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  Industry Profile




Industry Profile: Marty Diamond

— By Larry LeBlanc

This week In The Hot Seat with Larry LeBlanc: Marty Diamond

Marty Diamond is smart about who he is; where he hangs his shingle; and where and how his clients fit in the marketplace.

In 1994, Diamond founded Little Big Man Booking in New York. It grew it into one of the most successful boutique booking agencies in history, representing Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Avril Lavigne, David Gray and the Arctic Monkeys, among others.

Diamond emerged as the East Coast head of music for Paradigm Talent after Little Big Man was acquired by Paradigm in 2006.

Paradigm was formed in 1992 by chairman Sam Gore as an independent film, TV and literary agency after the Gores/Fields Agency merged with STE Representations, Robinson, Weintraub, Gross & Associates, and Shorr, Stille & Associates.

Over the past decade, Paradigm has expanded through a series of strategic acquisitions, starting with its 2004 purchases of two boutique literary agencies, Genesis and Writers & Artists Group International.

Today, with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Monterey, and Nashville, Paradigm provides representation to clients across its motion picture, television, music, comedy, personal appearances, theater, books, new media, commercial and physical production departments.

Paradigm significantly boosted its music division with several recent deals, particularly the 2005 purchase of Monterey Peninsula Artists, which represented Aerosmith, the Black Crowes, Dave Matthews Band, Toby Keith, Black Eyed Peas and others; and its buy-out of Little Big Man Booking which had also been courted by numerous majors.

LBM’s Diamond, VP Larry Webman, and the entire staff, including agents Steve Ferguson and Jonathan Adelman, came over with the purchase.

Paradigm’s music stakes continued to grow.

In 2008, Paradigm signed up Matt Galle and Andrew Ellis, both principals in Ellis Industries, to work out of Paradigm's New York office. They brought a lengthy list of clients, including My Chemical Romance, Dashboard Confessional, Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, Boys Like Girls, Alkaline Trio, Metro Station, Hellogoodbye, Circa Survive, Thrice, New Found Glory and Say Anything.

Ellis had founded Ellis Industries agency in 2000 while working as a part time stage manager. Galle helped to found the Kenmore Agency in Boston in 2000, joining Ellis Industries in 2003.

In June 2009, Bigshot Touring Artists founder/owner Kevin French joined Paradigm in New York as a music agent. French brought his Bigshot client roster, including the Decemberists, the National, the Walkmen, White Rabbits, Langhorne Slim, Lou Barlow, Brian Jonestown Massacre, the Broken West, Clem Snide, French Kicks, Sebadoh, Richard Swift, Laura Veirs, White Denim and You Am I, among others.

Currently, Diamond along with Canadian singer/songwriter Sarah McLachlan, and Nettwerk Music Group principals Terry McBride, and Dan Fraser—the team that established Lilith Fair as one of the highest grossing touring festivals in the world from 1997 through 1999—is deeply entrenched in launching a new Lilith tour for this summer.

Planned to date are 35 shows in North America, another 6-8 in Europe, then Asia and Australia in spring 2011. Then a return to North America in the summer of 2011.

The dates announced so far are: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Calgary, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Edmonton, Hartford, Houston, Indianapolis, London, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Montreal, Nashville, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Raleigh, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa, Toronto, Vancouver, DC and West Palm Beach.

Among the 100-120 artists announced to date are: Beth Orton, Brandi Carlile, Butterfly Boucher, Cat Power, Colbie Caillat, Corinne Bailey Rae, Donna Delory, Emmylou Harris, Erin McCarley, Erykah Badu, Frazey Ford, Heart, Indigo Girls, Jill Scott, Ke$ha, Loretta Lynn, Mary J. Blige, Meaghan Smith, Metric, Miranda Lambert, Missy Higgins, Norah Jones, Serena Ryder, Sheryl Crow, Sia, Sugarland, and Tegan and Sara.

McLachlan designed Lilith Fair in 1996 as a unique, all-female-headliner music festival tour. It was inspired in part by her reaction to a predominance of male-centered summer tours, and reluctance by some venues to book a double-female bill.

Lilith Fair was put to the test in the summer of 1996 with shows in four U.S. cities with a bill that included Patti Smith, Emmylou Harris, Lisa Loeb, Paula Cole, Aimee Mann, Suzanne Vega, Michelle McAdorey, and McLachlan.

