Industry Profile: Myles Lewis
By Larry LeBlanc (CelebrityAccess MediaWire)
This week In the Hot Seat with Larry LeBlanc: Myles Lewis, Head of Creative, Denise Rich Songs.
Denise Richís career isnít one taught in music schools.
While a Manhattan socialite, and wife of a controversial billionaire commodities trader, she began writing songs, really good songs. After one of these songs, "Frankie," became a crossover hit in 1985 for Sister Sledge, Rich began earnestly pursuing a music career.
Richís songs have since been recorded by Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Marc Anthony, Patti LaBelle, Mandy Moore, Diana Ross, Donna Summer, Allure, Taylor Dayne, Johnny Mathis, Oleta Adams, Phyllis Hyman, Chaka Khan, Martha Wash, and Grover Washington Jr.
Last year, Rich brought in well-connected industry veteran Myles Lewis as head of creative for Denise Rich Songs, to oversee the companyís impressive song catalog as well as to better develop new business opportunities.
Based in Los Angeles, Lewis was then managing Nasri, who wrote "Up,Ē "That Should Be Me," "Never Say Never," "Pray" for Justin Bieber, and "Crawl" for Chris Brown; as well PJ Bianco, who penned "When You Look Me In The Eyes" for the Jonas Brothers.
Lewis has continued to manage the pair and has since begun managing songwriter/producer busbee who has released recordings as a solo artist, and with his band Go North To Go South. He has written for Timbaland, Alexandra Burke, Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, and Lee Dewyze. In Sept. 2010, busbeeís co-write of Lady Antebellumís "Our Kind of Love" topped Billboardís country chart.
After a brief internship at Chrysalis Records in Los Angeles, Lewis got his real start in the music business at Hollywood Records as an assistant to the companyís vice president, and then assistant to the heads of publicity and radio promotion.
Next, he spent a year as a publicist at Michaels and Wolfe Public Relations, working with such clients as Sandra Bullock, Drew Barrymore, Noah Wyle, Lou Diamond Phillips, and FOX Pictures.
Wanting to return to the music industry, Lewis took a job as a low-paying receptionist at the record label Almo Sounds. A year later, he was named assistant to the head of radio, and then became director of A&R. At Almo, Lewis was involved in signing Ozomatli, Jurassic 5, Red Velvet Relief and Soulwax.
In 2000, Lewis began working for BMI, the performing rights organization; first as its senior director, and then as Executive Director of Songwriter/Publisher Relations. He was responsible for signing songwriters, and interfacing with the music industry on behalf of BMI.
During his 9 years at BMI, Lewis dealt with such acts as Colbie Caillat, Linkin Park, Michelle Branch, Fall Out Boy, Queens of the Stone Age, Avenged Sevenfold, the White Stripes, and with such songwriters as The Matrix, Beau Dozier, Alissa Moreno, Ben Moody, David Hodges and Brian Howes among others.
Lewis left BMI in June, 2009 and launched his own management and consulting business which led to him coming to Denise Rich Songs.
Despite the naysayers, isnít this an opportunistic period in the music industry?
I definitely believe that it is. If you study what happened in the past 10 years to the music industry, and whatís happening now, there are specific trends. If you get onboard with those, it can be a lot of fun, and you can be successful.
Think of what Dr. Luke has done with this business. Heís taken the hip hop model, applied a pop mentality to it, and made it work. The real bottom line is that you are creating culture. You are creating your own little culture at your company. Dr. Lukeís culture, clearly, is that he makes big pop hits for whomever, and he signs good quality writers that can continue to make great pop hits.
Our culture (at Denise Rich Songs) is similar but, certainly, a little different. It is more based on Denise and some of the people that we are getting involved with. But, when you build it with that (template) in mind, and you sign people that fit your culture, you can position yourself to be the place where people go when they need X. Whatever X is. Thatís exciting. People tried to do that (template) for many years, and some succeeded. But, that (attitude) is so prevalent right now in the industry, and, that certainly is what I am interested in doing.
Is Los Angeles a good town for live music?
Not for live music. Itís so hard for an act to gain support in L.A. To build a following, itís really difficult. It has happened with acts like Guns Ní Roses and Motley Crue. Then the Chili Peppers had a huge following, and Fishbone did really well. Ozomatli has a huge following in L.A. But, it is very rare for kind of a movement like that here. Itís a scene where people will just come and hang out for awhile. Usually now, even if a new band is on the bill with a successful band, it still doesnít mean anyone is going to come and see them. People show up on time for the band that they want to see, and they leave right after.
