Industry Profile: Lucas Keller
By Larry LeBlanc (CelebrityAccess MediaWire)
This week In the Hot Seat with Larry LeBlanc: Lucas Keller, manager, The Collective.
The Collective is one of the premier names in entertainment management; and one of its youngest managers, Lucas Keller, intends to write another colorful chapter in its history.
Remarkably, this brash 26-year-old mid-westerner has been at the Beverly Hills’ multi-media management and production company for only two years, and he has already blazed his own trail.
Keller has the unique position of representing acts at The Collective while simultaneously representing producers and songwriters for the company’s new publishing/producer management venture, Collective Songs.
Keller oversees such artist management clients as the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Jimmy Cliff, and Crash Kings; and works with producer/writers David Hodges, and Ben Moody (of Evanescence fame), and Gavin Brown.
Founded in 2005, The Collective is a collaborative-styled artist management, and content creation one-stop shop comprising of feature film packaging, digital media, home entertainment, music, live entertainment, and television production divisions.
The company represents over 100 clients, including such acts as Linkin Park, Enrique Iglesias, Avenged Sevenfold, Counting Crows, Alanis Morissette, Slash; and actors Martin Lawrence, John Leguizamo, and Eugene Levy.
Prior to joining The Collective, Keller spent almost five years at Uppercut Management in Chicago, working with a variety of acts ranging from Better Than Ezra to All That Remains as well as representing June, the Lifestyle, and Dave Melillo.
What makes Lucas run so fast?
I’m like the 24-hour guy. No joke, I tell people, “I am 7 to 3. That’s what I do every day. Up at 7 A.M., and to sleep at 3 A.M. I’m the “let’s go” guy. That’s me all-day long. Old school, new school, I kind of get laughed at around the office because I’m most like (manager) Larry Jacobson. I am often compared to him. I missed the ‘90s. I missed the days of the power lunches. That doesn’t exist anymore. Larry’s like the suit that’s still a real music fan. When he sits down with a band, there’s no way that (an act) is not signing, right? So I’m kinda L.A., but I am a balance between the old school and the new school.
How have you adapted to working in L.A. following Chicago?
Well, being used to sub-zero temperatures in the mid-west…I went to school (The University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh) on a river in Oshkosh (Wisconsin). Now I live above Studio City. Anything above 60 degrees is short sleeve weather for me. I look like a tourist on the weekends here. Being out here two years now, I really like it a lot.
Did you approach The Collective or did the company approach you?
I had taken a meeting with Jared Paul (at Azoff Music Management Group). I had a friend over there, and I wanted to see where I could fit in. Jared is brilliant. He’s a really smart guy, and well-liked. That felt like a good fit. But, I didn’t know what was going to happen there. Ultimately, my old friend (manager) Chris Allen, who had worked with Pat Magnarella (at Pat Magnarella Management), called me and said, “I think you should come over here, and meet (CEO) Michael Green and Jeff Golenberg who own The Collective. I was out here (in L.A.), so I got together with them.
Chris is from Chicago too.
Chris and I go back eight or nine years. When I came in here, he had the All-American Rejects, the Plain White T’s and All Time Low. So I just decided to come over here, and build a business which–going on almost two years–is going really well. Part of it is The Collective, which is management (of artists), and then I run Collective Songs, which is working with producer and writers.
But you weren’t doing that after you joined?
No, I wasn’t, but I started doing it very shortly afterwards.
Why make the change after nearly five years with Uppercut Management to The Collective, which is a vastly different company?
There were a couple of things. One is something that I didn’t even realize at the time. I ended up learning when I came to The Collective that I needed to be at a company that foresaw the changes that were happening in the business. Labels running around doing 360 degree deals, or doing deals that maybe don’t work for artists and all that. I realized that, unfortunately, I had been doing the personal manager thing where it was myself, an assistant and, maybe, some interns. The old school idea of personal manager is great, and certainly a big part of this company is personal management; but I didn’t feel that there was any sense of infrastructure (where I was). We are not in the day and age (anymore) where (as managers) we can rely on the record labels or publishers–people that we used to rely on.
