Friday, January 24, 2014

Legends of the Business Share Their Thoughts on Then and Now

It hasn’t been a pretty picture for the record companies the past 15 years. In that time, the U.S. music business has shrunk in half, from revenue of $14.6 billion in 1999 to $7.1 billion in 2012, and that’s been reflected in job losses, consolidation of seven music giants into three and a general feeling of malaise that says the industry’s glory days are an irretrievable thing of the past. Indeed, the landscape is littered with former executives bemoaning the loss of expense accounts and cocaine- and hooker-fueled days, but not these spry veterans, who have survived this brave new digital world to tell their tales.

Jerry Greenberg
Atlantic Records president (1974-80),
MJJ Music president/COO (1993-2000)

Then Signed ABBA, Chic and Sister Sledge; connected producer Mutt Lange with AC/DC; broke Led Zeppelin at U.S. radio.
Now Founder of Ibiza-based label Pacific Electronic Music; spearheading documentary about his career.
Words of wisdom “This is as great a time to be a small, independent label as it was in the ’60s.”

Mike Bone
Island Records president (1990-91),
Mercury co-president (1991),
Def American (1992-94)

Then: Broke Thin Lizzy in the United States.
Now: Graduated Loyola Marymount with an MBA in marketing; owns homes in Santa Monica and Encino, Calif., a condo in Atlanta and a 215-acre Georgia tree farm; planning to divest real estate and move to Hawaii.
Words of wisdom: “I saved my money. I didn’t put it up my nose or get divorced three times. My vices are now my kids.”

Joe Smith
Warner Bros. Records president (1970-75),
Elektra/Asylum (1975-82), Capitol (1987-93)

Then: Built Warner Bros. with Mo Ostin; signed the Grateful Dead; helped break Garth Brooks; wrote “Off the Record,” a collection of more than 200 artist interviews now archived in the Library of Congress.
Now: Los Angeles Lakers season ticket-holder; avid wine and art collector.
Words of wisdom: “There was room for everybody then. With today’s rules, I couldn’t sign the Grateful Dead.”

Phil Quartararo
Virgin Records president/CEO (1992-97),
Warner Bros. president (1997-2002),
EMI North America executive VP (2005-06)

Then: Helped break U2, signed Linkin Park and Josh Groban.
Now: Managing Arturo Sandoval and Yoshiki at the Collective; connecting artists and brands.
Words of wisdom: “The time for new opportunity in the music industry has never been better.”
Jeff Gold
A&M VP of marketing/creative services, Warner Bros. Records executive VP/GM (1996-98)
Then: Helped break Bryan Adams; won a Grammy Award for art direction for Suzanne Vega’s third album.
Now: Founder of Recordmecca, collecting and selling rare memorabilia; author of “101 Essential Rock Records: The Golden Age of Vinyl.”
Words of wisdom: “The record business missed the boat on the Internet. It’s a real lack of vision.”

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