It isnít helped that there is no center core to L.A.
It's little towns massed together. Itís hard to take what has happened to L.A., and not say that it hasnít got something to do with what has happened with the music industry. Because somehow, as the music industry turned, L.A. is now the undeniable centre for songwriters. Everybodyís moved to L.A., they fled New York, they were in Atlanta for awhile; but it really isnít Atlanta as much anymore. There are still camps in those cities; but (the songwriting and production scene) is really centered in L.A. now, which is interesting. That has very little to do with live performance.
How has this shift affected music?
Whatís popular right now, if you look at charts, itís a lot lighter than it was a few years ago. Three or four years ago, when everything was in Atlanta, everything on the radio had some of that Southern hip hop feel. Before that, it was more New York hip hop. Hip hop took over the music business for 15 years or so, but, now it has kind of reverted back to a lighter pop sound. And L.A. reflects that or, maybe, it reflects L.A.
The music industry has a singles mindset as well.
You would never make a rock record, even five years ago, with a bunch of outside writers. If you were a rock band, part of your thing was that you wrote your own songs.
To be authentic.
Exactly. How could a fan really buy into what you were doing if they looked at the album credits and somebody wrote all of your songs? But now, that has completely changed. Not for every rock band, obviously. However, a lot of the new rock bands are very open to collaborating with people who have a history of successes songwriting.
Youíre talking about new bands signed with major labels though. Not indie bands.
Maybe, an independent band wouldnít do it yesterday but, maybe, they would today. One of the few rock bands that have broken through on pop radio recently is Neon Trees (with ďAnimalsĒ) and that was a co-written with (singer/guitarist/product) Tim Pagnotta from Sugarcult. Train had a hit ("Hey, Soul Sister" that is widely regarded as the band's commercial comeback) and it was Espionage (the New York-based Norwegian songwriting and music production team) that wrote that. Itís hard to get on radio right now as a rock band.
Years ago, Aerosmith used to collaborate with top songwriters like Desmond Child and Jim Vallance and others.
They were established. Once you are established, you can do that. Once you are Coldplay, you could. Coldplay could collaborate on an entire record if they wanted to. Any of those (major acts) could, and it wouldnít really reflect in their legitimacy too much I donít think. Depending on who they wrote with, I guess. I think that fans are more aware of who works on records now, and what happens behind the scenes more than they were before. They are more open to the idea that bands donít always write everything that they sing. Itís mostly about songs. Kids care more about songs than they do about acts until something is so good that they want to care about the actual act.
Thatís happening again.
I totally agree. Bruno Mars is a big example. And (Lady) Gaga, of course. Gaga is a phenomenon. Bruno Mars makes pop records. Thereís no question that these are pop records; but, if you listen to him, I think that you immediately go, ďI want to know more about that artist.Ē It is just not a song to people with him. Thereís a difference there (from other pop artists). Itís subtle, but important.
Most fans do have that track-by-track mentality.
Well, thereís some great singles out there, right now. (Kate Perryís) ďTeenage DreamĒ is a great record. Both of the Bruno Marsí singles, ďJust the Way You AreĒ and ďGrenade,Ē are excellent, but I would agree that music isnít at its highest peak as far as quality overall certainly. There have been more interesting times in music than right now, but, I think, it goes in phases. For a long time, the Ď70s was kind of clowned as being the era of disco, and not very good music. But, we all go back to it now, and thereís some great music there. There was also great rock at that time, just great music.
A perception of a musical era goes in phases.
Now is sort of an interesting time as well. To me, hip hop took over the music industry for a long time. It changed the way people listen to music; and it changed the way people do business. New York hip hop from the Ď90s, and the L.A. stuff, all of the Dr. Dre stuff. There was a huge cultural shift in the (music) industry. Dr. Dre changed music almost by himself. (Hip hop) had a huge impact on music: how itís created, how itís sold, and how itís monetized. What a producer is changed because of hip hop.
With hip hop, creative control returned to the producer.
And being a songwriter as well, all of a sudden. If you are a producer, and you know how to make a track, then you have 50% of songwriting and publishing. It never happened like that before. Back in the day, a producer made records. They might have re-arranged an entire chorus, and taken it from something that was kinda interesting to a real catchy hook. You might have thought they were getting songwriting (credits) for that, but (usually) they werenít.