One of the main reasons why I left was that being in Chicago, at the time, was kind of tricky. I was spending a lot of time in L.A., and a lot of time in New York. I reached a point where, lifestyle-wise, it was not what I was looking to do. You spend a week every month in L.A., and pretty soon you are thinking, “Why am I paying to live an expensive life in downtown Chicago, when I should move out here?” I was born and raised in Milwaukee. So Chicago was great to be near my family.
By the time you joined The Collective, June had also decided to take an indefinite hiatus.
We had a lot of fun. We really built them up in the mid-West. They were selling out the House of Blues, and it was great. That had sort of led me down the path to work on the artist development tip with bands like All That Remains, which I worked with for a long time, and developing various acts like TV/TV. When I left Uppercut, my desire was to be in a place where all of the TV networks and film studios, and all of the film and TV opportunities were. A lot of people were also leaving New York and going to L.A. for work.
What was The Collective’s attraction in hiring you? That you had been working below their radar?
Yeah. Companies like the Azoffs, Q-Primes, Red Lights, and The Collectives, these companies like to talk about how they would like to do artist development, and none of them really do it. Or, if they do it, they don’t do it well. There’s a great quote that a friend told me that Kevin Lyman (of Warped Tour fame) apparently said to a younger promoter. He said, “My kids aren’t going to take over my business. You are going to take over my business.” He was basically alluding that the next guy who was going to do what he does–build the Warped tour, and build the big empire that he has built–will be some kid out in his basement in America who is going to figure it out.
I think that he’s right.
He’s totally right. The idea is that the bigger companies don’t do artist development well. I think at that time (the thinking here was), “Well, Lucas has been through all of this. He has all of this know-how. The Collective is a company that is going to quickly acquire new clients, and there’s going to be a lot of work to be done.” Reza Izad, who is the VP of this company, has been a very important figure in my life. He was really supportive in saying, “C’mon in here, and build a business.”
It became half of an artist business, and half a writer/producer business, which is something that I really wanted to do. On the artist side for me, it’s been (managing) the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Crash Kings, and Jimmy Cliff, who I am making a really exciting record with. I have writer/producers like Gavin Brown as well as Dave Hodges and Ben Moody who were in Evanescence.
[In Canada on March 21, 2011, it was announced that Gavin Brown (Three Days Grace, Metric, Sarah Harmer and Billy Talent), along with former Bass Is Base vocalist/bass player, Chin Injeti, have become part of the expanded A&R staff at Universal Music Canada, reporting to A&R head, Mark Spicoluk.]
What developments are there with the music publishing side of Collective Songs?
On the publishing side, we have started a joint venture with Collective Songs and Sleepwalker Music with Dave Hodges where we are looking at signing writers to develop under him. David was a guy that I signed almost a month after I got here. That’s when we decided that we wanted to go down the road (working) with producer/writers. David is a big-name songwriter. We felt that we could take his artist cachet from being in Evanescence. We have now taken him more into film scoring, and doing more songwriting, and more production. The guy has literally doubled the size of his catalog, and the level of writer he is, in the past 18 months.
Some managers try to get their artists to focus (on their careers) but we try to encourage entrepreneurial artists. We encourage artists that want to do a number of different things. Dave says, “I want to write songs. I want to produce. I want to score films. I want to be an artist. I want to do all of this.” We took a couple (of these things) at a time, but we want to try and get them right. The producer/writer side has been really great for us.
We are certainly in a producer/songwriter era. They are in the driver’s seat of many projects, particularly in L.A.
The old line is that, “if you are going to let your major record label develop you, you are probably fucked.” Artists are doing the artist development now. I guess the publishers too. But, the producers/writers, the artists, and the managers are the ones really doing the development today.