From 1997 through 1999, the all female lineup grew to include such current (or future) luminaries as Sheryl Crow, Christina Aguilera, Erykah Badu, the Dixie Chicks, Missy Elliot, the Pretenders, Nelly Furtado, Jewel, Queen Latifah, Indigo Girls, and Tegan and McLachlan.

Little Big Man Booking, like Monterey Peninsula Artists, Ellis Industries and Bigshot Touring Artists, fitted Paradigm's acquisition strategy. These were specialty boutiques that had carved out strong niches for themselves, and that firmly fitted in with the Paradigm culture.

Diamond argues that he and the other former boutique executives have maintained their respective business cultures within Paradigm. This has effectively infused Paradigm with an independent spirit, and approach to business that enabled it to compete fully against the major full-service agencies.

With past stints at Cricket Talent & Booking, Bill Graham Presents, Arista Records, Polygram, and International Talent Booking, Diamond was knowledgeable and shrewd enough to know that with the shifting tides in the music business, there was a need to build a new business model in which agents are increasingly more partners with their clients and their team, and less about being solely their booking representatives.

At Paradigm, Diamond is now able to better leverage crossover opportunities for his clients in all areas of film, television and live performance, as well as new media, publishing and endorsements.

Are you a tough negotiator?

Yes.

Why?

‘Cuz I’m protecting my clients’ livelihoods.

Was that a factor when you started as an agent?

I started with a bunch of bands where the goal was to forge careers for them. So was (the toughness) there? I guess the fight was there, and the fight continues to be there. I am still very much in the developmental business. Obviously, I have bigger clients, and the scope of that process changes.

What are things that turn you off about an artist? That you will pass on an artist over?

We are all creatures of adaptation, but I think for us, it still runs to music. It still starts and ends with music.

That’s simplistic. There are such factors as management.

Absolutely. But I think that if anyone is going to sign something in this office, they are signing it because they have some affinity to it. That there’s something that speaks to them. That it’s not signed--and I know that this is going to sound wrong--as pure commerce. Yes, we are a business, and we have to keep the lights on to do those things that any business does but it is not like we are going to sign something purely because it’s going to make us money.

How about a great artist with a lousy manager? Would you still sign that artist?

If the artist wants me to represent them. Then you try to work toward a solution. Every once in awhile there are artists that want to be here, and their managers wanted them to be somewhere else. We try to live in the solution.

What is the biggest mistake that managers make in dealing with an agent?

It boils down to if it’s about, “Get me work.”

What is the biggest mistake a venue owner makes?

Believing the hype.

Industry hype or their own venue hype?

Both. A lot of time people (buyers) make mistakes (with bookings) where there’s this fevered pitch (over an artist). Then they go, “That didn’t equate to tickets.” It is still about tickets. (Any booking) has to equate to tickets.

Decades ago, with an ad or review in Rolling Stone and some FM airplay, everybody knew about an act. Today, it’s difficult getting noticed.

Absolutely.

What are the genuine signs that you are breaking ground with a developing act today?

There are still indicators. They may not be the purest indicators but there are certainly indicators. Though I’m not the biggest believer in terrestrial radio, I still think terrestrial radio is a sign. Look, there are also 9 million blogs. There are certain ones that are more meaningful than others, and more telling. But, the fact is that people are talking. All of that is very much part of (breaking an act.) If nobody’s talking, we are all fucked.

Still, it is tough to establish an artist today.

I’m working with Lissie. She made an EP with Band of Horses. The record is magical. She is magical. She is one of those people when you see her, you think, “Oh my gosh, she’s amazing.” The record is too. So, for us, the mantra is about getting her out in front of people. She did dates with Ray LaMontagne, and she’s out on City and Colour dates right now. It’s not about, “I want to get her out. I want to get her out.” I don’t want to be an employment agent. I want to be a talent agent. She is someone when you put them in front of people, she will win. She will win whether she was selling music or a paper bag.

Over the years, you have worked with numerous artists in the early stages of their careers. What acts have been the most satisfying in watching develop?

David Gray is one. He’s one of my oldest clients. Coldplay. Sarah McLachlan is someone who I have watched, and watched not only grow as a person but grow as an artist. I think that with every artist, we thrive on how they flourish. I don’t think that it’s necessarily an all encompassing thing. Success and growth come in varying places. There might be clients that we have that (for) them landing a soundtrack deal; that is success for them. Other people doing a sold out tour; that’s success for them. It varies from artist to artist.

Artists come to you with different skill sets, and different levels of maturity.