When was the last time you listened to music on a good sound system?
You mean that wasnít an MP3? I couldnít even tell you. I donít know if thatís horrible. I guess it is in a way; if you are a purist, yeah. Thereís a part of (the musical experience) that is being lost but, itís what it is now. I guess that the upside is that itís so easy to consume music now. And, itís being consumed at higher volumes that it ever has been. That doesnít mean weíre all making a lot of money clearly, but it does mean that music is as popular as it ever was. There are kids who all they have listened to are MP3s. They donít know what they are missing. Thatís the way they are always going to know music, probably.
When did you start working with Denise?
About 15 months ago.
Are you continuing to manage songwriters separately or are they part of Deniseís company?
Some of them are. PJ (PJ Bianco) brought me to Denise actually. He was already with Denise. Heís the one that made the introduction. I still work with Nasri, and heís not part of Deniseís company.
Who do you manage?
Right now, itís just busbee, PJ, and Nasri.
busbee is now creating a buzz.
Heís got a lot of good things going. He just finished a Go North To Go South record. Go North To Go South is a side project for busbee that's mostly about licensing. busbee has had a lot of success licensing to film/TV, so we're looking to capitalize on that. That said, the work he did on this record is some of his proudest to date. He's not really interested in being a touring act since his writing schedule is booked out months in advance.
All of our clients are doing really cool things right now. PJ is making a Metro Station record for Columbia. Nasri did four songs for Justin Bieber recently. Heís not a Denise Rich client, busbee is. Nasri is something I was doing before Denise. It is a very specific situation. I manage him as a songwriter, but he has other management as an artist.
Did Denise hire you to have a West Coast presence as well as because of your ability in A&R that would bring in new songwriters?
Absolutely. Denise has had the company for awhile, and she kind of cleaned house. She brought me in to work her catalog, and to take on the writers that were already there; but really to restructure the company, and have it make sense. Some of the stuff they were doing didnít make a lot of sense. Having a label, for instance, is not exactly the right business right now. She had 785 Records (founded in 2005) that had made a couple of records. They may have done good work here, but selling records is hard.
How big is the catalog?
Deniseís own catalog is pretty vast by itself. Sheís been an accomplished songwriter for many, many years. Her songs have been nominated for Grammys three times. Her catalog is probably 80 to 100 songs, and there are dozens and dozens more songs (by others). When I started, there were probably another four writers there. Some of those deals expired.
What attracted you to work with Denise?
Denise is a great co-writer. She brings energy to a room that is incredibly unique. I felt that she hadnít had some of the great co-write (opportunities) that are out there. I was more intrigued about being able to create co-writing situations.
Straight pitching of songs is difficult today. There are more collaborations happening with acts.
Itís an interesting dichotomy. There was a time when all of my writers, all they wanted to do was write with artists, because it felt like it insured that you would get on the record. But sometimes, a songwriter spends so much time writing with an artist and, if the artist isnít really a (good) writer, the songs suffer. Some writers are now saying, ďPlease leave open a couple of weeks so I just can just write great songs.Ē Then they can sit in the room with people who are great writers, and they can write great songs together. (The songs) are not for anyone. They are just great songs.
An outside songwriter writing with a band is at a business disadvantage.
Iím not opposed to that kind of writing; but itís hard to say to them, ďYou are walking in at 20% (as a songwriting split). Unless you really push the other guys out of the way, thatís where you are going to stay. Thatís tough (to sell to them).
Any insider tips for pitching songs?
I like to play the craziest, coolest, sexiest, weirdest record I have by all of our writers. The one that you would never think would fit the artist Iím pitching for. Thatís usually the one that A&R people will respond to. If you go in to pitch for Britney Spears, and you play five records that sound a lot like ĒCircus,Ē thatís not going to work. But, if you play something that is really left field, and is really cool and different and that anyone listening says, ďThat doesnít sound anything like Britney,Ē thatís probably the one that they will like. And, itís probably the one that they should like.
Who do you first pitch with a new song?
There are people who I like to play songs to (early,) because I feel that I can get a real response. That is so golden. A&R people are paid for their opinion. These are men and women hired because they are supposed to have great taste in music. They are supposed to know how to shepherd an act, and make great records. And yet, when I pitch songs with 90% of A&R people I canít even get them to give me their opinion. I would be more than happy to hear, ďThis isnít right,Ē or, ďThis is too pop, I need it to be edgier.Ē It is very difficult to get feedback. The method of passing now is to never contact you about it again.