On the artist side, there are these tools that are available now that weren’t available before. The days of these (industry) gatekeepers are waning. The artist has the ability to do the (developmental) zero to 10 work, and then some now. There are acts that are getting on the radio, and selling shows in markets surrounding them for a thousand miles. They are starting to do that work themselves. Some artists can now just partner with the label or get a distribution deal. They don’t really need to have the (direct) major record company and the worldwide deal.
That, to me, is exciting. Bands are able to control their own destinies. But, I also think that, unfortunately, with the internet and everything, that people have a false assumption that they are a manager if they have a Gmail address.
Every act seems to have a manager the moment they get online.
In the ‘80s and ‘90s, it was a privilege to have a real manager. There weren’t as many of them. A lot of acts are being managed too early now.
You now have the ability to watch more experienced managers in the office and see how they work.
Yeah, guys like Jordan Berliant, and Larry Jacobson, absolutely. There are eight of us (managers) on the music side here.
They may be doing things that you can bring back to your own game.
It’s exciting having these big A-list producer/writers. It’s been great to plug those (people) into a lot of the artists that we have here, which is already a value add for those guys. But it’s great to be around those kind of industry people here. A guy like Mark Gorlick (head of promotions/radio), who has been doing radio for 25 years. He’s arguably one of the best rock guys in the business. He has an office to my right. Jordan Berliant, who ran (the day-to-day at) Allen Kovac’s management company (Left Bank which became Tenth Street Entertainment) for 30 years, is a couple offices from me. He has a passport bigger than the Yellow Pages. Having guys like that around here is so great.
It was certainly wonderful working with a guy like Steve Hutton (at Uppercut Management in Chicago) but this is an incredible place to be on another level.
As a young manager at (Uppercut Management), I was trying to build a business, but I was always frustrated with the things that I couldn’t get to. The things that you can’t achieve for the artist. I think that, going on two years here, I have been able to, knock down a lot of those walls and a lot of those frustrations being at a place like this. With 65 people (here) there’s almost nobody that you can’t reach (in the entertainment industry).
Being with a full-service, multi-media management and production company, you also have the tools to work with.
That’s right. Literally, when the name (of the company) is The Collective, that’s really the mentality (here). Everybody is accountable to everybody and everybody knows here that they need to help out their neighbor.
When I met with (CEO) Michael Green, I think that we hit it off right away. He’s a very Type A matter-of-fact guy. He’s a winner. I don’t know if it’s good to work with someone who is just like you, but it felt like a good idea, and it has been great.
With The Collective, you will be able to gain the international experience that you now lack.
Yeah. (Partner) Jordan Berliant runs that side for us. It’s great because he can go to MIDEM, and speak on all our company’s initiatives. I want to have my own experiences over there. I want to have those (European) relationships for myself. I’m going to go to MIDEM next year. Now that I am working with a guy like Jimmy Cliff, I have a lot of international travel to do as well. Red Jumpsuit Apparatus are on a sell-out UK tour right now. They’ll go back there in the fall. They play everywhere. So, I have to go to all of those places. I do London now, but I haven’t been to Australia or Japan yet. Those are on my short list. When I get into the record cycle (with my clients) this year, all of those things are going to be critical.
A young band comes to you with a lot of promise but no recording as yet. You are going to manage them. Where do you start?
There’s a night-and-day difference (in strategy) for the bands that are at The Collective, both with record labels and without, than what I had been doing. We do some development stuff here and, I think, we are really effective at it. But what we do is that we create marketing plans. In my past life, my time was spent running around with the record label trying to get the marketing plan (from them), and trying to figure it out. It was piecing together an opportunity here, and piecing together an opportunity there. It was just the old school of picking up the phone and trying to make some fans, right?
Managers today have been forced to move further into marketing because labels have cut their staffs. Almost all management companies have marketing personnel in place now.
That’s right. So we will sit down and come up with a plan, and a time line. For the developing acts, especially, it doesn’t always stick exactly to the plan, but we list our goals, and we do ROIs (Research, Orientation, Impact), where we write out something that the whole company has access to.