But we grow together. With each client relationship, it’s a process of growing together. In order to understand someone’s needs, you have to be able to hear them and understand what they want.

Each artist has different expectations?

Absolutely. I think that everybody comes with a different agenda. Some people come in here, and they say “You have to get us a support tour.” And that might be their agenda for a particular moment in time. But, everybody comes in with their own agenda or their own issues.

As the business continues to evolve—the distribution of music with a lot of other components that are all part and parcel of that process--I think that those agendas do change in terms of expectations; in terms of what we can bring to the table. Part of the reason of why I did my deal with Paradigm is that we, as a company, are able to explore other ways to broaden our clients’ careers.

Was there a simpatico between Little Big Man and Monterey Peninsula Artists which came to Paradigm a year earlier?

Culturally, we are very similar people though we worked differently in terms of style of booking. We don’t work territorially and they do in some sense. There was very much a boutique mentality for both of us. We still retain that boutique mentality. We are a big company with a boutique mentality. That’s hard to maintain, but it goes back to personal relationships. It goes back to hearing what the client wants. What does my act want? What does my act’s manager want? Is there an open forum for dialogue? If it’s just a name on a routing sheet, we are all fucked.

Great agents have that balance between being fiercely independent and entrepreneurial, whether they are working within a boutique or bigger agency culture.

I think that there are a lot of entrepreneurial agents (and their work) isn’t rooted in the music or the artist. It is rooted in commerce.

Due to their agency’s culture?

Some of it is the agency culture. It’s a lot of things. With Andrew Ellis, his love of Dashboard Confessional is his love for Dashboard Confessional. My love of David Gray or Sarah McLachlan, Coldplay, Lissie, or the Low Anthem is my love for these acts.

Matt Galle and Andrew Ellis coming with Ellis Industries rounded out Paradigm’s music division.

We have a phenomenal team. Whether it’s Matt Galle and his relations with My Chemical Romance; and Matt and I have signed things together. Or Jonathan Adelman with the Fray; and we work Sia together. There’s Larry Webman, who is my cohort in crime to some degree, working on Coldplay, David Gray or Lilith with me. We anticipate each other really well. (Former Bigshot Touring Artists founder/owner) Kevin French has adapted to the culture really easily.

Nobody is in each other’s face here. Nobody has asked anyone to corrupt their mindset or their style. That reverberates loudly to (chairman) Sam Gores who owns Paradigm. He has not come in here, and said, “You need to do things this way.” Yes, we have shifted some things around but, in the grand scheme of things, nobody has changed the culture. I feel like I still go to work at Little Big Man every day because the culture hasn’t been corrupted.

[This month it was announced that Jim Griffin, the former executive VP and Head of Television at William Morris has joined Paradigm to head up Paradigm's new broadcast shop in New York, bringing along his roster of clients. These include Regis Philbin, Fred Thompson, Jim Lehrer, Chris Cuomo, Geraldo Rivera, Charles Grodin and Willard Scott.

As well, it was announced that Industry veteran Bob Kinkead is coming aboard. Among Kinkead's clients, bolstering Paradigm’s comedy roster, are Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable Guy and Bill Engvall.]

Paradigm wasn’t the first big agency to knock on your door.

No. I had dialogue with William Morris (Agency) and with Endeavor (Entertainment) at one point in time; way before there was a William Morris deal (to form William Morris Endeavor Entertainment in 2009). I’ve had dialogue with everyone. They are all great companies. They are all good at what they do.

Why did you hesitate or pass with the others?

With all of them with, maybe, the exception of Endeavor, I don’t know if they were completely married to the idea of having a music department or in the configuration I existed in originally. With Endeavor, it was the wrong time and wrong place type of thing. With Paradigm, there wasn’t any cultural drift. They understood who we were. For me to adapt to William Morris, and become a territorial agency would have been very difficult. I don’t work that way; and it’s not how my clients expect me to work.

What is the benefit of working non-territorially? That you can see the overall picture for the artist?

I think that’s the case. It’s seeing the overall picture. Sometimes, it depends on who the RA (responsible) agent is, but, within the territorial system, a horse sometimes becomes a camel by committee. That’s my opinion. Everybody has a differing opinion.

Working on regional basis, there may be agents that can dig down deeper or have stronger relationships with buyers. At the same time, they might overlook the overall career goals of an artist.