Are film and TV music supervisors any better?
Music supervisors are more communicative. They are swamped (with submissions), so, if they donít get back to you, it doesnít feel as personal. But I do get a lot of feedback from them.
They are seeking music for specific uses.
Which makes it feel even better when they say ďno.Ē Itís not because the music is bad or they arenít a fan, itís just not right for the scene.
Music supervisors are now like A&R people in importance.
Music supervisors tend to favor music by emerging bands.
Why not? They can get really good music for cheap or for free. It is such a flooded market at this point. It was bound to happen when everybody suddenly realized that it was okay to have their song in a commercial or in a movie.
Do A&R people really listen to what you bring? Do they give you a fair shake?
It depends on the A&R person. I usually give a disclaimer when Iím pitching songs if my writer is not in the room. I will say, ďIím not going to be precious about this. I want you to be honest. If you listen and 30 seconds in you know itís not right, thereís no point in you sitting there listening to it anymore."
Iím surprised an A&R person would agree to have a songwriter in the room during a pitch.
Yeah, it does put them on the spot, but with the value of a songwriter/producer now, they canít afford to not know these people. They canít afford to deal with just me. They have to know the people face-to-face and have a relationship. I encourage that. They should know these guys. They are running the business now.
That meeting could also lead to another project the A&R person has.
Absolutely. If you are working with good people, then walking them into a room is not going to be a detriment to them. They should get in there and do a little salesmanship.
Itís difficult for most songwriters to sit through a turndown.
Itís easy for me to not have an incredibly emotional attachment to a song where I am personally offended if the A&R guy doesnít take it. Itís not as easy for a writer to feel that way. But, at the same time, they do have to understand that this is a business. When they are pitching a song, they are saying, ďHey, give me money for this song.Ē If (the A&R person) feels itís not right for their artist, they should feel free to say that as long as they are respectful.
I have had clients who have written songs with a specific artist in mind. They feel like that they have nailed it. I will listen to the song, and I will feel that they have nailed it. If the reaction is then luke-warm, it can be really soul-crushing. You have to develop a tough skin if you are going to be in this business.
All of my clients have also had success in projects that they never thought were going to be successful. So, they have to try and keep in mind that whatever they think is the greatest song theyíve written, somebody else might not get it, but they might play the next song--that they think is their B-level song--and someone is going to freak out, and itís going to be a hit.
Denise Rich Songs recently had its second annual Songwriter Retreat in Aspen, Colorado.
The idea was, ďLetís get some of the top writers in the game to come out and participate.Ē And we did that. This year, it was Bonnie McKee, Claude Kelly, BC Jean, Julian Bunetta, Oligee, PJ Bianco, busbee, Sam Endicott and Denise. Last year, it was Tommy Lee James, Nasri, Beau Dozier, and PJ Bianco.
Why in Aspen?
Denise has some cool assets that we get to play with. One of them is that she has this wonderful home in Aspen. Songwriting camps are a dime-a-dozen right now. Everybody is doing them. Some are very good, and some are not very good and are a waste of time. To make something cool, interesting and different, we went to Aspen. Besides the fact that it is a beautiful and a spiritual place, and Denise has a beautiful home there, it was about getting people out of their element. Taking them somewhere where they havenít done something before and putting them into a different mind-state. Having fun and writing songs and being creative. It was amazing.
Where were you born?
Lincoln, Nebraska. My mom was going to school at the University of Nebraska (where she received a dual Masterís degree in music and theater) and my dad was a teacher there. I was raised there until I was 5. Then my mom and I moved to San Francisco, and then to L.A. when I was 10. I havenít been back (to Nebraska) strangely. Iím not kidding. Unless you are on tour with somebody, what would be the point of going to Lincoln, Nebraska? How would you ever wind up there?
Los Angeles attracts people from everywhere.
Absolutely. Itís impossible to find somebody in the business who is born and raised in L.A. The fact that I was in L.A. since I was 10 makes me more from L.A. than most of the people that I know. I grew up living in Laurel Canyon.
Did you want to be in the music business early on?
Yeah. Iím the son of a singer. We moved to San Francisco because my mom wanted to pursue a career as an artist. Then to L.A., where she continued to pursue that. She made recordings, and played a lot of shows. It never really happened on that end. But it got her into doing (voice work), which has been her career for many years now. She put me in every music class available, but I had no real talent, which became evident.