Where do you start with a band with no label?
Obviously, depending on the band, but I’d come up with a marketing plan that suits the band. Again, depending on the band, it will mainly be a digital plan. Get them in with the right producers, and writers. Sometimes we can plug them into resources we have here, and create a plan around TV, films, commercials sync licensing, having digital strategy, and something that can drive the tour. I am still a proponent for bands that exist in the real world. The bands that go out and play 250 dates a year, those are the bands that get me off.
How about working with a band that is with a mid-sized label?
We are a label-friendly company. We have Avenged Sevenfold and Linkin Park with Warner Brothers. These are two of our biggest clients so how could we not be? With labels, there are guys like Daniel Glass (of Glassnote Entertainment Group) out there that are killing it. Daniel is really kicking ass right now and he’s got an office of what, 15 people? He’s an independent, and he’s winning. I think that working with the record labels rather than pointing the finger–and working with that mid-sized record label–can be more exciting and more rewarding than working with the major label. I might be actually able to get someone on the phone (at the mid-sized label).
Of course, it depends on what the deal is if you let an act sign with a label.
Do you feel a 360 deal is attractive, if the label is bringing true value to the table?
Well, what is the new value to bands that have been in traditional deals, and then are forced into a 360? They ask their label, “What is the new value proposition for signing a 360?” A line somebody gave me the other days is that, “the 360 deal is 36 people doing zero.”
Would you do a 360 deal for a management client?
When the 360 deal came up (a few years ago), I was one of the people who was pro-360, and I got a lot of shit about it. With a 360 deal, if the label says, “Here’s our plan. We will go, and spend hard. This is what we will do, and these are the ancillary rights that we need on the 360 side,” then I’m for that deal because I recognize the economic hardship that the labels have fallen on.
Certainly, it’s not our fault that the records aren’t selling. It’s a “not my problem” type of thing. But, guess what? If I am trying to break an act, it is my problem. You see some of these entrepreneurial companies that are partnering on masters with their artists. We are certainly doing it now here. We have started a label called Collective Sounds, which is distributed through Sony RED Distribution in the U.S. We have Tom (Grover) Biery who ran (as GM/EVP) Warner Bros. Records under (CEO) Tom Whalley. It’s our label. We will put out the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus (album) on that label this year.
[The first release from Collective Sounds on March 29, 2011 is “Belong,” the second album from Brooklyn quartet, the Pains of Being Pure At Heart. Also planned are releases by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, and Hacienda.]
All together, this is like having an in-house, 360 deal for your clients.
That’s right. But we don’t commission on records. Everything is very transparent with the record deals. In some of these situations, being in the content business with our artists has been better. When I say that I’m not as focused on working the record labels anymore, from a writer and producer perspective, I’ve still have got all of my (label) A&R relationships. I have to. I can’t be in the business if I didn’t. Those are the people who make my year for that (producer/writer) side. But, for the artist side, depending on the artist, I would rather be in an ownership position with them.
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus is going to be a great poster child for us this year. They have made an incredible career record with (producer) John Feldmann. If that record goes, we own it with the band. The record comes out in August. It is called “Am I The Enemy.” This is their third album, the other two were on Virgin Records and sold a million records. This is a band that just didn’t want to be part of the major label system anymore. They came to me and said they knew we were doing a label, “let’s partner on our masters” on a net profit deal. They will make more money in this deal than they would ever have in their Virgin Record deal.
But it was a major who built them up to be able to do that.
[In Feb. 2010, the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus fired long time manager Steve Tramposch, and parted ways with Virgin Records, citing the poor promotion of its second studio album “Lonely Road.” The band then decided to release music independently. According to lead singer Ronnie Winter, “At this point we want to stay completely 100% independent for as long as possible.” The Florida band subsequently released the EP “The Hell or High Water” in Aug. 2010 as an independent release.]
It’s still hard to build an independent act up to that same level.