I can’t comment about a system I’m not in. But I can comment to the fact of someone saying, “I’m going to pursue the best dollar deal” because I didn’t catch that part of the meeting where someone said that there were other significant cultural issues (in booking the act that) I had to bear in mind. “Oh, the band didn’t want to be in a 21 and over room? I didn’t realize that.” Because (the best dollar deal) becomes an easier way to traffic volume.

There are artists you’ve have been living and breathing with since their first gig. You know what they are comfortable with or what they are not comfortable with. I am thinking of Sarah McLachlan.

Yeah. Sarah McLachlan knows that she can pick up the phone to call me and she knows I will pick up the phone to call her. I was Sarah McLachlan’s product manager at Arista Records. I’ve known (her manager) Terry McBride (CEO/co-founder of the Nettwerk Music Group) for a very long time.

Some of your clients may want to write music for films and television; some of them may want to act. Has working within an established film/TV/literary agency like Paradigm enabled you to leverage crossover opportunities for those clients?

Regardless of whether it is Little Big Man or Paradigm, the mantra here is still about career and artist development.

There are some clients that want me to be their booking agent, and that’s all they want me to be. There are other clients that I see opportunities for them to broaden their career. Carlos Dengler from Interpol has interests outside of being in the band. Carlos is a voice over client, and he’s a theatrical client. At some point, I pass the baton on to somebody in the voice over department who embraces or doesn’t embrace (a proposal). I don’t walk down the hall with every client. You don’t say, “They are musicians, and they all should be voice over clients.” I can only take the shots when someone is willing to take the time and the energy to do auditions.

Were these opportunities there when you operated Little Big Man on your own?

They were an incoming call as opposed to an outgoing call. Now they are very much an outgoing call. Whether it is Carlos Dengler or Rachael Yamagata as voice over clients, they are no longer incoming calls. If the client is willing to be proactive, we can be proactive.

Some (activity) speaks really loudly to that, you know when an artist needs to be doing something else. You know when an artist wants to do something else. Mates of State’s Kori (Gardner) and Jason (Hammel) have a vision of a TV idea, and our TV department has engaged incredibly well with them. (The project) is still a work in progress. Its like, “Watch that page.” Everybody is still trying to find the chink in the armor; trying to find the right way to accomplish what they want to do.

Film and TV have become key outlets to expose music.

We have had a lot of success (in TV), with the Fray and their presence at ABC on “Grey’s Anatomy” and Sia has had great success with “Six Feet Under.” Snow Patrol has also had great success there. We have had tremendous success with clients that have had great sync opportunities, regardless of where they came from.

Do you get involved in sync pitches?

It depends on the act. It depends on how much we have to be engaged. If the client is asking, “Please be part of the team” then we go as deep as they want us to. I have certain clients, they do their own work in the sync world; and there are other artists who do their own work in the sync world but who will say, “Can you help us? We could use another oar in the water.” It varies.

Labels are more willing to listen to agents today.

The relationship has changed. I have labels that are really great partners. The days of me strolling over (to a label office) for a marketing meeting, they are far and in between now. But, when it happens, (label executives) are usually dead on.

Even a decade ago, labels would tell you when the tour would be.

Yes. I don’t know if I am missing (that) a lot. The dynamics have changed. For me sometimes, it is taking from Peter to pay Paul, particularly in development, in terms of helping people get out the door. A lot of that is, “What else is out there? What else can we do that doesn’t corrupt the band to help them get out the door?” It’s a lot of not leaving a stone unturned (today).

Two decades ago, the label would just hand the act the marketing plan for the album

They also lived in the branch philosophy. It was, “You have to hit all of our branch markets” or “We’re going to get the dude from (distributor) Handleman to buy.”

With labels so thinned out, most management offices today have in house marketing people.

Most management companies we deal with have a marketing person. Or, if they don’t have a marketing person, we infuse ourselves to help extrapolate information from local marketing plans. What can be utilized? What’s a waste of time? What looks nice on paper but doesn’t mean anything?

Do you co-ordinate releases around tours?

To some degree, you do. There are still people that are racing toward that first week (of sales). I don’t know if that’s necessarily the move for me. On the developmental acts, it’s not about the first week for me, it’s about week 26 or week 58 (of a release).

Can acts tour too far in front of a release?

I don’t know if it can ever be too soon (to tour). We now have an audience that is so impressionable. One kid twittering after a show takes this very small insular experience, and makes it a bigger experience. I don’t think that we can ever forsake that.

Kids are pretty sophisticated about music these days and at an early age. They hear music everywhere.