Your mother Lis Lewis is a well-known voice teacher.
Sheís taught Rihanna, Britney Spears and the All-American Rejects and such.
[Born in Manhattan, Lis Lewis trained at the celebrated Dalcroze School of Music there, as well as with private music teachers. She has been training artists for over three decades, and has worked with Gwen Stefani, Courtney Love, Jimmy Eat World, Herbie Hancock, Bobby McFerrin, Richard Elliott, Mark Beeson and others. She is the author of ďThe Singerís First Aid KitĒ and ďThe Pop Singers Warm-UpĒ and has been the vocal coach for several TV shows, including "Rock Star: Supernova" on CBS, and MTVís "Rock The Cradle.Ē]
You entered the music business through your mother.
When I was 17, she had a student by the name of Duff Marlowe who was an A&R (director) at Chrysalis Records. He had signed Gang Starr, and Arrested Development. I interned for him. Watching him do A&R was just fascinating, especially at that time (1989) in the music industry when there was still a lot of money, and a lot of opportunity. It was much more the Wild West. Watching Duff do A&R, seeing what it was like being on the other side of the desk, I was hooked. I knew what I wanted to do.
You were still in school?
Yeah. I was still in high school. I actually brought in a tape of my friends that theyíd made that I thought was really good, and gave it to him. He wanted to sign them. So my friends asked me to manage them. They wound up being (the alternative hip hop group) Jurassic Five, which went on to have a pretty healthy career. I use ďmanagementĒ in the loosest form possible. I had no clue what I was doing.
You went to school with members of Jurassic Five?
Yeah. Chemist and I went to junior high and high school (at the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies) together. We had art classes and things together. Chali 2na and I became good friends. I worked with those guys for years.
After receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degree at San Diego State University, you worked at Hollywood Records.
I came back to Los Angeles, and I was working at a gym. A woman walked in with a Chaos Records T-shirt on. I knew that I wanted to work in music, I was just trying to find a way in. So I started talking to her. It was Brenda Romano, who was head of radio (senior VP of promotion) at Hollywood at the time. She gave me an internship. I did that for awhile. Then I transferred over to the publicity department to work for Sue Sawyer, and did that for awhile. That was probably just a year or 18 months that I was there. That was when Bob Pfeifer was president. He got caught up in such weird stuff.
[In 1995, during his three-year tenure as president of Hollywood Records, Bob Pfeiffer was sued for sexual harassment by an employee. According to the U.S. government, the woman in question was illegally wiretapped and spied on by private investigator Anthony Pellicano. Pfeifer admitted he paid Pellicano $125,000 to snoop on Erin Finn in 2000, because she had given a negative deposition in a case involving Pfeifer's ex-employee. Pellicano was sentenced in 2008 to 15 years in prison for running a wiretapping scheme. Pfeifer pleaded guilty to charges, including perjury and conspiracy.]
Hollywood Records, of course, is a division of The Walt Disney Company.
It was weird there back then. It seemed like that they wanted to be a rock label but they were a Disney label and the two never combined. They had a promotional item for one of the acts, and it was a bong (a water pipe generally used to smoke cannabis). They were sending bongs out. Michael Eisner (chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company) found out and lost his mind.
As an assistant, you were the gofer?
Yeah, I was just an intern, answering phones and doing whatever, cleaning up the coffee pot at the end of the night if it needed it. But it was great. Hollywood was a weird label, and it wasnít a label that had a ton of success, which always makes a building tense. There were some good people there. Diarmuid Quinn was there at the time. Sue Sawyer, whom I worked for, was great, and Brenda Romano, who is now the co-president of Interscope (and president of radio promotion, Interscope Geffen A&M Record). She was really great to work with. There were good people there. There were good acts there. It just didnít come together when I was there.
Those early years are formative for many people.
Yeah. I guess, but because I was an intern, I wasnít making the greatest contacts. That really came together for me at Almo Sounds when I got there. I left the music business for a year to go do PR for movie stars. I was just miserable. I wanted to get back in music so bad. I was making $40,000 a year in PR which was a lot of money for me at the time. I took a job for $18,000 a year as a receptionist at Almo, just to get back into music.
You had been working at Michaels and Wolfe Public Relations.
Thatís right. Doing PR in the film industry is the low man on the totem pole. It is the most thankless position, sadly. My heart was in music, and I wasnít in music. (Film public relations) just wasnít what I wanted to do every day.