It all depends on what you want to spend. If you were going to do that with a new act it would take a hell of lot more time, and a lot more money. These small indie labels, are they any different (than us)? We have a worldwide publishing deal through Kobalt. On the writer/producer side, we will sign some artists to publishing. We have chosen not to so far.
I really sat down, and thought what I wanted to represent these guys for. I’d love to think that I will be working with them in 20 years. That doesn’t tend to happen with a lot of representatives, but I’d like to be the guy who they can say, “That guy got me my shit back.” So yeah, I won't do life of copyright publishing deals.
This year, The Collective made a big splash at SXSW (South By Southwest) with the record company, Collective Sounds and promoting The Pains of Being Pure At Heart
We sent 12 people from our company down to SXSW. I didn’t go because I had a commitment with a client during that time. My commitments have killed all of my conferencing this year. I did go to Sundance this year, which was a blast. With South By, I have gone the past six years. I have never signed a band at South By but I have showcased a lot of groups there.
Are conferences like SXSW helpful in getting an act signed?
With all of the people at this company, there’s practically nobody that we can’t get into the room (to see a band). So, you ask yourself the question, “if I can get this band in front of a director or studio head or network or the head of a record label, why do I need to do music conferences?”
The truth is that with those conferences, there are a million bands playing and it’s incredibly difficult (to break through). It’s like a game that you have to play. You never know if you are going to have the right people out. It’s hard to get your band on the Fader, Spin and the Billboard (media) thing. I have showcased a lot of bands (at conferences) and I tend to do my label and publishing deals nine or 10 months later in unrelated reasons to the conference.
Managing an emerging act is far different than managing an act that already has traction.
I wear two very different hats here when it comes to the artist side (in management). If I am making a Jimmy Cliff or Red Jumpsuit Apparatus record or any of these type of records that we are putting out for the career side of the business, than that is a very different job as a manager than working with an artist in a developmental thing.
You’d rather do the zero to 10 work with a developing act?
The 1994 model of “Let’s get some songs, and shop a label deal,” is whacked. That’s not what I am focused on doing. Yes, I’d rather do the zero to 10 work.
As an example, for the past nine months, I have been developing a young (pop) act called Memphis High from Memphis. It’s two 17 year old kids (Grant Vogel and Witt McKay). They are like the Southern version of the Jonas Brothers meets the modern day Everly Brothers in a sense. We’ve worked with about 30 major writers in Nashville and L.A. It’s a great record. It’s really cool stuff.
So with these kids, when I put on the artist development hat, it’s completely different (than working with established client). I’m getting in the studio with them. I’m taking the flip cam and taking internet content of them, and helping them building their digital presence. Really getting in on the ground level.
I will get all of the calls from the same (A&R) people that I am friends with saying, “Why didn’t you play me this band? I didn’t know you were managing them.” I will say, “I didn’t want to play you the band because I was developing them, and I wanted to do the work”. The bands that now go into label deals with fan bases, buzz and shit going on, actually have a shot at success.
That’s so true.
I really feel that acts that become successful are acts that put their heads down. They get out and they do it. The acts that look at their neighbor’s lawn and compare themselves to other acts are not interesting to me. Those acts out of nowhere that bubble up because they put their heads down, and have been diligent and have been focused on building their brand are what are interesting to me.
You started out in the music business when you were 17?
I went to school at the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh) in Oshkosh (Wisconsin), of all places. I took communications and music business. Two weeks into the music business program, I realized that the success stories coming from that music business program were people who had gone on to start giant music instrument retail chains. I said, “That’s not the music business that I know about.”
You were already a promoter by then.
I was working with a couple of partners, Ryan Lameyer, and Alan Sager under (the name) Phenomenon Concerts. I met them at the end of high school. I did shows in Rockford, Freeport and Madison (in Illinois) and Milwaukee (Wisconsin). I was doing a lot of tertiary and secondary markets with Sum 41, Good Charlotte, Fifty Cent, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, all over the board.
