them and how to maintain them. 

You will learn how to disconnect from toxic relationships. You will learn how to get what you want out of life. You will learn how to lose all types of fear. You will learn not to take yourself too seriously, not to settle for less than you want, and how to take disappointments and turn them into opportunities. In the final quest for happiness you will learn how to forgive and forget. There’s also some practical information about how to take control of your finances and your health. As New York Times Best Selling Author Laura Corn says, “This book will change your life…in a good way.”

Q: Not lost on me is a supplemental career you have had in the television business. Reflect on your TV endeavors. 

A: Writing the Virus teleplay: In about 2002, I received a call from a producer at a company producing content for BET. The producer was referred to me from one of my television producer clients, Nancy Wiard, because she knew that I enjoyed the Coast to Coast AM radio show. I was told that BET was contemplating a series that would be a dramatized television version of Coast to Coast AM. The series was called Conspiracy and I was asked to write the pilot episode.

I wrote a teleplay entitled Virus which was a dramatization of how the competition to develop a vaccine for polo and the inappropriate use of chimpanzees resulted in the creation of the “X Virus” in Africa that likely resulted in the accidental creation of AIDS. As with all of the episodes, at the conclusion of the episode the viewer was left with the question, “coincidence or conspiracy”. The episode I wrote was so controversial and compelling, the head of the network declined to air it. 

Road Stories with Frankie Avalon was a sixty-minute variety show starring Frankie Avalon. I co-wrote, co-produced and directed the pilot episode with special guest Bobby Rydell (there was also an episode with Jose Feliciano.) They told stories about their previously untold adventures on the Road and each gave an entertaining musical performance of some of their hits. Produced at our Sound Image Studio in the Sound City Center in Van Nuys, we had a multiple episode order from RLTV that did not happen because of a downturn in RLTV’s investment portfolio we were told. RLTV (previously known as Retirement Living TV) was an American cable television network. The channel targeted a demographic aged 50 years and older. Its topics and programs include health and wellness, finance, travel, lifestyle, reinvention, as well as scripted comedy and drama in its cable era. 

Rock n Roll Road Stories was the classic rock version of Road Stories. This starred Rebecca Grant. This show was to feature interesting and fun secrets from the Rock n Roll road. There was a sizzle reel shot for the show with interview clips of Paul Rogers, Micky Thomas, John Waite and Anne Wilson. However, it was not picked up for a pilot.

Night Moves was a scripted reality show about the people who work at a Gentlemen’s Club in Chicago. My mother co-wrote the script for Sound Image Productions, it had a full budget and we shot the one- hour pilot episode on location in Chicago with the cast and 80 extras. I directed and co-produced the pilot episode. The show was shot for a producer at Showtime who was in discussions with us for an additional 6 episodes prior to an executive change at Showtime that resulted in the show not being picked up. 

 

Strappin’ It On was a reality competition show about the making of female rock n roll bands. A house was filled with 12 female musicians and they were left to form 3 rock bands that would compete and the winner would have an album produced for them. The concept was conceived by Genya Ravan, myself, and Donna Kanter (award winning producer daughter of comedy writer, producer, director Hal Kanter – who worked with Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis and Elvis Presley for both feature films and television.) We spent time with several networks in New York but no deal was ever signed. Donna Kanter and I also optioned Genya Ravan’s book Lolipop Lounge for feature production but could not sell the idea to a production entity. 

Dare to Dream TV was shot as the television version of multi-award winning syndicated radio talk show host Debbie Dachinger. The idea for the show developed from my membership in GATE (the Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment – a creation of John Raatz, actor Jim Carrey, and Elkhart Tolle – author of The Power of Now). Debbie’s guests were cultural creatives such as Michael Beckwith, Peter Canova, Jim Carrey, James Van Praigh, Gary Malkin, Ryan Carnes, don Miguel Ruiz, Barbara Marx Hubbard. I was the producer of the show. Although there was interest from several networks, no deal came about. 

Earlier in my career in the 80’s I worked on the pilot for The Stan Kann Show with producer Beverly Dean (she discovered and managed Kevin Sorbo and Jim Caviezal and was the executive producer on several television and motion pictures.)  The show was a long form rendition of Stan Kann’s Tonight Show guest appearances, only here he was the host and the celebrity guests were spoofed on the show. 

 

From the 80’s until now, having just completed a new recording for an up and coming band and working on the next, I’m still living a life in the music business.