What media did you work with?
I did a lot of print media. I had a relationship with somebody at People (magazine). So I was the guy at the companyÖmy boss would come to me and say, ďCall your contact at People, and get a story on this.Ē Kirk Cameron was one of our clients, and Sandra Bullock just as she exploded after ďSpeed,Ē Noah Wyle as he grew up in ďER.Ē We also looked after Lou Diamond Phillips, who was on Broadway at the time doing ďThe King & I.Ē We went out to New York and saw him in the play and had dinner with him. Heís the sweetest guy in the world.
You worked with actress Drew Barrymore who was pretty hot then.
She was great. I loved her. Spending a little bit of time with her was really fun. She was huge at the time. She had had a full come back from whatever had happened earlier in her career (drug and alcohol abuse, and stints in rehab). She was at the top of the game. It was pre ďCharlie AngelsĒ but she was a bonafide A-list movie star.
Drew took you to a Mike Tyson boxing match in Las Vegas.
She said that she wanted to go to a Mike Tyson fight in Vegas. She was dating Eric Erlandson from Hole at the time and he brought Pat Smear and his girlfriend, a couple of other people, and there was me and my girlfriend at the time. We went to a party, and there was all this press trying to take Drewís photo. She decided that she wasnít sure how she felt about boxing because she had never been to a fight before. So I had to run around the party whenever anybody tried to take a picture of her, going ďNo, no, no. Please donít. Please donít take that photo.Ē Drew was really sweet, and a lot of fun to work with.
It was just that the job, in general, was not what I wanted to do.
You didnít want a career in PR.
Specifically not in the film industry.
How does working publicity in music industry differ from working with film and TV people?
Thereís a lot more opportunity for press in the film and TV world. Thereís just a lot more outlets. At least there were then. Trying to get press on a new band, as opposed to a new actor, was 10 times as hard. If you were trying to get press on a new band, you were talking to fanzines. But you could get press on a new actor in fairly decent places.
At Almo Sounds, you worked for Jerry Moss and Herb Alpert.
It was awesome. I felt that I caught the very end of that idea of ďthe music industry.Ē Every company used to have a guy like Clive Davis at Columbia and Chris Blackwell at Island and Jerry at A&Móevery company had a guy; the guy made the decisions, and if he liked something, the company would do it. Thatís how Jerry Moss worked. I would play him things, and heíd say, ďI love this, letís do it.Ē He signed Ozomatli, which I brought in. Everybody there loved the band but didnít want to say ďyes,Ē because the band was nine guys, and it was Latin funk hip hop. Jerry is such a music guy, and Herb is great. I really enjoyed that experience. That is where I cut my teeth.
Were you hanging out around the Sunset Strip and the music clubs looking at bands while at Almo?
I was listening to anything and everything. I took on unsolicited material. I didnít care. An act could come from anywhere. I was going out a lot and seeing a lot of bands. I had a lot of friends who were doing A&R, and weíd just run around.
To places like the Viper Room.
It always smells like vomit and beer in there. I havenít been in the Whisky in probably 10 years.
At BMI, part of your job was participating in music conferences and setting up showcases.
I did a lot of showcases including the South by South West shows (in Austin) and all of those regional conferences like North By North West (in Toronto) and the New Music West in Vancouver.
You have attended South by South West for 10 years. How beneficial is it for a band to perform at events like that?
I guess the question is, "beneficial to who?" At South by South West recently, it seems like itís not so much about finding an unsigned band and getting them signed; itís about a finding a band that is starting to pick up momentum that can kick into overdrive at South by South West. That happened with M.I.A. a few years ago. I think that the Strokes were one of the last unsigned bands that played there, and got a deal out of being there. Amy Winehouse happened there (in 2007).
There are always a handful of really cool signed bands at South by South West that everybody wants to see.
And then itís very difficult to even get into their shows. They will play five times at various parties and such. I think South by South West is really beneficial for those types of acts. If I was a new band or a band that is just trying to get a deal and I was going to get just one show at South by South West, I donít know if I would say that it was worth it.
Iím not sure who bands need to attract at these events anymore.
It depends on what they are trying to get done. How do you create buzz? If there was a road map to do it, we would all be doing it.
Larry LeBlanc is widely recognized as one of the leading music industry journalists in the world. Before joining CelebrityAccess in 2008 as senior editor, he 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, and the London Times.