In 2004, you developed the software Filemaker Agent 2.0 that is now widely used by booking agencies in the U.S.
I got a copy of FileMaker Pro, and I decided to write software for a friend who is an agent. It ended up becoming the software that, I’d say that, about half of the agencies out there use today as their system to create contracts, itineraries, and deal sheets. I spent about nine or 10 months developing this thing. I still own it, and license it. I had a couple years where I sold this thing like crazy to everyone. Primarily, the big boutique agencies use it.
Being both a promoter and doing this software taught me a lot about the promoter side, and agent side of the touring business. I met a lot of agents through doing that. (The success) kind of afforded me the opportunity to get into artist management. Then I joined up with Steve Hutton (at Uppercut Management).
Who did you manage before working with Steve in 2005?
It was a lot of those bands that I brought in. Bands like June. Chris Allen and I had a band, Number One Fan with Pat Magnarella that we worked on together.
What attracted you to working with Steve?
I knew his name, and I really liked the idea of staying in the mid-west. So I went and took a meeting with Steve. He came out to see June at The Metro, and it was a sold-out show. That was on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. I came back down (to Chicago) later that week to meet with him at his office. Then two weeks later, I was moved to Chicago, and I was working with him. It was really great.
Steve would have lost Kid Rock before you arrived.
That’s right. I think it was a year or 18 months before. He was in business with Better Than Ezra, who he no longer is with. There were some great acts there including Better Than Ezra, and, of course, Kevin Griffin as a songwriter. I got there because when I was starting as a promoter, when I was still in school, everybody knew who Steve was, and knew who Kid Rock was.
You went in there as a management novice. What did you learn?
Yeah, I knew a lot about touring. I knew a lot about being a promoter and all that but, on the management side, I got experience from a guy (Hutton) who had really done it on a larger level.
As you started at Uppercut, the music industry began to shift.
I think as time went on, I was feeling that (there). We would do Better Than Ezra and the All That Remains tours. I learned a lot about international touring and a lot about releasing records, and a lot about dealing with labels. I learned the whole process from cover to cover. As I got to the end there, I’d grown frustrated that I had to keep traveling. I wanted to be in the mix of it all out here. I already knew L.A. very well. I knew tons of people out here, and it just made sense to be here.
One of the things in working at Uppercut was that I started to work with Kevin Griffith, who had a number of big hits, and working with other songwriters. At the time, it felt big to me but they were more middle-of-the-road guys. Kevin, of course, has since become a big successful songwriter. But, when I moved here to The Collective, I just decided to take some of that knowledge and desire to be in the songwriter/producer side and start that side of our business here.
What makes Chicago such a great music town? Both David “Boche” Viecelli (Billions Corporation) and Tom Windish (The Windish Agency) operate successful agencies from there.
Chicago is a great city. There is a lot of energy there. I lived downtown most of the time that I was there. There was an incredible scene from the Wicker Park scene to a huge scene going on in the suburbs where bands were coming up. There was this scene going on in Schaumburg, Arlington Heights and the suburbs, and this scene going on downtown which was great. These bands would put on local shows at the VFW halls and I’d go. I remember seeing Fall Out Boy at the Fireside Bowl a number of years ago when there was like 30 people there. It was a converted bowling alley. When the Smoking Popes came out of Chicago, that set a precedent for other bands to do the same thing. So following Fall Out Boy were the Academy Is… to June. A lot bands came out of that scene. It was really cool.
Obviously, Gregg Latterman and Aware Records are in Chicago, Jeff Battaglia with Disturbed is there, and (Victory Records founder) Tony Brummel is there. How could you not know? How could you forget? I like Tony. I ran into him in Malibu recently. He seems to be doing the same old (thing) but he seems to find a successful act every few years. No matter what people think of him, the guy is a winner.
June was on Victory Records.