It is a great time for music. Where we all struggle—and I think we all have to stay on point—is that we all need to be in the business of breeding loyalty. We need to keep people coming back. It just can’t be, “I saw that act.” We have a generation of kids that have lived texting, and twittering. As we all do. We live in a world of incomplete sentences, and we live in a world of abbreviations. We need to make sure that we complete the thought. Part of that is breeding loyalty. It is the completion of the thought. If someone goes, and sees the Low Anthem. I want them to come back. I don’t want them to say, “Oh, I liked that last record” and they are onto something else.

With more one-promoter deals around today; and with multi-right deals being more prevalent, are you being involved in discussions in things like presales and sponsorships?

Yep. That’s part of what we do if we’re asked to help co-ordinate pre-sales or help out if there’s a sponsor in terms of needs being sorted out. We’re involved with all that whether it’s arguing for better merch rates or something like, “Hey, we want to do this for our fans, exclusive to the normal pricing.” We are as deeply engaged as we are asked to be and, to some degree, we will instigate (deals). We are obviously aware of new campaigns and new promotions so we can insinuate those things into the deal too.

The plan for Lilith is to have 11 artists a day, 3 on the B stage and 3 in the village?

Yeah. I don’t know what the stages will be named. There’s a movement away from the festival being perceived as a women’s’ thing playing acoustic guitars. With the most recent artists’ announcement made (Jan. 21) I think everybody will go, “Wow.” There will probably be one or two more (artist) announcements, and then the tour will go up.

The plan is to have 35 shows in North America; 6-8 in Europe; and, maybe, Asia and Australia with a return to North America.

Back to North America in the summer of 2011.

How many shows are planned for the last leg in North America?

I don’t know yet.

What are the plans for Europe?

We have moved Europe. We are going to look at that in the Fall. It’s sort of, “Get what we do best right” before we step out the door, and go to other places.

Lilith has had limited exposure in Europe.

We have done some things, including Royal Albert Hall in London. Our goal is to be as true to the mission as we can be. Diversity is a driving mantra for us at this point.

How involved are you in picking acts for Lilith?

There’s a real team here, and we all discuss artists. Terry McBride will tell you that I am sometimes the “squeaky wheel.” I hate being the “squeaky wheel” (the naysayer). But, any time that Sarah asks me to try something, I try it.

How heavy has the politicking been from managers and agents vying to have their acts on Lilith this time around?

There’s politicking. There’s been a fair amount of it. There are still a couple of heritage acts (being considered), and some interesting turns we have taken with some of the heritage acts. The interesting thing for me is when you have to say to someone, “I can’t do A & B. I can do A or I can do B. I can’t do both.” The perception (for many people) is, “That feels old.” But the thing you have to remember is that we now have a generation of kids that, having music on their IPods, span generations. Also having Guitar Hero, and Rock Band has generationally widened the gap.

We’d be sitting there with some of the bands that kids are listening to today and thinking, “That was so uncool when I was a kid.” Now these acts are cool. There are 12 and 13 year olds who are now listening to Journey. We now have kids who never saw the Ramones but know who the Ramones are. Our ability to have music in peoples’ hands, and in their houses is very different now.

One big change with the 2010 Lilith Tour is that there’s a multi-platform media partnership with ABC Entertainment that includes featuring Lilith and specific artists across ABC’s programming and online in the months leading up to and during next summer’s tour, including ABC’s physical presence at each tour date.

When we concluded Lilith Fair 10 years ago, our experience in the TV world was that there was a VH-1 “Behind The Music” special and, maybe, some local TV coverage as a result of us being in town. ABC Entertainment is now our media partner with a much broader stroke, and a more encompassing stroke in terms of what they can bring to Lilith. This includes what we can bring to them; and what we can all accomplish.

Where are you originally from?

Merrick in Nassau County on Long Island (New York).

What was your first industry job?

I worked as a college buyer. I was the concert chairman at the University of Delaware. I went there as a medical technology major with the intention of being premed. That didn’t work out. I ended up getting a communications degree and a economics minor.

You ended up in the music industry.

Well, I loved music.

Any memorable shows you put on while at university?

I scheduled a Ramones’ show once, and the Ramones had to cancel ‘cuz they were going to shoot (the 1979 film) “Rock ‘n’ Roll School.” The irony is that Allan Arkush, who directed “Rock ‘n’ Roll School,” is a Paradigm client, and a friend. We have this weird common thread. I played the B-52s, James Taylor, Pure Prairie League, and Firefly. There was the Hooters from Philadelphia, and I played their first incarnation. They were a band signed to Arista called Baby Grand.