Working with Victory was interesting. As a manager, working with a label like Victory really teaches you all of the nuances of a record label. It kind of sets you up when you are working with record companies that function in a more normal way. (Victory) was incredibly difficult to navigate; and it just made me really happy later to work with record companies that wanted to work with me. Everything was kind of working against us (at Victory).
Tony is certainly full frontal, but June did sell 100,000 records at Victory.
Oh yeah, Tony is type A. The thing is that I do appreciate that Tony is a motherfucker. You know exactly where you stand with him. That I have come to appreciate because I’m very much (like that). Though I’m from two hours north of there, I’m a Chicago guy. I’m straight-forward. I’m honest. I’m mid-west, and I have never lost that. Some people can’t handle that. So dealing with a guy like Tony, you always knew where you stood.
How did you come to recently start managing reggae icon Jimmy Cliff?
His business manager Sulaiman Muhammed is a friend. He asked if I would meet with Jimmy Cliff. I said I’d pay to meet with Jimmy Cliff. So we are now making a new record. It’s the first record Jimmy has made in eight or nine years. He’s been in town for the third time taking producer meetings. It is going to be an exciting record. We are also making a documentary around the history of reggae. Jimmy really is the last guy left to curate that because all of those guys have passed away. He was one of the first ones to do reggae.
Does a band need physical product anymore?
Red Jumpsuit Apparatus definitely needs some physical product. You do when you are selling to middle America, and you are still putting records into Wal-Mart and the mom and pop (record stores). Those things are important, and there’s a place for it. However, in the future… I would go out on a limb to say that we are the most digitally savvy, and forward management company around. We have a nine-person digital team. We were having conversations with the technology companies long before anyone started talking about having music in the cloud, and all of that. We really believe that’s where it is. WiFi hits the car next year (Ford has announced they're going to put WiFi in their next line of cars, at least some of them). We’re already trying to create solutions and ancillary incomes with the artists to prepare for those types of things.
Do consumers need to own music anymore if they have access to music anytime and anywhere?
Well, there’s no money in streaming. We are really focused on maximizing D to C (direct to consumer) stuff. There is part of the zeitgeist that that the fan wants to hold something (by an artist).
I had Jimmy Cliff in here today, and we talked about selling physical memorabilia and about branding. There is still that part of the world. Our company did an incredible job with Slash on the D to C stuff with packages and stuff. I think that working with the Topspin and those places of the world for the general music consumer, I think, “Yeah, it becomes iTunes. It becomes music in the cloud, and there really is no way to monetize that.” There are other things that we are working on now. We represent eight of the top 20 YouTubers that make hundreds of thousands of dollars off online ad revenue. Sync licensing is bigger than ever. There are other ways to make money.
Jeff Price, founder and CEO, TuneCore, told me that as well recently.
Jeff will tell you that I am one of the first people to take a meeting with him at South By Southwest five or six years ago to talk about TuneCore. I thought it was brilliant.
YouTube bypasses all filters. We certainly found that out with Charlie Sheen.
I think the Charlie Sheen thing is brilliant. Out of control for sure. I just laughed at how people thought he was clean. Did you watch the video? But (the response) really shows that the direct-to-fan and the direct-to-consumer experience is huge. Linkin Park, who is a client of ours, has over 14 million Facebook fans. They can blast out a message that goes directly to their fans.
We are living in a time where the artist can now create their email lists. They can create their social networking list, and mobilize it. Take it with them whether they switch record labels or whatever they do. They can walk it directly to their fans. I think that’s exciting for young bands. And the young acts that are exciting to me are the ones that have the know-how, to go and figure that out.
It’s incredible what an act can do with its digital base.
I am spending way more time on the phone with my artists and my digital department and with my agent. There aren’t the old gate keepers that used to be there anymore. It is an exciting time for anyone who is young blood. I get calls from a bunch of young artists, but also a bunch of older artists who want to be with the new school stuff. That’s why I am managing Jimmy Cliff.
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. He is co-author of the book “Music From Far And Wide: Celebrating 40 Years Of The Juno Awards.”