[Baby Grand released two albums on Arista Records, one eponymous and the other titled “Ancient Medicine.” While the band had some critical success, it never achieved any commercial success and eventually disbanded.]

I had a car so I did a lot of road trips with roommates and friends. We used to drive up the Jersey Turnpike to CBGB’s in New York; drive to Millersville State College (in Millersville, Pennsylvania) to see Little Feat and drive to D.C. to see other things.

When you started Little Big Man what was the environment?

I started it in Vernon Reid’s (Living Colour) guitar closet. It was myself and Tammy Shin. Then Larry Webman joined me. He worked in the guitar closet with Tammy; and I worked down the hall where I was sharing an office. Someone was kind enough to let us go in their office. We ended up in the basement of my Gramercy Park apartment. (The agency) just kept growing.

[Larry Webman joined Little Big Man in March 1995. He was previously an agent at Flash Group Concerts in Connecticut.]

Did you have any booking experience?

Oh yeah, I had been an intern and an agent going back ages. I was at Cricket (Cricket Talent & Booking). In the heyday, we had clients like Madness, Haircut 100, and the Thompson Twins. Then I went to work as a buyer at The Ritz. I was a product manager at Polygram in the ‘80s. I worked for Bill Graham Management. I was the head of artist development at Arista Records. So I’ve had a lot of experiences.

When did you know you really wanted to be in the music business?

I think that I knew while I was doing an internship in college at Cricket. I knew that was what I needed to do. I remember walking into The Ritz (which I booked) with my parents the night after the Eurhythmics played there, into a room full of strewn cups and glass and bottles. I looked at my dad, and said, “Isn’t this great?” My dad who is an accountant, said, “Hmmmm. I don’t know if I would call this great.”

You are a music biz lifer?

I think it’s in my blood. I love music. I married someone who is a trained opera singer. She went to the North Carolina School for the Arts for Opera. I’m around music a lot from very different places.

Do you have kids?

I have two daughters, a 6 1/2 year old named Apple; and a 2 1/2 year old named Story. Apple refers to what I make her listen to in the car as classical music. She spends a lot of time listening to Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits and Little Feat. When she is in the car with me, we spend lot of time talking about Bruce Springsteen, the Grateful Dead, and Tom Waits. She will ask me questions because she understands what magical writers that they are. She loves the Boss.

My kids still listen to kids’ music too. I’m involved in a series with Live Nation called House of Kids. I am very engaged with kids’ music

What was your job at Polygram?

I was the international product manager. There were a bunch of things I was involved in at different parts of my career there. I worked on Banarama, Big Country, Cameo, and John Mellancamp. Linda Walker and I were the first two (contemporary) product managers in the company that was still much more in the mindset of old school CBS type product managers.

You worked at Bill Graham Presents in New York.

I worked for Bill. I ran his New York office. When I came in I worked first with Stan Feig who ran the office. When Stan moved, I was Bill’s guy in New York working with Beth Kittrell. I worked on Live Aid with Bill. I got to see a (personal) glimpse of Bill because I saw Bill away from San Francisco. He loved New York. I worked out of his little apartment off of Madison Avenue in a little brownstone. I loved it. I had a lot of time to hear Bill talk about stuff. Some of it was waxing poetic, and some of it was just Bill-isms. He had an incredible passion. But, at the end of the day, he was still a businessman. He got a lot of things right; he got a lot of things wrong. But he was a risk taker.

You have worked with some interesting people including Clive Davis while you were at Arista. What are Clive’s strengths?

He’s the ultimate song guy. He knew how to spot artists and he knew what songs would work for people. He still does. He is still fiery and he has a passion.

While working at labels did you stay close to the booking world?

I remember as a record executive that we would sign an act, and I would pitch my wares to Frank Barsalona (founder), Barbara Skydel (senior VP) or (agent) Barry Bell, trying to get Premier (Premier Talent Agency) to take them on. Or, I would try to get ITG (International Talent Booking) to take them on. Then I was at ITG. I was brought over to do marketing, but I soon became an agent. I left there to start Little Big Man.

Larry LeBlanc was the Canadian bureau chief of Billboard from 1991-2007 and Canadian editor of Record World from 1970-89. He was also a co-founder of the late Canadian music trade, The Record. He has been quoted on music industry issues in hundreds of publications including Time, Forbes, the London Times and the New York Times.


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